In a season full of uncertainties, the one thing that was clearly understood in Major League Baseball’s 60-game season was that everything would be amplified.
The good and the bad. Series of victories. Losing skates. Hot starts. The cold stretches.
It was all going to have a bigger impact on the standings in such a one-season sprint.
So when the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared stuck in neutral about a week ago at 11-7 and second in National League West, some wondered when they would come out and show they were arguably the best team in sport. .
Looks like we have our answer, five days later. The Dodgers have won five in a row – the equivalent of about 14 games in a normal season – and are now alone in possession of first place in the West with the league’s best record.
“It just wasn’t in sync at the start of the season which was understandable,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the Los Angeles Angels sweep on Sunday. “During this winning streak, it seems that collectively the 28 players are playing as one.”
The most consistent game coincides with the start of the roster’s two biggest stars. Mookie Betts, who the team signed for a 12-year and $ 365 million-hour extension before the start of the season, got hot as the schedule moved into August. In 15 games this month, Betts hit .385 / .439 / .923 with eight homers, including a three-homer play-off on Thursday.
Reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger was just 0.139 without a home run to start August. But in his last 14 games he has scored four times and hits the ball Stronger, even for outs. His midline and slash are still below par, but he seems to be coming back a bit.
Pitching was also money.
The rotation is fourth in the majors with a 3.35 ERA entering Monday – and it is with aspiring ace Walker Buehler who clocked a 5.21 mark in 19 average innings – and the 1.43 ERA. of the pen leads the majors by almost a full point with a strikeout percentage that’s eighth best.
There are still flaws in the first 23 games, but for every flaw there is money found. Dustin May’s promise begins to materialize as a starter with a 146+ ERA in 24 innings, shortstop Corey Seager enjoys a year of rebound with a 148 OSP +, center fielder AJ Pollock does the same with a mark of 158 and even one of the team’s top prospects, receiver Keibert Ruiz, showed in his debut on Sunday why the Dodgers have refused to include him in the trades for the past two years.
It never seemed to be a question of whether the Dodgers were going to go, and they hadn’t been terrible anyway. But it’s already an unusual season, and what would normally be small weeklong imperfections takes a deeper impact in a 60-game window.
Some of the best teams in the game like the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals – last season’s World Series teams – are finding out. So far the Dodgers have avoided such slippages and now appear to be the most complete team in baseball.
There’s still more than half a season to go, assuming it’s over. A lot can happen, but it looks like the expected version of the Dodgers is now taking center stage.