At the exact halfway mark of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers control the National League West division by a half-dozen games over their nearest competitor. They’re 25 games over .500, a mark that many fans would have expected at the onset of the season.
The way the team has gotten there, though, has many pundits befuddled. Obviously, even the really good teams across the league can’t win every game, but the Dodgers lose quite a few that they should have won — case in point, having been swept by the Pirates in their own house a few months back.
The superior teams each year seem to improve as the season progresses and typically hit their peaks right when the playoffs roll around. The Dodgers, however, appear to be riding a never-ending roller coaster, leaving fans unsure which team will show up on any given night.
Nevertheless, the club’s 9-1 run is a great example of the peaks they have hit this year. There’s been some timely hitting — see Will Smith on Friday — and some long-awaited in-game management strategies by skipper Dave Roberts — see choosing Alex Vesia over Craig Kimbrel on Thursday. More moments like these could suggest an even more successful second half.
As fans, we’d be happy to say that we hope this caliber of play continues, but we’re not that gullible. We’re familiar with the inconsistencies, and we know that it’s tough for a team to excel with several sub-Mendoza Line hitters smack-dab in the middle of the lineup along with one of the most underperforming closers on the senior circuit.
As crazy as it sounds, the Dodgers still lead the majors with a 2.91 team ERA, thanks primarily to the heroics of Tony Gonsolin. The Los Angeles starting rotation has a remarkable 2.66 combined ERA, almost a half-run better than the second-place Yankees with a 3.14 mark. With Walker Buehler set to rejoin the team at some point, there might be a chance the starting rotation gets even better, so long as the key members stay healthy.
The bullpen is a bit of a different story with a combined 3.28 ERA, sitting in sixth place in the majors. Even though some players can be described as overachieving — Evan Phillips and Yency Almonte, for example — the consensus is the relief crew could be better. There’s no question there will be at least one significant addition before the trade deadline arrives in a few weeks.
Right now, fans can say that the Dodgers are in a great spot heading into the second half, as things could be a lot worse. However, based on the streakiness we’ve seen so far, anything can happen.
Some might say that’s why teams play the game, but with the way the Dodgers look on paper, there’s no National League team even close to them talent-wise right now.
Let’s just hope they’re healthy with a full tank of gas when October rolls around.