Taking stock of the Dodgers' last homestand

April 23rd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

WASHINGTON -- Just when it looked like the Dodgers were going to enjoy a dominant April, the most recent homestand, which ended with Los Angeles dropping six of nine contests, served as a crucial reminder that nothing comes easy in baseball.

Even after securing the most unique and arguably best player in the game in and spending over $1 billion in contracts during the offseason, the past week proved that the Dodgers will have to earn it on the field. Every team will give Los Angeles its best shot. If the Dodgers aren’t playing at their best, that game is going to turn into a dogfight.

But despite the rough homestand, the Dodgers still stand two games over .500 (13-11) and figure to get healthier over the next couple of weeks and months. In the meantime, there are things they have done exceptionally well and a couple areas where they need improvement, and relatively soon.

1. It all starts at the top
For such a difficult game, figuring some things out as a team can be so simple sometimes in baseball.

When a team is “in it,” as manager Dave Roberts likes to put it, it’s awfully easy to pick out mistakes and try to come up with solutions. But sometimes, it’s just as simple as your best players playing like your best players.

We saw that on Sunday in the Dodgers’ 10-0 drubbing of the Mets. Ohtani clobbered a long blast, looked more like himself over the weekend and delivered his best start as a Dodger, showing all signs of being a true ace atop a rotation.

On a team with so much starpower, the wins and losses usually come based on their production. carried the Dodgers for the first 10 games of the season with his incredible start. And Los Angeles has the likes of Betts, Freeman, Ohtani and Will Smith. Other teams do not.

If Freeman plays to the caliber he has over the course of his likely Hall of Fame career, the Dodgers should be in good shape moving forward.

2. They do need some help, though
With all that being said, the Big 3 do need some help in the lineup. If you need any proof of that, just watch the replay of Saturday’s 6-4 loss against the Mets.

Betts, Ohtani and Freeman reached base a combined 12 times. The trio was as good as advertised. The problem, however, was they were mostly left on base by the rest of the lineup, which, in fairness, was missing Smith that day.

The Dodgers went 1-for-8 with six strikeouts in bases-loaded opportunities and ultimately lost the game. A lot of that came from Teoscar Hernández and Max Muncy, but the bottom of the order, which must improve moving forward, also didn’t offer much help.

Betts, Ohtani, Freeman and Smith give the Dodgers one of the best lineups in the Majors. They’re that good. But for Los Angeles to take it to another level, the club is going to need the rest of its lineup to start producing. One player who could help to get on track is James Outman, but the sophomore outfielder is struggling and is seeing the strikeouts pile up.

3. The bullpen could be an issue … at least for now
Losing two of your best relievers is tough for any team, and the Dodgers are no different. Starting the season without Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen might’ve gone unnoticed to the average baseball fan, but their absences have been felt tremendously over the first three weeks of the season.

Graterol will be out for another month and Treinen is still a few weeks away. In the meantime, the Dodgers’ bullpen has shown some concerning signs. Ryan Brasier, who played a pivotal role in the L.A. turning its bullpen woes around in the second half of last season, hasn’t looked the same this year, posting a 5.59 ERA in 10 appearances. Most importantly, Brasier has allowed all seven inherited runners to score.

Brasier gets some of the blame, but certainly not all of it. Joe Kelly and Alex Vesia have also struggled to find much consistency. Outside of , the Dodgers don’t have many reliable options at the moment.

One thing that would help is getting longer starts. Glasnow is really the only starter chipping in with any consistency. Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s beginning to his Major League career has been up and down. Improvement from him would go a long way.

In the end, it’s only been 24 games. With the type of winter the Dodgers had, though, everything will be magnified this season. We’ll continue to find out more about this team in the upcoming three-city, nine-game road trip that starts against the Nationals on Tuesday.