2017 has been a tale of two seasons so far for the LA Dodgers. Overall, the return in a long stretch of divisional games is poor. Having won the National League Western Division for the past four years, expectations were high. Results suggest that complacency was as well.
33 games so far against the four other Western teams yielded just an 18 – 15 overall record. Only the Padres and Pirates obliged with series wins so far; the Diamondbacks, Giants and Rockies all hold the advantage in their respective series to May 17.
Trailing the Rockies by 2 games at this point is by no means an insurmountable gap but the opportunity for the Dodgers to directly damage that lead has passed until June 23 when Colorado returns to LA. Relying upon others to beat your opponents is a natural part of the ebb and flow of any season; it’s becomes flawed when you rely on it for success.
There’s no suggestion yet that this is the case. The biggest issue seems to be depth, or more to the point, the quality of that depth. With essentially seven pitchers filling the five starting places, it’s about finding the combinations which are effective.
Until the consistency from everyone kicks in, there’s an element of chance involved; consistency from everyone at the same time is as rare as a unicorn…you get the picture. Or pitcher, if you like.
With the size of the payroll, there’s a strong case for declaring that the roster should be consistent. Not just them, the decision-makers as well. The use of analytics is commonplace but there’s still room for a hunch or two, which begs the question if anyone thinks optioning Rob Segedin to the minors was an entirely sensible idea at the beginning of the season.
Flip, Flop On The Fly
His average of .250 is currently better than four others who remained on the roster; the headline averages though only give us a glimpse of the data with the more in-depth analysis providing a rounded picture of the players.
There’s no doubt the offense is misfiring. Flip, flop, fly; the long-running problems with left-handed pitchers is a recurring theme but in the early part of the season, getting runners on bases only to see the opportunities wasted The frequency it happened infuriated many but there was a chance to make a statement in Chicago when the rematch with the Cubs happened early in April.
It didn’t happen; the series was lost 1-2. The positive was the lost games were closer run than those in the Championship series; two defeats by four, one by five and eight? It couldn’t be much worse. As of May 19, the Cubs are +160, according to Bet Way while the Dodgers are +500; the margins of those victories suggest the odds aren’t wildly off as things stand.
In one-run games, the Dodgers are 3-7; the great teams reverse those figures with 7 wins but more disturbingly the record against Western Division teams is 2-6. These are the games where you actively damage opponents and are the most important in any regular season schedule. Reversing 2-6 flips the current standings on their head lest anyone doubt their importance.
But just when you think it is going off-kilter, the Dodgers pop up with an all-important win. The Giants once again, had the upper hand in the series which ended on Tuesday. Two-up, they were slammed 6-1 with Clayton Kershaw recording his seventh win of the season. Retiring the first 10 batters wasn’t enough; he shutout five of the seven innings. It was his fourth no-walk game this season.
Consistency and Control
Honing, nurturing and repeating that form on a regular basis, through the rest of the pitchers, is going to be the key. With that kind of backing, the offense is more than capable of scoring on a regular basis. Unless it’s the Giants; they’ve limited the Dodgers to one run in three of this season’s ten games already.
While there is some truth in the ‘early in the season’ motif, the foundations for the rest of the campaign are built now. A quarter-ish has passed and 2 games down isn’t insurmountable; far from it. 24-18 is far better than last season and that ended well. Establishing a +6 record took until the 72nd game in 2016; we’re at 42 this year.
The 7-2 win over the Marlins on May 17 was the first of a thirty-three game series outside of the division. A change is as good as a rest, as they say. And a longer indication of how the Dodgers compare to potential post-season opponents.
The one change this season is the Rockies form. While the Dodgers can only control their own performances, they can’t do the same for Colorado. It adds an edge to the series beginning on June 23.
(This is an article from one of our sponsors, we hope you enjoy.)