Without question, there’s no one particular area of the team that can take the brunt of the blame for the Dodgers‘ current losing skid. It was only less than a week ago that the starting pitching was borderline horrendous, yet once that particular problem began fixing itself, a major epidemic of ineffectiveness started to lurk over the majority of the bullpen. All this while the offense, which was once shouldering a huge load of the club’s success, has become nearly dormant.
Breaking the offensive woes down even further, the absence of Corey Seager has taken a huge toll on the club’s offensive production. In addition, slumps among the healthier players are also enormous concerns. Justin Turner, who was leading the world in batting at the beginning of May at a .387 clip, is now hitting .327 for the year, and has tallied just a .249 rate over his last 40 games. Yasmani Grandal‘s average was as high as .299 on May 21, but has now settled down to a .254 mark after hitting a mere .215 over his last 110 AB.
Beyond that, there’s a trio of players in Curtis Granderson, Enrique Hernandez and Joc Pederson, who, although they’ve come up clutch in several huge situations this season, are still lurking right around the .215 mark for the entire year. Granderson has gone 6-for-60—which calculates to an even .100 average—since being acquired by the Dodgers last month. Logan Forsythe hasn’t lived up to his expectations over the long haul, and the fact that Adrian Gonzalez‘s back has again become an issue isn’t helping matters, either. Throw in Yasiel Puig‘s propensity to be a very, very streaky hitter, and it’s easy to see why the team has scored only 15 runs over its last eight games.
When glancing around the different social media platforms a few hours before the start of each game, it’s often intriguing to see the different reactions from the fans pertaining to the daily lineups. By no means are the lineups the sole cause of the current losing skid, but these particular fans may indeed have somewhat of a valid point.
Inside of a week, fans have been seeing players like Alex Verdugo and O’Koyea Dickson getting regular looks at the dish, all the while having Granderson getting the majority of hacks in the two-hole with his .209/.321/.453 slash line. Hernandez hit second on September 4, and Austin Barnes even hit in the two-hole during the first leg of the doubleheader in San Diego on September 2. A week ago, some of the lineups being run out by skipper Dave Roberts were a bit reminiscent of the old “dart board” method of writing out a lineup card.
But while there doesn’t seem to be a 100% bonafide option to replace Seager in the order, surely better options exist. Sliding Forsythe into the two-hole or even letting Chris Taylor hit second with Utley leading off may prove to be a better band-aid until Seager is ready to rejoin the crew. Having Granderson hit lower in the order or having him available as a legitimate power threat off the pine could prove to be more beneficial in the long run.
And as far as the streaky players go, it’s hard to see Grandal consistently succeeding in the five-spot when he has traditionally been such a streaky batter for the better part of his career. Puig has been brilliant in the eight hole considering his hot and cold spells, and it makes one wonder if Grandal would be more of a benefit in the seven or eight spots. One thing’s for sure, though, when a trio like Grandal, Puig and Turner are all dormant at the exact same time, some type of negative result is imminent. Thus, 11 losses in 12 games.
On the brighter side of things, even though the output was less than desirable, Wednesday’s lineup looked more like an A-squad type of effort, sans the presence of Granderson. And it may be an indication of what’s to come. The youngsters have now gotten a few hacks, and it could be time that the club puts its foot on the gas once again by running out more fluid and unified lineups. With 23 games remaining and a 10-1/2 game lead over the Diamondbacks, there’s still a bit of a cushion; however, the recent slide, coupled with Arizona’s 13-game winning streak, has caused a huge amount of concern about the divisional race.
In the end, while a productive Seager in the two-slot will be absolutely huge to the lineup, fans everywhere are hoping that the streaky players especially, find a way to crank up their potency during the times that matter most.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)