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The real concern about Dodgers should be how average they've become

The real concern about Dodgers should be how average they've become
Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig holds up his glove to show he made a diving catch on a ball hit by Washington's Yunel Escobar in the fifth inning on Aug. 10. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

It’s panic in the streets! The bullpen blows, the offense is too dependent on the home run, they couldn’t steal a base off Steve Yeager (he is 66) and the Dodgers are without doubt the worst team in the history of baseball, if not all sports.

Except, of course, they still lead their division by 2½ games.

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Which is not to say they’re playing well at the moment or are a team without real concerns. But losing four consecutive games for the first time all year is not reason to scream to the baseball heavens and call for the heads of Don Mattingly, Andrew Friedman and Charley Steiner. The in-game stadium hosts, however, are fair game.

Baseball is a game of cycles, and right now the Dodgers are in a bad one. They lost two games in Pittsburgh by a run, got embarrassed Sunday and walked over Monday by the Nationals. Before the four-game skid, they had won six of their last seven.

Calm is the order of the day. It is not, as Mattingly said, time to overreact to some 10-game stretch.

The real issue isn't that the sky is falling, but that for too long the Dodgers have simply been a mediocre ballclub. Since starting the season 22-10, the Dodgers have gone exactly 40-40. That's three months of .500 baseball.

They cannot seem to really get it going. If they haven't had a serious losing streak, neither have they put together any winning streaks of note. The longest winning streak of the year was seven games. It came in the first 12 days of the season. Since starting 22-10, they haven't had a winning streak of more than four games.

Yes, the bullpen is disappointing. But the last three games the starters have gone four, five and five innings. Put that much work on any bullpen and see how it responds. The Dodgers' bullpen looks a lot better when their third, fourth and fifth starters pitch deeper into games.

"The key is to have to get five or six outs to get the ball to Kenley (Jansen)," Mattingly said, "not nine or 10."

The Dodgers have 50 games remaining. It's the middle of August and time to start getting it rolling. They've wasted a lot of opportunity to put distance between themselves and the Giants.

It's that blurry part of the season, where they are not in the stretch but can see it ahead, if still fuzzy and slightly out of focus. It is not time to take an assault weapon to the clubhouse and front office, but time to bear down.

The Dodgers will show who they really are these last eight weeks. They need to grind out at-bats, continue to play solid defense, get seven or eight innings out of someone not named Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke, and show the kind of mental toughness that has not always been apparent these last few years.

Dramatics and overreaction make for nice inflamed tweets -- particularly when mixed with exclamation points! But stand down on the panic. It's not time to go alarmist, but to let the season play out.

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