After reaching the 40-game mark of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have had their worst start to an MLB campaign since 1958 with a 16-26 win/loss record. It may not be rock bottom just yet, but 40 games give a good indication of where a team is heading and, for the Dodgers, the future of their season is not looking promising.
Victories are hard to come by
It’s incredible that a team who has won the last five straight division titles in the NL West could fall into such a huge slump so fast. This is the team that took the Houston Astros to Game 7 of the World Series just last year, after finishing with a Los Angeles team record of 104 wins in the regular season. While their 16-26 record is bad, at least it puts them on top of the Chicago White Sox, who are having a real tough time of it with a 10-27 start. But, as far as victories go this year, that’s pretty much about it.
Perhaps they could take some inspiration from the team that started their five division title run back in 2013. The boys in blue were 31-42 at the end of June before going 42-8 to overcome the team’s largest ever deficit while also winning the title. Currently, the Arizona Diamondbacks are the favorites in the NL West at -150, with the Colorado Rockies behind them on +333. Bookmakers haven’t written off the struggling Dodgers just yet though, and they’re still in with a chance at a modest +425.
Large payroll, no luck
The worrying thing for the organization is the results they’ve had while still having such a large payroll. If you add the money component into the discussion about which team has been the worst so far this season, then the Dodgers are 2018’s biggest flop.
The Los Angeles’ team started with a $187.3 million payroll, which means they have paid more per win than any other side. As it stands at the 40-game mark, the Dodgers have paid $11.7 million per win, edging out the Baltimore Orioles at $11.4m and the San Francisco Giants at $10.0m. Although, it’s fair to say that LA haven’t had luck on their side, allowing only one more run than they have scored, which would normally see them sitting around a .500 team.
Injuries haven’t been kind to the team either, with a host of players already finding themselves on the disabled list. During March, All-Star third baseman Justin Turner and new addition to the bullpen, Tom Koehler, both received serious injuries. All-Star Corey Seager will also be out for the remainder of the year with the dynamic shortstop needing Tommy John elbow surgery, as well as Clayton Kershaw, who will be joining the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Pitchers Tony Cingrani, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and infielder Logan Forsythe are on the DL and, if Rich Hill doesn’t have a speedy recovery, he may be another casualty of the Dodgers’ forgettable season. The injury crisis has certainly given the Dodgers an early depth test, and their recent results have shown that it’s most definitely not up to the task.
Poor foresight from the front office
Some fans are angry with the organization for not predicting the need for better squad depth this year. Their 15-game postseason run and an opening day of March 29 saw them have a shorter break than most World Series teams get, and reoccurring injuries to key players like Seager and Kershaw should have given the franchise the incentive for an active offseason.
However, they spent less money than any other team except the Atlanta Braves in free agency with a mere $4 million. It was no secret that the club was trying to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, which was well short of their $241.7 million average over the previous five years.
Dodgers’ president, Andrew Friedman, admitted that the club was thinking about the future when deciding not to spend big during the offseason, saying that their organization needs the flexibility to move post-2018. It seems as though the main focus of this year was to save money rather than add to a squad that desperately needed some extra firepower.
The fans won’t be happy with the team starting off in this manner, and they may have to wait to see these cutbacks pay off in the future. If 2018 doesn’t turn out to be the Dodgers’ year, they will certainly make a splash next season, especially with the amount of spending power they’ll have in what is expected to be one of the most talent-packed free-agent markets ever. For now, the LA faithful has to be patient and get through what might be one of the more trying seasons in recent history for the club.