Stagnant Dodgers Might Want To Change Approach

Chase Utley bats

The Dodgers are sinking like a stone and the pond is getting deeper by the day. After Friday night’s 8-7 loss to the Dbacks the boys in blue are now 4-8 to start the season. Their worst start to a season since the 1994 marathon. They’re 5.5 games back as we speak and have lost ten consecutive games against the Dbacks dating back to last season. It doesn’t look like they’ll ever win another game against Arizona, although for the record, (checks record) they probably will. Look, I know it’s really early but the Dodgers have been awful. Not only are they already mired in fourth place (barely ahead of the lowly Padres) but they’ve yet to win a single series this year. Is this just a slow start? Or is this how they’re going to play all year?

I don’t know, but we can’t blame the terrible play all on Justin Turner’s absence. The main image on the last recap makes me a little sad, but rest assured it’s there due to the lack of featured images available and not because we’re trying to make a point. No doubt Turner’s injury has severely affected the club, but since when did everyone forget how to play baseball since the World Series ended last November?

The Dodgers scored seven runs in Friday’s loss to Arizona and Kenta Maeda just didn’t have it, but the primary problem has been the pathetic offense. As of right now the Dodgers are 21st in batting with runners in scoring position. They have a .546 OPS in such situations and have not hit one home run with runners in scoring position. Not only that, but their trademark plate discipline has completely disappeared. They rank 27th out of the 30 clubs in OBP, and 27th in walks. That’s just not going to cut it, obviously.

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So is there any kind of solution? There are a couple of things they can possibly do to at least help their plight. One such thing is to stop batting terrible hitters in the middle or top of the order. Look at it this way, guys like Cody Bellinger, and Corey Seager are going to hit. They are already starting to come out of their respective slumps as I write this. Seager is not going to hit .205 all year. Neither is Bellinger. Those guys are going to be fine. But what about the rest of the guys?

It stands to reason that batting anybody third that is hitting less than .200 is not going to help. I’m just as surprised as you that Yasiel Puig is hitting below the Mendoza line, but he is. It’s not changing anytime soon. We can quote exit velocities and come up with the excuse that he’s just hitting into bad luck, but the fact remains that he hasn’t hit a lick so far. I’m assuming like many of you that that will change as well. Until then he needs to bat low in the order. The Dodgers finally wised up on Friday and dropped him down to sixth in the lineup, and it shouldn’t have taken this long to figure that out.

There are other things that can be done to increase the offense. Two guys are really stinking up the order and those two players are Enrique Hernandez and Logan Forsythe. Again I know it’s early, but they’re just not hitting. So why not sit them a few days and let somebody play that is hitting? I like Enrique I really do, but he hit .215 last year and .191 the year before. Despite the historic three home-run game in the NLCS he hasn’t hit in nearly two years. I’m fine with him playing but please for the love of all that’s holy stop batting him cleanup against left handers. Logan is a steady defensive player but outside of two productive years in Tampa Bay was a sub .250 hitting utility player in San Diego. I get that the options are thin right now, but why not let Utley start some games considering he’s out-hit both of them in almost half the at-bats.

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Which brings me to my next point, the thin depth. If the options are this thin, then doesn’t that point to a lack of depth? If there is nobody that can come up from the minors other than Andrew Toles to help the bats then the so-called depth the Dodgers have is smoke and mirrors.

Another somewhat common sense suggestion is not to have a regular member of your starting rotation go ten days without pitching. I don’t care how many off-days are built into the schedule, it doesn’t make sense to let Kenta Maeda go ten or more days in between starts.

