Even In First Place, Dodgers Have Reasons To Be Worried

The LA Dodgers have gotten off to a slow start to begin the 2016 season. Normally, I would be the guy who tells you not to worry about it, that it is only May and there is a ton of time left. Even after the recent home stand in which the Dodgers lost 6 straight games and watched their batting averages plummet, the Dodgers still remain in first place. Granted, they are in a three way tie for first place, but it is still first place. So, if they can slump that badly and stay atop the National League West standing, there is nothing to worry about right?

In this case, there might be some cause for concern. After taking a deeper look at the stats going into the series with the Mets, it looks like the Dodgers are extremely lucky to be where they are.

ICYMI: Dodgers Super Fans Pantone 294 Arrive in Toronto

Out of the 15 teams in the National League, the Dodgers currently rank 8th in hits, 9th in runs scored, 10th in batting average, 10th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, 12th in total bases, and an awful 14th in home runs (the Braves are the only team with less). To give you some perspective of just how bad this is, the only team in the National League West that ranks below the Dodgers in every single one of these categories is the Padres. Actually, that isn’t even entirely accurate. The Padres currently have 2 more home runs than the Dodgers, meaning the Dodgers are dead last in the National League West in that category.  On the other end of the spectrum, the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Rockies are all among the league’s best. Two of those three teams are in the top 5 of every single one of those categories except for on-base percentage (Rockies are in 6th).

The only thing keeping the Dodgers together at this point is their pitching staff. It may not seem like it, but the Dodgers pitching staff is currently one of the League’s best. The Dodgers staff ranks in the top 5 of every major pitching category in the National League. Even in strikeouts, they only narrowly miss being in the top 5 (2 strike outs difference). In fact, the Dodgers have the 4th best ERA, 3rd lowest batting average against, and 2nd most shutouts.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers also rank 2nd for total number of saves. This is a positive in the sense that it means Kenley Jansen is doing his job when he is called upon. However, it is also something to worry about because it means that the Dodgers are playing in a lot of very close games. With the 4th best ERA in the National League, the Dodgers offense should be able to put up enough runs that Jansen simply isn’t needed that often. Instead, the Dodgers have called upon Jansen to save the game in 11 of their 16 wins.

For many teams, these trends wouldn’t be something to be concerned about. They would look at their team as one that is simply pitching heavy and make that their focus, rather than their offense. Many teams have employed this strategy over the years and have gone on to win their division and even the World Series. However, teams employing this strategy did so with multiple big name pitchers in their rotation (See the 1993 Braves, 1986 Mets, 1998 Braves). The Dodgers could have realistically relied on this strategy in 2015 with one of the best 1-2 punches in the game, but with Zack Greinke gone, it would be unwise for them to do so this season.


Clayton Kershaw currently sits with a 2.04 ERA and Kenta Maeda has had an unbelievable start to his career with a 1.66 ERA. That means that combined, they have a 1.85 ERA. The remaining three starting pitchers combine for just a 4.84 ERA. To make things worse, one of those three pitchers is Ross Stripling. Don’t get me wrong; Stripling has done a wonderful job filling in for injured pitchers like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, and Brandon McCarthy. Realistically though, he is a backup pitcher that is making some solid starts for the Dodgers while they wait. It is unrealistic to think that he will continue to pitch as well as he has down the stretch.

The current numbers of the Dodgers pitching staff will simply not hold up. Barring big comebacks from players like Kazmir, Ryu, McCarthy, and Anderson, it will be up to the Dodgers offense to get them into the postseason for the fourth straight season. As of right now, the bats are simply not cutting it and the Dodgers should feel extremely fortunate that they are still atop the National League West standings. For more LA Dodgers news, check back at Dodgers Nation!

NEXT:Should Dodgers Try to Lock up Kenley Jansen While They Can?

Chris Wolf

Chris was born in raised in Southern California where he attended CSULB. As a lifelong fan, Chris has strong opinions about all things Dodgers. He lives in the Bay Area, but proudly wears his Dodger Blue whenever he can. He is also the founder and editor of Dodgers Chatter.


  1. I totally agree Chris! The early ‘success’ of our pitching staff is due in large part to the demi-God Clayton Kershaw and amazing start of Maeda. Stripling has been serviceable and a much welcomed presence. The bullpen… well… it terrifies me. Our defense has been shaky and we simply cannot afford to give outs away considering the small margins in which we win ball games. The offensive struggles are also a major concern at this point. Hoping for a boost and that side of things when we get our old friends Dre and Scotty back into the mix. Thanks for backing up my concerns with some solid numbers! Staying cautiously optimistic.

