The 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers are a fun little enigma to figure out.
It is my birthday today, so I hope you’ll allow me to wax on about just what is, or isn’t, going on with this team this season.
On the surface, it seems silly to think that the Dodgers are bad. They are owners of the second best record in all of baseball. Their pitching staff has the best ERA in the entire major leagues. The player with the highest batting average in the majors plays for them, Trea Turner at .323. The pitcher with the best ERA in the majors also plays for them, Walker Buehler sitting at 2.02. They boast player like Max Scherzer and Max Muncy and Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. Former and future MVPS and Cy Young winners abound.
Chatting with my friend who is a Braves fan this morning, he laughed out loud when I lamented how the Dodgers suck. “You guys have a +206 run differential!” Of course, they do not actually suck. But they are incredibly frustrating.
The Dodgers had the chance to gain another game on the first place San Francisco Giants, who lost two-of-three to the Atlanta Braves over the weekend. The team has admitted to some scoreboard watching and so they most likely knew that the Giants had lost Sunday’s game before they began their own contest against the Colorado Rockies. And yet! They didn’t score one dang run.
Just last week, I mentioned that maybe the team had turned a corner. They were starting to win games that they hadn’t before, close games and games it felt like they should lose. And then they went and lost two games against the Colorado Rockies, who have the worst away game record in the majors!
The pitching situation has gotten so dire that Justin Turner came in to pitch the top of ninth, down 5-0. A bucket list item for him, Turner allowed two hits but did not allow either to score. He now hold the record for best ERA ever on the staff, tied with Russell Martin.
It’s true that injuries have ravaged the roster, and that some guys are playing that maybe shouldn’t be because of it. Injuries have also been most felt in the pitching staff, where the Dodgers have still had to field multiple bullpen games even with the acquisition of Scherzer. That is what lead to Turner pitching in a game that the team had apparently given up on.
To me, that’s the biggest thing. The depth has gotten them to where they are. But there seems to be a lack of fire to take them to the top of the division. I tweeted yesterday that the Dodgers seem allergic to first place. Every time it seems like it is in their grasp, they can’t quite get themselves there.
Maybe the team thinks they can turn it on when they need to. They could just be lying in wait, managing their injuries, and depending on the playoffs to light a fire underneath them. But the Wild Card game scares me. Especially if it is the Cincinnati Reds, as it seems to be shaping up to be. A team with a bunch of good hitters, super fun vibe, and nothing to lose. The most dangerous of teams.
The Dodgers face a tough test this week, with three against the NL East leading Braves and then three against the Giants. The Giants are playing the Milwaukee Brewers and their fantastic pitching staff. If the Dodgers show up, they could be in first place by this time next week, and nothing would please me more to be proven wrong.