If you’ve been a long time reader of this column or a follower of mine on Twitter, you know that I always do my best not to overreact to the ups and downs of a long baseball season. Admittedly, sometimes this is much harder than other times. The beginning of this season has definitely been a challenge. Still, I am not overly worried overall about the state of the Dodgers.
But even the most ardent optimist amongst us can’t help but wonder when the offense is going to finally get itself going, and maybe take a peek at who is down the line and could make an impact in the lineup. In nine games so far this season, the Dodgers are 3-6. As a team, they are batting .213, good for 26th of all MLB teams, and only four home runs.
Much of this can be contributed to the fact that Justin Turner is absent from the lineup. Turner, who was hit by a pitch on his left wrist in spring training, has yet to pick up a bat, although he is said to be progressing well, and might pick that bat up this week. JT not being there impacts the lineup in so many ways, from Corey Seager not getting good pitches without JT behind him, to Puig being moved into the three-hole, and not doing well, to Cody Bellinger not being able to bat behind him. Enrique Hernandez has been batting fourth on occasion, and that’s not really where he should be, either. One of the Dodgers’ advantages is having so much depth—but the lack of a consistent lineup, especially in the heart of the order, is definitely a detriment.
Hernandez has had a horrid start to the season, even though he had a very good spring training. Joc Pederson, who made the team over fan-favorite Andrew Toles, is also having a horrendous start, slashing .133/.235/.200/.435. For what it’s worth, Toles is batting .231/.286/.385/.670 in Triple-A Oklahoma City, so it’s not a given that he would be on fire in the majors, either. Seager, Logan Forsythe, Chris Taylor and Puig also have had incredibly slow starts.
Maybe somewhat ironically, the players with the best starts so far are Yasmani Grandal and Chase Utley. Grandal was all but demoted for Austin Barnes at the end of last season for his poor hitting, and although the knowledge of Utley’s veteran leadership is well known, not many were thinking that his bat was also going to be doing so.
So who could be added to the lineup to help it get its groove back? Besides Turner and Toles, Alex Verdugo is off to a nice start in Oklahoma City. DJ Peters hit two homers yesterday for Double-A Tulsa. Further down the line, but one to keep an eye on for sure. Maybe Max Muncy, who makes for some nice alliteration and could maybe add a little pop.
A lot of things just haven’t gone the Dodgers’ way this season, too. After most of the team suffered from the Noro Virus in spring training, Alex Wood and Cody Bellinger both were sidelined with food poisoning over the weekend in San Francisco. Many of the hits off their bats are very well hit—they just have been directly at a defender. They’ve played solely against the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, two teams who inexplicably have their number.
The defense and pitching, for the most part, have been doing their job and keeping the Dodgers right in the game. The offense just needs to wake up. I have no doubt the Dodgers will turn it around. As I have stated many times through other slumps, this team is too good to be playing how they are currently playing. But, I do think they are missing a spark plug. Some motivation. Anything to get them going. If they don’t get things going by then end of the week, then I think a roster change is needed. Not to show panic, but to switch things up and get things headed in the right direction.