Dodgers' schedule presents June challenge that no one saw coming this winter

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers have not had an idyllic month of May and, schedule-wise, their June is not going to be much kinder.

Upcoming series against the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees will challenge the Dodgers in ways that very few could have anticipated during the winter months. Kansas City and New York’s pitching and ability to score runs in a variety of ways will test LA’s depth, which is both surprising and annoying, given the expectations laid upon both teams prior to the season opening.

The Yankees were supposed to be over-the-hill and lacking pitching upside without Gerrit Cole. The Royals were stuck between a rebuild and a deadline selloff, seemingly donating contracts to ineffectual veterans like Seth Lugo and Adam Frazier.

All of a sudden, both teams are among the game's best, and will be arriving on the Dodgers' schedule at an inopportune time.

Through the first 55 games of their seasons, Kansas City and New York are top-five in team ERA. This should concern a Dodgers lineup that has not been ripping the cover off the ball lately. Of course, Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman are always threats, but the bottom of LA’s order has struggled. Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, and Andy Pages’ OPS are all below .700, and their struggles have been exacerbated by Max Muncy’s absence, a critical factor given how much he helps lengthen the lineup.

“It’s a collective effort,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently told the Athletic. “It’s not just the top that’s got to go up there and do their thing. It’s the middle. It’s the bottom of the order. It’s everyone. Not trying to play for one big hit, but we haven’t got that hit.”

The Dodgers' pitching has been good, but they will be tested against two diverse lineups

The Royals and Yankees are also both above league-average teams in terms of OPS and runs. While the Dodgers’ pitching has been good, there are still questions surrounding Walker Buehler’s comfort level, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s MLB ceiling as a rookie, and Gavin Stone’s viability as a starter.

LA’s bullpen has recorded a top-five ERA, but such a distinction won’t matter if the Royals or Yankees are able to attack early; they’re both atop the American League in first inning runs scored. The two AL foes can score in a variety of ways. Kansas City has the sixth most stolen bases in the game presently, and an all-around gem in Bobby Witt Jr.

New York can compete station to station, but they also have raw power in the form of Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Giancarlo Stanton, who took turns pummeling the Padres over the weekend while entering their final form as a trio.

Obviously, the Dodgers still currently reside in the NL West’s top slot and have a decent lead over their competitors. But with the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants having winning records over their last 10 games, June could get hairy for the team from Chavez Ravine if they don’t start stringing together wins.