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Why You Shouldn’t Panic Over This Dodgers Slump



When the Los Angeles Dodgers embarked on the 2017 season, many envisioned a fifth consecutive National League West Division Championship, while others had World Series aspirations. However, not many believed that the Dodgers would be at 92 victories in the beginning of September. Casual and rabid fans alike, the Dodgers were a winning team, but not a record-breaking team.

As the Dodgers enter the final month of the 2017 regular season, they find themselves in an unfamiliar place comparative to this season. The team has lost three straight series, losing two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers at home in their shortest home stand of the year (three games), then getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Desert, and finally losing two of three to the San Diego Padres. That does not even count the day game from Saturday’s doubleheader, which they lost too.

Last week we mentioned the importance of the one, two punch in a starting pitching rotation. What has some enthusiasts and experts alike worried though is the recent inconsistency of the Dodgers. Well, like with many things in life, we need to look to the facts and data to determine why of the what. The what is certain, the Dodgers are human and playing under .500 baseball their last ten games. Why?

Disabled List

Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, and Cody Bellinger all saw time on the disabled list during the team’s recent slump. Corey Seager has also been down with some concerns regarding his elbow. These four players were major reasons why the Dodgers had played so well until late August. No wonder the team’s fortune has altered the universe.

Now that Clayton Kershaw is back, he is already doing stuff like this:

And Cody Bellinger is also making sure to contribute:

Resting of Players

Manager Dave “Doc” Roberts (as his players call him from his initials D.R.) and the Dodgers front office have a reputation for being very careful with their players in terms of induced rest for all. Induced rest because Dodgers players like other sports professionals want to play and win ball games. This of course is a tough balance because Roberts must manage practicalities with personalities. Examples of this include the delayed returns of Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, and now Corey Seager. These delays result is reduced overall team performance, but with an eye towards playoff baseball and a roster of healthy players.

Tougher Schedule

For some time the Dodgers were playing against under .500 teams post All-Star Break and were said to have had the easiest schedule in Major League Baseball by opponent winning percentage standards. However, since the Dodgers headed home from their last winning road trip they had six games total against one good team (Brewers) at home and one really good team (Diamondbacks) on the road. So not only did the Dodgers face tougher opponents their scheduling did too in terms of cross country travel with a brief home stand. It is almost as if the baseball leaders said (with omnipotent thoughts) we need to give the rest of the league a break in late August.

What the Future Holds

The Dodgers season scheduling gets easier the rest of the way, so there is that. However, the Dodgers will have to balance that with hot streaking teams looking to gain home field advantage, but more likely a playoff spot. In these situations the quote from quarterback Tom Brady comes to mind where he says that when playing football he constantly forces himself to think that he is fighting for his job and that he may lose it to the next guy up. Winners and champions think that way. Perfect is not obtainable, but when striving for perfection you obtain excellence (paraphrasing the legendary coach Vince Lombardi).

There is no doubt that the Dodgers want to win. The issue is that (1) baseball players and therefore teams are human and people get tired, lose, etc., and (2) having less resources usually means weakened performance, while (3) facing tougher opponents with limited resources generally results in losing streaks.

The September call ups of Alex Verdugo and other talented youngsters (maybe Walker Buehler as well), with the return of Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Alex Wood, and others are the reinforcements that the Dodgers need. That being said, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and the rest of the crew will need to keep up their performances to date for the Dodgers to start another hot streak. Roberts may have to decide whether breaking records is more important than winning a World Series with a healthy team. Then again maybe the two things are not mutually exclusive.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/watch-cody-bellinger-sets-new-franchise-record/2017/09/03/”]WATCH: Cody Bellinger Sets New Franchise Record[/button]

Written by Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.

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  1. Dodgers lost 3 of four to the lowly Padres. The team is starting to resemble the 1951 team that took a 13.5 game lead into mid-August, however, The Giants weren’t to be denied winning 16 straight before the month was out.

    In September, the Giants reeled off another eight wins in a row. Brooklyn went 15-15 for the month, finishing tied with the Giants and forcing a three-game playoff. The Giants, behind Bobby Thomson’s famous “shot heard ’round the world” off Ralph Branca, won the NL pennant.

  2. Two things here:
    1. Kershaw has been out about two months and until the last two weeks the Dodgers hadn’t really missed him. The pitching remained solid and they were scoring enough runs to win most games.
    2. Up until the Dodgers played the Brewers and DBacks, they were mowing all teams down, but what’s their excuse for only winning 1 of 4 from near cellar dwelling SD? The Dodgers are loaded with talent and flexibility and the vast majority of regular players are still healthy but are all underperforming save Taylor and maybe Turner.

    Starting pitching has “bombed” and I’ve seen better offense from HS teams. RISP? I don’t think they know what that means. In the past 12 days their lead over AZ went from 21.5 games to 13.5 games. If that trend continues, you can extrapolate that out such that in the next 12 days they likely will have only a 5-6 game lead and then the real fireworks begin.

    I know a lot of folks disagree with me but IMO it’s time to pull our heads out of the sand, buck up and quit denying there is a problem. I know players need rest but Roberts has this propensity to rest multiple starting players at the same time, forcing him to shuffle remaining players too much which leads to defensive compromise.

