It’s Labor Day folks and that represents the three-quarters mark of the major league baseball season. The Dodgers right now on September 1 are 88-50 and have a 17 game lead in the National League West. They’re magic number to clinch their seventh consecutive division title is now at 9. The boys in blue have been having a fantastic season overall. However over the last several weeks they’ve been playing crappy uninspired mediocre baseball. They’ve split their last 14 games and just recently lost three in a row to the Dbacks in Arizona. They’re playing this afternoon and have to win in order to avoid an embarrassing sweep.
The Dodgers have problems on all sides of the baseball right now. Of the players that are not already on the injured list are either hurt, slumping, struggling, or fatigued. Hyun-jin Ryu is especially tired these days. The baseball season is way too long but it’s making me wonder if the Dodgers can get through the season. The pitching staff is getting torched, nobody is hitting save for Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen is completely ineffective. Thankfully the Dodgers have a huge lead to fall back on.
At least there are September reinforcements on the way. Rosters expanded on Sunday and the Dodgers finally got David Freese back from the injured list. He had been out for weeks battling a hamstring injury. Right handed hurler Ross Stripling is also back after being out for a while with a neck problem. Also returning is reliever Dylan Floro to help in the bullpen.
Even with the slower month, the Dodgers still ranked sixth in wRC+ with 115, fifth in runs scored with 156, ninth in OBP (.340) and fourth in home runs with 51. They also had the fourth highest walk percentage. But their batting ranked seventeenth with a .257 average.
As for the pitching, as a whole the staff ranked fifth with a 3.58 ERA and third with 276 punchouts. The Dodgers walked only 65. Even the relievers, normally maligned weren’t that bad in August. The Dodger’s relievers posted a 3.81 ERA which ranked seventh in MLB. Although five blown saves is no bueno.
The one guy who has been scorching hot in August was Justin Turner. Thank god for him because he’s been leading the offense for weeks now. Overall he’s slashing .296/.375/.522 with 26 home runs and 65 runs batted in. With Max Muncy out with the wrist injury, the Dodgers are really going to need Turner going into October and beyond. Turner batted .330 in August with 10 home runs and 19 runs driven in. His OPS for August was 1.069.
On the flip side, one Dodgers who is kind of struggling over the last few weeks is Cody Bellinger. While Cody still hit 8 home runs in August, he slashed only .235/.336/.582 with just 23 hits in 113 plate appearances. Bellinger is of course still having a historically great season. Perhaps this is just a little lull due to the dog days of the summer.
The Dodgers were still 17-11 in August, despite the losing over the last couple of weeks of the month. What concerns me is that the Braves went 19-9 in August. The thing is that the Dodgers are a mediocre road club. They’re only a few games above .500 on the road. At home however (52-18) they are spectacular. That’s fine because that’s how you want to perform. Generally you play .600 at home and .500 on the road. That’s a normal recipe for success. However I think it’s going to be very important for the Dodgers to get home field in the postseason and their lead over the Braves for NLCS home field is shrinking. With the recent losing it’s now down to just 4.5 games entering Sunday’s contest against Arizona. If the Dodgers have to go on the road to open the NLCS in Atlanta, then there might be a problem. Hopefully the Dodgers can finish up strong and not limp into October.