The Dodgers, for the first time in recent memory, and certainly for the first time this year, have dropped 5 straight and have been swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Their starting pitching in each of those 3 games was the worst I’ve ever seen and they continue to be fairly flat on offense, in spite of scoring a few runs in the first 2 games of the series. Rich Hill was putrid. Could be one of the worst first innings I’ve ever seen. What a difference a start makes. Hyun Jin Ryu was equally terrible and, this afternoon, Kenta Maeda was the worst of the three. Suffice it to say, neither Ryu nor Maeda did much to help their cause for making the post season roster as starters.
The Dodgers looked like they were sleepwalking. They didn’t seem to care as they let their division rivals walk all over them the past 3 days. At least Josh Ravin protected his teammates by firing a 98 mph fastball into the side of A.J. Pollock today, but that was after the game was virtually over and why didn’t he hit Goldschmidt? After all, their guy, Chafin, threw a purpose pitch at our big power guy, Cody Bellinger last night. It was fun to see Yasiel Puig take a day off while he was actually playing, allowing Gregor Blanco to turn a routine single into a double, and so heartening to see Blanco notice Maeda wasn’t even paying attention to him as he practically walked to third base. Complacency.
Our guys can’t really hit much anymore, save Grandal. Yes, Grandal! He got a bunch of weak singles, but he got hits. He actually did square up nicely on one pitch. Otherwise, our offense simply isn’t getting it done.
So, what did we witness these past five games? Well, I still don’t think it’s time to panic. But it’s getting there. And I know my readers are going to resent this and point to win-loss records, but I honestly feel the Diamondbacks are a much better team than the Dodgers right now. Look, the Dodgers still have an amazing record, but it’s getting less amazing each day. And, as I’ve said all along, it’s not about records. It’s about who’s hot come playoff time and it’s almost playoff time. The Snakes simply appear to have better players than we do, and now that they’re all healthy, they’re going balls out and kicking ass. Sure, we have Seager hurt now, and we’ve had Kershaw and Wood on the shelf, but let’s face it, Seager’s basically stunk the last month and Wood has lost a yard off his fastball. Justin Turner has been weak and Bellinger is no longer the kid who came up and energized us in May, June and July and, frankly, he hasn’t been for over a month, (on top of being hurt). Phillies OF, Rhys Hoskins may have even eclipsed him for ROY if he keeps going the way he’s going. (Though I doubt it).
So, is this an aberration, like many fans and the Dodgers brass thinks and hopes, or has the team returned to earth and are they showing us who they truly are? I think the answer is somewhere in between. I can say this with confidence: They’re definitely not as good as their record was.
Meanwhile, the Snakes are great. The Dodgers are certainly a better team on paper, but right now the D’backs have 4 position players who are arguably better than anyone we have. Paul Goldschmidt (why do we even pitch to him?) is my choice for NL MVP. He’s amazing and he kills us. Jake Lamb is only hitting .256 but that’s a high average for our guys. In the meantime, he has 27 homers and 96 RBI’s with an .875 OPS. A.J. Pollock has missed a huge chunk of the season, but he’s a Chris Taylor-like catalyst with power who could be the best center fielder in the league. He’s just gonna get better. J.D Martinez has an OPS of .971 and has 29 blasts while hitting .275. And I’m not even mentioning David Peralta.302/13/44/.815. (Well, I guess I just did). We have a slumping Justin Turner, a great rookie in Bellinger who seems to have been figured out by the league, a still snappy Chris Taylor (could be the team’s MVP) and a Corey Seager who has a sore elbow and hasn’t hit a double in over a month, and Yasiel Puig who thrills us no end, but still frustrates the hell out of us from time to time.
Our starting pitching stinks. They average only 5 1/3 innings per game! Can you believe that? Kinda taxing on our pen, no? The D’backs pitching? Well, other than Kershaw, Robbie Ray is better than anyone we got. Zack Greinke and Ray are, at the moment a better one-two punch than Kershaw and Darvish or Hill. That could be a real problem in a best of 5 NLDS. If the post-season starts next week, I take the Snakes in 4.
The starting pitching is the scariest aspect of this, because, if you recall from my last post, I think Darvish kinda stinks. Ryu and Maeda have been fairly solid, but they sure stunk it up this week, didn’t they? I mean, you almost don’t wanna hand them the ball again, they were so bad. And Hill, after no-hitting the Bucs through 9, now stinks. And Wood stunk before he went back on the DL. All potentially good hurlers, but you’re now counting on not one, not two, but five pitchers who have all stunk in their last outings to suddenly not stink. That’s a lot of pitchers to expect to abruptly stop stinking.
Luckily, the post-season doesn’t start til October, and that may just be time enough for the Blue to right the ship. But right, now we’re lost at sea and, aside from Kersh coming back tomorrow with a strict pitch count against the foundering Fathers, I don’t see the slightest sign of land. Maybe bringing up Alex Verdugo will give the Blue a boost.
