Before you panic, remember we went 5 – 20 last season during a 25 game stretch
It is easy to panic when the record is 16 – 24 to start a season but every season will have hot and cold streaks. I’m sure no one has forgotten the Dodgers went 5 – 20 from Aug 26th to Sept 20th in 2017 on the way to 104 wins. If the 2017 team had started out 5 – 20 everyone would have been making October vacation plans.
The question we have to ask ourselves doesn’t relate to the record of 16 – 24, the question we have to ask ourselves is “Can a team who won 104 games the previous year and made very few changes to the team really become this bad a team?” There is a reason the season is 162 games long but with 25% of the season already in the tank, the Dodgers have to play the rest of the year like a postseason contender team.
The good news for the Dodgers is that the Diamondbacks did not run away and hide as they also had a horrible week. They didn’t lose four to the Reds at home but they did lose four games at home to the Nationals and now carry a five-game losing streak into the upcoming week. The Dodgers lost a huge opportunity to make up big ground on the Diamondbacks but at least they still have skin in the game.
The better news for the Dodgers is that Justin Turner is returning to the lineup on Tuesday. They have clearly missed everything about Justin Turner, from his bat, his glove, to his leadership. When Kyle Farmer and Matt Muncy are the replacements you have a right to question those of us who claimed the Dodgers were deep everywhere. Evidently, the Dodgers weren’t. One of the arguments for the depth comments was Logan Forsythe. Logan was supposed to be able to play 3rd base at an above average replacement level, but instead was below replacement level when he took his predictable injuries back to the DL. While JustinTurner is going to help the team, I’m not sure how much Logan Forsythe is. I’m going to assume that Logan will not get the full-time gig at 2nd as imagined at the start of the year and will be in a strict platoon with Chase Utley. We can only hope that Logan remembers how to crush left-hand pitching and somehow along the way starts to hit RHP so that Chase can rest more as the season goes on. All this while staying healthy. That is probably a false hope. I’m starting to feel that Logan will only hit well when completely healthy but the times where he is completely healthy will only be for a few weeks.
When I started writing this column my goal was to show that even in our 104 win season we had a stretch of horrible baseball that lasted for 25 games and that all is not lost in 2018 because of the 16 – 24 record on May 14th.
But…………………..the more I wrote the more I have to admit that this team just doesn’t feel like the past five teams. Headed into the season the Dodgers had four legitimate top ten MVP candidates. Of those four:
- Seager is gone for the year
- Justin Turner has yet to play a game, and while he returns on Tuesday we have to expect he’ll take a while to get his game upto the level we have seen the past three years.
- Clayton Kershaw is already on the DL. The issue is hopefully minor and he’ll come back in a week or two and be ready to take his place as the ace of the rotation.
- Cody Bellinger is really starting to struggle with ten strikeouts in his last twenty-one plate appearances. He still has a decent OPS+ for the season, but he is clearly not a top ten MVP candidate which might be what the Dodgers need with Corey Seager out for the year.
With none of the MVP candidates performing at anything close to MVP level and one already gone for the year the rest of the team needs to step up and that simply isn’t happening beyond Walker Buehler, Yazmani Grandal, and Matt Kemp.
None of these comments below are unique to Dodger fans.
- The bullpen has to pitch better but I’m not sure the arms the Dodgers have accumulated in this bullpen are up to the task. They might need to dig deeper and look at some prospects to help in the bullpen. What Koehler can bring when he’s finally healthy is still a huge question mark. Alexander may have gotten it together. Venditte is a great story but has never had any sustained major league success. It is doubtful that will change in 2018. Baez is………..Baez. Cingrani was brilliant, then wasn’t and is now hurt. Anyway, five-inning starters are a big deal when the bullpen is not a lockdown bullpen but a sieve of runs.
- Ryu is gone until Aug which is only a big deal because he was the best pitcher in the rotation when he got hurt.
- Kenta and Hill are 2/5 of the rotation and neither has pitched consistent enough to lay claim to a rotation spot on a contending team.
- Roberts is making questionable in-game moves game after game. He’d be a great seven-inning game manager but it seems his moves are made without regard to how his roster would play out in the 9th when he has emptied the bench. Maybe that was why he let Ross Stripling hit the other day in a key situation.
- Walker Buehler is pitching great, but that means he is also eating up his precious innings in May.
- Jansen was allowed to do whatever he wanted this spring and wasn’t ready for the season. He is now getting outs, but he still isn’t Kenley Jansen.
- The second best hitter in May so far has been Matt Muncy………..
- The defense seems less with Taylor at SS and Kiké/Joc manning CF instead of Kiké at SS and Taylor manning CF but that could simply be perception.
Is this team good enough to make a run from the depths they are currently sitting at? Probably. Are they good enough to make the postseason without a trade to upgrade the rotation, bullpen, or infield? Probably not.
Right now the Dodgers just need to accomplish some baby steps.
- The first step is to win a series. The last series they won was against the Nationals back on April 22nd.
- The second step would be to win a week
- The third step is to get back to .500
- The fourth step is winning enough to put their hat back into the wild card ring
- The fourth step if they can accomplish the first four baby steps is to get back in the Nl West Divison race.
I would bet on the team having the legs for the first three steps, I’m not betting on steps four and five unless different legs are added to the team.
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