The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, and have the fourth best record in all of baseball.
For most teams, fans would be thrilled with that last statement. To have your team in the position to be one of the best in baseball and have a solid chance at the postseason is really all you as a sports fan could ask for.
But this Los Angeles Dodgers team was supposed to be one of the best of all time. Three All-Star pitchers on the pitching staff, and the best top three of any lineup any one team might have ever seen. They should be running away with everything.
Injuries always a role to play in these types of situations. The Dodgers have lost one of those three great pitchers, Clayton Kershaw, to injury for most of the month of May and half of June, although he will be returning soon.
But injuries are not what are plaguing Walker Buehler and Julio Urías, at least of which we know. While Walker is 6-2, he has an ERA of 3.84, much higher than usual for him. His command of his fastball seem nonexistent at times and often finds himself in jams he has to work to get out of. Urías is only 3-5, with a 2.78 ERA and also just not the stature of pitcher we are used to seeing on the mound.
Luckily for the Dodgers the two bottom of the rotation guys in Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin have stepped up in a major way. Anderson is 7-0 with a 2.59 ERA, and Gonsolin is 6-0 with an incredible 1.59 ERA. It is a testament to the Dodgers pitching staff that they have two guys that are able to do this that at the beginning of the season were competing for the fifth slot in the rotation. If the Dodgers didn’t have them, would find themselves down the list in the division.
As for the offense, as a whole they are number one in run differential, OPS and walks taken. But they used to lead all the categories offensively. They are now sixth in team batting average, 11th in home runs, and second in RBI.
While regular season team stats don’t necessarily mean anything in the postseason, it does belie a bigger problem, or if you want to look at it optimistically, this team is not performing up to its potential.
Only one batter, Mookie Betts, is hitting above .300. Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner are both in the low .200’s. Max Muncy hasn’t gotten it together yet and is working on a rehab stint to see if he can finally get it going. The long balls are not there and the issue of hitting with runners in scoring position is still an ever present issue.
The Dodgers are losing to and/or are getting swept by teams they absolutely shouldn’t be, like the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have three losing streaks of three or more games. The bullpen is giving up leads and wins and overall, the team has just looked flat and sluggish. I was happy to see the introduction of “Club Dub”, a nightclub atmosphere in the clubhouse after wins with Mookie as DJ. To me, this team hasn’t shown the swagger it should for a team of its caliber. Of course, then they went on to lose three in a row.
But, as stated before, the good news is that the Dodgers are in the position they are in, and still have yet to fire on all cylinders. They really just need to hit their stride heading into the playoffs. But it sure would be nice to see some more flashes of that right now.