'They're going to be better': Dodgers' starters in tough stretch

Glasnow's struggles vs. Nats highlight recent trend of staff's issues going late in games

April 16th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- His last time out, was nearly unhittable en route to striking out 14 batters in Minnesota. In every way, he showed exactly why the Dodgers made it a priority to trade for him this winter and immediately locking him up to a long-term deal.

As good as Glasnow was his last time out, he struggled equally as much on Monday, allowing six runs over five innings in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss to the Nationals on Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium. With the loss, the Dodgers have now dropped four of their last five games.

“It’s just not a lot of execution,” Glasnow said. “I don’t think any of the pitches were really working, not hitting my spots and falling behind early. If I’m normally throwing kind of one pitch for a strike, I think you’re able to sit on something and stay on the heater, and I think it’s just easier to sell out for one pitch.”

The one pitch Glasnow particularly didn’t have any control of was his four-seam fastball. Glasnow threw it 47 times on Monday, getting just three swings-and-misses. For comparison, Glasnow threw the four-seamer 45 times last time out against the Twins, and coaxed 12 whiffs.

With Glasnow not getting much with the heater on Monday, the Nationals were able to stay within the strike zone and do damage when they got a mistake. There was no pitch bigger than in the fifth inning, when Luis García Jr. took a Glasnow slider just over the left-center-field wall for a three-run homer.

“It was just a bad slider, left it up, not executed,” Glasnow said. “I think just being late and not being able to execute tonight, it was just a super hittable pitch.”

While the Dodgers fully expect Glasnow -- who was under the weather, according to manager Dave Roberts -- to bounce back from this performance and give him the ace-like performances they expect, the starting rotation as a whole will have to be much better moving forward.

Over their last five games, only one Dodgers starter has gotten more than 15 outs in a start and that was rookie Gavin Stone, who allowed just two runs over 6 2/3 innings against San Diego on Saturday. It was also the only game the Dodgers have won during this stretch.

“I would say, overall, probably not,” Roberts said, when asked if the team is getting enough production out of its starters lately. “Being mindful of early on in the season, building them up and managing the workload is one part of it. But also you’ve got to still be efficient to give me the opportunity to run you out there into the sixth or into the seventh inning.”

It doesn’t get any easier for the Dodgers over the next two days, as they’re going to go with a bullpen game on Tuesday. Ryan Yarbrough will handle the bulk innings, while Kyle Hurt, who is expected to get activated before the game, could also play a big role.

On Wednesday, with Bobby Miller on the injured list for at least a couple of weeks, the Dodgers could’ve elected to pitch Yoshinobu Yamamoto, their $325 million acquisition of the winter, to pitch on regular rest. However, the club is continuing to be mindful of his workload early on in the season, given he only pitched once a week during his career in Japan.

“So -- they’re going to be better,” Roberts said. “I think we’re going a good job of managing the health, managing the workload. But it’s a two-way street, too. Absolutely.”

Stretches like this are going to happen during a long, 162-game season, but the Dodgers want to make sure they don’t let the losses pile up, especially during a nine-game homestand against three teams that missed the postseason in ‘23. As it usually does, it’ll start with much better pitching performances.

“Nobody likes to lose. But you can’t panic,” said Dodgers outfielder Teoscar Hernández. “It’s just what happens in baseball. They played better than us tonight, so we just have to show up tomorrow with the same enthusiasm and try to win.”