Keys for Los Angeles Dodgers To Maintain NL West Lead

Dustin May’s injury comes in the middle of a month during which the Los Angeles Dodgers have gained a three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently leading the National League West, the Dodgers will face a challenge from the Diamondbacks, who are currently keeping pace.

After defeating the Twins on Wednesday and winning the series, Dave Roberts announced May will be added to the Injured List without a set timetable for his return. 

The Dodgers’ pitching has kept the team in the games even when they are trailing. It has been an essential aspect during the month of May, with the team only experiencing three losses. With Dustin May’s spot in the rotation now vacant, one of the rookie starters in the organization will have to step up to fill his shoes. 

During May’s absence, the Dodgers will have to rely on other facets of the team to maintain their lead and further strengthen it. 

3 Keys for the Dodgers to Keep Their Lead

Role Players

In baseball, a starting lineup will take the lead, but without the contribution of role players, a victory cannot be achieved. The Dodgers’ success can be attributed to the ability to substitute players with role players that can make contributions when needed. 

In the past, the Dodgers have relied on role players like Kike Hernandez, Gavin Lux, and Edwin Rios to contribute when their time comes. This year’s group of role players are Chris Taylor, Jason Heyward, Trayce Thompson, David Peralta, and Austin Barnes

Among the role players, only David Peralta is hitting above .200, currently batting .211 with two home runs. The rest of the crew is hitting under .200. In order for the Dodgers to expand their lead, they will need to rely on any of their role players to step up when the situation demands it. Over the past five years, the Dodgers have been able to depend on any of their players to come through in crucial moments. None of these players have demonstrated the ability to get a hit when called upon.  

Dave Roberts is going to have to count on these players to continue adding games to their lead. 

Evan Phillips

Evan Phillips leads the team with seven saves, successfully closing out every opportunity Roberts has handed him. A closer look at his season stats only emphasizes why he is such a vital component of the pitching staff. 

Phillis currently boasts an ERA of 2.12, a strikeout rate of 35.5, and a walk rate of 6.3. Roberts deploys him anytime after the seventh inning, based on the matchups. If the Dodgers intend to extend their three-game lead, they will need to count on Phillips to maintain his exceptional performance. 

A common theme throughout the season has been the Dodgers’ gritty ability to chip away, inning by inning. The team has thrived when facing deficits in the game. In the month of May, they played ten games with a score difference of five runs or less. Phillips and the rest of the bullpen must continue their dominance over opposing offenses for the Dodgers to maintain their lead in the West. 


At the start of the season, the Dodgers embarked on another year of developing their deep farm system. Thus far, they have promoted Miguel Vargas, James Outman, and Gavin Stone. After May’s early exit, the name Bobby Miller comes to mind. 

While the Dodgers find themselves short a starter, the front office and management will rely on the young talents, perhaps even heavily leaning on Miller. 

Following a slow start to the season, Vargas has shown improvements, hitting .277 in his last five games. Outman made a significant impact to rid himself of the slump by hitting a grand slam against the Twins to secure the comeback, and Stone struck out 10 in his last start for Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Miller pitched six innings, while only giving up one run on two hits. The contributions of these young players are now more crucial than ever.

Main Image: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sport

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