Dodgers Slowly Returning to Full Strength

The Los Angeles Dodgers have finished their six-game road trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh. With a 4-2 record, the Dodgers have also climbed back into sole possession of second place in the National League West. The San Francisco Giants face the Washington Nationals this weekend, whose game on Thursday night was postponed due to weather. The San Diego Padres were off on Thursday.

The Boys in Blue lost two of three in Atlanta, and then went on the sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rain played a part in every game in Pittsburgh, delaying the first two games and ending the last game in the top of the eighth inning when the Dodgers had two on and Albert Pujols at the plate.

Manager Dave Roberts had mentioned after the Atlanta series that Mookie Betts was going to homer soon. He led off the game Thursday with a home run, his first since May 18. Betts went 2-for-4 on the day with a walk and had an incredible throw from right field to cut down a runner at home.

Cody Bellinger was 2-for-5 in the finale with two singles and two runs scored, with one strikeout. Zach McKinstry had a hit, as well as every starter besides Max Muncy and Austin Barnes, who walked three times.

Still, the Dodgers loaded the bases three times in the game and only cashed a few of those runners in. Bellinger left four on base, as did Muncy. Barnes and Betts both left three on base.

Julio Urías gave up three runs over six innings, with only five strikeouts and allowed a two-run home run. He wasn’t stellar, but still a quality start for his MLB-leading ninth win of the season.

Tony Gonsolin unfortunately showed that he’s not quite ready to rejoin the big team. What was supposed to be his return to the starting rotation on Wednesday turned into another bullpen game for the Dodgers, and thankfully they were playing the lowly Pirates. The offense could muster anything more than two home runs off the bat of Justin Turner.

Walker Buehler pitched well on Tuesday, but the game got close enough in the final innings that Kenley Jansen had to be brought in to close it. Nate Jones allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth making Roberts pivot to Jansen instead for the last out.

All of this to say that even though the Dodgers were 4-2 on this road trip and are 19-8 over their last 27 games, they still aren’t playing anywhere close to their best baseball.

Bellinger, since his return from the injured list, is only hitting .200 with one extra base hit. On Thursday, though, Roberts said “He’s just one good series away from everything lining up.”

The Dodgers now head home for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, and then welcome the Philadelphia Phillies before they head to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks. Three series to try to get everyone back up to speed and healthy before the Dodgers have to face the Padres, Giants and Chicago Cubs to end the month.

3 thoughts on “Dodgers Slowly Returning to Full Strength

  1. I liked what I saw ZMac today. Not every good swing results in a base hit but he hit the ball hard a couple of times today. McKinstry now has one less RBI than Will Smith in half as many at bats. And only four fewer RBI than Mookie.

    I was also happy to see Belli go to left field for a hit. If he continues to swing that way with two strikes, he’ll easily add 30 points to his batting average by year’s end.

    I’m a bit concerned about Catman. If we include last year’s playoffs it’s really been quite a while since he’s pitched well. I would give him at least another two or three starts before trying something else, but for the time being, we had better be ready to turn a Gonsolin start into a bullpen game on short notice.

    1. Gonsolin’s stuff looked ok. His command didn’t. Hopefully it will come.

      Hopefully we continue to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat while getting healthy.

      Kershaw’s 7-5, on pace for double digit losses, something he has done only once in his career. His ERA sits a full run and half above what he did last year and 1.2 runs above his career average. His BAbip is up a bit, but his xFIP really isn’t. He’s 33, with a lot of innings and a list of injuries that have sidelined him. Cause for concern?

      Is this team as good as last year’s team? Not yet, that’s for sure. But there’s a lot of time left.

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