  2. This is a mediocre team, and although Kershaw and Maeda have been great, Wood and Kazmir suck. Stripling is merely unlucky at this point. He should have 3 wins, no thanks to the terrible BP behind Jansen. Hatcher, and Howell have been abysmal. Baez has been so so, Coleman has been effective, but they missed him when he had to leave for the funeral. Liberatore has been good with only 1 real blowup. Blanton 1 good game, 1 bad game……the hitting at home is pathetic. If they played all their games on the road, thy would be 8 games up……I am not convinced that they are anything but a 3rd place team

  3. Spot on. The Dodgers have some big concerns in almost ever aspect of the game – SP, BP, Offensive production, health, etc. For a team that has the biggest payroll in baseball, what they’ve bought is mediocrity — while teams like the Nats and Cubs are dominating. If you look at our lineup, we don’t have a big bat – a superstar (like trout, harper, stanton) and you would think that a team like the Dodgers would. The FO has missed more than I expected, especially when you look at not going after Maddon. 

    We’re in trouble. More on my take: http://dodgerspostscript.com/2016/05/05/taking-stock-successful-road-trip-dodgers/

  4. In my opinion, the Dodger’s are losing fans because they are for years now restricting televised games and any local radio broadcasts. Hello? I am too busy and too far away, Santa Barbara, to attend games with any regularity. Why punish longtime, 1962, Dodger fans? I remain loyal but come on Dodgers!

  5. The formula with big $$$.Should have gotten a big bat, Puig is a $$ waste, as is Pederson..seems that Mr. Puig is all glove no bat….Pederson’s swing is too long…adjustments that have not been made..
      Of course I have no clue as to what is potentially being done about player moves and adjustments, but the product on the field is the proof….Going on three years with mediocre middle relief..no worker like hitters..behind in the count, or on the score board, they are trying to hit the five run homer…
      watching other teams hitting proves this….Take the giants..every hitter is working the count, making contact..Playing the game as it comes to them..situational ball…When they bat, ya get the feeling that somethings gonna happen, when the Dodgers bat….ya feel like they are out already, just a matter of how..Pitching is simuliar, a relief pitcher should come in and throw strikes, not nibble the plate, be tentative..too many times, too many walks…
      These issue’s are just a few, did not really want to write an essay,…..Successful ball clubs start at the top, management, filter down to the manager and flow through the players….
       The money involved, the people involved……are not adding up…..

  6. kimm hogue  You admire the Giants yet they are in the same position as the Dodgers.  The Dodgers are still about a year away from having the real financial freedom to make actual improvements in the offense.  When you are totally loaded down with contracts like Crawford, Ethier, and Gonzalez (thank you Uncle Ned) it requires that young inexpensive players like Hernandez, Grandal, Puig and Pederson to produce at a higher rate than their salary.

  7. dodgersPS  First of all the FO was not the reason they didn’t go after Maddon, that was a decision of ownership who wanted to give Mattingly another season to prove himself.  The Dodgers superstar is Clayton Kershaw.  The Cub, Nats and Marlins were able to get their superstars because they were horrible and was selecting in the top 5 in the draft.  Your comments are so short sighted.  Not to mention that the high payroll has nothing to do with the A to Z front office, but were the left overs from the incompetent Ned Colletti.  Look at that Boston trade again and tell me how Boston could unload the full value of the AGon and Crawford contracts and the Dodgers still gave up two of their better pitching prospects.

  8. Thanks for telling it like it is, Chris.  The team is not producing with RISP. It suffered second half of last season into the playoffs and here it is again. The team doesn’t suck. The players aren’t performing when they should be. With score producing teams like the Giants and D-backs in its own Division, this team’s in trouble all season. With scoring machines like the Cubs, Mets, Nats – it’s over.

  9. This team has the talent. While I questioned not getting a bat during the off season, there wasn’t really a solid chance at a solid FA or trade offer that wouldn’t bankrupt our Farm talent. Going with Pitching and depth was a good choice so far. Including Kaz and Strip, who’s records should be different if the Blue just score 1 – 2 more runs. Getting Andre back will help but not going to be enough without A-Gon, Joc, Puig, and CS5 stepping up at the right time. Leaving 10, 12, 14 RISP is this team’s doom. Take the pressure of the Bullpen and score when you should be.

    The bright spot is I actually think this team is better than last year’s. They seem tougher. The Division is going to be tough as nails and Dodgers could make it to the Playoffs with a .500 record and on top of the Division. But again with scoring machines like the Cubs, Mets, Nats – it’s over. If by some miracle we make it past them, then we have teams like the Royals, White Sox, Mariners and Rangers that all score.

    C’mon Dodgers!

  10. West Coast Ram dodgersPS  Neither of whom has amounted to much. Webster has never come close to his potential, and DeLaRosa has an ERA north of 5…..with a different team he is a losing pitcher……Az scores enough runs t bail him out./.

