The Dodgers' early season success was a mirage. Not that the team doesn't have talent, but it was getting by with great pitching and modest offense. In April, the team ranked 14th in runs scored. They rose to 12th in May. However, through 23 games in June, the team has scored just 81 runs, ranking 26th in MLB.
The pitching has been consistent, ranking in the Top 8 in ERA all three months. The loss of Ted Lilly was offset by the addition of Nathan Eovaldi who, until recently, had been a consistent 5th starter. So what happened?
To put it bluntly (and obviously), the team stopped hitting. When Kemp went down, guys like A.J. Ellis and Andre Ethier carried the load. Now, in June, the two are hitting a combined .215. In fact, only one Dodger is hitting over .250 this month: Juan Rivera. And his OPS is under .700. The only full time player with an OPS above .700 in June? Bobby Abreu. That's right. Only 1 Dodger hitter has a .700 OPS in June.
Obviously, this level of production is below what should be reasonably expected. Andre Ethier is not going to hit .217 the rest of the year. A.J. Ellis won't slug .269 from here on out. But some key contributors who were playing over their heads have come falling back to Earth.
Elian Herrera, who started hitting the moment he was called up, has suddenly hit the brakes. His batting average has plummeted to .231 in June, though his walk rate is still encouraging. Jerry Hairston Jr. isn't faring much better, batting just .234 in June.
The usual underachievers haven't stepped up, either. James Loney continues to struggle, especially against lefties. Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy, manning third the majority of the time, have proven unable to produce at the plate.
The real question is: how long will this last? I doubt this lasts past the All Star break. Once Kemp returns, some of the pressure comes off Ethier and A.J. Ellis. Mark Ellis is scheduled to return within the next month as well. However, the team needs another cog on offense, which is something I'll explore as the trade deadline approaches.
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