Hot-and-cold nature of Dodgers’ offense holding them back

first_imgLOS ANGELES — If Hall of Famer Vin Scully were still broadcasting their games, he would no doubt have referred by now to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “little girl who had a little curl.”When the Dodgers’ offense is good it is very good indeed, Scully would point out, and when it is bad, well, it can be bad indeed.The Dodgers went into Wednesday’s game with the best run differential in the National League – a robust plus-108, nearly 20 runs better than the next-best team (the Atlanta Braves). But they have only the eighth-best record in the NL to go with it.Here’s how you get there. The Dodgers’ last nine victories have been by a total of 50 runs. But a shortage of 14 runs has been responsible for their past nine losses, a package of frustration that includes six one-run losses. Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start “I think everyone we run out there definitely has the potential to hit a homer in that spot,” Roberts said of a roster that includes seven players with at least 15 home runs. “I wouldn’t say guys are trying to hit a home run, but I would say there is maybe a little extra put into a swing, a bigger swing. Shortening up is definitely something we could probably do a better job of at times.“Like I said last night, our guys have hit. They’ve all shown they can be productive offensive players. I don’t think we’ve hit a hot streak and sustained it this year. And I’m counting on it.”But Roberts’ concern with the offense was evident in a statistic he mentioned.“There’s something I looked at – we lead the league in strikeouts on balls in the middle third of the plate. That’s not a good thing,” Roberts said. “So when we do get a pitch to hit in the middle third, we’re swinging and missing. One part of that equation is it’s a good thing we’re swinging at that pitch. But the other part is you still have to end the at-bat. Helping the pitcher out is when they do make a mistake, we have to hit that pitch.“That just speaks to the swing and miss, the too big of a swing. All that. But our guys every single day are grinding, they’re preparing. It’s just right now consistently it’s not happening. We’re getting guys on base consistently. But putting other teams away, getting to the ’pen earlier when we’re at our best – we’re just not doing it right now.”ALSOCloser Kenley Jansen’s wife, Gianni, gave birth to a son, Kyrian Jeremiah Jansen, on Wednesday morning. Kenley Jansen was not at Dodger Stadium for the team’s pre-game workout Wednesday night, but he did make it to the stadium in time for the game. …Right-hander Ross Stripling threw a bullpen session Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to throw to hitters in a simulated-game setting Friday. Stripling has been on the DL since last week with lower back inflammation. He could be activated this weekend with the expectation that he will pitch out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. …Left-hander Julio Urias threw 44 pitches over 2-1/3 innings for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday night, the longest of his five outings since returning from shoulder surgery. Roberts said he expects Urias to have three days off and pitch again, though the affiliate has yet to be determined. Urias has had at least four days off between each of his previous outings.UP NEXTThe Dodgers are off Thursday.Padres (LHP Clayton Richard, 7-10, 5.11 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP Rich Hill, 5-4, 3.73 ERA), Friday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available)Related Articles Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers manager Dave Roberts offered no theory to explain the hot-and-cold nature of his team’s offense but acknowledged the lack of situational hitting and ability to make adjustments with runners in scoring position is an ongoing problem.Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.“Everyone wants to drive in a run,” Roberts said. “The best guys that can drive in a run kind of take the pressure off themselves and take the same at-bat. Where there’s no one on base and there’s a certain mindset vs. when guys get on base, certain guys have a tendency to squeeze the bat – whether they admit it or not. When you’re going out of the strike zone, it means you’re pressing. We’ve got to be able to temper that anxiety and understand that if they don’t throw a strike then we’ve got to take first base.”The Dodgers’ offense has been pretty good getting things started. With no one on base, they have hit .244 (13th in the majors) with a .776 OPS (second) and 120 home runs – the most solo home runs in baseball this season.With any runners on, though, the production shrinks. Their .245 batting average with runners on ranks 26th in the majors and is combined with a .728 OPS (23rd), 55 home runs (20th) and 457 strikeouts (eighth).If the Dodgers are guilty of swinging for the fences all the time, they have been far less successful at it when it matters most. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img