Mid-Season Analysis

Thursday, 07/01/21
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021

Thursday with a rain-shortened 6-to-2 victory over the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed half of their 162-game schedule with a 50-31 record, good for second place in the National League Western Division. They trail the surprising San Francisco Giants by 1 game.

The Dodger performance have disappointed many so-called Dodger fans after the media boasted this team could have the best record in the history of Major League Baseball. Not many teams can live up to these lofty standards, and it puts unnecessary pressure on the Dodgers.

Injuries have decimated the Dodger lineup, hurting their offensive production. At one point during the season, the Dodgers had Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Corey Seager on the IL at once. Although Mookie Betts has not been on the IL, he has been playing hurt affecting his performance adversely.

Yes, the Dodgers sometimes have exploded offensively, but at other times, they could not buy a run if their lives depended upon it. Gavin Lux’s offense has been disappointing. Before the Dodgers signed Albert Pujols, their bench did not hit. If the Dodgers want to win their ninth consecutive National League Western Division title, their offense must be more consistent in the second half.

Both Justin Turner and Chris Taylor have been the most Dodger hitters, and both deserve to go to the All-Star Game in Denver. They rarely slump. While playing all over the diamond, rarely committing a fielding miscue, Taylor has been the Dodger MVP. Turner has displayed more power than usual when he has hit 12 home runs.

Unusually, since Dave Roberts has been the Dodger manager, his team has struggled defensively. Many players have been out of position. Lux is not a good defensive player even when he plays his natural position shortstop. The return of Bellinger has helped the defense enormously, and if he can stay healthy, Dodger defense should be up to its elite standards.

Undoubtedly, the Dodger starting rotation has been a strength even though in early May, the Dodgers lost Dustin May with Tommy John surgery for the season. The starting rotation should continue dominating its opposition even though the status of Trevor Bauer for the remainder of the season is uncertain. Allegedly, he assaulted a woman after having sexual intercourse with her. MLB is investigating the situation, and a long suspension is likely. If so, President Andrew Friedman will be looking for a starter at the trading deadline.

At the beginning of the 2021 season, the Dodger bullpen struggled, blowing leads and losing games. Since mid-May, the bullpen has been a strength. Kenley Jansen has regained his dominance that he had in 2017. After having a painful cyst from his right shoulder, Joe Kelly has pitched amazingly. Blake Treinen has been nasty with his sinker. Although Victor Gonzàlez has had more control problems than he did in 2020, he has done what the Dodgers needed. Both Jimmy Nelson and David Price have made a smooth transition from starting to relieving.

The Dodgers should perform better than they did in the first half. If they can avoid long losing streak and learn how to beat the San Diego Padres, they should win their ninth straight Western Division title.

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