Justin Turner is my favorite player, but I disagree with him that this losing streak is “good for the team.” How is a five game losing streak where you find out just how bad you can be, good for you? They don’t need to learn to overcome adversity in the beginning of September. They need to get healthy and confident. You don’t take your foot off the gas and that’s exactly what management did, over-resting and over DLing everyone. And, damn it, unless it’s gonna be CT3 we need a fkn second baseman who can swing it. Logan Forsythe is awful and Kike is hitting .209. We should just let Utley play til he collapses. We really could have used Brandon Phillips, but the Angels, who are surprisingly still in this thing, are actually trying to win and they just acquired him, along with Justin Upton. Now, with Garret Richards coming back and Houston tanking, you may have to take the Halos seriously. Could it be possible they make it to the Fall Classic and the Dodgers don’t?
I was so tired and wary of Joe Ross and Orel Hershiser squawking about how the Dodgers are “the best team in baseball,” over and over again. Vin Scully would never do that. He knew better. And the jinxy Sports Illustrated piece that asks “Best Team Ever?’ Shit, we’re not even the best team in the NL West. Think we’re gonna win 116 games? The way we’re playing, we’ll be lucky if we can get from 91 to 100 before October. Looks like we may be in a free fall and we may have to scratch and claw for every win we get from now on. But that’s okay, Doc. You keep putting your .232 hitter (Forsythe) and your .209 hitter (Kike) out there. And by all means, rest everyone. Apparently, that’s more important then continuing to win.
So, this is what we have as the dog days of August come to a close. I don’t know about you, but I’m yawning:
Chris Taylor: The most consistent player on the team who can play everywhere, but right now, almost too much being asked of him.
Corey Seager: Putting up pretty much the same numbers as last year, but unevenly and seems to have lost a lot of pop. Now he’s hurt. He’s not the dominant guy I thought he’d be.
Justin Turner: His average has plummeted over 60 points since the break. Power appears to be gone, and, though he squared up a couple of pitches this series, not the same J.T.
Cody Bellinger: Waiting for him to truly return. He’s striking out at an alarming rate and looking like a Little Leaguer doing it. Getting fooled often.
Curtis Granderson: Has hit a few important blasts, but beginning to see why he was the 4th and sometimes 5th outfielder for the lowly Mets. Beyond his 23 homers, he doesn’t really hit much. Beginning to think he should be the 4th outfielder for the Dodgers.
Yasmani Grandal: Meh.
Yasiel Puig: Having a great year home run-wise. He’s hitting under .260, but have few complaints about Yasiel, as he’s the best right fielder in the game and offensively, still playing above expectations. But still has mental lapses. Just ask Gregor Blanco.
AGone: He’s in there, trying. Some key knocks, but his bat seems kinda slow. Clearly, not the same stud. Limited playing time is in his future. (As it is in mine).
Logan Forsythe: When are we gonna give up on this guy? Some tough at bats once in a while, but he’s just not very good.
Chase Utley: Getting older, but still laying out and gotta love the way he plays.
Austin Barnes: Love him, but he’s not a game-changer yet. Needs more reps. Should play every day against lefties.
Kike Hernandez: Fun guy, plays a lot of positions, but he’s practically an automatic out.
Clayton Kershaw; Best there ever was, but he’s coming off a “back injury” (he was fine) so, he’s gotta start practically from scratch.
Yu Darvish: Solid pitcher for years, lots of crafty pitches and potentially dominant, but we’ve only seen glimpses of that this year, both in Texas and in LA. Worrisome.
Alex Wood: Had an amazing first half. Not a great second half and here’s hoping he’s healed and can return to form. If he doesn’t, we could be screwed.
Rich Hill: Jekyll and Hyde. Crazy guy with, overall good numbers the last few years, but he could be amazingly good or amazingly bad. I don’t know if I completely trust him in an important game.
Kenta Maeda; Not sure I hand him the ball again after today. What a piss poor, gutless performance.
Hyun Jin Ryu: Same as with Maeda, but his velocity has been up a tick. I’d be curious to see what he could do his next time out.
Brandon McCarthy: Won’t be a factor.
Brock Stewart: Why bother?
The Pen: Beyond Jansen, overrated. Solid numbers, but over-worked due to starting pitching that can’t pitch beyond the 5th. I like the way Morrow and Cingrani have looked. I don’t care for Avilan, nor Fields. Jury is still out on Tony Watson. Stripling and Ravin are hit and miss.
The Dodgers announcers to a man are saying that the team doesn’t have to play for anything in September because they have the division wrapped up. If I were them, I’d keep their mouths shut about that. They’re playing like a team that’s coasting and can’t get the engine started again. A 21 game lead just became a 16 game lead. In a week, it could be an 11 game lead, and in 2 weeks, a 6 game lead, and in 3 weeks, a 2 game lead. It’s virtually impossible, but if anyone can get that done, it’s our Los Angeles Dodgers. Let’s hope this is all just a nightmare that’ll end next week when the Snakes come back to town. Messages need to be sent.