In the dog days of summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers are getting bit hard by injuries, and it shows as the team continues to melt down. August has been especially difficult, as the team is 6-8 the last two weeks.
The biggest blow has been to the bullpen. Closer Kenley Jansen was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and was expected to be lost for the entire month of August, and possibly longer. Fortunately manager Dave Roberts told a radio show that he might be getting his pitcher back soon.
“Kenley is in a good place,” Roberts said. “There’s a cardiologist appointment on the 20th and hopefully we get the green light from there.”
That is about the only good news the team has had as far as injuries go. Pitchers have been going on the disabled list at an alarming rate, and Roberts has had to do some serious juggling.
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Ironically it was the starting pitcher that was in crisis mode three months ago. Starters Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu were all on the disabled list. By the end of July all but Ryu were back, and Ryu made his first appearance since May 2 on Wednesday.
Now with the starters stabilized, it was the bullpen’s turn to get shredded. In addition to Jansen, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Tom Koehler, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore all spent time unable to pitch.
The team acquired reliever John Alexrod from Toronto and he promptly got injured, suffering a fractured fibula that should sideline him two to three weeks.
That forced Roberts to put Maeda and Ross Stripling into bullpen duties. Maeda blew his relief opportunity and Stripling just went on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
Maeda has been used in relief before, but was still upset that he had been taken off the starting rotation.
“It’s tough to embrace a role that’s different from what I’m used to do,” Maeda said through his interpreter. “The biggest thing is that we lost and that’s something I regret.”
Offense Hit by Slump, Injuries, Suspension
Two sluggers that had a monster first half of the season have cooled off considerably, and that is one of the main reasons for the team’s offensive woes. Matt Kemp and Max Muncy were torching pitchers the first three months of the season, but have seen their production at the plate plummet.
Kemp was hitting .344 until June 3, but since then he is hitting .223. Muncy had a batting average of .271 at the All-Star break, but he is hitting just .203 since.
The two had kept the squad together after injuries to Justin Turner and Corey Seager. They are hoping the trade from Baltimore to get Manny Machado, as well as an increase in offensive production from others will bring them back in NL West title hunt. They are 1.5 games behind Arizona.
The team also lost one of its hottest hitters for two games. Yasiel Puig was suspended after an altercation with Giants catcher Nick Hundley.
Despite all the turmoil, the Dodgers are still a 6/1 pick to reach the World Series, the best odds in the National League. They are also the 11/5 favorites to win the NL Championship.
Pitcher Alex Wood said he and his teammates have been through this before and they aren’t worried.
“I think we’ve shown the last two years that we have phases like this, where we get cold all around,” Wood said. “We’ve seen this before and we’ve come out of it.”