The Dodgers seemingly did the impossible Wednesday night—defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game saw the return of Yasiel Puig from the disabled list and his impact was immediate. Puig went 3-for-4 and scored twice, although he did have an error on a throw. The game had the outcome Dodger fans wanted, although there is still a lot of work to be done in the offensive department. Leaving eight men on base and only going 2-for-12 with RISP isn’t going to win you many games. Six runs seems good, until you realize it was mostly sacrifice flies and wild pitches getting them across the plate.
I’ve seen some chattering here and there that the Dodgers will be okay and that they just need to go off on one of their epic winning streaks like they have during the last few years. We all remember when they went 42-8 in 2013, while last year when they went 43-7. Today, let’s take a look and see if something like that is possible again.
The Dodgers have 56 games before the All-Star Break, and now is as good time as any to begin a hot streak. They play 13 different teams in 18 series ranging from two to four games, and the combined record of those opponents, currently, is 234-238. The Anaheim Angels have the best record at 22-14, and the Cincinnati Reds, who come to town starting Thursday night, have the worst at 10-27. They are home for 29 games and away 27.
The Dodgers will face off against Cincinnati four times, Miami three, Washington three, Colorado nine, San Diego six, Philadelphia four, Pittsburgh six, Atlanta three, Texas two, San Francisco three, NY Mets three, Chicago Cubs four, and Anaheim six times.
Of course, the best case scenario would mean sweeping the teams with the truly bad records—Cincinnati (four games) at 10-27, Miami (three) at 13-23, Padres (six) at 14-24, and Texas Rangers (two) at 15-21. That would be 15 wins. Then, taking the series or a sweep from the rest of the teams. That would mean at least another 28 wins, making them 43-13 or better through those 56 games.
Starting off against Cincinnati and Miami could be a great advantage. Both of the these teams are in deep rebuilding years, and ‘should’ be good to get the offense clicking. Next, the Dodgers have already taken two of three from the Nationals, so no reason to believe they couldn’t do it again. Then, they head home for games against the Rockies, Padres and Phillies. Colorado and Philly are quietly having pretty good seasons so far, but again, no reason to think the Dodgers couldn’t take two of three from each of them. And so on down the line against all upcoming opponents.
The Dodgers have some issues they need to correct if they want to go on any sort of good run. As addressed before, the inability to get runners across the plate with any consistency has to change. In that same vein, they should stop looking at strike three right down the middle of the plate. The starters need to work longer into games, at least an inning or so each, and take some pressure off the bullpen. If they accomplish these things most of the time, I think they’ll be fine.
The NL West leading Diamondbacks, who the Dodgers thankfully don’t face again until Labor Day weekend, have a comparable schedule to the Dodgers over the next seven weeks or so. They also could go on a hot streak of their own. At this point, the Dodgers should just focus on the two teams ahead of them, the Giants and the Rockies and work on picking each of them off and getting into second place. Then after the All-Star Break, assess and work towards the playoffs.
The Dodgers are, for the offensive pitfalls I mentioned, the only team with plus run differential and a losing record. If they keep the run differential up, the record should change for the better. Both Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner will back soon. Puig is back. The Dodgers have historically gone on good runs when Kershaw is on the DL. All signs point to things finally turning in the right direction for the Dodgers for good.