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Dodgers Dugout: Slight improvement, but still a long way to go

Dodgers Dugout: Slight improvement, but still a long way to go
Chase Utley (Matt York / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. Is it me, or did No. 42 seem to be all over the place in Sunday's win over Arizona?

What's still wrong with the Dodgers?

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That's a good question. They are 5-9 and in last place in the NL West, 5.5 games behind Arizona with only 148 games left. The first two weeks of the season have certainly been troubling. And while, unlike some Dodger fans, I still think there is plenty of time to rebound and win the division (I'm just crazy that way), there is reason to be concerned. Let's take a look.

Last week, we used OPS+ to take a look at the Dodgers who were hitting better than an average player. There were only two who were better, Chase Utley and Yasmani Grandal. Ten players were below average. What does it look like now?

Dodgers' hitters who are above average (with last week's number):

Yasmani Grandal, 179 OPS+ (143)

Chase Utley, 154 (147)

Matt Kemp, 125 (91)

Cody Bellinger, 117 (96)

Hey, the Dodgers have doubled the number of above-average hitters. Of course, that means that two-thirds of the team are below average:

Austin Barnes, 99 (94)

Kyle Farmer, 93 (46)

Chris Taylor, 88 (39)

Yasiel Puig, 62 (44)

Kiké Hernandez, 56 (40)

Corey Seager, 50 (47)

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Logan Forsythe, 40 (34)

Joc Pederson, 33 (23)

You may be wondering why Pederson is still on the team since he is only 33% better than you or me and about as good defensively. Well, Andrew Toles looked prime for recall, hitting .462 at triple-A Oklahoma City. But then he strained a hamstring and is out for at least two weeks. Thinking out loud, I see that Alex Verdugo is hitting .324 and slugging .541 in the minors, but why take a chance on something unexpected when you know what you are going to get from Pederson which is … well, when I figure it out I'll let you know.

In case you missed it, Logan Forsythe is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, which seems appropriate since he often keeps me on the couch with an upset stomach.

Not to pick on Forsythe, but he is one of two Dodgers I want to look at this issue. He and Hernandez have been black holes in the Dodgers offense for more than a season now. Let's take a look:

Since 2017

Forsythe: .219/.338/.322/77 OPS+/89 hits in 407 at-bats, 115 strikeouts, 21 doubles, 7 homers

Hernandez: .210/.302/.408.87 OPS+/70 hits in 333 at-bats, 91 strikeouts, 26 doubles, 12 homers

To me, a guy like Forsythe or Hernandez is fine to have around when the rest of the lineup is firing on all cylinders. When Seager is hitting .300 and Justin Turner is playing and Bellinger is on pace for 40 homers, then you can carry a guy who isn't hitting. But with the whole lineup struggling, these guys stick out like sore thumbs because they seem incapable of stepping up their game to take up some slack when needed. So instead of three guys in the lineup slumping, you have five guys in the lineup slumping.

The Dodgers don't have Justin Turner. They have a Corey Seager who is not hitting well, and a Chris Taylor who seems to be slowly emerging from his slump.

The Dodgers are 13th in the NL in homers, 11th in runs a game, fifth in batting average, 10th in OB% and 13th in SLG%.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this except patience. You have to figure that Seager will start hitting soon, unless he really does have a sore elbow and it's bothering him. Bellinger is hitting .309 but hasn't found his power stroke yet. And someone has kidnapped Yasiel Puig and replaced him with one of the pod people from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". There is no one in the minors who can replace these people. All you can do is be patient and hope they start playing like their past indicates. So, cross your fingers and we will revisit this next week.

Jackie Robinson Day

Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day around baseball, with every player wearing No. 42 to honor the legendary Dodger. If you want to honor Robinson, I believe the best thing you can do is tell your kids, or grandkids, or nieces and nephews, or neighborhood kids who Jackie Robinson was and what he accomplished. Let's keep his memory alive for generations.

Comparison

2018 Dodgers: 5-9, last place in NL West, 5.5 games behind Arizona, -8 run differential

2017 Dodgers: 7-7, third place in NL West, 2 games behind Arizona, +21 run differential

These names seem familiar

What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league:

Adrian Gonzalez, Mets: .242, 1 HR. 9 RBIs, 95 OPS+

Charlie Culberson, Braves, .150, 1 RBI, 40 OPS+

Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 2-0, 3.31 ERA, 117 ERA+

Yu Darvish, Cubs, 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 67 ERA+

Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .324, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 155 OPS+

Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA

Tony Watson, Giants, 1-0, 0.00 ERA

Chris Hatcher, A's, 2-0, 13.50 ERA, 31 ERA+

Luis Avilan, White Sox, 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 206 ERA+

Trayce Thompson, A's, .143, -16 OPS+

Andre Ethier, still unsigned

Up next

Monday, 7 p.m.: Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, 1-0, 2.79 ERA) at San Diego (Robbie Erlin, 0-1, 2.38 ERA)

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Dodgers (Alex Wood, 0-2, 5.09 ERA) at San Diego (Bryan Mitchell, 0-2, 5.27 ERA)

Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Dodgers (Kenta Maeda, 1-1, 2.08 ERA) at San Diego (Tyson Ross, 2-1, 3.50 ERA)

And finally

There is still no timetable for Justin Turner's return. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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