Slumping LA 'can't take anything for granted'

May 5th, 2021

The Dodgers were projected to be one of the best teams in the Majors coming into the season. They quickly won 13 of their first 15 games, seemingly picking up right where they left off last season.

The talent on the Dodgers’ roster is undeniable, even with their recent string of injuries, and it wouldn’t surprise anybody to see Los Angeles win a ninth consecutive National League West crown at the end of the 162-game marathon.

But after dropping both games of Tuesday’s split doubleheader against the Cubs at Wrigley Field following a 4-3 loss in Game 2, the Dodgers have lost 12 of their last 16 games, the worst record in the NL during that span. Los Angeles is now in third place in the division, behind the Giants and Padres.

“Obviously, we haven’t won a whole lot of baseball games in the last couple of weeks,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “We’ve got to play clean baseball, clean defense and continue to grind at-bats. So I think that, obviously, we’re better than what we’ve shown, and we got to get back to doing the little things and playing good baseball.”

In order for the Dodgers to get back to being themselves, they’re going to need better production out of their offense. Los Angeles hoped a 16-run outburst in the series finale against the Brewers on Sunday would be the type of performance that could help jumpstart its slumping offense.

Instead, the Dodgers were held to just four combined runs over 16 innings on Tuesday. and delivered clutch home runs in the Game 2 loss, but Los Angeles didn’t receive consistent production throughout the night and went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the two games.

The Dodgers have lost eight games by one run and are now 1-5 in extra-inning games. With a few big hits, their season up to this point would look very different.

“We’ve put ourselves in positions to play extra-inning games when I think that we probably shouldn’t have,” Roberts said. “I don’t really have an answer for the 1-5, but I do know the innings prior to the extra innings, collectively, we could’ve done a better job to not be in that extra-inning situation.”

While the lack of offense has been the driving force behind the recent skid, the Dodgers aren’t playing up to their potential in the other aspects as well. Aside from a hiccup from Clayton Kershaw in the 7-1 Game 1 loss on Tuesday, the club’s starting rotation has been one of the best in baseball.

The bullpen has been fine, too, but it is experiencing a lot of injuries, which have forced Roberts to thrust relievers such as Mitch White into high-leverage situations. White gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Javier Báez in the eighth inning of Game 2.

But the Dodgers’ overall defense has been subpar for their standards. In Tuesday’s twin bill, they made three errors.

“We’ve got to play better baseball all around,” said Dodgers starter , who had his shortest outing of the season at 4 1/3 innings. “Just doing the little things you can control as a player. I think, collectively, as a group, we all have to be better at that. It’s one of those things right now where we don’t seem to be able to put together a complete game.”

Despite the recent funk, there’s no panic coming from the Dodgers’ clubhouse. They are a group that is battle-tested and has seen similar slumps in the past. Turner pointed to a similar skid in 2017, yet the team was able to win 104 games and make the World Series that season.

The talent in the room isn’t in question. The Dodgers have more than enough of that. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly they can turn it around.

“Nobody feels sorry for us,” Turner said. “[We] can’t take anything for granted, still have to show up and do all the little things and play the game the right way. The bottom line is we need to play better.”