Hey I know I’m just a writer and arm-chair manager, but these are just common sense approaches. Don’t bat automatic outs in the middle or top of your order. Don’t let your number four starter not pitch for over 10 days. Start playing the hot hands over the stale hitters that can’t seem to get anything going. If the Dodgers can’t at least vary from their stagnant script and try to change their approaches even just a little bit then they’ll probably continue to lose.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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25 thoughts on “Stagnant Dodgers Might Want To Change Approach

  1. I can only reiterate that Roberts is responsible. Of course, he’s not out there at the plate or in the field, but he’s also not in their heads where a great manager should be. You have to pull a team together and it starts with decision making. Roberts is a poor decision maker. He proves it nearly every game. He’s either too slow to react or too fast with his impulsive substitutions. Why isn’t there any benching of unproductive players? Last season, we watched for months a sub-par Joc Pederson choking at the plate game after game. Finally, he was sent down. What is it with Roberts that makes him stick to a player come hell or high water? We seem to be watching a replay of Joc and Kike, and now Puig who is also reverting to pre-Turner Ward tutoring. Why should a team stick with players who are unproductive for years, not weeks? This is the Big League. Big Money. What the hell are they forcing the fans to watch? and why?

    1. First off Jeff, Joc has a lot of support from management. In his only AB last night he walked, so he was not part of the problem. I do not know why they are keeping Hernandez around except for his versatility. Puig is hitting in extreme bad luck. He looked bad in his first at bat, but hit the ball hard the next time up. Again though, it was at somebody. And he went the opposite way which for him is always a good sign. And it is only 12 games into the season. Puig struggled at the beginning of the year last year. He did not really heat up until June. He hit .251 before the all star break and .271 after, so for right now, he gets a pass. The only difference is last April he did show some power, but there are 16 days left in the month for him to turn that around. Teams stick with players because of the money. They invested a lot of money into Puig, and he is in the last year of his contract. Joc Pederson is making 2.6 million dollars. You think they are going to pay him that kind of money to be plying his trade at AAA? Now Toles who is playing at AAA is making the MLB minimum 540,000. They have played 6 games and he is hitting .462 with 1 homer and 7 RBI’s. Again though, it is a small sample size because he has had 28 plate appearances. Verdugo on the other hand is hitting .250 with no pop at all. I think Toles would play well at the major league level, Verdugo, not so much. Now if Pederson continues to struggle, he only has 21 at bats so far, then changes might be forthcoming. Like I said, Joc has a lot of support in management and I do not mean just Roberts. As for Kike, he is an enigma. Last year he killed LH pitching. So far this year he is hitting .118 against lefty’s. His only homer was a worthless shot in the 16-6 game off a RH reliever. He has struck out almost a third of his at bats. For a guy who is not a real power hitter, that is way too much. But the failure so far is not just on those 3. The top of the order, Taylor and Seager, are not doing all that great either. Taylor is hitting .226 with 13 strikeouts in 53 at bats. He does have 2 homers, and 5 RBI’s. But he has no steals and is not walking much. As a matter of fact he has walked once so his OBP is a terrible .236. It was .354 last year. Seager is hitting .213 with 1 homer and 4 RBI’s. He has struck out 7 times and walked 4. But when your top two hitters have a OBP below .300, you are not going to score a lot. At least the middle of the order does not have a lot of RBI opportunities. Which explains why guys like Bellinger and Kemp only have 4 ribbies. The only guys hitting over .300, Bellinger, Kemp and Grandal. Chase Utley is tied for the team lead in RBI’s with 5. Grandal, Kemp, Bellinger, Taylor and Seager are the only players in double digits with hits. Farmer is over .300 with limited AB’s. 4 players hitting under .200……Puig, Pederson, Forsythe and Hernandez. Taylor is the team leader in K’s. Now we come to Dave Roberts. He is in the last year of his contract. Dave is a believer in FAZ’s saber theory’s so the ownership and FO like his approach. That being said, his in game managerial skills so far are not that impressive. His handling of the pitching staff sometimes seems very befuddling. What really annoys me at least is the constant tinkering with the starting lineups. I loved that Lasorda ran the same 8 out there almost every day. But Roberts moves this guy here and that guy there with seemingly no plan in mind. Me, I play the best 8 everyday. Saber geeks do not think that way. Overall this is too good of a team to be playing this bad, luckily for us, they are doing it at the start and not the finish like last years slide. I think when Justin returns, some semblance of normalcy will return. He gives quality AB’s every time he is up there. Until then, it is what it is and we are stuck with it.

  2. We did score 13 runs the last two games. Maybe the offense, despite Kike and Logan, is heating up. And Puig did hit one ball solid, unfortunately right at the RF. But none of that will help if Wood and Maeda keep pitching like that. Hopefully that won’t happen.

