The 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers were not built simply to win—they were built to dominate opponents in historic fashion. Yet the reigning World Series champs and winners of three National League pennants since 2017 are somehow reeling after losing 15 of their last 20 games. They had started a scorching 13-2.
Following a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night, the Dodgers are 18-17 and in third place in the NL West behind the upstart San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres.
It seems unthinkable that a juggernaut such as the Dodgers could be just one game over .500. The team seems to be having a difficult time digesting this stretch as well.
Trevor Bauer, the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner and the club's star acquisition of the offseason, is angry.
"I'm pissed, personally," Bauer said after the loss in Anaheim. "I freaking hate losing. I want to win. That's why I came here. We are not playing up to our capability right now, so I'm mad."
Utility man Chris Taylor said the team is too talented to not get back on a winning path. Manager Dave Roberts seems to be struggling for answers just like everyone else.
The root problem has yet to reveal itself. Sometimes you can look at a team's numbers and see a definitive weakness.
The Angels can hit but can't pitch. Cleveland can pitch but can't hit. The Cincinnati Reds have the best OPS in the NL (.758) but the worst bullpen (5.46 ERA).
While there are troubling trends in Los Angeles, they aren't major enough to say they are costing the Dodgers. It appears to be an issue of moving parts that just aren't moving together.
Should we be worried about the most talented team in baseball? Let's look at a few trends to see which ones are worthy of panic and which ones are not.
Offense Panic Meter: Moderate
Here's a fun fact: The Dodgers have scored the second-most runs in baseball and the most in the NL. They have a plus-32 run differential, the best in the NL.
Now, here's a not-so-fun fact: The Dodgers have lost an MLB-high 10 games by one run. In one-run games, they are just 4-10.
So, what's wrong?
The lineup has been inconsistent. Over the last 10 games, the Dodgers have averaged 4.9 runs per game, but that is misleading. The lineup exploded for 16 runs last Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers and 14 six days later against the Angels, but in six of those games, they scored one, two or three runs, and in the other two they scored five apiece. They won only the games in which they scored in double digits.
Yet the Dodgers' .748 OPS is the fifth-best in baseball. Justin Turner is hitting .319 with seven home runs. Taylor, Corey Seager, Mookie Betts and Max Muncy have OPSes over .800. This is impressive considering L.A. is missing Cody Bellinger and key bench players Zach McKinstry and Edwin Rios (injured list).
The one hole in the lineup is second baseman Gavin Lux. He's hitting just .209 with three extra-base hits and zero home runs. He's walked just five times in 93 plate appearances and has struck out in 25.8 percent of them.