As we turn the calendar to the month of June, the year 2022 is halfway over, but the baseball calendar is just two months in. The Los Angeles Dodgers are on top of the National League by mere percentage points and are on top of the NL West by three games.
Fans may be fretting over a two-game losing streak (and four of five skid!) against the Pittsburgh Pirates ending a hot month, but a smart fan would recognize this team is the cream of the crop.
The Dodgers were 20-9 in May and outscored their opponents by 72 runs, they had winning streaks of six and seven games, and swept four different series.
As of this writing, the only team they trail in the standings in all of MLB is the New York Yankees, who are ahead by one game. And think about how hot the Yanks were to start the season?! They were the talk of the league!
The Dodgers remain right there, though, and that scorching 31-day stretch in May played a big role. Let’s look deeper into the numbers that helped LA maintain supremacy.
When he started the month of May, Mookie Betts was hitting .230 and had just five extra-base hits. It was a worrisome sign of a player who went from an MVP candidate to a shell of himself in 2021. It was so bad, internet dummies were starting to really call his contract a waste.
Well, Betts has shut up that noise after a monster run. Betts hit .342 with a 1.157 OPS and smashed 22 extra-base hits. He tied a franchise record (with Roy Campanella in 1953) with 12 home runs in the month.
Now, Betts is the NL leader in home runs (15) and has once again thrust himself into the MVP conversation. Is the money worth it now?
The surprise of the season so far has been the pitching of Tyler Anderson. When Clayton Kershaw went on the injured list, Anderson was thrust into a permanent starting role and has been arguably the Dodgers’ most consistent starter.
In May, Anderson went 4-0, struck out 33 batters, and allowed jut two walks. In his second start of the month against the Philadelphia Phillies, Anderson was terrible, giving up seven runs in six innings … but over his next three starts Anderson was untouchable.
In three starts since the Phillies debacle, Anderson has pitched 21 innings, giving up two runs while striking out 21 batters and walking just one. That lowered his ERA from 4.40 to 2.90. The Dodgers have come to rely on Anderson, which isn’t something anyone thought they would say this year.
There’s no use sugar-coating it — Craig Kimbrel was terrible in the month of May. He had a 6.30 ERA (now a 4.80 on the season) and surrendered 11 hits and seven earned runs in just 10 innings. Kimbrel can strike out batters (16 Ks), but he also walked six batters, which a worrisome stat for someone who walked none throughout April.
The Dodgers will have to weather this slump from Kimbrel, but it’ll be even harder with Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle both on the 60-day injured list. If things continue in a downward trend then the Dodgers will have to start auditioning closers.
Despite that major issue, however, the Dodgers are still arguably the league’s best, which shows how dominant this entire roster really is.