    1. You count the 4-0 win and they have scored 17 in 3 games. Close to 6 runs a game. That is way above MLB average……but you give up 24 runs in 2 games, you are going to lose.

  3. Not just smoke and mirrors, Scott, but our FO and managers are just not that good.

    Gerrit Cole goes 7 and strikes out 14. And has tied a MLB for strikeouts to start a season. Who could have seen that? Just about every fan here.

  4. Michael Norris
    I think we had a discussion about HR’s into the Lodge Level. F Howard, Dave Kingman. I think we can add Goldy to that list. What a blast!

    1. That’s for sure…he crushed that pitch. Toles on DL at OKC with hammy issues. Kemp says he is ok after collision with the fence last night. Has a knee contusion……….Another unwatchable game with Rich Hill, the master of disaster on the mound. Should have been 3 HR’s against him, but Marrero passes Avila so it is a 2 run single. 7 runs in 5 innings and all with 2 out. Wonder if Bluto still loves watching this stiff pitch. Kershaw has no wins yet, so a win tomorrow is not guaranteed. But Kersh has only given up 1 run at Dodger stadium. What a lousy week in Dodger baseball……31 runs allowed the last 3 games….pitiful….I said a long time ago that I did not think this pitching staff is all that.

  5. Well, another dose of Joc. Dummy keeps playing Joc while Kemp sits. Does he want to win or what? Tonight they are down 7-1 in the 5th. Well, maybe at some point somebody in the FO might figure it out.

    1. uh, Joc drove in the only run there Package, and Kemp’s knee is a little tender after colliding with the fence. Plus Joc was hitting well over .300 against the D-Backs starting pitcher Walker. Not his fault the guy left the game with an injury.

    2. Package

      Kemp said he was fine to play tonight.

      But Roberts wanted Joc to face this pitcher, because Joc got his first two hits, off this same pitcher.

      And he got another hit off this same pitcher tonight.

      But it looks like this pitcher will be going in for TJ surgery, because he has been dealing with wrist tightness, for while.

      1. Package

        I would have started Kemp too, so I understand, your frustration.

        Play your best players, especially when the team is having trouble.

  6. This is pathetic!!! Times 100. The FO is clueless and the dugout management is Stupid. Yes it’s early but this is a joke. Everyone else progressed we regressed. This will come back to haunt us BIG TIME.

      1. I hear you there my friend. I was concerned about the starting pitching long before spring training. I was concerned that Seager did not get enough playing time under his belt before the season. We were all concerned that the loss of Turner was going to have a huge impact. And our best pitcher starts his 4th game of the season tomorrow and he is winless so far. Taylor looks nothing like the player he was last year. He has struck out 14 times in 13 games and the Dodgers now reside in last place with 2 less wins than the Padres! This is totally unacceptable. Forsythe is a 7 million dollar joke. Only Grandal, Kemp and Bellinger are showing anything at the plate. The bullpen and the starting pitching, especially the last 3 games have stunk up the joint. With Forsythe now injured, and they should know how bad tomorrow, they should be making a change or two. But there are no real good options down on the farm.

  7. Well thank goodness that mess is over. What a terrible pitching display. Not much in the hitting department either. I think once Hill got them in that huge hole, they just gave up. Top of the lineup goes 0-7 with a walk and 2 K’s. 3-4-5 go 4 for 11 with a walk, 2 K’s and 3 doubles. 6-7-8 go 3-10 with no walks or strikeouts. Hernandez with a PH single in the 9th that meant nothing. 2 homers off of Hill, actually 3, but Marrero messed up and passed Avila, and Mr. HR ball himself, Wilmer Font gave up 2 more. That’s 5 in in 5 games folks. Makes Baez look like Trevor Hoffman in comparison. Forsythe leaves the game with shoulder discomfort. Could that be a blessing in disguise? Toles on the DL at OKC, so he is not going to be promoted anytime soon. Best hitting infielder at AAA right now is Donovan Solano who is hitting .417. Peter and Muncy are under .300. Locastro and Valera are both over .300, but neither showing any pop. Segedin is only hitting .206. Verdugo went 3-4 and hit his first homer tonight. He is at .306. Forsythe will be examined tomorrow.

