What is going wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers right now?
Dodgers: 1st 4-game losing streak of the season and fall to 16-28 against teams at .500 or better.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 11, 2015
It can be tough to focus on work after a vacation. Just ask the Dodgers. They were a dominant squad in the first half of the season with a commanding lead in the tough National League West and 51 – 38 (.573) record at the All Star break. Since then, however, they’ve cooled off considerably with a pedestrian 11-11 since the break. Over that stretch, they’ve lost some big games and thrown a once-overconfident fanbase into a near-panic. So what’s going on? Here are the three biggest reasons for the Dodgers’ recent struggles.
The Dodgers Failed to Shore Up Their Bullpen Before the Trade Deadline
The Dodgers’ bullpen wasn’t great in the first half of the year, but they hardly needed it. With all the big bats in their offense and their superb starting pitching, the Dodgers rarely put their bullpen in a tight spot. Still, it was an area they probably should have addressed before the trade deadline.
The Dodgers did make a small effort to help the bullpen by trading for Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson, but they did not make the big move that seems, at this point, overdue. Now the trade deadline is in the rearview mirror, and the Dodgers bullpen is boasting the worst ERA (6.99) and WHIP (1.76) in all of baseball since the All Star break. The recently acquired Jim Johnson, in particular, has been terrible.
The Back End of Their Rotation is Underperforming
Despite knowing that big arms like Cole Hamels were available at the deadline, the Dodgers chose to save their prospects and spend their cash to net back-end starters. They grabbed Mat Latos and Alex Wood, both respectable starters who cost far less in trade than one of the superstars would have. The immediate returns have been less than stellar. Wood’s ERA is over 5, and Latos’ is over 6.
The sample size here is just a couple of starts each, so there is hope for a resurgence from one or both of these pitchers. Still, the short-term results have been atrocious, and fans are justifiably second-guessing the Dodgers’ stinginess at the trade deadline.
They’ve Had Some Bad Luck
As tempting as it may be to lay the blame for the Dodgers’ rough patch at the feet of management or underperforming players, the fact is that the sample size is still fairly small and the Dodgers haven’t gotten a ton of breaks. The Dodgers’ underperforming acquisitions (Johnson, Latos, and Wood) are all being judged by a fairly small body of work in Dodger blue. Zach Greinke had his worst start of the year, and while the Dodgers won that game, it didn’t stop fans from freaking out. Greinke is bound to bounce back, though. The team is 1-4 in one-run games (often considered statistical toss-ups). It stands to reason that the Dodgers’ luck will even out a bit as the year goes on.
None of this excuses the Dodgers’ deadline inactivity, but it does give reason for Dodgers fans to hope. It’s still too early to panic in Los Angeles, but the boys of summer are running out of time to right the ship.
[Image Credit via fansided.com]