To say this season has been frustrating is an understatement. Every time the Dodgers seem to get things going, some other piece of bad news hits the fan. It has been said that during any series at Coors Field, the best you can hope for is to get in, get out and hopefully everyone escape healthy. It didn’t quite happen that way this time.
The Dodgers offense went flat, they lost their All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for up to a month with an irregular heartbeat, and the remaining relievers were unable to hold any ninth inning tie or lead. They dropped three of four to the Rockies, and now Colorado is only one-half game behind the Dodgers, who are a full game behind the Diamondbacks.
Is it time to panic? Or maybe not panic, but make some radical changes? That is definitely not Dave Roberts‘ MO, as he and the team remained pretty evenly keeled through the 11 game losing streak in 2017, opting to just let the team play through the horrid stretch and regain their footing on their own.
But back then, the Dodgers had a big lead in the division, and didn’t need to fight for first in the NL West like they do now. They are not even in first place now, and every game is stressful and important. There isn’t really much time to let players stay in the lineup to work their way out of slumps, and unfortunately, there are quite a few players who are slumping.
Yasmani Grandal has been pretty good at the plate, even though he’s been letting a lot of balls get passed him on defense. Austin Barnes, on the other hand, has been abysmal. Kyle Farmer is batting .292 with six homers and 23 doubles at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Enrique Hernandez, utility player extraordinaire, has been anything but at the plate. In the second half, he’s slashing .151/.196/.245. Matt Kemp similarly has also regressed mightily in the second half, with a slash line of .172/.250/.297. Meanwhile, Alex Verdugo is in OKC and is leading all batters in the Pacific Coast League in batting average, and has a slash line of .346/.395/.500/.895.
Before Sunday’s game, the Dodgers announced that both Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling will be moving to the bullpen, with Maeda most likely moving there for good and Stripling just for the time being, although Stripling won’t be available until Tuesday and Wednesday for Maeda.
Last year’s mantra was “This Team.” It is truly going to take every member of this year’s team to get them back to the playoffs, let alone the World Series. Whether it’s moving to the bullpen, or maybe optioning someone who didn’t think they would be optioned, or only sticking with hot bats and not strictly playing matchups, something has to spark some urgency in the team. I’m not saying it’s a panic situation yet, but the Dodgers cannot let this division slip away by letting players work their way out of slumps at their own pace. The division may be lost by then.