Muncy (elbow) 'very unlikely' for WC Game

October 4th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers entered Sunday’s game with a chance to force a Game 163 on Monday against the Giants to decide the National League West champion. Instead, the Dodgers will now be without All-Star first baseman for at least Wednesday’s NL Wild Card Game against the Cardinals.

Muncy exited the 10-3 Dodgers victory in the third inning after suffering a left elbow injury following a collision at first base. The injury occurred as Muncy reached to catch a Will Smith throw that was slightly off the line. Brewers second baseman Jace Peterson, who was coming down the line, ran into Muncy’s left arm. Muncy immediately went down and was rolling on the ground, evidently in serious pain.

After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team was still running tests on Muncy’s elbow. He did say, however, that it’s not a soft tissue injury for Muncy, instead something potentially more serious. Roberts said that it’s “very unlikely” that Muncy will suit up on Wednesday. His availability for the following rounds is also in question.

“I’m not going to close the door on Max looking out,” Roberts said. “But right now it certainly doesn’t look great.”

Losing Muncy for the Wild Card Game -- and potentially an extended period of time -- is a huge blow to the Dodgers’ lineup. Muncy has been the team’s best and most consistent hitter this season. He leads the club with a career-high 36 homers. Muncy is also the Dodgers' best defensive option at first base.

“It’s a big blow for him personally because you get this far and as a ballplayer, you want to see it through, and he’s an integral part of what we do,” Roberts said. “He’s just such a dynamic player in the batter’s box, defensively, and he just adds a lot to our ballclub. If it does come to that point, I believe in the depth and guys have to step up.”

With Muncy unavailable on Wednesday, the Dodgers are going to have to tap into that depth and make some tough decisions before their game against right-hander Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals, with their season on the line.

The Dodgers could choose to start Cody Bellinger at first base and keep Chris Taylor or Gavin Lux in center field. Taylor would be the better option on defense, while Lux would give them another left-handed-hitting option. Starting Matt Beaty at first base and keeping Bellinger in center is also a possibility for the Dodgers, giving them two more left-handed hitters in the lineup.

There's also a chance that Albert Pujols gets a start against his former team. Pujols is a much better hitter against left-handed pitching, but could be another option at first base. It remains to be seen what the Dodgers do, but no matter what, Muncy’s production will be nearly impossible to replace.

“It’s not great,” said Dodgers starter Walker Buehler. “He’s been a part of some really special things and really contributed in some huge ways for us. Obviously, I don’t know too much about what’s going on, but we’re kind of in wait-and-see mode. He’s a big part of this team and hopefully, we kind of avoid disaster.”

Muncy is the second integral player the Dodgers lost to injury this week. Likely future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw left Friday’s start with a left forearm injury and, after being placed on the 10-day injured list, is not expected to return at any point during the postseason.