For as much as we thought pitching might be a potential problem for the team early in the season, an inconsistent offense is keeping the 2021 Dodgers from being something special.
However, as is the nature of baseball, that could change in the blink of an eye.
Up until around the All-Star break, the Dodgers’ overall offensive production was still ranked among the top teams in baseball, even though the inconsistencies were obvious. Those rankings had a lot to do with the many games when the team would pound their opponents with double-digit outputs. When the offense would go dormant the following night, the numbers always seemed to balance out, preventing the club from soaring to the top of the NL West.
Heading into Sunday’s games, the Dodgers are ranked 5th in the majors in run production, a category they’d been ranked in the Top 3 all year. They’ve fallen to 10th in baseball with a .746 team OPS and are 4th in long balls, another category they have dominated in recent years.
Those double-digit offensive outputs are no longer around to sway the stats.
Of course, there are many causes for the offensive inconsistencies. Mookie Betts has seen his average drop 25 points from 2020 after contending with a sore hip almost all season. Cody Bellinger’s average has fallen a monstrous 81 points since last year.
Aside from Will Smith, the players who typically hit in the No. 5 thru No. 8 holes have not been producing at all, particularly since AJ Pollock’s hamstring injury. Chris Taylor has gone two for his last 38 AB, which calculates to a dismal .053 average.
Since arriving in Los Angeles, outfielder Billy McKinney curiously garnered 98 plate appearances, tallying a depressing .146/.276/.232 slash line, which may or may not have led to his placement on the injured list.
Lux’s inclusion in the lineup might indicate that Bellinger’s long-lasting slump is a reality, something fans seemed to be certain of for a while.
However, in spite of the offensive hole left by Pollock, the potential is there for the team to succeed down the stretch of 2021, especially if skipper Dave Roberts sticks to a somewhat regular lineup, something he suggested he would do at the conclusion of the most recent series against the Cardinals.
As we all know, things could change quickly. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple sparks, like Betts being moved back to the leadoff spot and Taylor catching fire at the dish.
The Los Angeles pitching staff has shown that it is ready for the 2021 playoff challenge, and now it’s time for the offense to respond similarly — in a consistent fashion.