The Los Angeles Dodgers opened the long, excruciating season with a .500 record. The fans asked for a team with a chip on their shoulder; instead, they got a mid-level team competing for the top of the division. Entering the last series of the month, the Dodgers are only one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After losing a series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers welcome St. Louis to finish off the month with the underachieving Cardinals. Joining them is the league’s home run leader, Max Muncy. Coming off his paternity leave should only motivate him to improve his game because he now has another kid to pay for.
Before talking about the month’s highlights, let’s address the babies in the room. Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and former Dodger Cody Bellinger have all gone on paternity leave in the last two weeks. Staying home for the All-Star break must have helped these players take a load off.
Kershaw is Back
Clayton Kershaw is chasing records this season and has regained his status as the ace of the rotation. Entering the last series of the month, the pitching staff is not playing to its fullest potential. The combined record of the starters is currently nine wins with nine losses. Kershaw is leading the pack with 4 wins.
Coming into the year everyone pegged Kershaw to be the veteran arm helping shape the future ace of the team, Julio Urias. Instead, he is back to being the stopper when it comes to losing streaks. Kershaw’s 2.32 earned-run average is the lowest in the rotation. Showing emotions on the mound after earning his 200th win was his coronation. It was the moment everyone knew he was back and ready to lead this rotation.
I just hope Urias gets his groove back–batman needs his Robin.
Too Many Homers On the Dance Floor
A hit down the middle is one of the sexiest hits in the game. The visuals of two players approaching a ball while synchronizing is very appealing. I figured banning the shift would produce hits like these. Instead, the Dodgers are leading the National League in home runs. The league’s leading home run hitter is Muncy.
Yet, the team finds itself in second place, playing .500 ball.
With players like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, leading the offense, you would expect the small ball to be at play. Most runs in a series come through the home run balls. If this team wants to be above average, the Dodgers need to start hitting singles and doubles.
Developing is Key
The Dodgers know how to develop a player. Sometimes hoarding prospects like Bellinger, Urias, and Corey Seager pays off. James Outman is balling out this month, demonstrating how underrated their developing system can be regarded.
Entering the end of the month, Outman is hitting .287 with 7 home runs and 19 RBIs. He is currently the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. His ability to keep it consistent raises the question about why Noah Syndergaard is still pitching instead of Gavin Stone? The Dodgers need to trust the process and call up their talented farm system for help.
If the Dodgers are going to play average ball, they should at least continue the development process by allowing their prospects to shine bright enough for the Angels to see.
I will stop making jokes about an Shohei Ohtani trade until it gets done. Just trying to write it into existence.
Main Image: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports