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Dodgers 2019 Mid-Season Report Card

The Dodgers have hit the 81 game mark, or the true half-way point of the season.

Dodgers
CINCINNATI, OHIO - MAY 19: Joc Pederson #31, Alex Verdugo #27 and Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after the final out of the 8-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

While the All-Star break typically marks the mid-season point of Major League baseball, for the Los Angeles Dodgers that official point was last night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Through 81 games, the Dodgers have a Major League best, 55-26 record (.679). They are 13 games ahead of the nearest competition in the National League West and are currently atop of the MLB Power Rankings. Despite their dominance in the National League, they do still have some room for improvement. As we celebrate the Dodgers success through the 13-mile mark of the marathon season, let’s take a look at the grades they’ve earned from me.

Offense: ‘B+’

Stats:

Runs per game: 5.25 (3rd in N.L)

BA: .266 (2nd in N.L)

Home runs: 128 (2nd in N.L)

RBIs: 409 (3rd in N.L)

OPS: .817 (1st in N.L)

wRC+: 114 (1st in N.L)

BB/K: 0.49 (1st in N.L)

The Dodgers offense has continued to be one of the best in the National League.  As you can see above, they rank near the top in most major offensive categories.  Unfortunately, I still can’t justify giving them an “A” because the ones they lack are pretty crucial.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 23: Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers jumps at home plate in celebration of his walk-off two run homerun, for a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Bright Spots The obvious bright spots are Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo, Max Muncy and Justin Turner mostly because of their consistent performance at the plate. However, lots of credit must go to David Freese, Matt Beaty, Will Smith and Kyle Garlick for their clutch play and solid performances filling in for the injured.  This team has great depth and a tremendous ability to not miss a beat when someone goes down. Simply put, the whole team is relentless.

Room for Improvement: As a whole the team leads the National League in leaving runners on base (LOB city) and worse, they leave the second most runners in scoring position. While they are 3rd in runs scored per game, they could be so much better at hitting in the clutch.

Another area they could improve in is stolen bases, they are currently 12th in the league with just 26. That’s 7 below the league average. While I understand this is an analytics based team and to get caught stealing takes away from the “get on base” philosophy, they need to get better at manufacturing runs. Stealing and/or bunting runners into scoring position is a big part of that. To win close games in the playoffs, small ball may be essential. With the lead this team has in the West, it’s a good time to start working on this skill set.

Starting Pitching: ‘A’

Stats:

RA/G: 3.62 (1st in N.L.)

ERA: 2.71 (1st in N.L)

WHIP:  1.00 (1st in N.L)

FIP:  3.74 (1st in N.L)

IP:  474 (1st in N.L)

BAA:  .217 (1st in N.L)

K/BB:  5.04 (1st in N.L)

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 18: Manager Dave Roberts #30 and Joc Pederson #31 react to the run of Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers to take a 4-1 lead over the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on May 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Dodgers starting pitching has been nothing short of elite this year.  They don’t just rank high in most major statistical categories, the LEAD most of those categories in the National League. This starting rotation has been absolutely dominant. The Dodgers’ NL leading 48 quality starts has minimized the amount of damage the poor bullpen can inflict and saved this team a lot of heartache this year. While Rich Hill has recently been sent to the IL with no real timetable for return, the depth provided by Ross Stripling and Julio Urias should allow for this dominance to continue.

Bright Spots: Hyun-Jin Ryu has continued to show the world how good he can be when he’s healthy, something they’ve only seen in small sample sizes the past few years.  He currently boasts a 9-1 record and leads all MLB starters with a 1.27 ERA and his .84 WHIP is second only to Justin Verlander.  His pinpoint control has minimized baseball runners as he has just 6 walks all season to go with his 90 strikeouts.

It goes without saying that the rest of the starting rotation has been very good as well. Clayton Kershaw has countered his decreased velocity with better pitch selection and painting corners, Walker Buehler is showing everyone that he has what it takes to be the next generational ace and until injury Rich Hill has been Rich Hill, a foul-mouthed, knee-buckling curveball artist.

