At this point last week, many followers of the Dodgers were beginning to show signs of concern for a major collapse in the standings, yet many close to the team who knew a little bit about mathematical probability simply shrugged off the slump as a common occurrence which could happen to any contending squad.
We even put an article together about Yu Darvish, expressing a sense of optimism that the Japanese righty would reclaim his mojo and turn things around before the beginning of the playoffs in October.
Yet as the days continue to pass by, the Dodgers can’t seem to catch a break. Resident ace Clayton Kershaw got cuffed around handily by the Rockies on Thursday evening, and after what seemed to be a sure turnaround with the team starting out impressively on Friday night, Darvish fell apart in the fifth inning upon surrendering four doubles and four earned runs. The Dodgers certainly had many opportunities to regain the lead in the later innings, but ultimately were able to score only four runs on a whopping six walks and seven hits. After the 5-4 win, Colorado has won the first two games in what has become a critical series for both clubs.
The Dodgers have now lost eight games in a row. and 13 of their last 14.
“One thing I do is never run away from it,” Darvish said after Friday’s affair. “I just go out there and compete and stay positive, keep going forward. That’s what I will keep doing.”
And that’s all that Darvish and his teammates can really do.
It was just less than six weeks ago that the Dodgers thought they had landed a genuine No. 2 starter to complete the formula for a formidable playoff rotation. However, at the present moment, thoughts of the postseason barely exist at all, as the club remains focused on one game at a time with hopes of turning its current misfortunes into at least a small burst of momentum.
Outside of one stellar start against the Mets on August 4, Darvish has been steadily declining. In his last five outings, he has lasted only 23-1/3 innings, and during that stretch, has given up 18 earned runs on 32 hits, including seven long balls. Since becoming a Dodger, opponents have hit .289 off him, and collectively have tallied a .882 OPS. Many pundits attribute Darvish’s recent struggles to mechanical issues, however, if there’s no sign of a resolution in the near future, the right-hander could conceivably be in jeopardy off missing out on a rotation spot in the postseason.
And although the month of September is cruising along quickly, it’s probably too early to begin laying out a postseason rotation, but for the sake of argument, there’s a lot of speculation outside of Kershaw and veteran southpaw Rich Hill. Lefty Alex Wood has shown that he has the goods to succeed, yet in the one game he threw since returning from the disabled list on September 3 against the Padres, he took the loss after having been rung up for four earned runs on three walks and seven hits—including two home runs—over six innings of work.
Righty Kenta Maeda has been sporadic at best, having given up 15 earned runs on 22 hits—6 home runs—in 25-1/3 innings over his last five games. He hasn’t lasted beyond the sixth inning since his August 1 start at Atlanta. Outside of getting cuffed for six earned runs against the Diamondbacks on August 30, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been relatively solid, yet still has the propensity to have that one ugly outing every few games.
But while there’s certainly more potential beyond what the current statistics have shown, there’s surely not a definite three or four starters set in stone for an impending NLDS. There are enough turns in the remaining schedule for any of the five to emerge and lineup behind Kerhsaw to form the postseason rotation.
In the meantime, there’s still 21 regular season games remaining for the Dodgers to right the ship. And according to Darvish, there’s no lack of effort, as the team continues to battle with every ounce of energy each and every day.
“The first couple weeks when I joined the team, the team was playing really good baseball. I was like, ‘Wow, everything we do is working.’ Right now, we’re on the opposite side. The team is not playing well. But the team is working hard. It amazes me how hard they work to win. That shows me we’re a good team, because we never give up, and keep fighting.”
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