The Los Angeles Dodgers were one game away from winning the World Series in 2017 and were heavy favorites to win the National League West again in 2018. But their start to this season has them buried in the division and looking like nothing resembling a playoff team.
The latest debacle for the Dodgers came Sunday with another loss to the Cincinnati Reds, who came into Los Angeles and swept four games at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1976. The Dodgers scored just nine runs in the weekend series and in May are hitting an anemic .158 (16-for-101) with runners in scoring position.
“I can’t explain it,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. “I don’t have an answer for the lack of production.”
In the last three weeks the Dodgers have lost series to the three last-place teams in the National League. They dropped two of three to the Marlins at home. The Dodgers threw a no-hitter against the Padres in Mexico, but still lost two of three games that weekend. Then came the sweep by the Reds, dropping the Dodgers to 16-24, their worst 40-game start since 1958.
The Dodgers, who decided to stay under the competitive balance tax threshold this season to reset their tax penalties after paying $150 million in luxury tax alone over the last five years, don’t have the pitching depth they had in recent years. The rotation is stretched thin as it is with Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list with left biceps tendonitis and Hyun-jin Ryu out until after the All-Star break with a torn groin muscle.
The bullpen has been a carousel of underachievement and after two years of residing near the top of the league in most relief categories the Dodgers ‘pen this year has a 4.51 ERA, 22nd in the majors.
Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe are set to return from the disabled list on Tuesday and in theory will boost an offense that has been inconsistent at best.
The Dodgers are now just a game out of last place themselves, and a full eight games behind the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. LA needs wins, and they need them badly. The Dodgers have a road trip this week against the Marlins and Nationals.
“Maybe a change of scenery might help, going to the East Coast,” Roberts said. “We just have to keep grinding away, that’s all we can do. No one is going to feel sorry for you. We’ve just got to keep playing.”
The Dodgers, with five losses in six games, weren’t the only NL West team to struggle. The division as a whole was 8-24, and two of those wins were against each other when the D-backs split a pair in Los Angeles.
The San Diego Padres were 3-4 on the week which paced the division. They are the last place team, though just a game behind the sinking Dodgers, who have lost 14 of their last 19 games.
Before last week Arizona was off to a fantastic start, and even after dropping five out of six games the Diamondbacks at 24-16 are still atop the division, 2 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies.
Sunday night the Diamondbacks hosted the Nationals for their series finale, Arizona’s first home game on ESPN ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ in 10 seasons. From the D-backs Sunday game notes:
Cool Story, bro
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story had quite a week, hitting .368 (7-for-19) with 11 RBI in six games thanks to three home runs, two triples and two doubles. He homered twice and drove in all four runs in Saturday’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Story is slugging a robust .898 in 18 home games at Coors Field this season.