The dog days of Summer are quickly turning into a scary stretch run for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers, who ended the month of July well in control of their own destiny with a 58-45 mark and a modest 1.5-game lead in the National League West, have put together a record of 9-11 in the month of August through Sunday’s action. While the lead in the division ballooned to as many as three games this month, it is now back down to just a game and a half With a front office that has so much invested into the roster, the pressure for them to finish what they started and win the division might be as high as it’s ever been in Los Angeles.
The optimistic Dodgers fan, player or member of the front office will tell you that August has been a decent month with two road bumps. The month started with a sweep of the Angels and a series win against the Phillies. The first road bump came when they were swept by Pittsburgh on the road. The Dodgers started to show signs of life again with series wins at home against Washington and Cincinnati, while their second road bump came this past week with sweeps in Oakland and Houston.
But the Dodgers fan, player or member of the front office who isn’t feeling too good about the trajectory of their team will tell you that the three sweeps this month are more than any other month this season. You see that your team has suffered through two losing streaks of at least four games this month, while the team still has to play the likes of the Cubs and Giants before the calendar turns to September.
One reason why the Dodgers have struggled in August? Their big multi-player deal that was made with the expectation that it would bolster their roster for the stretch run has quite simply not worked out thus far.
Alex Wood, the starting pitcher that LA received in the deal that sent Cuban prospect Hector Olivera and bullpen arm Paco Rodriguez to Atlanta, has struggled since his move to the West Coast. In four starts for the Dodgers through Saturday, Wood has compiled a record of 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 13 earned runs given up in 23 1/3 innings. His ERA in LA has seen a sharp increase over the 3.54 number he posted through 20 starts this season with the Braves.
Meanwhile, Mat Latos, the other starter the Dodgers received in the trade, has seen his numbers take a nosedive since the deal. Latos, who posted a 4.48 ERA while in Miami this season, has posted an 0-2 mark in Dodger blue with a 6.75 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP and 11 earned runs allowed in 14 2/3 innings.
An offense in disarray is also compounding some of the Dodgers’ pitching woes. In six of their 11 August losses through Sunday, the offense has scored three or fewer runs six times.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is hitting just .225 in 117 games through Saturday, while Yasiel Puig has not posted the numbers many expected. Through 73 games played, he has hit .250 with 10 home runs, just 35 RBI and 28 runs scored.
Needless to stay, with the noose tightening around the Dodgers’ NL West lead, the urgency to string a long winning streak together is growing.
With the amount of financial resources that have been allocated to the roster, and the pressure the fanbase is putting on the team to finally best the Giants, this Fall might finally mean that changes will be coming if the team can’t get over the hump.