The last week has been a frustrating one for Dodgers fans. In the last seven games, the Dodgers are 2-5. The Dodgers are 19-17 overall, and they face a tough pitching match-up tonight. However, given how heated some of the discussions around the internet have been today, I think it’s important to get some perspective.
Last season, after 36 games, the Dodgers were 15-21, four games behind where they are now. They were 7 games behind the Giants, who had a record of 23-15 (they’re 22-13 so far this year) and were in the basement of the NL West. Nick Punto started the next game (equivalent to tonight’s) at third base. Skip Schumaker started at second base in place of an injured Mark Ellis (who spent the entire previous week on the roster but unavailable due to injury). Dee Gordon played at short in place of Hanley Ramirez, who pulled his hamstring the week before. Adrian Gonzalez started for the first time in several days after injuring his neck running into an umpire. Matt Kemp was actually playing, but he was hitting .277/.329/.350, clearly still bothered by his previous shoulder issues. Zack Greinke was a few games away from returning from his broken collar bone.
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After 36 games, things were dire for the 2013 Dodgers, and they were about to get worse. After winning their series against Washington, the Dodgers left on a road trip which saw them lose three consecutive games to the Braves in the late innings. After that series, they traveled to Milwaukee, where, by some accounts, Don Mattingly nearly lost his job.
It’s true that the Dodgers cannot count on having a 42-8 run again this year. However, they didn’t need to go on a 42-8 run last year, since they won the division by 11 games. The Dodgers don’t have the same injury volume as they did in 2013, but that means that the current situation has the potential to turn around quickly. The Dodgers’ offense is fourth in the National League by wRC+, which suggests that the actual runs will probably come with time. Their combined pitching staff (starters and relievers) are just about league average after adjusting for park. So far this year the Dodgers have a sequencing problem, not necessarily a roster problem.
I won’t debate that the Dodgers have looked bad in the last week, but it’s not time to panic. They don’t need to fire Don Mattingly. They don’t need to make drastic roster moves. Things aren’t going well right now, but the season isn’t anywhere near over.
Juan Uribe will sit tonight, as expected. Justin Turner will start at third base in his place. Uribe has a “mild” strain, but Mattingly wouldn’t rule out a DL trip. Carlos Triunfel, a potential replacement on the 40 man roster, suffered a hand injury after it was stepped on in Albuquerque the other day, but he’s in their lineup tonight. If Uribe goes on the disabled list tomorrow, Triunfel will likely head to LA.
Turner at third gives Dee Gordon a chance to play against the left-handed Madison Bumgarner, but batting him at the top of the order is a questionable decision at best. A.J. Ellis caught for seven innings at extended spring training today, and could return as early as next week. Hyun-jin Ryu played catch today, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to return from the disabled list when eligible.