At their best point in early April, the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to be a well-oiled machine on its way to yet another deep postseason run. At their worst point later in the month, the team seems to need a boost in a multitude of areas.
As May draws near, the Dodgers have dropped seven of their last nine games. They have lost two consecutive series. Perhaps what stands out more, though, is that they have lost three straight games for the first time since August 2019.
All teams have bad patches over the course of a normal length season, and the Dodgers will certainly rebound to some degree. Still, as recent play would indicate, there are some vulnerabilities on the squad. This current stretch of games might be used as a tool to address these types of weaknesses.
Nevertheless, some players like utilityman Matt Beaty seem to think the team will soon regain momentum. “We’re fine,” said Beaty after the team’s 6-5 loss to the Reds on Tuesday. “We know what we have in this clubhouse. We’re really good ballplayers. We’re confident. This is gonna happen over 162 games. We’ve got some really key ballplayers banged up right now.”
It’s hard to pinpoint just one primary area of weakness right now, as both relief pitching and timely hitting stand out at the top of the list. However, when looking at the group of players currently housed on the injured list, there might not be a single difference-maker aside from Zach McKinstry or Cody Bellinger, both of whom could be on the shelf for another several weeks.
As far as relief pitching goes, it’s tough to measure the performance of a unit based on one stat. ERA is very inaccurate for relievers, as the inherited runners who score are credited to the pitcher who left them, in some cases being the actual starter. Regardless, the Los Angeles relief crew is 15th in the majors with a 3.98 ERA as a unit. That same figure is good enough for 8th in the National League.
Some folks like to use WHIP as a measuring stick. Right now, the Dodgers’ relief crew is 28th in the majors with a 1.47 WHIP. That mark is good enough for 14th in the NL, one notch above the NL-worst Rockies.
Los Angeles relievers have given up a whopping 41 walks so far this year, which is sixth most in the National League and seventh most in baseball. The .238 batting average against is the 11th worst among bullpens in the National League.
From a distance, some fans might think the bullpen needs to make a significant upgrade or two to maintain long term success, especially considering the injury to Corey Knebel. With closer Kenley Jansen seemingly unavailable to throw on back-to-back nights, it definitely leaves somewhat of a void in certain situations.
However, the players on the 10-day injured list might soon provide some added depth, as mediocre as they might be. Victor Gonzalez and Mitch White were added to the IL on Tuesday after being vaccinated recently and might be available as soon as Wednesday. Reports surfaced over the last few days that Joe Kelly is not too far away from a potential return. Tony Gonsolin might be a little longer, but he may also be the best prospective upgrade of all the players currently sitting on the IL.
Additionally, there are a bunch of youngsters who are on the 40-man roster who might end up seeing big league time this year, including Gerardo Carrillo, Andre Jackson, Edwin Uceta, and Alex Vesia, who was recalled last week but has not yet thrown. A pair of thirty-something arms in Brandon Morrow and James Pazos are throwing at the alternate site, although neither are members of the current 40-man.
There’s a long way to go until the summer trade deadline, and the Dodgers may have enough resources to get them there, so there’s probably no need to panic just yet.
Consistent offense, however, might be a totally different story.