Losses suck, basically. A hot take, I know, especially as the Dodgers are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. That streak is something they haven’t done since Aug. 18-23 of last year, and they haven’t gone through such a stretch at home since May 1 and May 6-10 of 2013. So given that many just witnessed something they hadn’t seen in about three years, people are understandably in a dour mood.
But it’s not just the losses themselves that have most people frustrated, as even the fans of the best teams know they have to deal with 60-70 losses per year. Rather, the negativity surrounding this five-game stretch extends past the over-reactionary tools that flip out after literally every loss — or win that isn’t against certain teams or aren’t by enough runs — and has spread to the more reasonable members of the fans, media, and bloggers.
As much as I’d love to use this space to write something about how the Dodgers are actually doing wonderfully, if for no other reason than it would anger the “fans” who almost hope for a Dodger loss, the reality is that the concerns expressed are for the most part understandable and reasonable. That’s because a lot of the present worry stems less from the fact that the Dodgers are simply losing games and more from how they’ve been losing games: error-prone defense, mental mistakes on the basepaths, an anemic offense lacking a cohesive approach, a wildly inconsistent bullpen, and a so far similarly inconsistent rotation to match.
While the Dodgers had concerns prior to the losing streak, primarily about their pitching, everything could be downplayed because the offense was generally humming, the defense was rock solid, and the baserunning was trending upward steeply. This was always going to be a talented team with question marks, but it was one that was still winning at an impressive rate (about a 102-win pace) thanks to seemingly improved fundamental play in front of all the uneven performances. Unfortunately, over the last week, those fundamentals have fallen apart and that has exposed the possibility that without doing the little things right, this team may not quite have enough in the tank to power them to the same levels as the squads that have averaged about 93 wins over the previous three seasons.
But lest you think this is a completely overreaction, it’s not just all of us watching, as the Dodgers were concerned as well. That’s why they took the time to hold a team meeting before yesterday’s game prior to May even arriving.
“You just have to get back to the fundamentals and play clean, crisp baseball and play every pitch,” he said. “I think there are signs of that, but it’s sending a message that we’re fine. But let’s get back to the basics.”
This has happened before in recent history, of course, but that was mainly Yasiel Puig problem related, not about generalized lackadaisical and sloppy performance like this is. And while it’s promising that Dave Roberts and the team seem to recognize what’s actually been going wrong over this stretch, it’s still less that optimal to have this kind of mess hit the team’s shores already.
Of course, on the other hand, it’s still literally April 30.
Despite the roller coaster so far, the Dodgers definitely have enough talent even as is to hit 90+ wins again, and chances are good that by September nobody will even remember this stretch. I mean, the Dodgers have been a sub-.500 team in July during this recent run of success and have still ended the season as arguably the biggest threat to take home the World Series (2013), so there’s a ton of things that can happen between now and October.
All I’m saying is that for reasonable people who looked at the roster and had a checklist of question marks where things could possibly go wrong in 2016, this stretch has hit on a lot of them and it should be interesting to see how the Dodgers respond to this and how the roster eventually develops from here to maybe solve some of these issues.
Orrr maybe it was just that I literally cursed the team by greedily taking five game recaps in a row and this is all my fault.
Guess we’ll find out tonight.