Now that the month of May is upon us, it’s just a little more difficult to use the excuse that the season is still young, especially when noting the Dodgers are now a full eight games behind the division lead in the NL West.
Fan reactions from Corey Seager‘s unfortunate, season-ending elbow injury were all over the map yesterday. Some believe that the club has enough depth to overcome the setback, while others were ready to throw in the white towel immediately. At first glance, the squad itself appeared to be stuck in its normal slumber against the Diamondbacks on Monday night, but the team was able to battle back late to make things a little interesting. However, the lackluster bullpen once again proved to be ineffective when it needed several consecutive shutdown innings to stay in the game.
I happen to be on the side of the fence with those who believe that there’s definitely a shot for the club capturing its sixth consecutive division title, but there’s unquestionably some transforming that needs to be done to make that happen.
Even if the main goal of the front office is to stay under the luxury tax threshold at all costs, it needs to make a few organizational moves to improve the quality of play.
From the offensive side of things, there are a number of options the club can take to potentially improve its offensive production. With Chris Taylor moving into shortstop, there shouldn’t be much lost on offense. Alongside the hot bat of Joc Pederson, outfielder Andrew Toles could also be a choice to boost the team in the coming weeks when his hamstring is back to full strength. Furthermore, Justin Turner‘s bat will rejoin the daily lineup at some point, while there’s always the hope that Logan Forsythe will rise up to his expectations when his shoulder is healthy enough. And there’s always the Yasiel Puig factor. So, there’s plenty of hope. One thing management may want to try to do, though, is to create a little continuity in the daily lineups instead of mathematically formulating the batting orders based on numbers and matchups alone.
Being that there are a handful of clubs that are ranked miles above Los Angeles offensively while having about half the Dodgers’ talent, there’s really no excuse for the club not to rise above its current rate of production.
Regardless of the offense, the pitching department (completely unrelated to the Seager injury, by the way) should be the biggest concern for the club right now. Both the starting rotation and the bullpen appear to need some resuscitation badly. I’m not exactly sure if there’s enough talent in the organization at the moment to improve things overnight, but at least the management team might try to make a better effort trying to piece together a product of higher quality.
Initially, it seemed as if righty Brock Stewart was brought in to start the opener at Arizona on Monday evening, yet the club decided to throw him on the carousel once again and bump him into the relief crew, electing to start righty swing man Ross Stripling instead. Strip ended up being pegged for four earned runs over four innings, while Stewart surrendered three hits, a walk and one earned run over 1-2/3 not-so-impressive innings. Daniel Hudson, he of the 14.38 ERA, was next in line, followed by Tony Cingrani, who may be still suffering the effects of a dead arm. I suppose fans should be grateful that Pedro Baez was not inserted to the game at any point, as it seems that he has now been regulated to Wilmer Font mop-up duty, at least until he can re-establish some kind of consistency.
I also believe that Walker Buehler should be called back to the roster to stay. I really don’t care how they make it happen, but there’s no question he has one of the best arms in the organization right now. In my eyes, it would certainly be worth the effort in moving Kenta Maeda back to the bullpen—a spot where he’s proven he can excel. Forget about the contract incentives—if the club really finds it necessary to give him the extra money, go ahead and restructure his contract next winter. Maeda in the relief corps would be a huge boost, if he would indeed embrace such a role.
All that being said, there are certainly a number of options available to improve, but management needs to execute several key decisions in the coming weeks. But even more importantly, all the players on the 25-man roster need to motivate themselves and start playing with a sense of urgency before it’s too late.