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Can The Dodgers Ride A Wave Of Momentum Into The Playoffs?

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Sep 1, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado (left) and left fielder Matt Kemp (right) celebrate after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The big mo’. Momentum. It can be a divisive topic, many who think it’s a silly superstition, while many believe it’s a real thing. It’s definitely a real thing, but it’s more quantitative than people want to believe. I am not here to write an article about the possibility of the Dodgers winning 75% of their last games (although that’s not out of the realm of possibility.) I am going to break down individual examples and players who appear to be riding a huge wave of momentum.

 

What’s Wrong With Saying ‘Team Momentum?’

Games are won by teams, sure. Teams are made up of individual players. In baseball where there’s individual at-bats for pitchers and batters–the success is found in the aggregate. This isn’t the NBA. Saying ‘there’s a momentum to this team’ is fine, but it does a disservice not to break down HOW and because of WHOM. So let’s take a look at that aforementioned momentum.

The Bats

Yasiel Puig

Let’s start with the obvious here. He just got named the NL player of the week. He was out of his mind over the weekend in St. Louis, and signs of his hot streak have been flashing for some time now. He typically bats lower in the order, which is a huge deal. If the Dodgers batting lower in the order can catch fire, we will hopefully see less of those dreaded RISP left stranded.

  • Last 7 Games: .429/.500/.1.190
  • Last 15 Games: .325/.400/.850

Even before he went bonkers in St. Louis, he was up heating up.

Justin Turner

Justin Turner also took home an award recently, and that was for player of the month in August.  He hit .402 with 22 runs scored, 11 doubles, a triple, six home runs, .491 on-base and .722 slugging percentage. The craziest part–this only explains August. His last two weeks have had NO drop-off.

  • Last 7 Games: .409/.517/.545.
  • Last 15 Games: .365/.469/.614
  • Last 30 Games: .386/.482/.675

He has really put his performance into Justin Turner Overdrive.

Cody Bellinger

Now his 15 game numbers aren’t going to scream at you–but there’s something amazingly uniform about them.

  • Last 15 Games: .267/.377/.467
  • 2018 Season  : .267/.344/.471

Those numbers are strikingly similar. He’s not setting the world on fire, but those numbers are respectable. More importantly, those numbers are consistent. We’d all prefer a ridiculous hot streak like the aforementioned 2 players, but I will take Bellinger’s consistent approach as a good sign riding into the last 2 weeks.

Yasmani Grandal

Before you throw tomatoes at me, this is about momentum. His last 30 day stats look horrid.

  • Last 30 Games: .169/.307/.313
  • Last 7 Games: .286/.444/.524

Those last 7 games are encouraging. I’ll take .524 slugging from ANYONE in the batting order, any day. More importantly, Yasmani tends to get hot in a hurry, and hotter than most during his streaks. Dodger fans can only hope he might catch fire.

David Freese

The iceman came to the Dodgers and let’s be honest–it was bewildering for many of us. Obviously, he came to bat against left-handed pitchers. Lest we upset the ‘lineup police’, it’s been working. Take a look at these lines.

  • Last 7 Games: .429/.556/.857.

Those are ridiculous. Perhaps it was the change of scenery, or the splits themselves. He was already hitting .290 for the year, so it’s not like he wasn’t hitting before. Let’s hope he keeps this going.

Matt Kemp

Many of us are still celebrating when Matt Kemp adopted Archie Bradley as his son, hitting 2 game winning hits against him 2 games in a row. He’s quietly heated up in his last 15 games.

  • Last 15 Games: .304/.333/.413

If he can add a little power to those numbers (even a few doubles) he’ll definitely be ‘hot.’

Kiké Hernandez

This one actually surprised me.

  • Last 30 Games: .300/.396/.500
  • Last 7 Games: .294/.429/.588

That .429 on-base percentage tells me he’s seeing the ball very well. He’s being more selective and only swinging at pitches in the zone more. If he can keep this level of production–he’s going to be hard to get out.

Chris Taylor

CT3 has been a mixture of frustrating, fantastic, and bewildering in 2018. This seems almost unfair, as his magical 2017 came out of nowhere. His last 7/15 games have been very encouraging.

  • Last 7 Games: .278/.381/.556
  • Last 15 Games: .278/.366/.528

That’s nothing that’s going to set the world on fire, but it is definitely better than his overall 2018 stats.

The Pitchers

Walker Buehler

I don’t really need to say a lot. Here are his last 7 starts.

  • Last 7 Starts: 1.62 ERA, .88 WHIP, 52K’s

Our future ace has been pitching to remove the word “future” from this moniker.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton isn’t the same pitcher most of us remember–and he doesn’t have to be to be effective. He’s still getting outs, and now through his continuing pinpoint location. He’s still prone to giving up home runs, but any pitcher that attacks the zone like King Kershaw will always deal with this concern. Take a look at these numbers.

  • Last 7 Games: 3-0 record, 2.44 ERA, .90 WHIP

Dylan Floro

Despite some misadventures with the Dodgers bullpen this summer, a lot of our bullpen pitchers have actually been very good. ‘Floro Clock’ is one of the best guys out of our bullpen. Look at these peripherals in his last 30 appearances.

  • Last 30 Games: 1.38 ERA, .89 WHIP, 33 K’s in 32 innings

What About The Rest of The Dodgers?

Obviously tempering our expectations is the smart thing to do. Many guys I didn’t list don’t have great numbers lately. That said, things in baseball tend to change at the drop of a hat. Last year Logan Forsythe got pretty hot during the playoffs, which nobody saw coming. All it takes is one good game, one good at-bat. There are reasons to be optimistic. The Dodgers can carry momentum into a series and it could change their confidence, and suddenly this 2018 roster is a powerhouse. Here’s hoping.

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Written by AJ Gonzalez

AJ is a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in California. His whole family are also lifelong Dodgers fans. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, daughter, beagle, and strat.

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