Room for Improvement: Rich Hill has landed on the IL at least until August. In his absence the Dodgers will use a combination of Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, and spot starters like today’s Tony Gonsolin. Urias has been phenomenal as the Dodgers long reliever and Stripling has been pretty good for a guy that hasn’t worked much in the starter capacity this year, but I think the Dodgers need to explore adding another starter to replace Hill.

I love Rich, but in the words my wife so eloquently uses to describe my own age, “he’s no spring chicken.” I think it must be considered that to due age, recovery may be slow and I’m not sure the Dodgers should bank on a speedy return, let alone able to get his pitch count up and his mid-season command back. It may be a good time to look at rentals, even if that might mean picking up Mr. Madison “You Don’t Watch The Ball, You Run” Bumgarner, after all Kershaw likes him and he’s dominant in the post season.

Bullpen: ‘C-’

Stats:

Losses in relief: 15 (tied with 4 other teams for 2nd most in N.L.)

IS%: 40% (tied for 2nd most in N.L.)

BS: 13 (6th most in N.L.)

ERA:  4.12 (10th in N.L)

WHIP:  1.19 (2nd in N.L)

FIP:  4.28 (10th in N.L)

BAA:  .223 (2nd in N.L)

K/BB:  2.85 (2nd in N.L)

LOB%:  67.5% (14th in N.L)

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 01: Austin Barnes #15 looks on as manager Dave Roberts #30 pulls Joe Kelly #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on April 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Through 81 games the bullpen is still the glaring weakness of this otherwise stellar team.  While their WHIP, BAA, and K/BB might be good indicators of a decent bullpen, the losses in relief, IS%, ERA and BS indicate otherwise. It seems there is no one outside of Kenley Jansen that has the composure in high pressure situations to get the big outs. Joe Kelly was supposed to be that 8th inning guy, but hasn’t been. I for one, still think he’ll find that command, but outside of him and Pedro Baez who has been pretty consistent there isn’t much that impresses me.

Bright Spots: Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez have been the big bright spots so far. Jansen has shown he can get some of that velocity and movement back on the cutter. When he has those, he’s vintage Jansen. When he doesn’t, well lets just say we all hope the lead he’s trying to save is greater than a run or two.

Baez has impressed me this year. He has a 2.80 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and his BAA is just .169. Additionally, his 34.1 innings pitched are the most relief innings pitched behind long relievers Urias and Stripling. Pretty impressive considering he rarely pitches beyond one inning. What’s more impressive is he has the most Holds (15) and although he’s inherited the 3rd most runners (16) he’s only allowed 4 of them to score.

Room for Improvement: Joe Kelly. No need to harp on it, no need to dig up unimpressive stats. He’s got to find that 2018 post-season command the Dodgers signed him for, period.

Overall: ‘A-’

Bright Spots:  The Dodgers are not just the best in the West, but all of the National League. Arguably the best in all of baseball, but that’s tough to judge because we don’t know where they’d stand if they played more inter-league games against teams. What’s astonishing about this team is that they are this good WITH a poor bullpen, WITH injuries, and WITH a lot of rookies.

I still don’t believe this team is firing on all cylinders yet. Corey Seager was just getting going before he was hurt, Hill was getting into mid-season form, and the Dodgers have been without AJ Pollock nearly all season. The position player injuries will sort themselves out, I’m confident in the depth of this team that they can with stand it. The pitching injuries and shortcomings though, are a different story.

Room for Improvement: At minimum the Dodgers need to get a left-handed Pedro Baez.  Someone else that can get them out of a tight spot and get the ball to Jansen in the 9th or even Kelly when he finds that command. I really like the notion of a package deal acquiring Bumgarner and reliever Will Smith from the Giants, but it may cost more than this Front Office is willing to cough up. If there ever was a time to put all the chips on the table, I think the time is now. The Dodgers can afford some prospects because of their tremendous depth, most of which is very young, but already at the big league level. This will make them competitive for years to come and buy time to replenish the talent.