  11. fuego13  You watching the same Kazmir I am? Out side of his first start in SD, the guy has been very pedestrian. He gives up runs early, puts the team behind the 8 ball, and then puts a strain on the BP, which is another matter all together, and is gone by the end of the 6th. Stripling on the other hand has been a victim of the bad bullpen and bad luck…guy should have 3 wins at least……Wood just plain old sucks.

  12. I don’t get this kind of logic. Our hot pitching won’t last forever but somehow our cold bats will? That just doesn’t make any sense. If anything it’s reasonable to expect both to improve. Our pitching will improve, or it will make way for guys as they come off the DL who are better pitchers. Kershaw is pitching consistent with his career numbers there’s no reason to believe he’d slow down. Maeda does present some worries as he’s a bit of an unknown, but even if he slows down other pitchers are going to step up to fill that role balancing things out. But for our bats, every single every day starter is having problems. 3 guys who were meant to be backup players in Thompson, Hernandez, and Utley are completely carrying this team’s offense, and they simply do not have the tools to do it. We need Adrian to bat like Adrian. We need Turner to get good cuts on the ball. We need Seager to get on base consistently, even if it’s not for high average. We need to take some of the pressure off of Puig and Kendrick to end their slumps and accept the notion that when their slumps do end, this turns into a much more dangerous team. There is way too much baseball left to be played to be looking down on a first place team.

  13. fuego13 That’s the thing though everything this team is doing wrong is fixable. You talk about score producing teams like the Giants and the D-Backs, but the fact that they produce runs is irrelevant if they don’t have the pitching to keep them in ball games. Dodgers are in arguably the most pitcher friendly stadium in baseball. Oddly enough outside of Dodgers stadium they’ve had no problem scoring runs, so it stands to reason they’ll figure out a way to score at home eventually over the course of the season. Even with scoring machines like the Cubs, Mets, Nats… we’ve faced the Mets once. We held them to 4 runs 3 of them earned, and with a pitcher who is struggling and a bullpen that is a constant source of criticism. 1 or 2 timely hits, Dodgers could have just as easily won that game. Those hits will come around I’d rather see us slumping now then going into the playoffs. Now we have time to adjust.

  14. kimm hogue Joc Pederson is making the league minimum at 520k. How is that ever a waste of money? Even Puig, he’s only making 8 million dollars this season, yet you expect him to hit like the guys who are making 20 million? Even if Puig is all glove and no bat, it’s generally worth it to keep at least one or 2 of those kinds of guys around. Not everyone in the lineup has to be a .300 hitter. The one thing I do agree on is both Pederson and Puig shortening up their swings. They’re batting like they’re trying to break a slump with a 5 run homer when what we need at this point is for them to make good contact, take pitches, and draw walks when they can. However both have been drawing walks (for Puig at a much improved pace), which suggests if they can figure out how to turn their strike 3s into contact plays, they’ll both improve quickly.
    As for what’s being done and what isn’t being done, the product on the field proves nothing. Changing a batter’s habits or making adjustments to a person’s swing is akin to changing a person’s instincts. It takes time and effort. There hasn’t been a whole lot of time to work with these guys on their game and on making adjustments. So right now it’s important to let them play their game, see what their tenancies are, and try to work within that to make small improvements rather then making huge adjustments and risk the player turning out worse in the long run. You might not see the adjustments that are being made but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being made. What it means is the player is still in the process of adjusting.

  15. WAYAN No one is punishing you. Quite the contrary they are saying if you’re really a fan of the team, put forth a little bit of effort. Santa Barbara is outside of the Dodgers blackout zone, which means with MLB.tv you could watch or listen to games live even on your mobile device. Dodgers games are also available via AM radio, and with a little effort you can easily find streams of the Dodgers radio and TV broadcast online, not that I would encourage such a thing. No one’s punishing you, they’re telling you to get off your sofa and put forth a minimum of effort to enjoy the team.

  16. Doesn’t really matter what they turned into as they were both top 5 pitching prospects on the organizational chart. They should have bought some relief off the Crawford or Beckett contracts, but Ned was such a dope that every other GM fleeced him.

  17. The Dodgers front office passed on Aroldis Chapman but signed Joe Blanton.  What else do you need to know?

  18. LarryBall Wrong    they traded for Chapman, then the deal fell apart because of Chapman’s domestic abuse case. Not the kind of person you want  on your team…..he was also suspended by MLB…….Blanton came as a free agent……the players who would have went to the Reds for Chapman ended up  going to the Reds anyway in the 3 way deal with the Sox that brought Thompson, Johnson and Montas

  19. West Coast Ram None of the players traded to the Sox have done anything significant. All of them are now with other teams. Punto, Crawford and Gonzalez all contributed to winning teams. Beckett, while not as good as he once was did win a few games and threw a no hitter….and seriously,, do you really believe that the Dodgers win 3 straight division titles with James Loney at first over A-Gone? I doubt it….and that trade was not all Ned. The FO was heavy on that one.

