The thought of the Los Angeles Dodgers failing to make the playoffs in 2018 didn’t even cross my mind in the preseason. At -1100 to earn a postseason bid, they appeared to be a lock. We aren’t even to June and I’m now quite confident the boys in blue will be watching baseball from the comfort of their own homes come October.
At 16-24, the Dodgers are lost. The offensive production just hasn’t been there and the pitching staff hasn’t been great either. I’ve heard some pundits blame the loss of Justin Turner to injury for the struggles, and that’s definitely been part of the problem, but I feel LA’s issues run deeper.
Outside of Matt Kemp, which has been a nice addition, and Yasmani Grandal, the Dodgers aren’t getting much production offensively, at least not consistently. The lineup, which most anticipated would be a strength coming into the season, has produced just 34 homers in 40 games, and only Grandal and Kemp have posted an OPS above .788.
Ray of Hope?
At 8.5 games back of Arizona in the NL West, it’s hard to imagine this team will come back and win the division. But the outlook for the rest of the season isn’t all doom and gloom. There is still time to turn it around and the talent to make it happen.
Let’s start with Kenley Jansen, who has been one of the best closers in the game the past few seasons. His 3.78 ERA isn’t impressive by today’s closer standards, but I feel he’s been a bit unlucky. He’s given up 20 baserunners and struckout 15 batters in 16 2/3 innings which isn’t terrible. I expect that ERA to decline throughout the season.
Kershaw also hasn’t been his dominant self, and he’s gotten no run support, but he’s still performed at a level you’d expect from an Ace. Assuming he gets back from injury soon, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, it wouldn’t surprise me if the pitcher I consider the best I’ve ever seen comes up huge for the Dodgers in the second half of the season.
And then there’s Turner, one of the most valuable players on the team the past few seasons, who will be lifted from the disabled list on Tuesday for the first time all season. Adding his bat should make the other struggling hitters better.
But if the Dodgers have any playoff expectations, even with the return of Kershaw and Turner, I think it will be as a Wild Card team.
Author: Jon Sofen