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Dodgers Dugout: What’s wrong with the Dodgers?

Joc Pederson
Joc Pederson
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. The Dodgers won every game while I was off, right?

What’s wrong with the Dodgers?

That’s a good question. There are many problems at the moment. But before we delve into that, let’s remember that we are only nine games into the season. There are 153 games left, which means that the Dodgers have played less than 6% of their scheduled games. Remember, the Dodgers went 1-15 during one stretch last season and still won 104 games. So there is plenty of time to turn things around.

Here’s the big problem: hitting. You know that OPS+ stat I use a lot, which compares a player offensively to the league average and turns it into a number like 110, which means that player is 10% better than the average player? Here are the Dodgers’ hitters who are above average so far:

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Chase Utley (147 OPS+)

Yasmani Grandal (143)

That’s it. Here are the rest of the hitters:

Cody Bellinger (96)

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Austin Barnes (94)

Matt Kemp (91)

Corey Seager (47)

Kyle Farmer (46)

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Yasiel Puig (44)

Kiké Hernandez (40)

Chris Taylor (39)

Logan Forsythe (34)

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Joc Pederson (23)

Which brings me to my next point. It’s time to give up on Joc Pederson. Send him down, trade him, do something. Bring up Andrew Toles to replace him. Pederson looks lost at the plate and in the field. He hasn’t been a good hitter for a while now. I know that “he’s a great cheerleader and positive person to have on the bench.” Maybe the Dodgers can give him some pompoms and let him do what he does best.

Now that I write this, he probably will go on a tear this week. He always seems to go on a tear when it seems the team is close to giving up on him.

But it’s not really the poor hitting that bothers me so much. Every team goes through this at some point in the season. It’s just more noticeable now because it’s happening at the start of the season. I don’t really believe that Corey Seager is going to hit .206 with no extra-base hits all season. What bothers me is that the team looks so lifeless at the plate, like they are just going through the motions. They do know the season has started, right? They seem to be trying out for a role on “The Walking Dead.” If they were at a Bruce Springsteen concert and Bruce yelled, “Is anybody alive out there tonight?” the Dodgers would yell back, “No.”

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You can’t blame this slump on pitching (other than Kenley Jansen). Jansen looked like his old self in Sunday’s win, so I’m not too concerned about him. Wilmer Font and Hyun-jin Ryu are the only other pitchers struggling right now, but Ryu has started only one game, so it’s far too early to worry about him. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood combined have a 1.91 ERA in 33 innings, but they also are a combined 0-3, which is an example of why a pitcher’s win-loss record can be misleading. And hopefully they will allow Rich Hill to pitch past the fourth inning one day. (I’ll have more to say on that in the next newsletter).

Finally, it will be great to have Justin Turner back in May.

That’s basically it. This teamwide slump can’t last forever. They have two games against Oakland this week, followed by a weekend series against Arizona. If they continue slumping through those five games, well, we’ll talk about that if it happens.

Comparison

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2018 Dodgers: 3-6, fourth place in NL West, 4.5 games behind Arizona, +2 run differential

2017 Dodgers: 5-4, third place in NL West, 1.5 games behind Arizona, +19 run differential

Up next

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Oakland (Sean Manaea, 1-1, 1.15 ERA) vs. Hyun-jin Ryu (0-0, 7.36 ERA)

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Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Oakland (Daniel Mengden, 0-2, 6.55 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (0-1, 1.93 ERA)

And finally

The Dodgers are on pace to finish 54-108. They probably won’t win the division with that record.

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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