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Inbox: Does Bellinger still have a shot at MVP?

Beat reporter Ken Gurnick answers questions from Dodgers fans
MLB.com @kengurnick

Have the Dodgers been missing Cody Bellinger? It seems their offense has struggled since his ankle injury, so does that actually help his MVP chances?
-- @mmlphoto

No question the Dodgers' offense is more productive with Bellinger than without, going right back to the club's 9-11 record at the time of his promotion. Less certain is whether the team's recent struggles without him help his chances to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award. With his late start in the big leagues and the 10 days off for the current ankle injury, he will be about 30 games shy of fellow NL MVP Award competitors Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt and Charlie Blackmon. What won't help Bellinger is that he doesn't show up in the league's top 10 for average, RBIs, runs scored or total bases. 

Have the Dodgers been missing Cody Bellinger? It seems their offense has struggled since his ankle injury, so does that actually help his MVP chances?
-- @mmlphoto

No question the Dodgers' offense is more productive with Bellinger than without, going right back to the club's 9-11 record at the time of his promotion. Less certain is whether the team's recent struggles without him help his chances to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award. With his late start in the big leagues and the 10 days off for the current ankle injury, he will be about 30 games shy of fellow NL MVP Award competitors Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt and Charlie Blackmon. What won't help Bellinger is that he doesn't show up in the league's top 10 for average, RBIs, runs scored or total bases. 

Tweet from @GlennMunoz6: What's the status on McCarthy, Kazmier & Either??

Brandon McCarthy has been on the DL since July 24 with what is listed as a finger blister. On Friday, he made his first rehab start for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, issuing three walks in three scoreless innings. Manager Dave Roberts did say that the righty had a few "misfires," code for the yips that have plagued McCarthy the past two years.

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Scott Kazmir has been on the disabled list all year with what must be the worst left hip strain of all time. He is reported to still lack the velocity needed to pitch in the big leagues and doesn't seem to be on the radar for the rotation. Andre Ethier has been on the disabled list all year with a herniated disc in his back and currently is performing well on a rehab assignment, with activation expected on Friday for a chance to make the postseason roster.

Tweet from @stevefreeman3: If the post season started tomorrow & I had to pick which starting pitcher to leave off the roster based on performance, gotta be Darvish.

The Dodgers' front office didn't trade three prospects to leave Darvish off the postseason roster or stick him in the bullpen. Whether it's a stiff back or mechanical issues, four starts might be a bit quick to bury a four-time All-Star. He hasn't been as dominant since Tommy John surgery, but it's more likely that Darvish will be starting in October and either Hyun-Jin Ryu or Kenta Maeda won't be, depending on their form at the time and the opposing matchup.

Tweet from @PhilipSeib: How are Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier doing?

Since his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City to work on a new stance, Pederson is 4-for-25 (.160) with no homers, two RBIs, eight strikeouts and two walks. He is playing exclusively in left field, indicating that Chris Taylor will remain the big league center fielder.

Will the Dodgers ever retire Gil Hodges' number 14? He earned that honor.
-- Dilxie1Dawg@bellsouth.net

The Dodgers' policy is to only retire the numbers of Hall of Famers, with the exception of Jim Gilliam's No. 19, whose number was retired shortly after he died while serving as a coach. The real controversy is why Hodges was never elected into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America or the Veterans Committee and its successors. If that oversight is corrected, the Dodgers would retire his number. Otherwise, they are not likely to make another exception.

Why does Justin Turner always have a dirt mark over his left shoulder above his number?
-- zangl@rcn.com

It is a pine tar stain left from the contact of the bat against his shoulder during follow through on practice swings.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger