Dodgers have major offensive problems that could be postseason death knell

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

On Wednesday night, the mighty NL West Dodgers took on the lowly fourth place NL Central Pirates, but it was the Dodgers who were on the back foot. The night before, they were shut out by Pirates rookie Jared Jones and the bullpen, who only gave up five hits and four walks among them, all of which the Dodgers couldn't capitalize on.

But Wednesday promised an even bigger challenge: baseball's No. 2 prospect, Paul Skenes. Skenes probably won't be a prospect for much longer, but he entered Wednesday's game with a 2.45 ERA over 22 innings, with a fastball that averages 99.4 MPH but frequently breaks 100, as well as a devastating split finger pitch that opposing batters are hitting .061 against.

In a sequence that was prepared for online dissemination basically in real time, Skenes took Shohei Ohtani down on three pitches, all over 100 MPH, all of which Ohtani swung at. Maybe he just needed to see the stuff and acclimate to the velocity, because on his next at-bat, he took Skenes deep on a 100.1 MPH heater to score LA's first two runs of the game.

That was the marquee moment, and it took some emphasis off the fact that James Paxton only made it through 1 2/3 innings before getting pulled for allowing seven runs, and that the Dodgers still left seven men on base in the loss (after leaving seven on in Tuesday's game as well). It begs what's becoming an age-old question for the Dodgers: how do they expect to win if pitching fails and the lineup can't turn scoring opportunities into runs?

Dodgers' ability to hit with RISP called into question again after two embarrassing losses versus Pirates

Through Wednesday's game, the Dodgers are hitting .248 with runners in scoring position, .245 with men on, and .175 with a man on third and two outs. Those are glum numbers, and they certainly wouldn't be sustainable in postseason scenarios. In last year's NLDS, Dodgers bats were muted all around — they only got 17 hits down throughout the entire series (and only walked six times) and only six became runs.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers did sort of manage to drag themselves back into something that seemed like contention by the end of the seventh, but they were still down by three. The Pirates put up two runs in the seventh and Gavin Lux drove in a run in the eighth to make things 10-6 Pirates, but David Bednar came into to close out the game and shut LA out in the ninth.

The Dodgers clearly have some problems to solve if they want to make it out of the DS this year. Adding some sluggers at the trade deadline — Luis Robert Jr. is reportedly on the table — would help, but whatever mental block even their biggest, most untradeable hitters have when bases are populated will need to resolve itself somehow.