The Dodgers have lost six of their last seven to the Nationals, Mets and Pirates.
The crux of arguments from the above link is that the offense is failing. That’s partially true. I don’t think we all could’ve expected Ethier and Kemp to keep on pace for 200 OPS+, but it’s not as sharp. The team has score 13 runs in those seven games.
However, it’s not as bad as it should be.
Think of it this way: in last night’s game, the Dodgers had four hits (one double) and two walks yesterday. The Pirates had five hits (one “triple” that should’ve been a single) and two walks. The only thing that made their offenses different was the Pirates had a string of consecutive hits.
Same thing happened in the April 27 first game. Dodgers: five hits (one double, one triple), five walks, zero runs. Mets: eight hits (one double, one home run), five walks, four runs. The win expectancy was greater for the Mets than the Dodgers in that one, but getting 10 runners on base and getting shut out is very rare, especially with a double and a triple.
And then the same thing happened in their shutout against the Nats on April 25. Dodgers: Seven hits, two doubles, two walks, zero runs. Nats: four hits, one double, one walk, one run.
So if we take a rough estimate of run expectancy, where a walk = .303 runs, a single = .45 runs, a double = .75 runs and a triple = 1.03 runs, and a home run = 1.4, we have this:
April 29: 2.7 runs
April 27: 4.6 runs
April 25: 3.3 runs
So technically, the Dodgers should’ve outright won the Nats game. And even though the Mets and Pirates had higher run expectancies in both games, the Dodgers would’ve scored more runs than their opponents both times.
On top of that, all three of those teams (Mets, Nats, Pirates) are way overperforming and the Dodgers are underperforming. Pirates and Nats are overperforming their run differentials and the Mets’ pitching has been so lucky at the start of the season it’s absurd.
These are just early season problems, these things usually iron themselves out in the long run. The team overall is in the top 5 of every offensive category (except slugging and OPS where they’re six), even with these poor run expectancy outings.
My main concern though is still the pitching. Even if you want to discount the defense because of errors, the pitching has allowed 108 earned runs (127 total), which is fourth-worst in the NL. Here’s where the team stands before today’s game (rank among the 16 NL teams in parentheses):
ERA: 4.97 (12)
Hits: 198 (10)
Runs: 127 (14)
Earned Runs: 108 (12)
Home Runs: 21 (10)
Walks: 102 (15)
WHIP: 1.533 (N/A)
The walks stand out the most to me. Kershaw right now leads the team with 22 (6.8 per nine innings) and I think that’s one reason why he’s struggling. Haeger is doing his part with 16 so far (7.4 per nine). Then you’ve got Sherrill, Weaver, and so on. You’ve got 10 pitchers of the 16 that have pitched so far this year throwing at a rate higher than 4 walks per nine innings. That’s pretty bad. In comparison, the 2009 Dodgers had seven of their 25 pitchers with a +4 BB/9 rate (Chad Billingsley’s 3.9 would make it eight).
A small addendum on Colletti’s remarks about Kemp’s defense: I think what’s kinda funny about Colletti making the defense remark is that it seems like he’s paying attention to UZR, but he made his comment without considering the necessary sample size. Kemp does take bad routes now and again, but before the start of this season, he was a + defensive player. At worst, calculating for human error on UZR, he was average. You gotta have faith he’ll return to that form, or else you just look like some neurotic fanatic. He’s great! He’s awful! OK, maybe I don’t know what’s up.