The Los Angeles Dodgers currently lead the NL West (the best division in baseball, according to manager Dave Roberts) by a razor-thin 1.5-game margin. It’s honestly not bad given all the injuries they’ve dealt with in the early going.
But you know who else has dealt with some back-breaking health issues? The San Diego Padres, who are the team that’s 1.5 games back.
Manny Machado has been out since June 19 and it’s unclear when he’ll return. Wil Myers has played in only 32 games. Blake Snell has only made seven starts and has yet to find a rhythm. Fernando Tatis Jr. has yet to play in a single game!
And still, manager Bob Melvin is steering the ship admirably, getting the most out of the many other talented players on the roster. That should have Dodgers fans wondering if LA is in big trouble once San Diego gets back to full strength, especially with Tatis Jr. on the field.
He’ll be swinging a bat in two weeks’ time as he continues to recover from wrist surgery. It’s more than likely he won’t be back until August, but if the Dodgers can’t create more separation, they’ll be in for a battle down to the wire, much like last year with the San Francisco Giants.
Thought Tatis Jr.’s overall numbers against the Dodgers don’t exactly jump off the page, he’s slugged the lights out against his division rivals, cranking 13 homers and driving in 23 RBI in 37 career games.
Dodgers might be in trouble if they can’t create separation from Padres
Even more concerning? To date, the Dodgers have had the easiest schedule in MLB and the Padres have had the third-easiest. On paper, LA has the “better” roster, which Dodgers fans have made sure to echo these past two-plus seasons whenever Padres fans try to talk trash.
However, they’ve failed to back it up. Losing Clayton Kershaw for a month, Walker Buehler for three months, and Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson for the season, among other issues, has no doubt been a killer. But there are greater expectations in LA. This is supposed to be the deepest roster in the game. Don’t you agree?
Should the New York Yankees be this much better than the Dodgers? Should the Houston Astros and New York Mets have better records? Remember, this isn’t a level playing field. LA has had the weakest slate of opponents through their first 73 games — nearly a half-season!
For the past 10 days, the Pads have made do without their two best players. For their first 76 games, they’ve done so without arguably their best player.
The Dodgers have dealt with adversity, but nothing of that magnitude. Instead, they’re witnessing horrid regressions from Max Muncy and Justin Turner, as well as continued awful play from Cody Bellinger. The front office’s efforts to patch up the bullpen were insufficient (Craig Kimbrel hasn’t been good and Tommy Kahnle was too heavily relied upon).
When the Padres return to maximum capacity, Dodgers fans better hope they conduct their best choke job, because this won’t be an easy race to the finish.