    No excuses for the Dodgers. All teams face key injuries and shortfalls so stop making excuses. Talk is cheap. Saying you want the WS is one thing, playing like you mean it is something entirely different.

    • SO I agree with most of your points save the last one. Am I to believe that they don’t want a World Series championship??? All teams slump and all players slump! At least it’s happening now instead of in the playoffs! Is there cause for concern? Maybe…… or is it more likely that it’s just a slump and our real first one since may!!! Yes may!!! So let’s not start freakin out just yet…..

    • No wonder that slug Fernando Rodney said what he did. The game last night was absolutely pathetic. Talk about a team resting on their laurels. Baez is back to being Baez and that guy Font they got from Texas is absolutely horrible. Of course Roberts having half the bullpen pitching almost daily doesn’t help either. Nice way to end the season and possibly limp into the playoffs. What will the excuse be this time if no World Series?

    • I certainly agree with you, Phil. I lived through the great collapse of 1962. Finally, that collapse was attributable to the injury to Koufax; he was unavailable from early August onward.That season, the Dodgers lost a 5.5 game lead in the final 10 days including losing their final four games. They won 102 games that year – 101 in the regular season – 1 in the three-game playoff. That number eerily similar to what they are likely to accomplish this year. I am concerned that Dodger management is so focused upon the preparing for the playoffs, that the Dodgers will limp in. Maybe our guys will be healthy but they will not be playing good baseball. It is important to be trending up. I am deeply concerned that injuries starting rotation have made it unreliable and unable to go deep into the games. Why Friedman and Zaidi love injured pitchers, I cannot understand. The bullpen, as a result of the starting pitching failure to eat innings, is falling apart and the late-season acquisitions that were supposed to vault the Dodgers have been very disappointing. Darvish looks a mess and Granderson can only hit hard foul balls. Finally, the Dodgers are failing to produce the quality at-bats that characterized their streak. The number of times they strike out has soared and most concerning is the high number of called third strikes. It just really feels ugly right now and it will not be easy to regain their momentum.

  3. Currently 9-0 Dbacks. Please let us all know when we can start worrying. Cause I am about 3 losses beyond concerned.

  4. Suddenly the Dodgers are imploding. They’re not hitting. The bullpen is a shambles. And the only reliable starter is Kershaw. Dave Roberts better pull a rabbit out of his hat but quick or they’ll lose home-field advantage for the post-season.

  5. This article is just excuse after excuse as to why the Dodgers are struggling. Yes, players need rest. But I think Dave Roberts is being way too cautious and it’s going to cost the Dodgers.

  6. I guess when your starters can’t get it done and your hitters cool down this is what happens. I think the writing was on the wall before this 10 game stretch we were winning games where the starters tanked but were rescued the bullpen and hitters. We won’t go far in the playoffs unless the starters turn it around especially with Kershaw track record in the post season.

    • The Dodgers attitude has changed. Earlier they were getting key hits, taking advantage when needed, and making plays. Now they are taking gutted strikes, swinging at balls in the dirt, and seem to have lost their edge. It is almost like they are going through the motions of playing, but don’t have the killer in them anymore. It probably doesn’t help that the lineup is changing daily with no apparent reason, playing rookies like it is spring training, and living off the previous month’s successes. I hope they can turn the switch back on in time. I know you don’t want to run your players into the ground, but rest them one player at a time and not half the team every night. Momentum is gone…..gotta get it back.

  7. Phil is right. I don’t see the sense of urgency that they need to be successful in October. Perfect storm: Offense horrible with risp. Pitchers missing their location. On and on. Having Corey out is a huge void for their lineup. Hernandez has been dreadful even before the had him hitting in the 3 hole. Logan despite getting two hits last night has been equally as dreadful offensively. Maybe they’re not in panic mode, but they seem to have lost that special mojo no matter who they are playing. Yeah, when SD takes 3/4, I know somethings wrong.

  8. Bringing Joc Pedersen back will help and it’s not about his struggles. Athletes are superstitious and so are many fans. Chemistry is important in all team functions from sports to the work place. this young player brought good vibes to this club since he was drafted. The slump from this team really started after he was demoted. All these young guys that kept this team winning had/have a bond. The Cubs had that last year with their young core and the Astros are winning with theirs.

  9. They desperately need to find out those players who just want to sit down a cry it off, get them together and let them cry their heart out. Afterward they at least would not play like the kid that’s afraid of the class/team bully

  10. Getting beat 13-0 might warrant a little panic.
    This could, however, turn out to be a good thing in the long run. Maybe it will help them get focused for the playoffs. Anything less than a World Series is a wasted season in my opinion.

  11. Should have kept Romo and got rid of that worthless POW (piece of Work) Baez. He is just cashing paychecks. No Heart or drive to win. Last years end all over with this guy.

  12. P.S. Roberts as a manager has the enthusiasm of a slug. Fire your team up or get fired. By the way, what is with all the newbies esp. the jokers Granderson and Taylor? Two more hitting duds in the clutch.

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