Sarah's Take: Offense not clicking for Dodgers
Without established lineup, club having trouble fulfilling expectations
Before the season began, many baseball people thought the Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn't have trouble winning their third consecutive National League West title. In April, the Dodgers did well, especially their numerous home runs. Although Clayton Kershaw struggled, their pitching mostly dominated. Their defense was much improved. The rest of the division didn't look able to play at the same level as the Dodgers.
But since then, the Dodgers haven't had the magic. They haven't scored enough to win many games despite getting decent pitching. It seems like the Dodgers can't beat teams with better-than-.500 records. They have played the San Francisco Giants 12 times this season and won only three times.
On the road, the Dodgers have 12 wins and 18 losses. Teams that can't win on the road don't usually go to the postseason.
Yes, the Dodgers have suffered many injuries to important players -- but every team suffers injuries and it must learn how to deal with them. Manager Don Mattingly has shown flexibility, using the Dodgers' newfound depth well to compensate for these unexpected difficulties. The Dodgers haven't had an established lineup, and that usually makes winning more difficult.
The Dodgers' offensive problems are becoming serious and chronic. Unless they homer, they don't often score. Zack Greinke has pitched extremely well and deserves more than five victories. His 1.81 ERA should guarantee him an All-Star selection, but his low win total might cause him to be overlooked.
While the Dodgers needed a shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins wasn't the best choice for them. At 36, Rollins is a major upgrade defensively compared to Ramirez, but the shortstop position is the second-most physically demanding place to play on a baseball diamond. He's wearing down, getting him adequate rest is an issue. Rollins' .202 batting average means he doesn't contribute much to the offense.
Mattingly uses either Joc Pederson or Yasiel Puig in the leadoff spot. They are the fastest Dodgers, and having speed at the top of the lineup is desirable. But neither reaches base enough to be effective, and this hurts the Dodgers' run production. Both should be in the middle of the lineup, where they can drive in runs and offer protection to Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers have had a tough schedule, but they need to play better. Their offense must be more productive or they will sit home watching the postseason.