The Los Angeles Dodgers had an up and down month of July, as they continued to navigate their World Series title defense.
The team went 14-12 (.538), their worst month by winning percentage on the year so far. The team came into the month riding a nine-game winning streak and started July 4-0, but would only go 10-12 the rest of the month and lose ground in the NL West, dropping to three games out of first.
Not all was negative for the boys in blue; they did have five representatives on the NL roster for the All-Star Game and it turns out Dave Roberts might have done some recruiting that brought in reinforcements while managing in Denver.
Here is a look at the month of July for the Dodgers and their many ups and downs.
Cataloguing the Dodgers’ ups and downs for July 2021.
UP: Walker Buehler The Ace
July may be the month Walker Buehler finally grabbed the mantle of “Ace” on the Dodgers pitching staff.
Buehler went 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA, striking out 38 men 32.1 innings. It was Buehler’s best month of the season, and on Monday, he was named NL Pitcher of the Month.
Buehler has proven over the course of his career that he can be a big-time pitcher in October, but this year, not only has he shored up the depleted starting staff, but he may be putting himself squarely in the race for the NL Cy Young Award.
DOWN: Kenley Jansen
Before the month started, Kenley Jansen looked like his old self, coming into July with 20 saves and a 1.38 ERA.
July unfortunately proved to be disastrous for the Dodgers closer, as he went 1-2, blowing three saves with a bloated 9.39 ERA. Jansen walked eight batters and opponents hit .406 off him in just 7.2 innings.
Jansen’s struggles were amplified by the fact that two of his blown saves came against the San Franciso Giants, preventing the Dodgers from overtaking them in the NL West standings.
Despite his struggles, Jansen remains the Dodgers closer but it will take a better effort going into the playoffs for fans to trust him.
UP: The Dodgers’ Deadline
Trade deadline day proved to be a coup for the Dodgers, as the front office made the biggest splash of any contender in trading for future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer and 2020 All-Star Trea Turner. Both players bring their World Series pedigree to a team already accustomed to October glory.
Scherzer is meant to plug a huge hole in the team’s starting rotation and Turner adds offensive strength to a team that’s struggled with clutch hitting at times this year.
The Dodgers also acquired pitcher Danny Duffy, who, when he returns from the IL, will be able to shore up the bullpen or give the team spot starts when needed. These additions give the Dodgers that much more firepower as they ramp up towards a playoff push.
DOWN: The Giants Are for Real
It doesn’t look like the Giants’ grip on first place is going away anytime soon, and they have certainly proven they aren’t afraid of the Dodgers.
The Giants won five of seven from the Dodgers in late July and finished the month extending their lead in the NL West to three games.
The Dodgers have gone 8-8 against the Giants this season, but only have one more chance starting Sept. 3 to go head to head against their rivals.
If the Dodgers expect to move into first place before that series starts, they’ll have to use the month of August to put pressure on the front-running Giants by winning some games.