For most of the season, the Dodgers have looked invincible. But this recent skid has shown that this team indeed does have some weaknesses that can be exploited. Here are a few deficiencies that could cost them come October.
Alex Wood said it best. “I think it’s a statistical improbability to go the whole year without getting punched in the face.” That is exactly what has happened to this team entering the final month before the most important time of the year, the playoffs. The Dodgers have lost 10 of their last 11 games entering Wednesday night’s game against the scorching hot D-Backs.
These types of stretches build character, and this one has shown some of the true colors of this team that had previously been masked by wins. This team knows how to win and have shown it all season. But this stretch proves that they are prone to losing and are not unbeatable. A week of this type of baseball come October will end their season quick.
One weakness that has been masked over and over this season is the offense’s ability to manufacture runs in an ugly, pitcher-dominated game. Perhaps the poster game for this would be the (almost) no-hitter by Rich Hill. The veteran went out and pitched the game of his life, and the offense rewarded him by putting up 0 runs. They couldn’t scratch across a single run to help Hill reach history.
Come October these types of games will come almost every single day. It will be a dog fight in every single one. So getting runs by manufacturing them through smart ABs is uber important in the playoffs.
For example, having productive outs instead of what the Dodgers have been doing lately. Sac flies and ground balls that move the runner over are the little things that we have rarely seen from this team.
Something else that has masked this rarity of scratching one run has been the long-ball and that explosive inning. Before this stretch, it seemed like during at least one inning a game the Dodgers would throw up a crooked number on the board, jump out ahead and never give the lead-up. For the opposing team, when it rained it poured if the Dodgers got a run on the board because it would likely turn into more in the blink of an eye.
The Dodgers are 18th in the MLB in batting average with runners in scoring position. They also rank 18th in sacrifice flies. The Dodgers are an average to slightly below average team when it comes to producing runs. This average offensive year has gone unnoticed by the big inning which will be difficult to obtain in October.
Another staggering stat that has shown over this stretch is the impact that Corey Seager has on this ball club. As he goes, the team goes. His splits in games won and games lost are eye-popping. In games that the Dodgers win Seager is hitting .341 with a .985 OPS. In games lost Seager is hitting .237 with only a .655 OPS.
Essentially what this proves is that Seager is the driving force of this offense. If Seager is off, it is hard for the team to score runs. If he is bad the team is bad. If Corey gets shut down, the offense has a tough time producing runs. The other player who drops off significantly in wins and losses is Justin Turner. And there is a correlation between the two. If Seager is off, it is much easier to pitch to JT.
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The third weakness of this team has been the overworking of the bullpen which has led to its regression in the second-half of the season. The bullpen was producing some drool worthy stats in the first half of the season, but certain players have seen themselves have a completely different second half. This very well may be due to over use and fatigue.
Nearly every player in that bullpen has seen their ERA jump up by at least one from before and after the All-Star break. In particular, Pedro Baez, who had 1.43 ERA during the first half of the season but since the summer classic, his ERA is just under five. Luis Avilan and Ross Stripling are the two players who improved, but that’s it. Jansen is still dominant but not on that historical pace that he enjoyed early on in the season.
These three weaknesses have shown that the Dodgers are beatable. If Seager isn’t on the field or if he is struggling the Dodgers struggle. The bullpen looks tired and worn out entering the playoffs, which can lead to a major problem in the playoffs (just like last year). And if the Dodgers aren’t able to manufacture runs in pitcher-dominated games, October will be another failure.