I am a dyed-in-the-wool Dodgers homer. I want them to win every game, but when they do lose I am insane enough to think 1) I somehow something to do with it (Was it what I wore that day? Is it because I watched the game?), and 2) this will be the first loss in a string of around 874 of them. As I write this the Dodgers have been shut out twice in a row by the evilness to the North, the New York/San Francisco Giants. Part of the issue with the last two games is what has concerned me for the entire season thus far. And so, I share my pessimism with you now.
First, the Los Angeles Dodgers hit too many home runs. They currently rank second in the majors in home runs. The problem with this is a good number of those hits have come from Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson. Gonzalez is a good player and has been for some time. He has power. But he is hitting home runs at a rate that he has not in years, and almost certainly will not keep up this pace. Pederson was expected to perform decently this year, but he is still a rookie and pitchers have already begun adjusting to him. My assumption is his pace will also slow considerably. While the Dodgers currently rank fourth in runs scored in the majors, the team’s percentage of runs scored due to home runs being hit is the highest in the majors. Meaning, when the team’s pace of hitting dingers slows, the pace of them scoring runs slows even more. You can go look at the stats (go ahead…I will wait for you to come back…).
(Organ music plays)
OK, see what I was talking about? I know. I am totally wrong, right? Currently, the Dodgers are first in On Base Percentage in the Majors, and this is with Jimmy Rollins not hitting well. However, this is also with the aforementioned Gonzalez (career OBP .365 to this season’s .423) and Pederson over performing, as well as Andre Ethier (career .360 – this season .408), Howie Kendrick (career .333 – this season .360) and Justin Turner (career .347 – this season .390). And I have not even mentioned Alex Guerrero, another rookie who started his career in the majors by hitting five home runs quickly, but has since cooled. Basically, the Dodgers as a team are exceeding expectations at a non-sustainable rate. A correction is due, and this might mean 874 straight losses.
Secondly, the Dodgers’ starting pitching has held up better than should be expected. Hyun-Jin Ryu was expected to be a solid number three starter, but hasn’t pitched this season and now is out for the year because of shoulder surgery. Clayton Kershaw is not hurt (or is he?), but he cannot finish games. Kershaw seems to have picked up where he left off in the playoffs last year: he is pretty good for six innings, but from the seventh on he is…Well, we do not really know how he is. He mostly does not seem to be able to get past the seventh inning. Zack Greinke has been excellent as usual (5-1, 1.52 ERA in 2015), but he might be left trying to carry this starting rotation into the postseason. Overall, the pitching staff has good numbers, but they are not good enough to have the Dodgers in the playoffs when the offense is due for a regression. And they will most definitely regress.
(By the way, it has taken me two days to write this column. This is the day after the Dodgers completed being swept by the Giants and did not score a run in three games. I am hoping they figure out a way to score a run at some point during the rest of the season.)
I hope I am just being pessimistic. As I said above, I am that kind of Dodgers fan. But I would not be surprised if they do not make the playoffs this season. And then they will lose Zack Greinke in the offseason to free agency. And Kershaw will retire. And the Dodgers go on a 874 game losing streak. And so on and so on.