Dodgers searching for ways to return to 'complete game' form

April 20th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers were in the middle of their historic offseason, which included spending over $1 billion in contracts, most people assumed they would just steamroll opponents for six months given the star power on the roster.

The reality, of course, is that the Dodgers, just like every other team, will have some rough stretches during the grind of a 162-game regular season. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, that first negative stretch is happening much earlier than they anticipated.

With a disappointing 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers have now lost four of their last five and five of their last seven during a nine-game homestand against three teams that missed the postseason in 2023.

“We just didn’t play good tonight. That was not a good game,” said Dodgers first baseman . “If we just play better baseball, we’re going to win. Our team is way too good, I think we all know that and I think we’re going to be just fine soon.”

The Dodgers’ track record over the last decade suggests that to be true. With the level of talent on the team, it’s only a matter of time before the Dodgers break out with a long winning streak. But before that happens, there are a lot of areas that need improvement.

got the start on Friday and completed his first quality start of his Major League career, allowing four runs (three earned) and striking out nine over six innings of work. It was the first time Yamamoto pitched into the sixth inning.

When Yamamoto has been good this season, he has been nearly unhittable, showing every reason the Dodgers spent $325 million over 12 years and another $50 million in posting fees in order to sign him this winter. But when Yamamoto has missed his spots, Major League hitters have taken full advantage.

While a Will Smith error in the second inning didn’t help his case, Yamamoto allowed six two-strike hits, which ultimately proved to be the difference in what was otherwise a successful start. A couple came against his four-seam fastball, which has been the most susceptible pitch in his arsenal through four starts. The splitter and curveball have both shown glimpses of brilliance.

On Friday, Yamamoto got 12 swings and misses on the splitter and another four on the curveball. He got just one whiff on the heater.

“I think I had both a good-quality and bad-quality fastball today,” Yamamoto said through interpreter Yoshihiro Sonoda. “Today, as a result, we lost. However, I did have some positive things in today’s game. I’m going to find what I can do more for the next outing.”

In the meantime, the rest of the team will have to find ways to do more.

Behind Yamamoto, the Dodgers’ bullpen allowed five runs over three innings. Daniel Hudson, who has been one of L.A.’s most consistent arms so far this season, gave up a go-ahead two-run homer to Francisco Lindor just an inning after Chris Taylor swung the momentum with game-tying two-run single.

Before Lindor’s blast, however, shortstop Mookie Betts made a costly error on a Starling Marte grounder. Betts was able to field the ball cleanly, but struggled to make the throw across the diamond, pulling Freeman off the bag. After that inning, Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier also struggled to limit the damage against the Mets, who have won five consecutive games.

“Tonight was kind of a microcosm of what we’ve been through,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “All facets, we could’ve been better. I think about a week ago, I said we’ve only played about three games of a complete game. I think we’re still there. So we’ve got to put together a complete game as a team.”

What would help is for the high-powered offense to flex their muscles in a big way. It hasn’t happened in a while. A massive part of that is that Freeman is struggling for seemingly the first time since joining the organization in 2022. Freeman went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is only 3-for-27 in the homestand.

“I take pride in being consistent,” Freeman said. “And I’m not being consistent right now.”

Consistency is what the entire Dodgers team is looking for. Contrary to popular belief, it was bound to happen at some point. Now the question is how long will it take them to punch back.