    1. As things stand, you have to stop the bleeding first, then address the long term. Pederson, Forsythe, & Kike are probably our worst bleeders at the plate. I say plug Utley in at 2B, Farmer at 3B. This takes care of the bleeding right away. These guys deserve to play as they are producing. Stick with Kemp at LF. If he’s good to go let him go, don’t 2nd guess your players like Roberts does. Stick with this plan.

      As far as the pitching goes, some of it can be blamed on lack of run support, but we seem to be seeing a kind of meltdown happening. Starters like Kershaw and HIll are older. They are not the producers they were once, Hill was never that big a producer. Maeda is overrated, period. Wood, otoh, I believe in. Ryu is iffy. FAZ has really screwed us with the contracts and inability/reluctance to sign major talent instead injecting us with wounded warriors that have little upside. The continued use of Font and Baez is baffling. Is this so hard to see?

      Just fix what is broken. Hard choices need to be made and so far, they have been the wrong ones. Fix it. Dodgers are nearly unwatchable as presently constructed.

      1. Kershaw is the only starter I trust to go at least 6. He has not gotten the results so far he should have because the team has scored exactly 2 runs when he has been on the mound. Baez amazingly has been one of the better relievers so far. The guys stinking up the joint are Alexander and Font. 8 pitchers at a 3 ERA or lower. All the rest over 5. 11 HR’s given up by the bullpen and 7 by the starters. 3 from Kersh, 3 from Hill, should have been 4 but Marrero screwed up, and 1 from Wood. As for Roberts, his in game managing is iffy at best. He believes in saber metrics and utilizes his players that way. Joc had great numbers against Walker and Kemp was a bit sore from crashing into the wall, so Joc got the start. But it is not all on Roberts because FAZ and he go over the starting pitchers that are in line to face LA and set their lineups accordingly. The constant shifting of players up and down the lineup is very disconcerting. But we all know that’s how he did it last year and he is doing it again. The FO put together this bunch, and I personally think they over rated most of them. Taylor, Seager, Forsythe, Pederson, Puig, Hernandez, Barnes, all are off to terrible starts. Taylor and Seager not setting the table for the big guns. They could have traded for Cole this offseason and I cannot understand why they were not even interested. The guy is a bulldog. They absolutely miss Turner’s bat and most of all his on field leadership. But he is going to have to get in game shape before he even tries to come back. He is 3 weeks into what they said would be 4 to 6. He still is not swinging a bat, so I am thinking closer to 8. Toles injured himself yesterday. Has a hammy problem. Verdugo is not even the best hitting OF at AAA right now although he had a good game tonight, 3-4 with a dinger. Forsythe had an MRI on his shoulder after tonight’s game. The only infielder at AAA playing very well is Donovan Solano. They have holes. They are not as deep as everyone thinks they are. I foresee a rough month of April, and May is not looking all that good either. The worst part of this is that by the end of the month they will have played AZ 10 times. They are already 6.5 games back. It will be hard to make those up later on in the season.

        1. I would bet that some of the more die-hard fans are expecting the Dodgers to go on one of those winning tears that will catapult them into the lead of their division. Good luck with that one. Undoubtedly, they will get a winning streak going at some time, but this doesn’t change the competition for the long haul. We have some dire needs that need addressing. I wouldn’t expect them getting addressed at any time soon. I had thought we were much deeper than we really are listening to predictions about prospects and how well some of the minor leaguers did in ST. I can see now, that whatever talent is buried in the farm, it will not be used to make this team better in the future. It will all go towards what it went to in the past, traded for mediocre goods because it was cheap and on sale. FAZ lessons soon to be reaped royally. 2018 was the year of the ascent according to some FAZ fans, if you remember their posts. It was a sure thing, no doubt about it.

          1. “It was a sure thing, no doubt about it”.

            There have ALWAYS been doubts about FAZ from most here. The no doubters went somewhere else to pat themselves, and FAZ, on the back.

