Dodgers: With AJ Pollock Out, the Time is Now for Cody Bellinger

Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger now has an opportunity to reshape the narrative of his bad, awful, rotten 2021 season at the plate. Bellinger will be an everyday player again for the Dodgers since outfielder AJ Pollock is now sidelined for 2-3 weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury in Saturday’s game against the Giants.

Expectations are low right now for the 2019 NL MVP, but a couple strong September weeks from Bellinger, and a ninth division title, will wipe away some of the stain of his putrid 2021.


Bellinger’s 2021 by the Numbers

For the season, Belli is slashing .169/.245/.311 through Saturday. Injuries have played a role, but he is simply out of synch in the batter’s box right now. In a sea of troubling stats, his 28.0% K-rate is the biggest wave of all.

Once again, opposing pitchers are neutralizing Bellinger with high heat and inside breaking pitches. He’s largely been unable to create contact in those zones. He ranks dead last amongst Dodgers hitters in making contact with pitches inside the zone (77.3%).

Opportunity Knocks

All that being said, the Dodgers need Bellinger’s bat to wake up now more than ever. The table is perfectly set for a September Bellinger renaissance. The Dodgers are in a tight division race with their archival and trying to avoid the Wild Card game. He’s in line for a ton of playing time during the final month of the regular season. Plus, he’s essentially replacing one of the Dodgers’ best hitters in Pollock.

Bellinger hitting .300 for the month is unrealistic, but even a few weeks of hitting .240, coupled with his Gold-Glove defense, could help the Dodgers capture their ninth-straight division title. The coming weeks are a chance at redemption for Bellinger.

After months and months of waiting for Bellinger’s bat to show up, the time is right now for the slugger.

NEXT: Is Dave Roberts Costing LA Wins? Thoughts on Why LA Struggles in Losses

Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.


  1. Not going to happen this year for him to make an impact offensively and even with Pollock out, Dodgers must sit him at least against LHP. When there is a will, there is a way….

  2. .240??? Would settle for .200! He’s a total mess and should be with Rancho. Don’t think he can handle any higher than low A

    1. Agreed Nobody can tell me that withcDodgers struggling to keep pace with SF that Dodgers can afford to fully ‘carry’ Bellinger offensively. At some point they can’t keep him in there if his BA falls below .150.

      1. At this point, your starting lineup can not include a ‘give-a-away’ of an out, which is what Belly is at this point.

        Let alone when Roberts has Belly, McKinney and Barnes batting 6/7/8. Figure 3 at bats per game, per guy, that is 9 outs = 3 innings of no production. Thus, we play a 6 inning game.

        Just the hard stats…..

  3. “Time is Now for Cody Bellinger.” When did “Dodger Nation” become a comedian?? CB will never be ready, he is just to far gone gone.

  4. Ain’t going to happen. If his name wasn’t Cody Bellinger, he’d be down in AA ball trying to pick up the pieces. Baseball should have an automatic out designation like they do for intentional walks. The Dodgers could just take an automatic out when it is Cody’s time to bat rather than waste time with him coming up to the plate.

    1. Well, if the NL gets a DH, the DH can bat for Bellinger. Our pitchers seem to put the ball in play pretty well.

      Bellinger will need to spend the entire offseason with hitting coach Van Scoyoc….

  5. What about Beattie? He hit with power, not an MVP Bollinger but better than the one we have now. And Belli can play some to see if a spark is left.

  6. All season he’s been in there I’ve been pleading at the tv set…please bunt it down the 3rd base line and run. When Beli flirted with hitting 400 back in the first half of his MVP season in 2018 he took advantage of the shift. Yes he hit a ton of homeruns but if he’s not in there to get on base and play great defense then it’s insane that Matt Beaty isn’t in there in Pollacks place. Beaty is an average fielder and Mckinney very good defensively in right but Beaty is a clutch hitter. Let him play every day and as many have said, send Belli to minors for awhile and see if he can turn it around. Why isn’t Jackson pitching for us as our fourth or fifth starter for now? He can pitch. John Higelin

    1. He did ‘momentarily’ tease us
      yesterday by ‘attempting’ a bunt
      but failed at that as well. ‘Hopelessly
      lost’ sums it up! But he has a baby on the
      way to cheer him up!

  7. Is Bellinger really the logical replacement for AJ? Really? Dodgers have been treading water all year hoping to get on top. AJ has been the one consistent bat in the lineup. With him out for most of September, the replacement is a .160 hitter? As much as they cycle in relief pitchers from AAA, can’t they find an outfielder plug in? CAN’T THEY FIND …. MATT BEATTY?

  8. Not gonna happen. There’s an excellent article in the LA Times today by Dylan Hernandez. He mentioned how shoulder surgery had permanently derailed the careers of Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. He also made an observation on Cody’s hitting against fastball:

    “Bellinger’s troubles handling high velocity have been a consistent problem. He’s batting just .093 against pitches 94 mph or faster, according to Baseball Savant. He hit .276 against such pitches in 2019.”

