2021 Dodgers: Best Team Ever or Unluckiest Team Ever?

If you thought at the beginning of the season that watching the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 was just going to be a cake walk of a year, you would have been mistaken.

The Best Team Ever, as some baseball pundits proclaimed to start the season, most definitely is not the luckiest team ever. The Dodgers have been riddled with injuries in every facet of their roster, partially leading to a skid where they’ve lost seven of their last 10 games.

The vaulted depth is severely being tested early on in the season. Cody Bellinger was spiked in a fluke accident trying to run to first, and the bone is taking awhile to heal. New SuperUtility Guy Zach McKinstry was sidelined with oblique issues. Corey Knebel, after seemingly returning to All-Star form, was just moved to the 60-day IL after incurring a lat strain. David Price is out four to six weeks with a hamstring injury. And the latest, Dustin May on the 10-day IL with a right arm injury.

That’s a lot for any team to lose so early in the season. A former MVP, key pieces of the bullpen, and their fifth starter who would conceivably be a number two or three in most other starting rotations.

And yet the Dodgers sit at 17-12, percentage points out of first place in the NL West, and second best record in all of baseball. Having beat up on opponents early in the season when most of the team was still healthy helps in that department.

Still, it’s early and all that’s really suffering is the expectations of a bunch of lofty thinkers and click bait writers. Despite the loss of players incurred so far, the Dodgers are still much better prepared to handle it than most teams would be.

One case in point is that the Dodgers have a bottom of the lineup that can carry the team when the top half is injured or in a funk. Yesterday, all 16 RBI came courtesy of the six-through-eight part of the lineup. A.J. Pollock and Chris Taylor are healthy and raking, and Matt Beaty has stepped right into the SuperUtility Guy roll and handling it with aplomb. He’s batting .356 on the year, .500 in his last seven games. Pollock is batting .385 in his last seven games with three homers. Guys stepping up when the Dodgers need them the most.

Some help is on the horizon, also. Although his return date is still up in the air, Tony Gonsolin is being stretched out to be the fifth starter and take May’s place in the rotation. Joe Kelly, who just revealed over the weekend that he had a cyst in his throwing arm, as also set to return to the bullpen, possibly within the next week. And while the Dodgers are in the middle of 14 consecutive game stretch, there are three off days in the next eleven calendar days that will help the rotation and the beleaguered bullpen get some rest. There is also the possibility of a rain out in Chicago Monday evening, which could help the relief crew rest after their two back-to-back bullpen games in Milwaukee.

It’s not time to start panicking yet, although watching these recent games has been anything but fun, aside from the two offensive explosions. The Dodgers have plenty of talent to weather these injury storms, and if not getting the best record in baseball ever means having a healthy team come October, that’s what means most in the long run.

20 thoughts on “2021 Dodgers: Best Team Ever or Unluckiest Team Ever?

  1. Whatever they did to Beaty at the alternate site they need to do to Rios as he looks mostly lost at the plate. Lux might benefit from an alternate site visit also.
    A rotation of Kershaw, Bauer, Buehler, Urias, and Gonsolin or Price is still one of the best if not the best in the league. The bullpen is a mess though. Glad to see Pollock get hot. Hoping Kelly comes back strong. Surely Knack, Miller, Jackson, Uceta, Carrillo, or Pepiot could help in the bullpen rather than Kickham.
    The bottom line is the offense needs to produce and that hasn’t happened. The Dodgers are determined to give Lux & Rios all the runway possible. Hopefully, they will get their heads and mechanics together at the same time.If not bring up Busch, Mann, Hoese, or ??? somebody that can make consistent contact.

  2. At the risk of repeating myself we have had minimal injuries compared to most teams. 1 position player (a 220 hitter the past 2 years), no starters until yesterday, a couple of bullpen pieces who were unknown quantities. Might be better to look at a a team with one regular hitting 300 and most everyone else hitting around 250 or less instead of trying to make excuses. And a bullpen that is erratic at best and bad at worst. The bright side is the play of some of the fill in players. And the fact that this is a very good team with a few holes.

  3. I’m not concerned about the bullpen as I think we will, as time goes on, have options from which to choose. Yep, some of the pieces that looked stellar early are broken, maybe even done for the year, but bullpen arms are rather easily replaced, and to date Friedman has been one of the better mechanics at fixing bullpens. I think he’d rather not start the clock on some of the younger guys, that’s why Kickham, but he may have to if the trend continues. Fortunately for us, we’ve got a string of starters that should go 6 and not let many games get away from from us. Even in this offensive slump, with pitchers falling left and right, we’ve lost several very close games. And 14 games in 14 days on a staff that has been stressed with injuries adds to the pressure. Yet here we are a half game out with a +45 run differential.

