Finding ways to win has become the Dodgers strategy for climbing back to first place. The climb from second place was short, but the team is playing consistently well. The Dodgers are currently 8 games above .500 and two games ahead of the Diamondbacks. They have transformed from a mediocre team to scrappy winners.
The Shortstop Situation
The Dodgers faced a bleak situation at shortstop after losing Trea Turner in the offseason and Gavin Lux during spring training. The situation worsened when Mookie Betts decided to play shortstop with Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor backing him up.
When Mookie joined the team in 2020, the idea of him playing shortstop never crossed my mind. However, he has become the most productive option at the position, especially with Rojas and Taylor hitting below .200. Defensively, Mookie looks comfortable and has exceeded the team’s expectations.
Starting Mookie also gives the option of having the rejuvenated bat of Heyward. Not having a consistent shortstop can sound like the demise of any team, but the Dodgers are gracefully navigating the situation.
The Hitting With RISP Situation
A month into the season, the Dodgers are still struggling with hitting with hitting with runners in scoring position. During their last series against the Padres, the offense went 3 for 24, yet the team still managed to win two out of three games. The Dodgers persistently play every pitch, regardless of the score.
During the month of May, the Dodgers have already come from behind to win once against both the Phillies and the Padres. The scrappy Dodgers have won every series they’ve played in May. What is most impressive is their ability to win back-to-back games after dropping the first game of the series. After losing the opening game to both the Padres and the Brewers, the Dodgers responded by winning the next two games with either big leads or dramatic comebacks.
This team may be missing the splashy names they’re used to having, but the Dodgers continue to find ways to win.
The Pitching Situation
The starting pitching has had their fair share of struggles. Julio Urias is having trouble preventing errors from occuring. Tony Gonsolin has returned to the rotation but still has a long way to go before reaching his peak. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard is trying to find a way to overcome his mental struggles and may end up on the injured list after exiting his last start with a finger cut.
Entering the season, the Dodgers did not have a designated closer. The bullpen started off strong, but a rough patch raised concerns that the pen needed stability. However, Even Phillips has emerged as the team’s leading closer, and the other roles in the bullpen have been defined.
After Syndergaard’s exited his last start, the Dodgers opted for a bullpen game for their second match against the Brewers. Dave Roberts employed eight different pitchers and won the game 6-2. Since Roberts relied on an emergency bullpen game, the Dodgers were going to rely on Kershaw to pitch deep into the game to close the series.
Kershaw pitched 7 innings, giving up one run with five hits, and striking out 8.
Regardless of the woes the pitching staff is fighting, the injuries that Dodgers have to deal with, this team is figuring out different ways to stay in the game and win. Forget about winning 111 games, this season the Dodgers are grinders. The Dodgers are scraping away one game at a time.
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