After dropping nine of their first fifteen games, the Dodgers have started the season slowly. Painfully slow. Their pitching has been wildly inconsistent and their offense has been absent most of the year. What happened to the team that has won five consecutive NLW Division Titles? Their winning ways of years past may have something to do with it.
After an epic, thrilling, and exhausting seven-game World Series in 2016, the 2017 Indians and 2017 Cubs found themselves off to extremely slow starts. After winning 94 games and the American League Pennant, the 2017 Indians started their season start slowly. They were sitting merely at .500 with 31 wins and losses through June 14. The Indians finished with atop their division with102 wins.
The same could be said for the champion Chicago Cubs, who started their year even slower. Through July 9th, the Cubs sat at a meager 43-45. The team would continue to win 92 games, their division, and advance a round in the playoffs. The San Francisco Giants also found themselves struggling the year after each of their World Series runs.
It appears to be much of the same for LA, who has sputtered mightily out of the gates. Virtually everybody on the roster has started the season in a funk. Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager appear to be the most out of sorts, as neither has produced even a .300 SLG percentage. Joc Pederson seems completely lost in space, and Logan Forsythe struggled before finding himself on the DL. Kike Hernandez has seemingly failed to pick up any of the slack after the injury to Justin Turner. Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes have also been inconsistent.
The pitching has looked arguably uglier than the offense of late, as virtually every major pitcher aside from Kershaw has struggled thus far. That list includes Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, and Scott Alexander. Kenta Maeda appears to be better suited for the bullpen, and unmitigated disaster Wilmer Font has an ERA around 15.00 so far in his Dodger career.
Over the last five seasons, the Dodgers have played 45 postseason games in addition to their 162 regular season grind. That’s a lot of baseball, and that’s not even counting the mercilessly long Spring Training before each season. Injuries and inconsistency, after an especially long playoff run last year, should be no surprise to Dodger fans watching this year. It’s not all doom and gloom for
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LA though, as there have been a couple of bright spots.
Yasmani Grandal has gone from trade bait to starting a catcher, after losing his job to Austin Barnes to start the playoffs last year. He has hit over .350 with an OPS over 1.000 to start. Cody Bellinger seems to be figuring a thing or two out, and Matt Kemp has been fairly decent at the plate. Chase Utley has filled in quite well when asked, and of course, Clayton Kershaw has been dominant after a scoreless spring.
LA also has reinforcements on the way in terms of talented, but extremely young flamethrowers in Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, health permitting. Soon, Andrew Toles could also finally prove himself more reliable over the powerful, yet inconsistent Joc Pederson. And it’s almost a certainty that LA will attempt to add to their roster at the trade deadline. The return of their best offensive player in Justin Turner should help too.
It’s no surprise that after so much baseball, many LA players find themselves with heavy legs and tired arms. But hang in there, Dodger fans, reinforcements are on the way. And judging from juggernauts of years passed, LA figures to really flip the switch as the days get hotter.