  20. kimm hogue Funny This started happen as the NEW FO took over and ruined our pitching staff, Never replaced the power bats of Kemp & Hanley…Adrian needs protection in the Lineup .We Don’t scare anybody anymore… Not even when Kershaw pitches, If He does not throw shutout we in Trouble,,

  21. Smokachu kimm hogue True concerning the P boys ( Peterson and Puig ) …. Once a writer asked Mantle if he tries to hit home runs, Mantle replied, ” with every swing” . Peterson swings so hard that if he hits a grounder in the hole he has no chance of beating it out. Teams that usually make it to the world series make contact. That was the Cubs downfall, they broke a four game series record for striking out. And as for Gonzalez, he has carried us for years. At his age and no DH wouldn’t you expect him to one day not live up to fans expectations.

  22. RobertjCarmack kimm hogue  Kersh did not throw a shutout in Toronto and they won coming from behind. They had a ton of power last year, led the NL in homers in fact. Right now they are missing Ethier, and SVS. Pederson has cut down his swing and is not hitting for the fences. If you want to see a lack of power,,,Adrian over 30 games in has 3 dingers. He is hitting under.100 at home……Turner Crawford , Puig and Kendrick are not hitting like they did last year. Thompson is 2nd on the team with 4 homers. Grandal has 1. The problem is the bullpen and clutch hitting. Their RISP sucks..

  23. West Coast Ram dodgersPS Ok, West Coast Ram, let’s look at the trade with the Red Sox. 

    At the time, the Dodgers new owners were desperate for a power hitter and had little in the way of top prospects, thanks to McCourt. The guy they wanted was Gonzalez, and as a condition of getting him, the Red Sox made them take Crawford and Beckett. Punto was a throw-in to replace the injured Jerry Hairston.

    The Dodgers gave up James Loney, Ivan deJesus Jr., Jerry Sands, Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster.

    What’s happened since? Gonzalez has been the Dodgers’ top run producer since he arrived. He’s also a mentor of sorts to younger players and a quiet leader. He’s been everything they needed and there’s just one year left on his contract after this one.

    Crawford and Beckett were slowed by injuries but Beckett pitched well in the fist half of 2014 including a no hitter. Crawford had good numbers in 2013-14. If you want to blame Colletti for not anticip[ating the injuries, do the same with Friedman and his signings of McCarthy, Anderson, Beachy, etc. Punto was a valuable utility player.

    None of the players the Dodgers sent out are still with the Red Sox. Loney was a decent first baseman for Tampa Bay, but not in comparison with Gonzalez, and is currently, at age 31, out of a job. De Jesus is a backup infielder; Sands is a backup outfielder; de la Rosa is the fourth starter for Arizona and never has had an ERA below 4.43. Webster is playing in Korea.
    In addition, the trade gave the new owners credibility when they said they wanted to compete at a top level and were willing to spend money to do that. It was a complete break from the McCourt years. By that measurement and because of Gonzalez’s contributions, it was a good trade for the Dodgers.

    It is fashionable in some quarters to downgrade Colletti. I am not a huge fan of his, but to be fair, he made good moves as well as bad ones (as do most long-term GMs) and for much of his tenure he was handicapped by working under McCourt. Among his good moves: bringing in Ethier for Milton Bradley, signing Turner, Puig and Greinke, drafting Pederson, Seager, Urias, DeLeon and Holmes. Most of the starting lineup of today’s team represents Colette’s tenure, not Friedman’s.

    So, give the guy a break.

  24. The Red Sox were desperate to rid themselves of Crawford and Beckett and were willing to trade AGon to make that happen, had Colletti been a better negotiator he would have been able to get Boston to keep more of the salary. I’m not saying the exchanged players were a bad trade for the Dodgers, it was that both sides were equally looking to make the trade but Boston got off cheaply. The drafting credit you give Colletti is actually the work of Logsn White. Yes, every GM has hits and misses so no one is always going to look good all the time but there is a long list of mistakes by Ned.
    Turner was signed because Wallach went to Ned to get him signed and as we saw with Zack he signs were the largest dollars are flashed so it wasn’t like Ned had any special strategy.
    It’s fine if we disagree, but you won’t ever convince me that Ned is a quality GM.

  25. Robert Hamilton  Smokachu kimm hogue Indeed. When it comes to the Dodgers bats, Gonzo is the guy I’m least worried about. He’s earned his place on any team. When his bat heats up I expect other players bats will follow suit. For now though… someone’s gotta step up and it’s not going to happen swinging from the heels.

  26. West Coast Ram WAYAN  No reason to post responses, from a Rams fan no less, such as yours kid. If I didn’t have a computer, I couldn’t post this. It’s all about comfort for me. Watching a game on a computer sucks! My couch rules as I am disabled and it’s where I prefer to watch Vinny on TV with my prerecorded sans commercials games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button