Stop me if you have heard this before, but last season’s NL champions are heavily struggling to start the season. The Cubs went through a similar stretch to start last season and were below .500 by the all-star break. As time showed last year, however, that didn’t seem to be a problem for the north-siders, who made it back to their third straight NLCS.
Unlike the Cubs last year, however, the Dodgers actually have cause for concern.
The Dodgers started out the season extremely slowly, with a record of 16-24 so far. More concerningly than that, however, is the fact that they are 8 games back of the division lead and 7.5 back of the Wild Card.
Sure, it’s still early. But through 40 games, the Dodgers have looked atrocious. Not only have they been swept by the lowly Reds at Chavez Ravine, but they also lost franchise face Corey Seager for the year due to Tommy John surgery.
We passed the ‘Should the Dodgers panic?’ point a couple weeks ago. It’s fairly obvious that the Dodgers should panic. Making up an 8 game deficit is not easy, regardless of opponent and time remaining.
However, it’s a bit more damning for the Dodgers. The team they are chasing, the Diamondbacks, just lost their first series of the season this weekend. Sure, they also got swept at home, but theirs came at the hands of the mighty Nationals, not the Reds.
The Diamondbacks also didn’t beat themselves over the weekend. Dumb mistakes, including Cody Bellinger BUNTING with a 3-0 count in the bottom of the ninth, doomed the Dodgers. It wasn’t the Matt Harvey acquisition that let the Reds win games, it was capitalizing off the Dodgers giving games away.
Here is the Bellinger bunt. pic.twitter.com/T6kZkqhp2a
— RISPy Business (@MeliMel_82) May 13, 2018
The Reds were taking advantage of a middle-of-the-pack team. Plain and simple. The Dodgers were the inferior team in that series, and it showed.
If Dave Roberts truly wanted to send a message, Cody Bellinger would be extradited to the end of the bench and stuck there for at least a game. Sure, he’s an incredible talent, but that was a boneheaded move, and one which cost his team a chance at the game.
However, Bellinger isn’t close to the only problem. Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list, and the Dodgers are proving once-and-for-all that everyone overrated their pitching depth last season. Justin Turner, one of their biggest bats, is hurt. Guys like Chris Taylor have come back down to Earth. Corey Seager isn’t coming back.
There is an adequate reason to believe that the Dodgers are going to finish with a top-15 draft pick next season. There’s an adequate reason to believe they could finish below .500. There’s adequate reason to believe they could finish last in their division.
However, it is premature to believe that they are doomed. It is way too premature to completely write them off. Seager won’t, but Kershaw and Turner will come back. Kenley Jansen will return to form. The pitching staff can’t be THIS bad the whole year, can they?
It will never be right to write off the defending league champions in May. NEVER. A large part of this team has already been battle tested and has already succeeded in those tests. They may not come back and make the playoffs. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would say they won’t. But I cannot feasibly count them out right now, especially with the talent base I know this team has.