3 takeaways from Dodgers' tough road trip

May 10th, 2021

A 2-1 loss to the Angels in Sunday’s finale at Angel Stadium was a fitting end to the Dodgers’ worst road trip in recent memory. In 10 games against the Brewers, Cubs and Angels, the Dodgers went 2-8. It's their worst 10-game road trip since Aug. 22-31, 2008, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

It’s a drastic change of pace for a team that started the season 13-2. Since then, the Dodgers have dropped 15 of 20, losing five straight series. They have not been able to string together consecutive wins since April 16-17. They will head back to Dodger Stadium just one game above .500 and in third place in the National League West, 2 1/2 games behind the Giants and one back of the Padres.

“I don't necessarily want to speak for the team,” said starter , who allowed two runs on four hits, striking out nine in six innings. “I’m pissed, personally. I frickin’ hate losing. I want to win, that's why I came here, and we’re just not playing up to our capability right now.”

As the Dodgers hope getting back home will help them right the ship, here are three takeaways from the road trip:

Offense is fickle
The Dodgers scored a combined 29 runs in their two wins on the road trip, including 14 on Saturday. In the other eight games, they tallied 19 runs, an average of 2.4 runs per game. In five of those games, they scored just once, including Sunday.

“We're working at-bats and getting guys on base, we just can’t do what it takes to drive them in, it seems like,” said , who drove in that lone run on Sunday. “Last night, we did a good job of taking what they give us, not trying to do too much, using the whole field. And I think when you do that, and you just take your single, so to speak, good things tend to happen.”

Manager Dave Roberts offered an optimistic view: “Honestly, I think things are turning, I really do. I think it's easy to look at the results -- we put up one run today. But I just think the body of work today, the last few days and week, has been a lot better.”

And sure enough, the top of the lineup has looked much better in May than it did in the final weeks of April. Mookie Betts has raised his OPS from .768 to .823, while Corey Seager has strung together consecutive three-hit games. Justin Turner remains steady, pacing the team with a .978 OPS.

Cracks forming in bullpen
For the most part, the Dodgers’ starting pitching has been reliable. Their combined starters’ ERA is 2.97, a hair below the Mets’ 2.96 for best in the NL. Though the fifth-starter issue still looms as something that will need to be addressed later this month, the bigger problem has been the bullpen.

On the surface, the Dodgers’ bullpen appears to have been fairly middle of the road over the course of the road trip with a 4.54 ERA. But it also tallied six blown saves, the most in the Majors during that span. And on Saturday, three of the Dodgers’ young relievers -- Dennis Santana, Mitch White and Garrett Cleavinger -- combined to allow 11 runs in 1 2/3 innings, though just five of them were earned.

With seven relievers currently on the injured list, some of whom are expected to miss most if not all of the season, the Dodgers are going to need better than that from those called upon to take their places.

“Our guys have been thrust into this situation, which I look at as an opportunity, and you learn as you log innings, Major League innings,” Roberts said prior to Sunday’s game. “We're all trying to get better, and I'm going to keep running these guys out there when the situation calls for it. And then, it's on them to attack the strike zone and get Major League hitters out.”

There’s still hope
Despite their struggles, the Dodgers haven’t lost much ground in the NL West standings. Neither the Padres nor the division-leading Giants have been able to pull away. Those two teams split the six games they played against each other in the last 10 days.

Though both Clayton Kershaw and Bauer have emphasized that the team doesn’t want to use “it’s early” as an excuse, worried the team may fall prey to complacency, the fact of the matter is that it is still far too early in the season to draw any conclusions about divisional chances. After all, the Dodgers still have more than three-quarters of their schedule left.

“We're gonna be at the top of this division,” said Roberts. “I have no doubt in my mind."