So far this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have used superior pitching, decent offense and sound defense to produce one of the best records in baseball. Despite their success, there have been some areas of concern for fans, primarily when it comes to offensive consistency.
Heading into the series against Chicago, the Dodgers have dropped to 11th in the majors with a not-so-impressive .239 team batting average. That mark is good enough for sixth in the National League, trailing their weekend host Cubs for fifth place by a few percentage points.
The Dodgers are tied for tenth in the bigs with 114 runs scored, a position they are not accustomed to being in after regularly hanging around the Top 5 the last handful of years. However, their +57-run differential is still the best in baseball, suggesting that they typically destroy their opponents one night while falling silent the next.
This offensive inconsistency is something we’ve seen often over the last few seasons, and one of the primary reasons behind it is that several of the team’s key offensive contributors are extremely streaky.
A handful of daily starters are sitting below a .250 season batting average. Some of these players have shown improvement in recent games, as batters like Mookie Betts have increased their averages as high as 20 points over the past week. Despite some minor signs of promise, Max Muncy has a team-low .151 average after logging 91 plate appearances so far.
The same goes for Justin Turner with a .183 average. Cody Bellinger, who earned NL Player of the Week honors for April 18-24, has fallen back down to a .205/.275/.434 slash line. Over his last 31 plate appearances, Bellinger is hitting .071 (2-for-28) with nine punchouts.
Things are a lot different on the pitching front. The Dodgers are far and away the team ERA leaders in the majors with a 2.21 combined ERA, light years ahead of the second-place Yankees with a 2.60 mark. All six Los Angeles starters — including Tyler Anderson — have ERAs below 2.55. Tony Gonsolin leads the way with a 1.64 ERA, and Julio Urias is not far behind at 1.88.
Clayton Kershaw leads the entire team with a ridiculous 0.696 WHIP over an even 23 innings pitched heading into Saturday’s early game.
What’s even more impressive is that Los Angeles starting pitching has a combined 1.90 ERA to dominate the big leagues. The bullpen’s combined 2.65 ERA is good enough for third in the majors.
We’ve been talking a lot about how the division is certainly not decided in the spring months, but when the club is facing some of the league’s worst teams so early in the year, it’s critical to capitalize and work out some of the kinks — especially on offense in the case of the Dodgers.
Sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley is a great place to start.