Undoubtedly, the most common conversation themes these days between fans of the Dodgers have been about inconsistencies in several areas of the game, primarily discussions regarding either the sputtering offense or the somewhat unsteady starting rotation.
Fortunately for those fans, though, every five days the squad runs out resident ace Clayton Kershaw, who has this uncanny ability to set the fans’ minds at ease with an exceptional performance. When Kersh dominates and the Dodgers succeed, everything seems to be right in the world — at least until the next game gets underway the following day. Feelings of overwhelming pessimism often steer more towards the optimistic side when Kershaw throws well, even when the Los Angeles offense barely crosses enough runs over the dish to narrowly capture a win.
But what’s causing the flutters with the production on offense? Is it something for management to be concerned about only 21 games into the season?
Looking back at last year, the Dodgers had the exact same problem for the first few months of the campaign. Ironically enough, the lumber caught fire when Kershaw was on the shelf for a little over two months with back problems. Heading into their May 22 encounter against division rival San Diego, the Dodgers were sitting at 21 wins and 23 losses, and fans were almost at their respective boiling points. As a matter of fact, when Kersh hit the disabled list in early June, many were ready to give up on the season completely.
At the time, skipper Dave Roberts was almost certain he knew the problem, but in the end it seems as if the players sparked several successful streaks by an overwhelming amount of group motivation or enthusiasm — something that’s been difficult to detect so far in 2017.
“I think that guys are, again, trying to do too much,” Roberts said late last spring. “There are some empty at-bats and some tentativeness to the swings when you get into a good hitter’s count. We’re missing fastballs, whether we’re swinging through them, fouling them off or we’re late on them. We’re putting extra pressure on ourselves.”
Oftentimes managers will mix around players in the daily lineup in hopes of creating a spark, yet the Dodgers change their everyday lineup so frequently that many pundits believe that the variations in the batting orders may be detrimental to the club in the end. A few players such as Justin Turner and Corey Seager have been hitting very well, as has Chris Taylor since being recalled a little over a week ago. However, aside from a number of stellar individual performances, the team appears to be struggling as a group, most specifically in clutch situations with runners in scoring position.
Whatever the case may be, the Dodgers need to find a remedy to their woes with the sticks and right the ship in the very near future before the Rockies and Diamondbacks distance themselves in front to even a higher degree. Outside of Andre Ethier conceivably returning from injury at some point and providing an offensive boost against right-handed pitching, there aren’t really too many options internally. 21-year-old phenom Cody Bellinger‘s contract was selected on Tuesday in hopes of providing a jolt to the offense in the absence of Joc Pederson, yet there very well could be a few hiccups in Bellinger’s learning curve before he blossoms into the offensive machine that scouting directors are certain he will become.
In the meantime, as much as the lineup variations appear to be a hindrance at the present moment, perhaps the management group of the Dodgers knows a few things that the fans haven’t yet considered. Maybe everything will begin to click soon, with droves of runs crossing home plate on a daily basis. Or, quite conceivably, perhaps the players need some type of motivating factor to boost their enthusiasm like last season, even if it’s something ever so tiny.
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