How close are Los Angeles Dodgers to clicking after shaky start?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals
Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

Coming off an historic offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers began the season with a record of 13-11 before heading into a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, their first series victory since they played the Minnesota Twins on April 8 through the 10. For the expectations and standards the Dodgers are held to, especially this season, that is a rather disappointing record (no matter how this Blue Jays series wraps).

While it is still early in the season and the Dodgers have now ignited a bit against a pesky Nationals team, is this shaky start cause for legitimate concern? Well, let's start with the offense and take a look at where they rank in some key areas.


MLB Ranking (Through Thurs.)

AVG: .269


OBP: .350


SLG: .434


OPS: .784


Runs: 141


The Dodgers rank nicely in MLB in a lot of areas; however, they leave the most runners in scoring position per game at 4.26. So, despite what the numbers say, the offense can get so much better. It’s hard to pinpoint what causes this Dodgers team to lack that clutch factor, but they need to figure it out soon in order to take the near limitless potential of this team to the next level.

Dodgers lack "clutch" factor despite offense figuring things out

The top of the Dodgers order has been as advertised. Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, and Will Smith are all off to scorching hot starts. Teoscar Hernández and Max Muncy are both doing what you would expect of them, which is to hit home runs, and even Miguel Rojas, more known for his glove, has contributed with the bat. 

On the other hand, the bottom of the order is struggling. Plenty of those high-ranking stats the Dodgers have are because of the top of the lineup's collective brilliance. James Outman, Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, and Enrique Hernández have all come out of the gate stumbling. Jason Heyward, before going down with an injury, was also off to a cold start. None of those players have an OPS above .560. Oof.

Baseball can be a very unforgiving game, and players can find themselves going through really good stretches or really bad ones. For now, it’s safe to say that these players are just going through a bad stretch, and we know that they are capable of turning around. 

As for the pitching, the Dodgers have a team ERA of 3.81, the eleventh best in the MLB, and teams are only batting .220 against them, the fifth lowest. However, they have walked the ninth most hitters (93) and given up the eighth most home runs (28). 

This can be linked to two things. First are the growing pains of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who had some rough outings, but is seemingly getting better after every game. Next are the injuries to Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. That is a long list of talented pitchers who are currently missing time. It could be a while before reinforcements are brought in, but when they do arrive, the pitching staff is going to get a lot better.

Despite the record not being what everyone would have hoped for, it is not cause for concern in the long term. The struggling hitters are due to get out of the slumps that every baseball player finds themselves in at some point. Outman, despite his .178 batting average, is in the 87th percentile of sweet spot percentage, which is a batted-ball event with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees. That means he is making good contact, just not getting results. Lux is also showing off great discipline this year and not chasing many pitches, so that eye should soon translate into more hits.

Jason Heyward and a large portion of the pitching staff are also on their way back. The Dodgers should see a lot their issues disappear in the coming months. If they last longer than the small sample size that we have seen so far, then it is truly cause for concern. But until then, the Dodgers are just ironing out some early season kinks.