    I say again, we hit we win.

    I look forward to what’s next with this team.

  4. Just took a look at the weather report and, as Andy mentioned, it seems as though there is a pretty good chance they won’t get the game in tonight. Next two days look rain free so maybe we see a doubleheader tomorrow. On the other hand, Chicago weather is unpredictable so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    The bullpen guys might be happy with another day of rest but I’ll be that Pollock and Beaty aren’t thrilled with that prospect.

    1. So, will Bauer be allowed to pitch on 3 days rest? How about Gonsolin/White for 7? Roberts said Gray is not an option. Bullpen games once a week?

      1. They might let him do it once but I can’t see them doing it on a regular basis.
        I think Gonsolin is still a while away so let’s just have White go all 7.
        If Doc says no Gray I wouldn’t mind seeing White get a couple of starts just to see how he handles them. And I still don’t understand holding Nelson to one inning appearances. He’s a starter. Why not use him as a starter or long man since that is your greatest need now.

    2. Strange as it seems our bullpen is pretty good during bullpen games. Not so good when relieving starters.
      So if we all agree that there are no starters on the farm what’s next. Gonsolin and hope Price still has something left despite what he’s shown so far?

      1. Just read this on a popular blog:

        “It’s a big blow to lose Dustin May, but the Dodgers are built for this.”

        I don’t think that’s exactly true. If they were “built” to lose a #3-4 starter they’d have another one ready to step in. They do not.

        That’s not to say they can’t weather this storm, they can and they likely will, but I think it’s a safe bet to take the under on 105 wins. Losing May is going to cost a couple wins. Hard to know how many but I think 2-3 is a good guess. Depends on if they go outside the organization for a proven starter, and that won’t likely happen anytime soon.

        I’m hoping between Price, White and Gonsolin this hole is filled. I figure there will be 1+ inning added to the bullpen load each week because of this, but that shouldn’t hurt too much. Shouldn’t, but certainly could.

        Bickford huh? Never heard of him.

      2. Hey, Bickford never heard of you either.
        Drafted in the first round twice, first by the Jays who couldn’t sign him and then two years later by SF who did and then included him in the trade with the Braves for Will (the pitcher) Smith.
        Please treat him with the respect he is due. He could be our next closer………………………..or could follow Kickham to the DFA list.

      3. I am treating him with the respect he deserves. I never heard of him. I did just read he’s got a MLB ERA of 27. I look for that to improve.

      4. I have respect for so many of your excellent qualities, but at the top of that list is your never ending optimism.
        Admittedly 27.00 is a rather low bar.

      5. We’re favored in both games today, we will be favored in all these road games, and I’m thinking it’s quite possible we will be favored in every game for the rest of the year. The money just won’t bet against the Dodgers. Even with Mariana Pazos and some guy named Bickford pitching in late innings this Dodger team is gonna be favored.

        I just read that Bickford means ax man’s ford. Probably an F-150.

  5. This is getting weird. Dispite our depth we are depending on Beckford, Kirkham, Pazos , Vesia and Cleavinger. I didn’t even know they were on our team..

    1. Our depth is so great we don’t even know half the players we have. Now that’s depth!
      Kickham isn’t around any longer so don’t bother remembering him.
      Pazos was supposed to be added for yesterday’s game but when that was rained out they decided to add Ruiz for the doubleheader today instead so technically Pazos isn’t around either.
      I hope I’ve made things easier for you Gordon.
      Conversations like this usually bring out the best in Dennis. Watch him bring up an incredibly obscure pitcher from the 2014 roster just to see if anyone can remember the guy.

      1. Interesting and creative way to define depth Jefe. We have guys that come out of the bottom of a lagoon who will step up and shut down the opposition. It’s the Cubs and Angels. We should be ok for the week.

      2. I suspect Dennis isn’t going anywhere near this discussion.

      3. Dennis is finishing work and his final semester of going back to college. He’s a little busy. And positive thoughts are few and far between. But here’s one! We’re not losing at the moment!

      4. The Dodgers have a few Not Ready for Prime Time players.

        Just noticed, Muncy looks out of shape. He’s got the paunch that Turner lost.

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