Dodgers 2023 First Look

Vargas. Rojas. Barnes. Meet the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2023 murderers row. Betts? Nope. Smith? Nuh uh. Freeman? Pleeeaaaaase.

This group, in 419 at-bats has been next level. Nuts. Crazy good. Out of this world.

That’s sarcasm. This group of Dodgers, also known as, “Two Miguelitos and a Guy Named Austin” is hitting .192 and no one has been even close to replacing injured second basemen Gavin Lux. The L.A. front office is trying to put together an offense that looks like the old Dodgers but with malfunctioning components. Chris Taylor could be helping but he is hitting .223. David Peralta is a lone bright spot outside of the stars, and even then he’s hitting .262.

The stars are hitting, but there aren’t very many of them. Freeman is an MVP candidate at first base and the same goes for Will Smith at catcher. Mookie Betts has played some infield for the Dodgers in addition to his right field duties. He is liable to get hot at the end of the year against weaker pitching but right now he is on par with Peralta in terms of average.

Designated hitter J.D. Martinez has produced as hoped (.259 ave and 16 homers) while Max Muncy has 13 homers. Muncy is a guesser. Sometimes he’s right, but he’s wrong…a lot. You don’t hit .191 because you’re Carnac (The 1980’s called and said you should look it up). Considering Martinez has a lifetime batting average that is 60 points higher, it might be wise for Maxy to pick J.D’s brain because right now Muncy isn’t guessing for squat.

Outfielder, Cody Bellinger went to the Chicago Cubs just three seasons removed from an MVP year. He was all but forgotten after James Outman looked like God’s gift to baseball at the start of the year. But, like Bellinger, the swing is long and the swing percentage is high when he’s behind in the count, regardless of where the pitch is. Outman is down to .233 after starting out hitting .289 for March and April combined. How bad is it? He has 44 strikeouts in his last 98 at-bats and has managed to hit just .163 since May 1. He is struggling just as much as Bellinger did in his final two years. Maybe the Dodgers need a new hitting coach. Just an FYI, Bellinger is hitting .269 in Chicago.

On the mound, the starting pitching staff looks like the best in the majors even without Walker Buehler, who is out with arm surgery. Surgeries are something Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin know all about. This staff is a testament to the marvels of modern medicine. Clayton Kershaw has been better than expected and is likely to make yet another all-star team on merit. Noah Syndergaard is so injury-prone, I can’t trust he will do much of anything and so far he hasn’t, besides hit almost every bat that has swung across the plate. His earned run average is 7.16 and opponents are hitting .313 against him. I’d bring him out of the bullpen.

Speaking of which, the pen has an ERA of 4.90, which is more than two runs higher than last year? Phil Bickford has Syndergaard’s hair and almost the same ERA. Yency Almonte, Alex Vesia, Taylor Scott, and Victor Gonzalez combined this week to turn a 97-pitch effort by Clayton Kershaw -and a 4-2 lead over the White Sox- into an 8-4 loss. Brusdar Graterol has been lights out with a 1.86 ERA in 30 games. Evan Phillips is a run and a half under his career ERA and leads the club in saves with seven, but having a closer isn’t worth much if middle relief is coughing up leads.

Forecast: losing 15-0 to the Giants is literally as bad as it gets. You can’t lose Trea Turner, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Alex Verdugo without it catching up to you eventually, especially if Betts is trying too hard to carry the load and the Swiss Army Knives like Chris Taylor aren’t hitting. The bullpen is full of gas cans. We don’t know how long this is going to last. What we do know is the Dodgers have the capital to bring in help. They still make 90 wins, but it’s anybody’s division

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