MLB Analyst Breaks Down Dodgers Surprises and the Biggest Weakness Right Now
Coming off a 111 win season in 2022, there was nowhere to go but down for the Dodgers. And after an offseason without a big splash, there were a lot of raised eyebrows and tilted heads looking at LA and wondering what the heck the plan was — especially as the division rival Padres explored all avenues to get better.
The Dodgers added some guys. Jason Heyward, David Peralta, Miguel Rojas, Noah Syndergaard, Shelby Miller. And they had a handful of rookies ready to step in and fill key roles throughout the season. But we saw the struggles of piecing all of that together during a mostly .500 month of April.
Thankfully, as the season has gone along, things have gotten better.
The current state of the Dodger roster was a point of topic for DodgersNation.com’s Doug McKain and ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney in a recent one on one conversation. As usual, Buster brought a thoughtful perspective of where the Dodgers are at right now.
“It’s interesting because if you were to measure them against the incredible success they had last year, you’d say, ‘well, they’re not as good as they were last year.’ But you know what? I think they’re actually better than what people expected. … With the pieces they have this year, it feels like they’re sort of sorting through it.”
“[James] Outman proving himself in center field. Jason Heyward, to me, is one of the coolest stories in baseball. This is a guy that was essentially dumped on the scrap heap with a year left on his contract. Dodgers pick him up on the minimum salary and they were able to be the team that seemed to have found the magic for that one issue he’s had for his whole career — his struggle to get to fastballs. Robert Von Scoyoc doing his job.”Via DodgersNationTV
Sorting through it is a great way of putting it. After years of consistency, Dave Roberts is now piecing together a lineup that is slowly but surely beginning to do some damage on a regular basis. The key point there being ‘regular basis’. As the season opened, the lineup could do some damage. LA was among the lead leaders in runs scored over the first few weeks of the season. But a lot of those runs came in big blowout wins. In early losses, the offense was scoring 1, 2, maybe 3 runs max — and that was happening a couple times per week.
As the calendar turned to May, the offense seemed to find a bit more balance. But the pitching staff, which is also sorting through pieces in its own right, hasn’t been as consistent. In Olney’s eyes, that’s a surprise… no one is used to middling Dodgers pitching.
“I do think over time their pitching needs to be better,” Olney picked as his one area of weakness for the team at the moment. “It seems weird to see a Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff with an ERA right in the middle of the pack — not the top two or three. But I think that’ll get better as the season goes along and they find more solutions with their staff.”
While the pitching staff as a whole has been better (Monday night’s performance in Milwaukee aside), it’s still not quite what you’d expect from the Dodgers. After leading all of baseball in staff ERA in each of the last four seasons and the National League over the last six years, LA’s current 4.25 team ERA heading into play on Tuesday is 14th-best in baseball.
Starting pitchers have a 4.04 ERA over the first 36 games of the season and relievers are sitting at 4.56.
Injuries have played a part in the issue. 2022 NL All-Star Tony Gonsolin missed most of the first month of the season with an ankle sprain. And the club has been without the services of a few key relievers who were expected to play big roles in the bullpen, namely Daniel Hudson and Jimmy Nelson who have struggled to come back from surgeries.
Related: Setback Pushes Daniel Hudson’s Return Back At Least 2 Months
But, for the most part, ineffectiveness has been the downfall of Dodger pitching. Whether it’s someone like Noah Syndergaard (6.32 ERA), or Alex Vesia (7.84 ERA), guys expected to be key role players just have not worked out.
The Dodgers are still in a good enough spot to weather the storm, but if things don’t balance out over the next 35-45 games, you can bet that Andrew Friedman will be burning the midnight oil leading up to the August 1st trade deadline.
Buster Olney also addresses the Dodgers trade deadline outlook in the interview, so give it a watch on our YouTube channel or a listen on your favorite podcast platform.
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