They were built for unprecedented size, a pursuit only compounded by a blistering start. But now, 5½ weeks into their reigning championship season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are basically average. An initial 13-2 record was followed by 15 defeats in 20 games, an impressive reversal with the Dodgers finishing third at 18-17 in a division they have largely dominated for the past decade.
“Personally, I’m angry,” said Dodger’s starter Trevor Bauer after a 2-1 loss to rivals Los Angeles Angels on Sunday afternoon. “I hate to lose. I want to win. That’s why I came here. We’re not playing with our abilities right now.”
After Bauer slightly curled up to Angel’s first baseman Jared Walsh with loaded bases and two outs in the third inning – a pitch that resulted in a double with two runs – Bauer pulled back 10 times in a row to end the game . But the visiting Dodgers only scored a single run in support. They put the lead-off runner in fifth, sixth and seventh and were empty every time. While still running one run in ninth, they put two runners on the base, one of which was out for Justin Turner, their best batsman of the season, and lost anyway.
The Dodgers lost five straight series for the first time since the 2017 regular season track run when they cruised to a massive division lead and felt bored for most of the second half. They went between 5 and 15 for the first time since the early part of the 2018 regular season when they suffered from what several players have dubbed the World Series’ proverbial hangover.
Chris Taylor, the Dodgers utility man, said the team were “too talented not to turn around,” a performance demonstrated by a plus-32 barrel differential – first in the National League. But the root of their struggle is difficult to identify. The Dodgers haven’t exhausted their skills, but they haven’t hit badly. Your initial pitching fell off a bit, but it was a strength nonetheless. Your bullpen was understaffed, but it didn’t necessarily implode.
The Dodgers were largely injured by the inability to balance their hit with their pitching on the same day. They have played a lot of weird games too, with this week serving as a prime example.
The Dodgers dropped both ends of a double header from Wrigley Field on Tuesday after Clayton Kershaw struggled through the first inning of Game 1 and the Bullpen was two runs late in Game 2. The following day they took the lead on the 10th and 11th and still lost. They returned to Southern California, enjoyed a day off, and prepared to face an Angels team that had lost four times in a row. It felt like the Dodgers might finally break out again. But on Friday, two of their key pitchers (Julio Urias and Joe Kelly) each gave up four innings. On Saturday, the Dodgers took a 13-0 lead and gave up almost everything. And on Sunday they went with runners in the goal position 1:11.
“You can say it is early and you can say that there is no need to panic and you can say all of these things – and they are all true,” said Bauer. “But at the end of the day, we’re not just going to roll the bats and balls out there and win baseball games. We’re not just going to go our way to win another league title and go back to the World Series. That is.” not how it works.
“You have to go out every day and hit someone. And we weren’t good at it. We have to be better.”
The Dodgers have lost 10 games in one run, which are leaders in the major league. Dave Roberts, manager of Dodgers, wasn’t entirely sure how to interpret this, but he was optimistic on the Sunday after the game. He paid tribute to the quality of the bat game in the series finale, constantly hinting at how close his team seems to be to a corner.
Still, he admitted that other players shared Bauer’s anger.
“There’s no such thing as complacency.” Said Roberts. “Guys grind. We are. But at the end of the day it’s a competitive game. We’re better than that, and we expect to win baseball games a lot more than we lose. He has every right to be upset.” and he is not alone in that. “
The Dodgers are not whole, of course. The National League Most Valuable Player in 2019, Cody Bellinger hasn’t played since April 5. Two key bankers, Zach McKinstry and Edwin Rios, are on the injured list. Dustin May chose to have the operation from Tommy John at the end of the season. Tony Gonsolin – May’s successor in fifth place on the rotation – is still working his way back. Three key aids are currently recovering from injuries, including Corey Knebel, Brusdar Graterol and David Price.
But the Dodgers haven’t fallen too far behind in NL West. You’re sitting 2½ games back from the surprising San Francisco Giants and 1½ games back from the San Diego Padres, with nearly 80% of the remaining season left over.
Roberts claims he didn’t even look at the overall standings. He doesn’t think he has to.
“We’ll be at the head of this division,” said Roberts. “I have no doubt in my head.”