Dodgers survive tough May but still lose ground in standings

Chad penned a post back on May 2 that basically said the Dodgers were in for the toughest month they’d have all season (you know, save those pesky September games). They were 12-13 entering the month.

“I’m not one to go into hysterics about make-or-break games or months or whatever else just one day into May, but given the team’s recent struggles, it should be interesting to see whether they’re able to weather this storm or if they end up collapsing entirely under what appears to be rather prominent adversity lining up to face them.”

Weathered the storm they did. In fact, they fared quite well. The Dodgers were able to go 16-12 in the month with a lot of things going wrong — like losing six of seven to a combination of the Cardinals, Angels and Padres. They only averaged 3.6 runs per game, which means the pitching stepped up for the Dodgers to win 16 games in the month.

That will play. The Dodgers’ pitching staff also had a 28 percent strikeout rate, 7.7 percent walk rate, .194 batting average against and a 3.31 FIP. Obviously, a lot of that had to do with Clayton Kershaw and his utter dominance, but two other Dodger starters stepped up their respective games.

  • Scott Kazmir: 6 GS, 39 2/3 IP, 26 H, 3.40 ERA, 28.5 K%, 9.9 BB%
  • Alex Wood: 5 GS, 28 1/3 IP, 24 H, 3.18 ERA, 35.3 K%, 6.0 BB%

Kazmir’s numbers include that horrible start against the Padres. His velocity is up, his strikeouts are way up and he’s showing just why the Dodgers invested $46 million into him. Wood’s strikeouts were up even more than Kazmir’s, and his walks were down more. Unfortunately, he just went on the disabled list and is getting and MRI on his left elbow today. Let’s do some math:

Forearm tightness + triceps tightness + elbow tightness + MRI = likely not good news

The offense did have a power surge in the month, posting an ISO 20 points better (.147 vs. .127) than it did in April. But the wRC+ numbers were almost even (89 vs. 90). The offense is clearly struggling to find consistency thanks to some veterans struggling (Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner). The youngsters are carrying the squad and were led in May by Corey Seager and his 143 wRC+ and a team-best seven home runs. He’ll have his brief cold streaks, but Seager should be the best hitter on the team come August or September because he’s that good.

Despite the good (and partially because of the bad), the Dodgers suffered in the standings. A .571 winning percentage should be good enough to either gain some ground in the division or at least stay even. But when the Giants win 21 of 29, there isn’t much a team can do.

The injuries are mounting, Chase Utley has found the fountain of youth, the kids are producing (Joc Pederson, Seager, Trayce Thompson), some of them are being thrust into more important roles (Julio Urias) and there are some more potential reinforcements on the way (Austin Barnes please, Frankie Montas). If the Giants keep winning and most of the Dodger veterans continue to struggle, the Dodgers are going to have to come up with a counter-punch. That might come via the trade market, which is something we’ll look at in the next day or two. But there are some internal options — specifically on the pitching side — who should help at some point in the form of Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodgers are 4 1/2 games back. There are 109 games left. Contrary to popular belief, all is not lost. They’re doing fine … for now.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.