Dodger Sweep Padres, Blow it Against Rockies

Los Angeles went 4-2 last week but missed a golden opportunity to gain ground on first-place Giants

Ugh. The Giants lost two of three games to the Braves in Atlanta this weekend, which meant that all the Dodgers had to do to gain ground was do better than that against the Rockies at home.

They couldn’t.

The Dodgers lack of starting pitching bit them on the rear. They dropped the two bullpen games they tried against the lowly Rockies, and blew a golden chance to cut the Giants lead in the division from 2.5 games down to 1.5 or even a half game.

Let’s start with the good. The Dodgers swept the Padres in San Diego, and all but finished them off in the division race. Pitching prospect Andre Jackson was great once again, giving up just 1 ER in 4.2 innings on Friday. The Dodgers bullpen was also very good on Saturday and Sunday, and allowed just 2 runs in 11 innings. Mookie Betts is off the injured list. Walker Buehler is probably going to win his first Cy Young award. Will Smith continues to rake, and he’s now the most valuable catcher in MLB according to Fangraphs.

That’s…all I’ve got. Because the team that was supposed to challenge the ‘27 Yankees for home runs and runs scored seems to have forgotten how to hit.

Hitting .178 in a week they faced Blake Snell and Yu Darvish is not embarrassing. But making Antonio Senzatela look like Greg Maddux in a game they almost had to win hurts like a bee sting to the face.

Look, the Dodgers don’t have to win any game that isn’t against the Giants to ultimately catch San Francisco over the next month. They are only 2.5 games out. But they’ve gotta feast on the bottom feeders when they’re on the menu. Because now they’ve got three games against the red-hot Braves, an off day, then three games in San Francisco. It’s looking likely that the Dodgers will have to throw at least one bullpen game up in SF. Their offense better wake up, and soon, because scoring seven runs in three games like they did over the weekend vs Colorado is not tenable.

How bad is the Dodgers offense right now? Well, yesterday Dave Roberts opted to wave the white flag and pitch Justin Turner in the ninth because he thought the team had a zero percent chance to come back from a five run deficit. Normally red-bearded third baseman make their major league pitching debuts when their team is winning or losing by double digits. Part of this was the Dodgers having to rely so heavily on their pen this weekend. Every reliever was exhausted—which is another bad thing they can’t do this week.

The Dodgers started the game without Turner or Smith or Mookie Betts in the lineup, which felt suboptimal and turned into a shutout. They also can’t sit three regulars in one game this week unless they want to be the wild card team.

I’ll be at the Dodgers/Braves game tonight, and all three games in San Francisco this weekend. We are getting to the point in the season where every game is crucial and I will try to attend most of them. (I’ll also be writing about the Mets and Yankees this week, and what it’s like to write about baseball for a living.)

I’m still waiting to see if Clayton Kershaw can return from his elbow injury before I proclaim the Dodgers as the team to beat in October. Right now I give a slight edge to the Giants, who have five healthy starting pitchers. The Dodgers can win bullpen games against the Mets, because the Mets are a mess. This formula will not keep them in the division race through the month of September, though, let alone through October.

We’ll see. The Dodgers opted to throw those two bullpen games this weekend so they could give Walker Buehler and Julio Urias each an extra day of rest. Andrew Friedman and company hope they respond with dominant starts against the Braves.

Which will be for naught unless the Dodgers’ bats show up too.