            Like I’ve said more than once, two seasons ago I figured ‘18 because some contract weight would be lifted, Urias, Buehler and the other pitcher who wasn’t traded for Hamels, would be up and mowing people down and most importantly it is a Kershaw contract year. Who knew they would choose resetting the tax cap this year? I sure as hell didn’t, and that changed everything.

            Is this the year? Who knows. Sure isn’t the month.

          2. Actually Jeff, the 2018 predictors were the realists. They were shelled by FAZphiles back then for not believing in the mantra. The 2018 predictors, myself included, wanted to see the borderline starters gone, one additional true work-horse type pitcher and let the kids, particularly the pitchers, pitch at the MLB level. From 2015-2017 the FAZ insisted on burning bullpens and using starters that cannot go past 5.

            Now that 2018 is here, a lot of the predictions from several years ago haven’t materialized as Urias has been held back by injury and they have traded most of their AAA pitching. Now our most ready AAA pitcher is Font? Amazingly inept handling of AAA arms. Had the FO not picked up and not blocked the youth, we would have a better rotation as well as middle relief today.

          3. The best arm at AAA is Buehler. Looks like they want him later in the year.

            But I do agree about the sudden lack of young stud arms. Urias and Seager were in the Top 5 together. De Leon was in the top 25 around the same time. Both those pitchers are way behind schedule. So is Buehler who had his surgery in summer of 2015. TJ surgery typically takes 12-18 months of recovery. He should be good for 150 innings 32 months out from that surgery.

            I suspect the current starting rotation will be given some rope on getting their act together. There will be no knee jerk reactions by this group. Plans and contingencies have been made and they will be acted on sequentially. I don’t necessarily agree with them but do understand the thinking behind these actions. I suspect they will ultimately arrive upon those moves most of us believe should have happened already. Farmer will play, Kiké and Joc take seats 24 and 25 on the ladder, Buehler pitches here and there may be a rookie Wally Pipp somebody.

            I control nothing but my attitude. I’m in it this year for entertainment. I enjoyed being in the World Series and I look forward to being there again.

  8. Badger
    I don’t think anyone knew that FAZ would choose to reset the tax cap in 18 but we all know the times that they could have obtain needed players. They chose not to do this and they have been successful so far, however, most of the team was not obtained by them. Also, they are on a path to go down farther than they have in my opinion. Maybe they will take off and do good things this year but it has not started out that way for sure. I tire very easily of excuses being made for them by some over and over. They got the credit when they won and they should also take the credit when they lose. No excuses. It is early still so they could take off just like last year.

    1. They had a stretch like this in September if I recall. And we started out slowly last year. It will get better.

      We have a team of three true outcome players. It’s a nest of squirrels. This is how they set it up and with it will come streaks. Long year. Hang in there

      1. Yes, it’s a long year, but it has already started in the worst way for the Dodgers. Pitching is in shambles, who would of thought that last year? Unresolved batters at positions of importance. Joc, Kike, Forsythe. The non-producers. The Forsythe issue is temporarily resolved, but not really.

        The bats are getting better, though. How could they not after the worst start I can remember! Sadly, the pitching is not. Exception=Kershaw. Playing by the numbers is so boring like reading Chess openings and memorizing the first 15 moves of any opening and defense recorded. It’s only towards the end of the middle game and into the endgame that talent shows itself, the ability to think on one’s feet without prior memory/numbers to help you out. This quality seems to be missing with this team and its manager, seems to turn all these numbers on their head right from the beginning. Which book is he studying?

        1. The book of FAZ.

          There is a long history for Friedman, including Executive of the Year ten years ago. He’s been a GM since 2003. His teams have made the playoffs 6 times and been to the World Series twice. His record is actually pretty good. Watching how he works has been head scratching for many of us but the results, more or less, are there.

          All that said, when asked “who’s your favorite Dodger” the most common answer could be “nobody he’s brought in”. I just read his best moves were not trading Seager and Bellinger. When it is put in that perspective my response is “well duh”. Out of the hundreds of moves he has made, the best ones are those he didn’t? Not that impressive. When does the team flourish, being lead by the players he brings in? This year? Not likely. This is a reset year. What are the odds we win it all in a reset year? They’re currently 8/1.

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