The Los Angeles Dodgers have started the month of August off at 2-1, and if they want to catch the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, they’re going to have to stay at least at that pace for the rest of the month and beyond.
The Giants are 11-8 since the All-Star break, not great, but obviously not terrible. The Dodgers are 9-9, and find themselves 3.5 games out of first. The lack of urgency in the head-to-head matchup for the Boys in Blue against the rivals to the North did the team no favors.
Dennis touched on this lack of consistency yesterday, and we saw it in the Houston series. The crowd was hugely into the game, Walker Buehler while having too many pitches was shutting the Astros down, and getting fired up after every strikeout. And yet, the offense did nothing.
As Dennis also noted, some credit does go to the opposing pitcher. Lance McCullers also took that game personally, tweeting after the game “That was for the H.” He systematically shut down the Dodgers offense. But if the Dodgers want to go deep into the playoffs again, they need to be able to handle pitchers of that caliber, and mostly, get back to their patient, grind-it-out at-bats that have helped them in the past.
The August Edition of the Dodgers does look markedly different than the previous renditions. It now includes former Cy Young and World Series champ Max Scherzer in the starting rotation. His energy and intensity was immediately felt, on and off the mound. While not brought to the team to replace Clayton Kershaw, his fire on the mound rivals his new teammate’s and Buehler’s. With Kershaw out of the rotation for who knows how long, it is a welcome addition to a team that cannot keep the intensity from game to game so far this season.
While Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock have been consistently good most of the season, others have not. Cody Bellinger is still dealing with the long-term effects of his shoulder surgery and finds himself at the bottom of the batting order. Corey Seager also has yet to find his power stroke since returning from his own injury. Justin Turner, once Top 5 in batting average in the National League, is hitting .226 over his last 15 games.
But the good news is that the lineup is all back together and about to get another jolt of energy added to it. Trea Turner has yet to join the team due to Covid-19 protocols, but is expected to be around this weekend. So far this season, Trea is batting .328 with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases. That’s 11 more stolen bases than the previous team leader Taylor, the highest batting average on the team, and third highest in home runs.
Once the new lineup is constructed and the batters settle into their new, hopefully consistent spots in it, I have no doubt they will become more consistent at scoring, and not just at the top. This lineup will be stacked.
The Giants just saw one of their top pitchers, Anthony DeSclafani, go on the injured list. Aside from games with Arizona and Colorado, San Francisco has a tough month of opponents ahead, facing the New York Mets for six games, the Milwaukee Brewers five times, and the Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves for three games each.
If there was a time for the Dodgers to get hot and hit their stride, it is now.