Dodgers: Flexing Muscle to Power Through Hot Stretch

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Jun 20, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Cody Bellinger (35) hits a two run home run in the first inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Cody Bellinger (35) hits a two run home run in the first inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The weather is heating up, and so are the Dodgers. They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games, as the offense has come alive in mid-June. An interesting fact about this winning run has been the Dodgers ability to hit the long ball consistently. There have been other intriguing stats during this remarkable run.

Historically, the Dodgers haven’t been associated with power. But the Dodgers hitters one through nine have been a threat to launch the ball out of the park during any given at-bat. The Dodgers have homered at least once in their last 13 games, and they have had more than one home run in all but four of their last 13. Additionally, of their last 28 runs, 21 have been driven in by the home run. Four home runs on Monday and five on Tuesday against the Mets.

One player who’s stood out above the rest is none other than the rookie sensation, Cody Bellinger. Bellinger broke Major League records by becoming the fastest and youngest player to reach 21 home runs when he hit two in his 51st game. He only cemented that record by hitting another one the following night. Before Wednesday, he’d left the yard 10 times in his last ten games, the only rookie to ever do so.

With one rookie sensation making a ton of noise, last year’s Rookie of the Year felt left out of the action. Corey Seager kick started this power surge for the Dodgers when he homered off of Stephen Strasburg to propel Clayton Kershaw to a win in a pitcher’s duel. However, since then, he’s only hit one. That was until Tuesday night when he smacked three home runs. He nearly had a fourth, but Yoenis Cespedes had the fortunes of a late-inning Chavez Ravine cool down, which killed the ball at the warning track.

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Not to say the Dodgers don’t have power on their own, but the weather has played a crucial part to the Dodgers’ power surge. The past couple days at Dodger Stadium have been north of 85 degrees at the start of the game. As many know, the marine layer which creeps into the ravine at night hinders would-be home runs from going out. The Dodgers have also played in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, legendary for its hitter-friendly boundaries, which assisted the Dodgers’ run.

The red-hot redhead is also showing some pop, which has been somewhat absent for most of the season. Turner is having a phenomenal season, hitting just below .400. Though he lingered with a single homer for a while, he’s hit three in the recent stretch. Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor have also hit three during this streak. Joc Pederson came off the DL hot, hitting safely in seven straight games.

On the flip side, it looks like the home run epidemic has reached the pitching staff as well. Dodgers’ pitchers did a solid job of limiting the ball within the park, ranking fifth best in home runs allowed on the season. However, Dodgers’ pitchers have surrendered 30 home runs in June, 11th most.

Two ugly outings come to mind which demonstrates the Dodgers’ struggle to keep the ball in the park. The 8-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds, was originally an 8-1 game until a couple of home runs brought the Reds back into the game. If it weren’t for a game-saving catch from Kike Hernandez, the damage could’ve been much worse. The second game was Monday’s game against the Mets. Clayton Kershaw gave up four home runs in a game for the first time in his career. This highlighted Kershaw’s struggle with the long ball this season. Those homers put him in a three-way tie for ninth most home runs given up by a pitcher. One more and it puts him in another three-way tie for sixth most, with 18.

Next: Dodgers: Should Bellinger Compete in the HR Derby

Kershaw’s struggle is concerning, but at the moment it is not hurting the Dodgers significantly. The Dodgers are living and dying by the home run during this mid-June run, but mostly living. They are flying high, riding Bellinger’s ludicrous power display, while others get hot around him. How long this trend continues remains to be seen, but as of right now, it’s entertaining at the least.

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