The Dodgers appear to be stumbling to the finish of the regular season. While part of it has to do with figuring out the playoff roster, the Dodger regulars have struggled lately.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Dodgers were a stunning 91-36. However, due to a horrendous September, they are now holding on for dear life when it comes to home-field advantage. While they will still win the NL West, that is a mere formality for a team with baseball’s highest payroll.
The question begs, are the Dodgers underachieving? The answer is not an easy one to answer, and it depends on how you view things. According to PECOTA, the Dodgers were projected to win 98 games this season.
They are on the verge of reaching 98 wins, so they are right on course with their preseason projection and living up to standards. However, due to their magical run that saw them win 43 of 51 games, it’s a bit disappointing that the Dodgers are struggling lately.
Offensively, Los Angeles is underachieving. It may sound ridiculous for a team that has six 20+ home run players. Seven if you include Granderson, but the overall numbers say otherwise.
The Dodgers rank 22nd in batting average, 13th in RBI’s, 11th in home runs, and 13th in slugging percentage. They are in the top ten when it comes to on-base percentage and OPS, but the stats say the Dodgers are league average across the board offensively.
Given the lineup features Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and likely rookie of the year Cody Bellinger, you would expect more gaudy numbers out of the offense. That has not been the case, however.
One of the major knocks on the offense lately has been hitting with runners in scoring position. They rank 11th in OPS with runners in scoring position and only 25th in batting average.
The major Achilles heel over the past few years has been the Dodgers inability to come through with runners in scoring position in the playoffs. This year’s Dodger team will need to buck that trend if they are going to make a run at the pennant.
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This recent team-wide offensive slump makes you question which Dodger team is real. Is it the team that nearly went a whole month without losing a game, or is it this September team that is scuffling to the finish?
The most likely answer is that they are neither and they are somewhere in between the unstoppable force they were in the mid months, and the lowly team that has shown up in September.
The “Swagger” of this year’s team has disappeared for September. You could even feel the drastic change being an avid fan. It once felt like the Dodgers would somehow find a way to win even if they were losing 5-1 in the ninth inning.
Lately, it seems like they are in a big hole even if the score is along the lines of a 2-0 game in the later innings. Should they shake off this struggle, then all will be forgotten. If they continue to lose, however, there will be significant questions about the Dodgers heading into the post-season.
Pitching-wise, Los Angeles is above-average across the board with ranks of second in ERA, first in AVG allowed and first in WHIP. The bullpen has been taking a beating lately though.
Part of it is due to September call-ups pitching bad, and guys getting innings that won’t sniff the postseason roster. Some regulars are struggling though, like the infamous Pedro Baez. Pitching is this Dodger team’s strongest asset, and the likely reason they will win the World Series if it does indeed happen.
Ultimately the Dodgers will be judged by what happens in October. No matter how bad they struggle this month, the season will be a massive success if they win the World Series.
While they once looked like a juggernaut, they are now appearing to be an average team. Despite the hot streak from earlier this season, the Dodgers are now underachieving. We’ll soon find out if they can snap out of it or if they will go down quietly in October, to finish another season as an underachieving team.