The Los Angeles Dodgers completed their six-game road trip with a 4-2 record behind a comeback win against the New York Mets and despite playing the entire stretch without Justin Turner. He last was in the lineup on Sept. 7, though was removed early.
That stemmed from left ankle discomfort Turner was experiencing after spiking himself on a diving play in the series opener against the San Francisco Giants. He then was held out of the lineup for the three-game finale, which was when Roberts revealed Turner was experiencing the ankle trouble.
Roberts expected Turner to start this past Tuesday, though he was ultimately scratched from the lineup. After an X-ray was inconclusive, an MRI confirmed Turner had suffered a mild left ankle sprain. He was subsequently ruled out for the entirety of the Mets series.
Roberts said he anticipated Turner would start against the Tampa Bay Rays. However, that no longer appears to be the lock it once seemed, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Just talked to J.T., and we’ll see where he’s at,” Roberts said. “I know I was aggressive as far as Tuesday. He’s still — if he’s not 100 percent where he needs to be, I have no problem pushing it back. He’s still feeling it. It’s an ideal situation to get him in there on Tuesday. If it doesn’t happen, there’s still plenty of time to get him ready for the postseason. It’s still a sprain. Every day he’s gotten better.”
If Turner does return Tuesday, he would have had nine days of rest. While his presence provides a boon to the lineup, if the Dodgers can continue to provide Turner with time off, he conceivably could stretch that to 11 days before returning to the lineup as the club has another off day Thursday.
L.A. is 5-2 thus far without Turner in the lineup. They have largely maintained their close proximity to the New York Yankees and Houston Astros for the best record in baseball, and kept ahead of the Atlanta Braves for the top seed in the National League playoffs.
Although Roberts has acknowledged the importance and value of home-field advantage through the World Series — which Turner also championed as key — the fourth-year manager has made it clear the Dodgers will not pursue the best record at the expense of health.
Getting Turner back to 100% is paramount to their quest to end the franchise’s World Series drought. Turner historically performs well in the postseason, had settled into a rhythm after the All-Star break, and particularly so over the past month.
Since Aug. 1, he’s batting .302/.364/.621 with four doubles, 11 home runs and 21 RBI in 31 games (30 starts) since Aug. 1. Turner clubbed 10 home runs in August to set a career high for most in a single month.