The Dodgers officially reached the half-way point of the season on June 29, but they reached the ceremonial half-point when the All-Star break began. As I’m sure you know, the moto for this season is “Determined.” The goal is a World Series Championship. Anything else will be a disappointment. So how are they doing in their quest?
The season began miserably. At the end of April, the Dodgers had a 12-16 record and they were in fourth place in the NL West, eight games behind the first-place Diamondbacks. They placed even worse compared to the entire NL. They were fourth worst, ahead of only the Marlins, Padres, and Reds. At this point, a lot of Dodger fans were giving up on them this year.
May started out just about s poorly. They split a series with the D-Backs, then lost a series to the Padres. But the worst part of May was when they were swept in four games by the Cincinnati Reds. The bats were dead cold in that series and the pitching wasn’t great either. The Dodgers then lost two straight games to the Marlins.
But then, on May 17, things changed. The Dodgers were still in fourth place and nine games under .500 but Justin Turner was activated from the DL. He hit two doubles and drove in five runs, giving the Dodgers offense a much-needed start. The Dodgers carried this new-found momentum with them to Washington D.C. where they swept the Nationals in three games. All of the sudden, the Dodgers looked like a much better team. They ended May with a 26-30 record, in third place and only four games behind the D-Backs.
June was all about home runs. The Dodgers hit 55 home runs in the month. Sadly, most of these were solo shots. They couldn’t seem to get hits in any ways other than homers. But they still managed to win. They swept the Rockies in three games, the Rangers in two and the Mets in three. They also won series’ against the Pirates, Braves, Giants, and Cubs.
The season got even better in July. As soon as the Dodgers turned the calendar, they began getting runners on base and getting RBI base-hits. When the Dodgers beat the Padres 3-2 on July 12, they took control of first-place for the first time this year. They then gave it back to the D-Backs, before once again returning to the top of the leaderboard in the final game before the All-Star break.
Before April 17, this year, had you ever heard the name Max Muncy? If not, don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either. Muncy signed with the Oakland A’s in 2016. He had a few cups of coffee with them before they released him. The Dodgers then signed him in the off-season and he spent all of 2017 in Triple-A. Muncy was then brought to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Then, injuries struck the Dodgers once again. Last year, Chris Taylor was the surprise player who helped the Dodgers. This year, it is Muncy. He hit a home run in his first game with the Dodgers. Since then, he hasn’t really slowed down, hitting a home run in every 10.4 at-bats. He was even good enough to compete in the Home Run Derby.
You may not be surprised by Kemp this year, but I sure am. The Dodgers traded for him in a salary dump with the Braves. They then tried to trade him to another team. No one wanted him. I bet they regret that now. Kemp is once again a great player and a great teammate.
Kemp’s been the most consistent Dodger when hitting with runners in scoring position. And even what was thought to be his greatest weakness, his glove, has been great. Kemp had a good enough first half that baseball fans voted him into the starting lineup in the All-Star game.
I knew the Diamondbacks would be tough but I never thought they’d be this good. When the Dodgers tripped, fell, and passed out as soon as they left the starting gate, the D-Backs trampled everyone in their path. The only reason the Dodgers were able to reach first place is because of injuries to some of the Snakes’ key players.
Will The Dodgers Land Machado?
As I write this, 20 minutes before the All-Star game, Manny Machado, is still a Baltimore Oriole. There are exactly two weeks until the trade deadline. It is clear that Machado will be traded. Right now, baseball writers are saying that the Dodgers are the leaders in the Machado Sweepstakes.
Machado has been a third baseman most of his career, but he is now insisting on playing shortstop. This is exactly what the Dodgers need. Chris Taylor, who currently plays shortstop, can move to second base, Muncy can move to first, and Bellinger can move to center field. With Puig on the DL, Kemp can play in right field.
Will The D-Backs Fade?
No. There is not a chance the Diamondbacks are going to fade away. The Dodgers will need to continue to fight if they want to make the playoffs. The wildcard spots will go to the NL Central and East this year, so only the division leader will make the playoffs.
How Will The Dodgers Boost The ‘Pen?
The Dodgers bullpen has been terrific. After a terrible start, they shaped up and are now great. But they’re getting tired. If the Dodgers want to win the division, they must find one or two more quality arms. I think Zach Britton would be a great choice.