At this time last season, the Dodgers were in third place, so it’s not as though Los Angeles needs to panic about an even slower start in 2018.
Still, the defending National League champions are having their depth tested.
Corey Seager is out for the season.
Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Rich Hill and Yasiel Puig are among the other Dodgers on the disabled list.
Los Angeles has sputtered to a 15-19 mark, and that’s only part of the problem. The Dodgers also have to contend with an Arizona team that has raced out to the NL’s best record and leads Los Angeles by eight games in the NL West.
Last season, the Dodgers strolled to a division title with 104 wins, and at times they seemed to have more starting pitching than they needed. Kenta Maeda won 13 games and wasn’t even part of the postseason rotation. Hyun-Jin Ryu made 24 starts and posted a 3.77 ERA — and didn’t pitch at all in the playoffs or World Series.
Now Ryu is on the DL, and Kershaw joined him there Sunday. Hill hasn’t pitched since April 14. With the Dodgers leaning on their depth, young right-hander Walker Buehler has been impressive through three starts, and Ross Stripling has had to make two starts after being primarily a reliever last year.
The Dodgers have still gotten a 3.34 ERA from their starters this season, one of the top marks in the NL.
But star closer Kenley Jansen has been unusually shaky, and now the lineup has to deal with the absence of Seager.
The Dodgers have outscored their opponents 151-141 on the season, so perhaps they’ve played a bit better than their record indicates — but they also have a very real hole to climb out of, with a roster that right now is nowhere near full strength.
Justin Turner took live batting practice for the first time in Monterrey during the Mexico Series, that is great news for the Dodgers as he has been the spark plug on offense in the past.