Posted on May 17, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The first-quarter of the baseball season has not unfolded the way the Los Angeles Dodgers envisioned. Before Thursday’s win over the Marlins, Los Angeles had lost six straight games and dropped to 10 games under .500. It was the first time the Dodgers were 10 under .500 since 1929. They even dipped, albeit temporarily, below the Padres for last in the NL West. However, the Dodgers brass has let it be known that they are not panicking or placing the blame on manager Dave Roberts.
“We, again, have all the confidence in him in the world,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said of Roberts. “We said that during spring training when people asked about it. (We) haven’t seen anything in this first quarter of the season that has done anything to our confidence level with him.”
Blaming Roberts at this point would be quite unfair. The Dodgers have been inundated with injuries to some of their most prominent players. All-star shortstop Corey Seager has been lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Justin Turner only recently returned from the DL after missing the early part of the season. Logan Forsythe also missed a month due to injury.
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The Los Angeles pitching staff has not been immune from the injury bug either. Ace Clayton Kershaw went to the DL earlier this month and is yet to return. Fellow lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to be out until the all-star break. Rich Hill has also missed time due to blister issues and hasn’t been that effective when he has been able to pitch.
On top of the injuries, many of the players who have managed to stay healthy this season have underperformed, especially during the recent six-game losing streak. To be fair, Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp have been surprisingly productive. But Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Chase Utley, and others have failed to perform up to the same level as past years.
“It’s a team-wide slump essentially,” Roberts said after Wednesday’s loss. “I can’t recall anything like this, where we just haven’t had any semblance of consistency from any facet.”
Roberts has consistently said this season that he’s not disappointed in the effort of his team. However, that has only made the recent losing streak all the more frustrating.
“I think it gets to be comical at some point because you’re doing everything you can possibly do as a team,” said Roberts. “For it to not show any fruits, it gets frustrating.”
While Roberts and the Dodgers search for answers, it should be reassuring for the manager to have the support of the Dodgers front office.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he is the right guy to lead this team going forward,” Dodgers President Andrew Friedman said earlier this week. “The way our minds work is not to assign blame to anyone at this point. It’s to hunker down, all together, and try to solve problems. I’m very comfortable in saying that, if we had to assign blame at this point, it should be me who is taking that, and not Doc.”
Of course, while it’s nice for Roberts to get a vote of confidence, the Dodgers still have a steep hill to climb. They are still eight games out of first place with three teams ahead of them in the NL West standings. With Seager lost for the season and Kershaw still on the DL, the Dodgers digging themselves out of the hole they’ve dug will be easier said than done.