    At this point it’s just wishful thinking of Cody Bellinger being able to contribute in their lineup for the rest of the year. He’s pretty done as a power hitter, unless he reinvents himself as a contact hitter, he might even be done as a MLB player.

    Bellinger went 0 for 3 today. Again, just another day in the office for him.

    1. Problem is; Roberts wants HR’s. He does not want Bellinger to be a contact hitter. Just swing for the fences. Once Roberts is gone, maybe Bellinger can re-hab his shoulder and his swing during the offseason with hitting coach Von Scoyoc.

      Having a contact hitter with the speed on this team? It’s a run each time he can find the gap…

  9. I think it’s important to look at numbers, because those do not like. Cody Bellinger in his last 6 games is batting .077. In his last 12 games he’s at .114, in his last 20 games he’s at .148. He is almost at a point where we have to wonder if he’ll even be on the Dodgers roster next year. However, this is this year… and we just don’t have the OF depth to do without him. Pollock’s injury is a killer, because it exposes our lineup to Bellinger. The other point to make is that Cody Bellinger was pinch hit for by the Ruthian batter known and Austin Barnes. That… that, tells you just how far he’s fallen. So while the time IS NOW for CB to pull out of this, it’s not like turning on a light switch. He will finish the year with one of the worst year for a former in MPV in recent memory.

  10. Agree with every single post about Bellinger but does anyone know why manager or coaches don’t DEMAND that Bellinger make some adjustments in his set up and swing mechanics –

  11. The time is now for Bellinger to sit on the bench, and Beaty to come up and play left field until Pollack comes back. Alternatively, Pujols could play 1B, with Muncy at second, and T Turner in left until Pollack gets back. Either way eliminates the glaring weakness of Bellinger in the lineup.

  12. The time is now? No, the time was no later than mid-season when Cody’s struggles were painfully obvious to everyone except the ones responsible for putting him in the lineup. I genuinely believe that Cody is amazingly talented and can get it together, but its doubtful that he will do so this year. We need to send Cody down to work on himself, bring Beaty back and keep it moving. The Dodgers do not have any more time to waste.

    1. Exactly, B McP. This cannot be the time for Dodgers to ‘carry’ Bellinger offensively. The offense has inconsistent times enough as it is and they are still a game behind the Giants with time beginning to run out.

    2. Bellinger needs a full offseason re-hab his shoulder and his swing. They brought in guru hitting coach Von Scoyoc, USE HIM!

  13. We’re in the home stretch and just dropped two to SF. LA lost the 1st place slot that was held for what, half a day?

    This is about results, not effort. I don’t care what Beli did two years ago, he needs to go to OKC till he gets his groove back. He needs to EARN his spot like everyone else. He’s dragging the team down with his abysmal plate appearances. Bring Matt Beaty up to play in his place. We need someone in that slot that can manage the field, which Beaty can, and can swing the bat, which at .262 Beaty can.

    You can admire Bellinger’s fight back from shoulder surgery all you want, but do it while he’s in OKC. Not while he’s costing LA wins.

    1. Absolutely. Although Bellinger’s defense is still very good, his offense does not justify keeping him in the lineup. Because Bellinger continues to struggle mightily at the plate, it makes no logical sense why Beaty has not been brought back up to take his place. I, too, am tired of smirky Giants’ fans (including my spouse) or broadcasters asking the following questions, “what happened to Bellinger?” and/or ” why are the Dodgers still playing Bellinger?” Despite this, I truly believe that Bellinger will get it together at some point but waiting for him to do so should not be at the expense of the team.

  14. There is no hope for fixing that swing setup this year. The only possible bandaid (and it’s a long shot) is to pick up a lighter bat and work out the change in the cage. If his shoulder is a limiting factor for his slooooow bat to the zone, he has to give it a lighter load to pull.

  15. There is no hope for fixing that swing setup this year. The only possible bandaid (and it’s a long shot) is to pick up a lighter bat and work out the change in the cage. If his shoulder is a limiting factor for his slooooow bat to the zone, he has to give it a lighter load to pull.

  16. A slot on the roster with the best team in baseball is earned, Bellinger isn’t earning it. He will someday, but at what cost to the team & fans?

    Cody isn’t even taking a common sense approach to improving. He can’t see the ball but he’s swinging to launch the ball into orbit. How many times have we seen him swing himself to his knees or out of his helmet? Just try to meet the dang ball, start there for crying out loud.

    It’s long past time for Bellinger to go to OKC to work through his issues. Beaty is the best possible filler both in the OF and at the plate. Beaty in LF, CT3 in CF and Betts in RF. That’s what should be played till AJ returns.

    Roberts drones on about how much Cody is fighting his way back blah blah blah… That’s fine but everyone else rehabs somewhere else, not at the expense of the team. Kershaw didn’t throw a rehab inning against SF, so why is Bellinger rehabbing at the plate?

