Dodgers lose Corey Seager to back injury for NLCS

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Corey Seager
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Corey Seager /

When the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs meet tonight for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers will be missing a significant piece of their roster, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, shortstop Corey Seager.

Seager, a two-time All-Star, who also finished third in the MVP voting last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be kept off the NLCS roster due to a back injury he suffered during Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In the Dodgers’ three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks, Seager was 3-for-11 at the plate with a triple, two RBI, a stolen base, four walks and three strikeouts.

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He has been replaced on the roster by infielder Charlie Culberson. Outfielder Joc Pederson was also added to the NLCS roster.

Losing Seager, who posted a 5.6 WAR while batting .295/.375/.439 with 22 home runs this season, even while battling an elbow injury during the month of September in which he hit just .210/.286/.358, is an obvious blow to the Dodgers.

Yet, it is one they will have to take if they hope to see Seager play in the World Series, should they advance.

Leaving Seager on the NLCS roster could have rendered him ineligible for participation in the World Series had he had ended up being removed at any time during the NLCS due to injury.

Now, assuming the Dodgers can defeat the reigning world champion Cubs, Seager will have the time he needs to rest and recover.

Technically, leaving Seager off the NLCS roster is the smart thing to do, if the alternative could be losing him for the World Series.

However, adding Culberson and Pederson to the roster leaves a lot to be desired knowing they’ll be replacing Seager and his spectacular numbers.

Culberson played in just 15 big league games for the Dodgers this season. Pederson played in 102 games, but seemed to be in a severe slump most of the year, hitting just .212 in 2017 with 11 home runs.

Pederson was even demoted to Triple-A after the team brought over Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets. Pederson returned from Triple-A Oklahoma City in mid-September.

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In the two seasons prior to 2017, Pederson had been much more productive at the plate, hitting 26 and 25 home runs, respectively. He also had earned a spot on the 2015 NL All-Star team.

Putting Pederson on the roster, despite his numbers this season, does give the team more flexibility in replacing Seager at shortstop.

Chris Taylor, who has been playing in center field, had a nice year for the team. He played in 140 games for Los Angeles, posting a 4.8 WAR and batting .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs. Those numbers are the most comparable to Seager’s than any of the Dodgers’ other options.

Taylor could easily slide into Seager’s position and Pederson could take over in center field. The team could use either Culberson or utility man Enrique Hernandez as backups.

Hernandez’s 2017 numbers are slightly better, ye, comparable to Pederson’s. Pederson is, however, younger and has shown that he has the potential to hit for power and make spectacular plays in the field.

Given Pederson’s performances in past seasons and his still perhaps untapped potential, playing him in center and moving Taylor to shortstop seems to be the Dodgers’ best option.

Still, the Dodgers lost this same series to the Cubs last season. The team hasn’t been to a World Series since their last title in 1988, despite making the postseason now 11 times since and losing in their last four NLCS appearances.

The loss of Seager will make winning this latest NLCS appearance that much tougher for the Dodgers, especially against the defending World Series champions.

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Still, it appears that the Los Angeles Dodgers have made the more prudent decision. Should they advance they will need both a healthy and eligible Seager if they intend on defeating either the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees in the 2017 World Series.