On August 3rd, Joe Panik was placed on the 15-day DL with lower back inflammation. He initially tried to play through the discomfort, and while he went 3-9 with two doubles and one RBI during the test run, the Giants decided it was best to shut him down.
His replacement, Kelby Tomlinson, has been a savior with the bat, as he's hit .306/.372/.424 with a wOBA of .349, and a wRC+ of 128. He's far exceeded what the Giants expected of him offensively, and helped soften the blow of losing Panik. However there was a noticeable drop-off on the defensive side of things, as he has difficulty turning the double-play, and has posted a negative UZR rating.
Fortunately for San Francisco, Panik's rehab assignment was a success, and he capped it off by making this improbable play.
Panik on this play: "I have to talk to Belt, we have to work on that one." Said it's second-best play he's made: https://t.co/oYHOtO5aBw— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) September 7, 2015
The Giants now have their All-Star duo up the middle back together for the stretch run as they try and chase down the Dodgers. Tomlinson is expected to be in the lineup frequently until Panik proves he's healthy enough to play on an everyday basis. That might not happen however, as he's not "100% ... Said he was told the back should clear up fully with an offseason of rest. Won't be chronic."
While it wouldn't be surprising at all if his timing was off after missing more than 30 games, Panik doubled in his first plate appearance today, and scored later that inning. He'll likely slot back into the top of the lineup once he starts a game, and he'll undoubtedly help the Giants produce more scoring opportunities over the final month of the season.