The Los Angeles Dodgers currently lead the NL West by 7.5 games and have a magic number of 10 with 17 games left in the regular season.
After a 22-10 start, the team played .500 ball over the next few months, causing many to question just how good the team was. With a payroll near and now exceeding $300 million, the expectations were for the Dodgers to dominate throughout the year. What was forgotten was that the team lost their third and fourth starters in the first month, as well as two of their starting outfielders for significant time.
A 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies put the Dodgers 23 games over .500 and winners of 17 of their last 22 games. They are doing all of this with Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig and Kiké Hernandez all on the disabled list.
One player that has contributed to the hot streak is catcher A.J. Ellis, who has taken on a more prominent role with Yasmani Grandal dealing with shoulder soreness. The veteran catcher began the year as the backup and was hitting .171 at the end of June. Since then, he’s hit .284 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 27 games.
Following the Dodgers victory on Wednesday, the veteran catcher talked about his “resurgence”. “It’s felt good, obviously,” Ellis said. “It’s felt good to not just answer other people’s questions, but answer questions you may have about yourself.”
“When you have some good results and have some positive reinforcement from what you’re doing and what you’ve been working on, and have the success follow that, you just want to keep riding the wave. Kind of stay with the same routine and stay simple, I think that’s been working for me.”
Ellis hit a home run in Wednesday’s game, his second in his last three games. He went into more detail about his improved results. “I also think being in the role I’ve been in, having the extra rest has helped, too,” Ellis said. “It’s kept my body fresh and I feel like Yas and I have formed a strong partnership. Hopefully that continues on the rest of the year.”
While Grandal had a strong first half, he’s slowed down a bit in the second half, mostly due to that shoulder soreness, but Ellis has picked up the slack. The Dodgers will need production from both of them if they wish to reach the postseason a third straight time and make a run deep into October.