The fan vote: 

Overall, Dodgers Nation was very high on the performance of the team in the first half.

My 2¢?

I say, go all in, win this World Series and start restocking the prospects in 2020.

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

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  1. They simply don’t hit w/RISP! Their runs per game is misleading because they’ll score a bunch of runs in back to back blow out games then just 1 or 2 runs in the next two games. It looks good on paper but they can’t win many games with a run or two. They also leave way too many men on base!

  2. Ewww- I think I would almost rather not be in the World Series again if it involves Bumgarner on the team… or worse yet, him being the “hero” that gave LA the WS:(
    Would be much nicer to see him in a Yankee uniform versus LA in the WS, with MadDum crying and pouting through it all as they lose.

    And yes- the Dodgers need relief for their relievers! If the Dodgers went with a 6-man rotation, with Urias and Stripling, the starters could go deeper into games, meaning: the better guys in the bullpen get more rest, Maeda and a few others pitch better on 6-days, and most critical– they are better rested for the postseason.
    If you’re scratching your head trying to figure that one out revisit the 2016 Cubs and Joe Madden’s decision to use the 6-man rotation in the second-half of the season. Two results- the Cubs absolutely killed it in the second half, and in the post-season their elite pitchers stayed in games longer, the bullpen was pretty fresh and they breezed through to victory.

  3. Who cares I can already see them losing the World Series again. I say the Twins or Asstros beat us whether we’re better or not, doesn’t seem to matter the other team will actually show it in the series and we won’t

  4. Without a left handed stud reliever,a right handed bat that can’t hit and another starter if Hill is out for the season,it will be the same old,same old disappointing end to the season. Winning the division doesn’t mean JACK.Mr.Friedman you have a lot of work to do before July 31. 34 days and counting..

  5. You don’t have to have an A in all statistics to win the WS. With our starting pitching and offense, we are close. A bit of improvement in the BP will assure it. Adding Maeda , along with Strip and Urias to it may be enough.

      • The offense must do better against the elite pitching they will see in the WS. RISP is an issue . And Maeda, Stripling were not the only pitchers to ‘bomb’ in the WS. If you recall, Dodgers played 12 games cobined in these past 2 WS appearances and the pitching staff generously served up 23 HR’s in those 12 games….end of story.

  6. I would have given them a B+ Overall. Their starters are the best in baseball. The offense is okay but they still don’t know how to advance runners, nor do they know how to score men on 3rd with less than 2 outs. The majority of the team still swing for the fences with 2 strikes. The bullpen has been okay, but I think the back in end is rounding into shape. Pedro and Joe continue to improve and Kenley has looked like the old Kenley his last 2 appearances. In other words the things that killed them(Along with Roberts) vs the Astros are still weaknesses 2 years later. Seems the front office doesn’t learn from the past and still wants to penny pinch when it comes to truly improving the taem.

  7. I realize that the current Giant GM is a former Dodger, and not likely to treat Friedman with the same sort of animosity we are used to, but I just do not see a real possibility of acquiring a Giants icon in anything other than a really bad trade (for LA). The Giants figure to be putting a putrid product on the field for years, and it would take a lot to sell their fans (and sell tickets) if he trades the best player on the roster to LA for anything short of a King’s ransom. I don’t believe this team needs another starting pitcher for the playoffs, unless one of the top 3 pitchers in the rotation goes down. Bullpen help? Yes, as usual.

  8. 110 wins–3 players with 40 HRs or more–3 players with 20 win seasons–Closer with 50 saves-5 players hitting over 300–2 players with 100 RBIs–6 with 80 RBIs-Best ERA in baseball–6 All Stars-THAT is a Championship team

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