The Dodgers have had a tough start to the second half, playing just one game above 500 ball. They have won nine and lost eight, but still sit at the top of the standings in the National League West. They’ve also been unfortunate enough to be playing some of the best teams in baseball in the second half. The Brewers, Phillies, Braves, and Astros are all teams well above the 500 mark. And they had to play ten of those games on their turf. So how did they manage success at all, with so many key players in slumps?
Max Muncy pre-All star break:
65/41 K/BB with a .409 OBP
Max Muncy post-all star break:
23/5 K/BB with a .279 OBP
Only 3 games with 0 Ks in that time and 4 times with 1 (2 of those as a pinch hitter)…Lots of swing and misses too…the eye’s just not the same #Dodgers
— Greg Bergman (@BergmanGreg) August 5, 2018
Key players from the first half have suddenly take a dive. Max Muncy and Matt Kemp, in particular, are having terrible second halves to the year. And yet, Los Angeles keeps finding a way. Here are some of the heroes so far following the All-Star break.
Perhaps you are like me, and you thought the best part of the Dozier trade was seeing Logan Forsythe leave. Afterall, Dozier was hitting just 224 with 16 home runs when he was traded over from Minnesota. To say that expectations were low would be an understatement. Luckily, Dozier came into Los Angeles firing on all cylinders.
In his first five games for the Dodgers, Dozier is slashing .400/.500/1.000 and playing superb defense. He has two home runs to go along with three doubles, putting his extra-base hit total at five. He has one single in his 15 at-bats. That puts his OPS+ at a jaw-dropping 293, compared to Logan Forsythe’s 52 in Los Angeles this year. So yes, he has certainly been an upgrade.
Despite the small slump he experienced recently, you cannot ignore what Machado’s presence on the roster does for a team. Whether he’s playing shortstop or third base, you can always expect gold glove caliber plays. Machado is also slashing .279/.380/.426 in the second half with Los Angeles. He has only gone deep twice, but the best is yet to come with him.
So far, he is also playing slightly better defense in Los Angeles than he did in Baltimore this season. He is yet to make an error in 54 defensive chances split between short and third. He has also accumulated a +0.4 dWAR compared to his -1.2 with the Orioles. Manny will need some time to work back to his form with the new team, and he will be incredibly dangerous when he does. Imagine that bat catching fire in the postseason.
It might surprise you, but Rich Hill is putting together the best second half of any starting pitcher in Los Angeles. Hill got roughed up early in the year, pitching to a 4.55 earned run average across his eleven first-half starts. Since then, he has completely turned things around.
Hill has only started three games since the break, but his stuff has been near elite. Across nineteen innings of work, he has allowed just two earned runs, good for a 0.95 ERA. He has also struck out 21 batters to put him at nearly ten strikeouts per nine innings. The 38-year-old lefty is going to be playing a huge role down the stretch, and he’s going to be a real factor come October
The Dodgers’ tough schedule will continue on through August, facing off against several tough teams. Of the 22 games remaining this month, there will only be five played against teams that are not yet at the 500 mark. They play the A’s starting on Tuesday, and they have been pretty great so far. They are 67-46 and riding a 12-4 record since the All-Star break. Oh yeah, and they are also on a six-game winning streak.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/game-recap-machado-rakes-and-buehler-deals-in-win-bs0193/2018/08/06/”]Game Recap: Machado Rakes and Buehler Deals in Win[/button]