Sometimes an answered prayer can be a curse, not a blessing.
It was only a few weeks ago that I had some great concerns about the state of my Los Angeles Dodgers. I was terrified. The club was coming off of a historic 52-9 run over a 61-game stretch. The bats were blazing, pitching was on lockdown mode and the Dodgers had amassed a 20-game lead on second-place Arizona in the NL West.
With every home run, walk-off hit and shutdown pitching performance, I cringed more and more. I feared that the Dodgers may have been using up all of their “mojo” far too early in the campaign. Everything about this team a few weeks ago just felt too magical — it was all too ideal. Too much good was floating around the team in the dog days of summer.
In casual conversations with colleagues and friends, I actually proposed the notion that the Dodgers needed a bit of controversy and failure. I pled for the Dodgers to undergo a stumbling block; a little five-game losing streak would do us some good, I thought. Maybe Yasiel Puig could even get into it with a teammate in the clubhouse and throw a punch or something? That would be a nice little storm that would rattle the heavenly ambiance which this team had. Everything was too rosy and perfect in Dodgertown.
Well, it’s safe to say that my wish has been granted beyond measure.
The Dodgers did in fact undergo that five-game losing spell I hoped for. The team dropped five consecutive contests at the end of August, which included getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks out in the desert. While others began to squirm in their chairs and on social media about the mini winning drought, I was calm and collected, assured that this team needed a healthy taste of defeat.
On Sept. 1, Clayton Kershaw did snap the Dodgers’ losing streak with six innings of shutout baseball against the San Diego Padres in his first start off the disabled list. Los Angeles came away with a 1-0 win in San Diego that night.
What has followed that game has been a cataclysmic pitfall in the eyes of many Angeleno sports fans.
Since Sept. 2, the Dodgers have lost 10 consecutive games, the longest losing spell of any team in the majors this season. The undisputed best team in baseball for the majority of 2017 has played the poorest baseball of any team in the bigs over the past two weeks.
This Dodgers team, which pulled off the winningest 50-game stretch in the majors since 1912 (43-7), is the same team which has lost 15 of its last 16 contests overall. In fact, Los Angeles has become the first team in Major League history to have both a 15-1 and a 1-15 stretch in the same regular season. That’s not the type of history you typically want to make.
The 20-game division lead which the Dodgers had over Arizona on Aug. 26 has since dwindled to nine games. While the chances of a division title choke-job by the Dodgers are nearly impossible with only 19 games remaining this season, Los Angeles doesn’t want to see that gap with the Diamondbacks get any smaller. However, despite the immense struggles of late, it must be noted that the Dodgers (92-57) still hold a four-game lead on the Washington Nationals (88-55) for home-field advantage.
Looking at some of the numbers for this team, you can see why this team has spiraled the way it has.
Over the past 16 games, this Dodger offense has hit at an anemic .200 clip while averaging only 2.4 runs per game. Over that span, the Dodgers haven’t been much better on the mound, either. In addition to not receiving production from offensive catalysts like Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, the Dodgers’ newly-acquired Curtis Grandson has hit a brutal .085 since being acquired by the team on Aug. 19. Also, many Dodger fans have been quick to note that the team is 7-17 since Adrian Gonzalez rejoined the club on Aug. 18.
Over the same stretch, the Dodgers haven’t been much better on the mound, either. In his last start on Sept. 7 against the Diamondbacks at home, Kershaw wasn’t anywhere near his usual self — allowing four runs in only three and two-thirds innings of work. Overall, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has accumulated an ERA of 5.81 over the past 16 games.
Now, is it time to completely hit the panic button? No.
The Dodgers are still the owners of the best record in all of baseball. And with 19 games remaining, there is still a good chance that this team will hit the 100-win mark for the season if they find a way to play .500 ball through the finish line.
But let me balance my optimism with some necessary pessimism: No team has ever won the World Series after undergoing a 10-game losing streak in the regular season.
All I wanted for my Dodgers was a healthy dosage of turbulence. But what I have seen instead is a brutal nosedive into the earth as the regular season’s conclusion nears, and a pressure-packed postseason commences.
Angel Viscarra is a junior studying broadcast and digital journalism. His column, Viscarra’s Vice, runs Tuesdays.