Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
While the Dodgers should have been one of the best teams in baseball, they have lost six consecutive series. Let’s see why they are struggling.
The Dodgers have been decimated by injuries. While baseball is a team sport, the team must have good players to play well. Since Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry went on the IL, the Dodgers have had major offensive problems. Will Smith is no cleanup hitter, even after he has driven in 80 runs in 117 games during his Major-League career. While he has performed well in the last seven games, Smith should be batting in the sixth position in the lineup, the small hairline fracture in Bellinger’s calf has forced manager Dave Roberts’ hand.
Without protection for Max Muncy, the opposing pitchers have been walking him too much. Muncy is the only true Dodger power hitter. While they have many hitters who can hit home runs at any time, without Bellinger, Muncy is the only Dodger who has had two seasons with thirty-five home runs.
Without regular home runs, the Dodgers do not know how to manufacture runs, so they do not score much. As a player, Roberts relied upon his above-average speed to contribute to his team’s offense. While modern-day baseball analytics frown on stealing bases and bunting, nowadays, the Dodgers need to use old-fashioned baseball techniques to manufacture runs.
During the 2020-2021 offseason, many baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Dodgers needed to obtain right-handed hitters not to be susceptible to left-handed pitching. President Andrew Friedman re-signed Justin Turner and traded for Sheldon Neuse, a young infielder who does not appear ready to play in the Major Leagues. Even with AJ Pollock, who currently is nursing a Grade 1 hamstring strain, the Dodgers need to acquire another experienced right-handed hitter preferably with proven power.
Moreover, President Friedman could be blamed for the Dodger bullpen problems since in February, he traded away Dylan Floro and Adam Koralek. Yes, he needed to build the Dodger Minor League system without using high draft picks because of the team’s recent success. Also, Friedman must have chosen to forget the Minor-League pitchers did not develop much during the 2020 season since the Minor-League season was canceled. On Saturday, both Dennis Santana and Mitch White allowed eleven runs, the most that a Dodger bullpen had allowed in eight years.
It was hard to imagine that the Dodger bullpen would have suffered many injuries to Brusdar Graterol, David Price, Tony Gonsolin, Corey Knebel, Scott Alexander, and Dustin May, but it has happened. During spring training, the media was bragged about the Dodger pitching, but this season the Dodger pitching depth has shown it is not enough.
Watching the Dodgers lose is frustrating. They are not as good as they played in the first two weeks, and yet they are not as bad as they have played in the last three weeks. The Dodgers yet have shown what kind of a team they are. Although time is running out to dominating the National League Western Division, they can still play themselves into one of the elite teams in baseball.