The Dodgers are struggling as of late and haven’t been too spectacular all season either. Everything is going against them right now, but despite these struggles, there’s no need to panic.
Injuries are piling up, three-fifths of the rotation has been struggling, and the Dodgers are the sixth-worst team with runners left in scoring position per game. Some may be hovering over the panic button, especially after the Dodgers surrendered 22 runs during Friday’s and Saturday’s games to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Los Angeles stormed out of the gates this season with a tramping of the San Diego Padres, but ever since then they’ve only scored more than three runs in a game five times, excluding the three games in Arizona this weekend.
A big reason why the Dodgers are doing so poorly is the fact that the starting rotation, other than Clayton Kershaw, is once again failing to go anywhere near deep into ball games. Rich Hill was brilliant in his two starts, but a nagging blister has sent him to the DL. Hyun-Jin Ryu has shown his rust and Kenta Maeda may need some time to figure things out. However, Brandon McCarthy has been the most consistent starter other than Kershaw this season and even went seven innings yesterday.
By the numbers, the Dodgers’ staff hasn’t been terrible. They’ve only given up more than four runs once this season, disregarding Friday and Saturday, and that was a 10-6 win. The problem has been run support.
The Dodgers’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position is something Dodger fans are all too familiar with. The old story of loading the bases with nobody out and finding ways to not score is what tells the Dodgers’ 2017 story so far. However, the hits will eventually fall.
Corey Seager and Justin Turner are leading the team in hitting, but Seager is also leading the team in strikeouts and Turner hasn’t hit a home run yet. The strikeouts are concerning, but Seager is still doing his part driving in runs, leading the team in RBI with 15. Turner’s power is oddly not there, but he does have a National League-leading nine doubles which may turn into home runs eventually.
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On the note of just missing going yard, Yasiel Puig is seeing the ball very well. He only has four home runs and an average hovering around .250, but a good amount of the fly balls he’s hit are just a few feet from being home runs. What’s more impressive though is he’s walking more than he is striking out. Usually when hitters see the ball well but the results don’t show, the hits eventually come. He has a BABIP of .222 (below the .300 average) so he is due to improve anytime now.
The Dodgers’ struggles against left-handed pitching continues but at least the right-handed bats are doing better against them. Justin Turner is finally doing somewhat well against lefties, batting over .300. What’s even better is Logan Forsythe, who was brought in to hit left-handed pitching, is hitting over .400 against them. If he continues his success after returning from the DL, the Dodgers will be solid.
The anomaly is the other right-handed batters who are batting sub-.200 against lefties. But perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. As teams are catching onto the Dodgers’ inability to hit lefties, they will throw more at them. With that though, comes more experience which may provide the hitters with an opportunity to figure out how to hit them.
Lastly, the Dodgers have a strong bullpen they can still rely on. Up until the two implosions againt Arizona, the bullpen was lights out. The implosions were in large part due to them being completely worn out.
They have a strong back consisting of Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Sergio Romo, and Grant Dayton (when he returns). Josh Fields has been impressive, and Alex Wood is brilliant when he doesn’t face the same hitter more than once.
The Dodgers have a lot of work to do to take their place atop the NL West. It will be a tough road ahead, especially with key players going down. Los Angeles’ struggles and flatness in play may be the growing pains before they go on a tear.
They are coming off a 6-2 victory over Arizona and open up a series against struggling rivals the San Francisco Giants. Maybe things will start to click now. Hopefully this is the case for anxious Dodger fans, but everyone should keep in mind, it’s only April.