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Dodgers Dugout: Offense has hit an untimely slump

Edwin Rios
Edwin Rios
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the next “biggest series of the season” is here.

The San Diego Padres are in town for a four-game series that starts tonight, and the Dodgers have decided this is an opportune time to be in a team-wide batting slump.

Last Saturday, the Dodgers went three for 30 in a 2-0 victory over San Diego.

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Sunday, they went three for 30 in a 5-2 loss to the Padres.

Monday, they went five for 31 in a 4-3 loss to Seattle.

Tuesday, they went two for 28 in a 2-0 victory.

Luckily, outstanding pitching has allowed them to split those four games, but overall they are hitting .109 (13 for 119) in that span.

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The amazing thing is despite that slump, the team is still in the top five in the NL in virtually every offensive category, leading the league in hits, doubles, walks and on-base percentage and second in runs, triples and slugging percentage (through Tuesday).

As long-time readers know, I’m a big fan of OPS+, which takes a player’s OPS (on-base plus slugging) and compares it to the league average, with an adjustment for the park a player plays in. That is converted into a number where 100 is an average major league hitter. If you have an OPS+ of 110, you are 10% better than the league average hitter, 90 means 10% worse, and so on. Let’s look at the Dodgers:

Justin Turner, 222
Max Muncy, 160
Mookie Betts, 155
Corey Seager, 147
Zach McKinstry, 142
Chris Taylor, 128
Will Smith, 120
Luke Raley, 105
Cody Bellinger, 82
Austin Barnes, 66
Gavin Lux, 56
AJ Pollock, 53
Edwin Rios, 47
Matt Beaty, -5
Sheldon Neuse, -100

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Sheldon Neuse has had only four at-bats (he’s 0 for 4), so his ranking is a little unfair. And how does Will Smith have an above-average OPS+ when he is hitting only .195? Walks (10) and extra-base hits (five), which lifts his OB% to .370 and SLG% to .415.

The pitching, of course, has been outstanding. Every starter has an ERA below 3.00. Trevor Bauer is allowing only 3.5 hits per nine innings. When your worst starter is Dustin May, and he’s 1-1 with a 2.9 ERA and a 1.109 WHIP, you are in pretty good shape.

Every team’s offense goes into a slump at some point during the season. But I’m thinking if they go 13 for 119 against the Padres in these next four games, they won’t win two of them.

Angry Kenley

Something has happened to Kenley Jansen: He is pitching like the Jansen of five years ago. He came into a 1-0 game in the ninth inning on Tuesday, and his pitches were electric. He hit 97 on the radar gun, which he hasn’t done since 2017. His cutter was moving all over the place. It was vintage Jansen. Nine of his last 13 outs have come via strikeout.

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Or as Austin Barnes sublimely put it: “We’re kind of getting glimpses of old Kenley.”

Fully vaccinated section

On Saturday against the Padres, the Dodgers are offering what they call a fully vaccinated fan section in the loge level at Dodger Stadium.

Not that they want these fans sitting too close. They are the two sections closest to the visiting bullpen. Masks will be required in those sections but social distancing will not be. As the Dodgers put it: “Persons seated in these sections will be seated directly next to other parties.”

You can find more information by clicking here.

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Injury updates

X-rays on Mookie Betts’ right forearm were negative and he is expected to start tonight. Betts was hit by a 95-mph fastball in the ninth inning of Monday’s game against Seattle.

Cody Bellinger, who has a hairline fracture of his left fibula and there is no timetable for his return. When he is ready, he will spend some time in Arizona getting some at-bats before joining the Dodgers. He still hasn’t run at full speed.

Gavin Lux is on pace to come off the IL when he’s eligible next week.

Joe Kelly is still a ways away with his arm injury. If we see him in May, we’ll be lucky, Same with Tony Gonsolin, who is dealing with shoulder inflammation.

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These names look familiar

A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through Wednesday):

Pedro Báez, Houston, On the IL after testing positive for coronavirus

Dylan Floro, Miami: 0-1, 2.08 ERA (8.2 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts)

Kiké Hernández, Boston: .250/.284/.434 (5 doubles, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, 100 OPS+)

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Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 12.27 ERA (3.2 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts)

Jake McGee, San Francisco: 1-0, 2.89 ERA, 6 saves (9.1 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts)

Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs: .137/.262/.235 (1 triple, 1 homer, 4 RBIs, 42 OPS+)

Josh Sborz, Texas: 1-1, 7.20 ERA (5 IP, 4 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, sent to minors)

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Ross Stripling, Toronto: 0-1, 7.56 ERA (8.1 IP, 13 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts, on IL Thursday with forearm strain)

Alex Wood, San Francisco: 1-0, 0.00 ERA (5 IP, 3 hits, no walks, 4 strikeouts)

Up next

Tonight, San Diego (*Ryan Weathers, 1-0, 0.93 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 1-0, 2.00 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Friday, San Diego (Yu Darvish, 1-1, 2.55 ERA) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 3-1, 2.19 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

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Saturday, San Diego (*Blake Snell, 0-0, 4.11 ERA) at Dodgers (Trevor Bauer, 2-0, 2.42 ERA), 6 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Sunday, San Diego (Joe Musgrove, 2-2, 1.04 ERA) at Dodgers (Dustin May, 1-1, 2.93 ERA), 4 p.m., ESPN, AM 570

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully discusses a 94-year-old veteran in attendance. Watch and listen here.

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Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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