    LA just dropped two of three to SF blowing a shot at the division. Cody’s plate appearances weren’t just bad as usual, but came at times where opportunities were at LA’s fingertips. That arguably cost LA game three.

    This is a game of results, not effort. Stop making the team & fans suffer through bad efforts and put someone in that has a track record of generating results. It’s not June any more, it’s September.

    1. Pjscoob. I wish there was a way for your post to be sent to Roberts and the FO because it’s exactly what they need to hear and read because everything ya say is right on the money and the absolute truth to the real issue here. Bellinger should NOT be getting this preferential treatment and should rehab elsewhere like anyone else on the team should do. And this rehab as ya say cannot be at the team’s expense during this time of the season.

  17. Bellinger is clearly not up to starting, but Roberts will keep him in no matter how badly he plays.

    Making things worse is that over the last month a number of other Dodgers in the lineup have been hitting poorly. Muncy, Taylor and Betts to name just three. When you’re club is heading into the final month of games and your offense is anemic and you still have starting pitcher/bullpen problems crop up, it does not bode well.

    Bellinger is the “hood ornament” on this clubs erratic, hot/cold performance that has allowed the Giants to stay in the lead. For whatever reason, the lineups and rotations and bullpen management has also been underwhelming.

    For all the potential on paper, and all the money being spent, it isn’t showing up on the field.

    Bellinger’s dismal season, reflects the difference between paper potential and on field performance that has dogged this club all season.

    The fact is they should be better but they’re not. Managers and coaches are supposed to get maximum performance out of their players as supplied by the front office. There’s plenty of blame to go around on this club – from the top to the bottom.

  18. Bellinger will ensure the Dodgers have to play a Wild Card game and likely will ensure we lose it to either SD or Cinn. The decision to keep Beeli in the lineup will cost this team the repeat. Think of the games ahead they’d be if Belli played like a .250 hitter and how many games were lost because he failed to get a hit with RISP. How many losses is his failure responsible for?

    1. I don’t think we’ll lose a Wild card game 1, “If Roberts throws Sherzer.. 2. Rests the entire Bull pen at least a couple days before the game. 3. Uses Bellinger “ONLY” for late innings defensive reasons. That’s a ways out but who knows. There’s a good chance also Roberts could lay down at the end Maneuvering to avoid a first series against the Vagiants, The Brewers play the Dodgers the last series of the season and if Roberts tanks the 3 games against them allowing the Brewers to get the overall best record and Homefield, then the Brewers would play the dodgers after we win the Wild card. The Vagiants appear to be in the Dodgers heads so this may be a scenario that Roberts would consider…Dodgers match up better against the Brewers. The Vagiants bunt. sacrifice, steal bases , make hard contact etc. Brewers offense isn’t as deep…But they have a killer starting staff and pen…

      1. Brewers are not going to catch the Giants so if Dodgers win the WC, the Dodgers will play the Giants. and with Buehler, Scherzer, Urias and Kersh we’ll be ready for them. besides Pollock will be back and Belli on the bench

        1. Joe, it’s hard to listen to you as I recall 1 month ago you were talking about Bellingers great defense , he would snap out of the funk he’s in. since then he’s plummeted 40 points in hitting, has become the 2nd worse hitter in ALL of baseball and his beautiful Air Mail throw into the 11th row that cost the dodgers the game against the Vagiants kinda thwarted the notion that he saves more games with his defense than it hurts the team offensively. If you haven’t noticed, the Brewers have the season series tie breaker against the vagiants, they have a easier schedule than both the dodgers and vagiants, and they currently are only 3 games behind them, and 2 behind us…

  19. I have numerous Vagiants fan friends that constantly ask me “Why do the Dodgers allow him to play hitting like that?” Then with smurks grins and laughter, they always say “Because they’re the dodgers,,,,,

  20. Bellinger is belligerent when asked to make adjustments. The quote I read was “You think you can tell me how to play baseball?”

    Arrogant and egotistical. His presence in the lineup is anchoring this team down. The other hitters need to blindfold themselves when Bellinger bats to keep the image of bellinger’s ass sticking out a foot while he swings and misses at a slider in the dirt, 2 feet outside in the other batter’s box. It’s demoralizing. The first 7 batters are where the lineup needs to make hay…. before the see belli make an ass of himself. After they see that, they’re done for the night.

    If you HAVE to play him, bat him ninth, to embarrass him. And then pinch hit for him when he first comes up.

    But he needs to disappear from this team, along with Roberts. Sub-Forrest Gump I.Q.’s are not acceptable in MLB.

    1. Bellinger’s only place come October is being a 26th man on the roster for a late inning densive appearance only if needed. And in no way should he be in ANY of the starting lineups during the Post Season.

  21. Doc is constantly backing himself into a corner with his “support” for Belli and perhaps, just perhaps, the Dodgers need to be eliminated immediately from the post season; that way, the FO will finally dump Mr. Nice Guy, the Doc.

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