Dodgers still trying to right ship: 'We believe in ourselves in here'

April 21st, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- If you told the Dodgers, who had lost four of their last five, that , and would reach base a combined 12 times on Saturday, chances are everyone in the building would’ve guessed Los Angeles rolled to an easy win.

But when things aren’t going your way in baseball, they’re really not going your way. Even with their three former Most Valuable Players producing, momentum didn’t shift for the Dodgers.

Right now, the Dodgers are in the thick of what has been one of their worst homestands in years after a 6-4 loss to the Mets at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have dropped three consecutive series, which only happened once all of last season. They fell to 2-6 with one game to go in the nine-game homestand.

“I think it’s just a bad week, I really do,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But with that, even with bad weeks, we still usually find ways to carve up a couple wins. But this week, we haven’t. We usually play well at home; this week, we haven’t.”

While this could be chalked up to the natural ups and downs of a 162-game season, there are some noticeable things the Dodgers need to address moving forward, all of which were on display on Saturday.

First, the starting pitching needs to give the Dodgers more length. got the ball and struggled with command all day long, walking five and uncorking a wild pitch over just 3 1/3 innings. Another short start once again exposed some of the issues the Dodgers’ bullpen has had.

Down Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen -- two of their most important pieces -- to start the season, the Dodgers haven’t found many guys outside of Evan Phillips to be consistent options in high-leverage situations. Last season, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly helped complete the bullpen. This year, both right-handers have struggled.

With the game tied and the Mets threatening in the sixth, Roberts went to Brasier against Starling Marte. Brasier, however, left a breaking ball over the middle of the plate, and Marte smashed it for a go-ahead three-run homer. Brasier has allowed all seven of his inherited runners to score this season.

“Relief pitching is tough because it's one of those things that when you pitch well, nobody is talking about you,” Roberts said. “But yeah, with Brasier, it’s execution. The slider is just not getting to the right side of the plate. … These are our guys. I know he prepares. And you gotta keep running them out there in their lanes and expect them to perform.”

The pitching struggles make some sense considering who the Dodgers have on the injured list. The offensive issues, however, are a bit more puzzling, especially considering the offseason the Dodgers had this winter.

On Saturday, the Dodgers had eight opportunities with the bases loaded. They came through with a hit just one time, a Freeman two-run single in the sixth, and struck out six times. As a team, the Dodgers punched out 14 times and lead the Majors with 221 strikeouts, albeit having played at least one more game than every other team.

“I’m sure we all feel the pressure to be able to score and put up good at-bats, especially when we’re behind and have runners in scoring position,” Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton. “But it’s really just looking at each of us individually. I think it’s sometimes just a matter of having more at-bats in situations like that.”

One thing working for the Dodgers is that they started the 2023 season with the same record (12-11) through 23 games. They were still able to find a way to win 100 games en route to another NL West title. This year, though, there’s a level of expectation that surpasses those of previous seasons.

After spending over $1 billion in contracts this winter, it was supposed to come easy for the Dodgers. It’s not right now, but they’re confident they’ll be able to steer the ship in the right direction sooner rather than later.

“We believe in ourselves in here,” said Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy. “That’s half the battle, is getting yourselves the opportunity. We’re accomplishing that. We’re just not accomplishing the other part.”