It’s hard to believe things could get any worse for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s bad enough we were just swept by the San Francisco Giants of all teams.
To add insult to injury, Walker Buehler is out until who knows when, with what we now know is some sort of bone spur issue. Yes, LA beat the Angels last night, but they are playing at a minor league level right now.
Dodger legend, Orel Hershiser, has referenced the three main components of baseball many times when covering LA: starting pitching, hitting, and a solid bullpen, and he says a team needs at least 2 out of 3 going for them on any night to be competitive. It’s just not clicking for the Dodgers right now. When the pitching has been good, the offense seems to go missing. When the offense has been hot, starting pitching wets the bed, or the bullpen feels like it’s a great time to blow a lead. The Dodgers are one of the deepest teams in the league, and they’re built to overcome rough stretches and injuries, but when is too much?
Dodger fans collectively held their breath overnight on Friday as Walker Buehler exited that evening’s game against the Giants after allowing 3 runs over 4 innings. There was an eerie feeling after he was pulled and I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with Buehler. “Please don’t be his elbow”, I thought, over and over after he left the game. Buehler has already undergone a Tommy John surgery in 2015, a procedure where a torn ligament is replaced by a healthy one, and boasts a recovery time of around a year and a half. Sure enough, he was pulled from the game because of tightness in his elbow. Dave Roberts didn’t give too many details after the game, but said the ace would miss “quite some time”. Saturday morning, we knew a little more, and it could have been worse, but it still wasn’t good news. As of yesterday, Buehler had surgery to clear up a bone spur and won’t pick up a ball for at least 6-8 weeks. Best-case, he would join the team sometime in September.
A silver lining: Kershaw made his first start in almost a month on Saturday and looked pretty good, and the team will certainly need him to stay healthy with Buehler sidelined indefinitely.
In other good news, Andrew Heaney is close to coming back from the Injured List, and has made several successful rehab starts in the minors. Reports have him making one or two more starts before coming off the IL. In addition, Dustin May’s rehab from Tommy John surgery is going well, with manager Dave Roberts expecting him to make his season debut in August, maybe even sooner. The Dodgers will take all the pitching help they can get, and ownership will certainly look at the trade market before the August 2nd deadline.
Putting pitching aside, LA’s offense has also gone ice cold.
Over the weekend against the Giants, the Dodgers offense scored 6 runs over 3 games, and against the Angels last night? A measly 2 runs. That just won’t cut it. Mookie Betts has hit a brick wall. Two weeks ago he was the hottest hitter in the MLB, but over his last seven games, he has only tallied three hits. Three! Baseball is a game of highs and lows, and streaks and slumps, and it’s a bad time for Betts to experience a slump. On a positive note, Trea Turner is seeing the ball well and is hitting .286 over his last games. He’s making a strong case to make his 2nd All Star Game.
Three weeks ago, the Dodgers looked like the best team in the National league. But now, they’re tied for first with the San Diego Padres and to make matters worse, the Giants are within striking distance at only three games back. The season is long, and every team has injuries, I just hope the Dodgers can weather this storm. LA will have to turn it around fast.