“Talk, talk is cheap
Give me a word you can keep
Cause you’re halfway gone and I’m on my way
And I’m feelin, feelin feelin this way”
This is only my first season writing about the Dodgers, and so far it has given me plenty of fodder. Between the injuries, and the losing streaks, and the injuries, and the Giants, and the injuries… it’s been quite the first half. It started off on such an amazing high, a 15-0 rout of the San Diego Padres. And then…There have been many, many references on my part to this team is the reason I drink. There has been quite the lively discussions among fans about everything from the rookie skipper Dave Roberts to the bullpen usage and everything in between. But more than anything, it has been defined by all the injuries.
The injuries. Who hasn’t been on the DL? No wait, don’t answer that. Not going to jinx anything. Even our beloved Clayton Kershaw, the one who the Dodgers could afford the least to be on the DL, is currently in the middle of his own stint.
The pitching, besides Kershaw, has been a roller coaster. Starting pitchers look great one start, and then not-so-great the next. Or they go on the DL, and pitchers brought in to replace them don’t do well. Realistically, these were players who maybe weren’t quite ready to be brought up yet (Brock Stewart), or who maybe were, but were thrown into tough situations right from the beginning (Julio Urias). But incredibly, the Dodgers are second only to the Chicago Cubs in lowest batting average against, at .220. They lead the Majors with a 1.11 team WHIP. They’ve allowed the fifth lowest home run total with only 85 surrendered. They are tied with the Philadelphia Phillies in most shutouts, with nine. They’re fourth in team ERA, at 3.43. An issue of concern is that the starting pitchers, again other than Kershaw, have not been able to go deep into the game, and the bullpen has had to pick up the slack. Still, the Dodgers bullpen leads the majors with a 2.83 ERA, .195 AVG against, and a 1.02 WHIP.
In contrast to the pretty stellar pitching staff, the offense has just been average. Combined with the injuries, several usually consistent players hit rough patches at the plate. Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Yasmani Grandal all had very cold stretches. The young guys, Corey Seager, Trayce Thompson and Joc Pederson, carried the team while the veterans worked their way back to where they needed to be. Overall offensively, they are 26th in team batting average at .241, 22nd with a .315 OPB, 28th in slugging at .393, and 25th in OPS at .708.
At the All-Star break, the Dodgers sit at a record of 51-40, 6.5 games behind the Giants, and 2.5 games ahead in the Wild Card race. Last year’s record at the break was 51-39. The difference of course is that the Dodgers are not leading the division. But it’s very difficult to gain games on a team that had a 31-9 stretch, as the Giants did.
I’ve been stating lately, that the season really is a tale of two halves. And the Dodgers are poised to have a much better second half than they did the first half. Many players, including Kershaw, will be returning from the DL soon. The offense will start clicking and back up the pitching. The Giants can’t sustain 31-9 runs all season long – they are due for a .500 stretch or worse. The front office will be looking to bolster the tired bullpen, and/or add another power bat to the lineup. All in all, including the injuries and all the stupid Giants magic, you really couldn’t ask for the Dodgers to be sitting in a much better position.