LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers waited 32 years to become World Series champions again. Revalidating the title has never been easy, and they face the second half of the season, crossing themselves to the fact that the worst turbulence is left behind.
A suspended starting pitcher, injuries and poor offensive production have conspired against him. It is the first time since 2016 that the Dodgers are not on top after the All-Star Game.
At 56-35, they have the second-most wins in the majors, behind rivals San Francisco Giants (57-32). LA is two games behind the leading Giants in the NL West, a division the Dodgers have won eight years in a row.
“Considering everything we’ve had to deal with, I’d say it’s pretty good,” commented first baseman Max Muncy. “We haven’t played even close to the caliber that we can have.”
During one stretch, the Dodgers were 5-15. A series of injuries ruined pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May and shortstop Corey Seager, among others.
The rotation was further depleted when starter Trevor Bauer was placed on administrative leave on July 2 following allegations of sex crimes and domestic violence.
“It’s been tough,” acknowledged star outfielder Mookie Betts. “Everything has happened.”
Muncy has been the exception, hitting .270 with 19 homers and 52 RBIs in the first half.
The Dodgers could look for a starter before the trade deadline because using the bullpen arms to cover absences is not sustainable. May underwent Tommy John surgery in May, one of only three pitchers on the team to do so this season.
Kershaw is recovering from a left forearm swelling, and the return of the three-time Cy Young winner is uncertain. The team hopes to have injured reliever Jimmy Nelson soon.
David Price will join the rotation at some point after serving as a reliever in the first half.
“I have the disposition for everything they ask of me,” said the southpaw.
Seager could be back soon after breaking his right hand, probably for a seven-game shootout at home early next week.
“This is the time when good teams start to take off,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I anticipate that we will be at the top when the year is out.”
The Dodgers will visit Colorado for a three-game series starting Friday. The Giants will travel to Los Angeles next week for the last time during the regular season.