The Los Angeles Dodgers are enjoying a well-deserved off day at home, after sweeping both the Giants in San Francisco, and the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Many players, coaches and friends will convene Monday evening at Chavez Ravine for Clayton Kershaw’s Ping Pong for a Purpose. The annual fundraiser which raises money for Kershaw’s Challenge and Arise Africa is a fun event where attendees wear bright and colorful outfits and try to one up each other in Ping Pong. Kershaw is usually a member of the winning team.
Aside from Kershaw’s back, things are really, really good in Dodgerland right now. While there is a break in the action, let’s take a minute to acknowledge where this team is and what they are accomplishing.
It is August 8th, and the Dodgers have the NL West basically wrapped up. LA currently has a 15.5 games ahead of the second place Padres, and 22.0 games ahead of the third place Giants.
The Padres, trying to keep up with the Dodgers, made a bunch of massive moves at the trade deadline, bringing in Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, and Josh Hader. Over the weekend, however, none of those acquisitions made any difference, as the Dodgers handled all three games pretty easily, outscoring the Padres 20-4, including only allowing two hits total in Sunday’s series finale.
The Padres may indeed prove to be a huge threat in the playoffs. Right now, they just seem like a kid brother trying to be relevant.
As the risk of risking some hubris, this team is very reminiscent of the 2017 Dodgers. They are good top to bottom, especially now that Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy seem to be finding their way, if not back to their former glory, as a threat once again at the bottom of the order.
These Dodgers don’t live and die by the homer, either. They are seventh in the majors in home runs, but second in doubles. They are third in batting average, and lead the majors in OBP, slugging, and OPS. They seem to be using their speed on the bases more, too.
The Dodgers pitching has been phenomenal. If one had told you Kershaw and Walker Buehler would’ve both been on the IL for much of the season, you’d probably be worried. But in true Dodger fashion, they’ve found players to step up. Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson are a combined 26-2! Just think about that for a moment!
And speaking of players stepping up, this year’s bench is soooo much better than last year’s. Trayce Thompson, Hanser Alberto, and either Chris Taylor or Gavin Lux if they’re not starting is a vast improvement over who the Dodgers ran out there last postseason. Edwin Rios is still on track to return, and even if it gets to rookies James Outman or Miguel Vargas, they’ve shown themselves to be capable of hitting at the major league level. And, the Dodgers still have about a month to see if they can return Joey Gallo to his former glory.
But maybe the best of all is that this team is FUN, and they all truly seem to like each other. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman had formed a fast friendship. Alberto is the biggest cheerleader there could ever be. And all new players and rookies are welcomed with open arms.
I’m obviously not trying to tell Dodgers fans things they don’t already know, or how to view this team. But this edition of Dodgers baseball is incredibly fun I’m going to do my best to enjoy it while the getting is good. The playoffs, as we all know, are a crap shoot and it would be a shame if the Dodgers don’t go far. But again, not trying to tempt fate, and barring injuries, it doesn’t seem like that will be an issue for this team.