In a normal season, if the Dodgers had gotten off to a 2-2 start, fans would grumble and make excuses while probably being a little concerned—overall it wouldn’t be that big a deal. After all, even though the Dodgers were playing the San Francisco Giants, who are most definitely in a rebuilding year, it’s still the Giants, and crazy things happen in games against them.
This season being the different beast that it is, that same 2-2 start is a little more concerning for two reasons. One, there is less time to make up ground in the standings if a team has a slow start. Second, and more concerning, is just how flat the Dodgers’ offense looked in the second two games, and how bad the pitching looked.
The good news with the standings is that the Dodgers reside in the NL West, and should have no problem rising to the top by the time this shortened season is over. And, so far this season, the have the second-highest run differential of all 30 Major League Teams, with +12.
In other good news, both Dustin May and Ross Stripling, who originally were not slated to be in the Dodgers starting rotation, had very good first outings. I did expect that from Stripling, who has been a good pitcher and also has been chomping at the bit to get out and prove himself in a regular starting capacity. But May was a pleasant surprise, not in that he’s not a good pitcher, but in the fact he found out he might be the Opening Day starter, replacing Clayton Kershaw just the day before he was to start.
The bullpen has also been incredibly solid. Aside from Brusdar Graterol, Dennis Santana and Pedro Báez, no other relief pitcher has allowed a run. Dylan Floro and Blake Treinen have looked especially good, again with the short sample size caveat.
On the offense side, Justin Turner is off to a very hot start, batting .467 with four RBI and a 1.289 OPS. Normally he starts the season slow in April, maybe a summer start is what he needed all along. Max Muncy has two home runs, and Joc Pederson is also off to a very good start.
But on the flip side of the coin, there are some concerns. Neither Alex Wood nor Julio Urias had strong initial outings. Both issued three walks, and their command of the strike zone was not sharp. Still, the pitching staff overall gave up five runs in the Giants’ highest scoring game, not a number that is out of reach to overcome. Many runners were once again left stranded on the bases.
Mookie Betts has not had a hot start at all, but overall I’m not worried about him, because, he is Mookie Betts.
Mostly what was concerning to me was the lack of urgency the team seemed to have in both Saturday and Sunday’s games. In both games, the Dodgers were only two runs behind going into the late innings, and in both games they couldn’t quite seem to muster any energy to rally. I concede this could be because the crowd is not there to help pump them up, but that would conceivably be the case for the whole season and they need to figure out some way to get themselves going.
Of course, this all may be for naught anyway because as I write this, news is breaking that a total of 12 players and two members of the Miami Marlins pitching staff have tested positive for Covid-19. They were in Philadelphia playing the Phillies, who they could have now all potentially infected. Even if they didn’t, the New York Yankees are now slated to use the same clubhouse and dugout that the Marlins just occupied, starting Monday.
An outbreak this big on one team could have a huge rippling effect throughout the whole league, and this is what a lot of us were worried about from the beginning. Stay tuned for the repercussions of this throughout the day.