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Despite their worst start in history, the NL West could still belong to the Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers started the 2018 season 16-26, which was the worst start in the franchise’s long history. They sit at 22-27 on May 24, but the defending NL West Champions could still have a favorable chance at winning the division.

There are eight teams in the National League with a record of at least three games above .500 after May 23’s games. None of those teams reside in the NL West, a division that has the defending NL champions and two 2017 playoff teams.

The Colorado Rockies lead the division with a 26-24 record, just 3.5 games better than Los Angeles.

For most of the young season, the Arizona Diamondbacks led the way. They even had their best start in history at 21-8, but they have gone 1-13 since May 9 and they dropped out of first place.

The Diamondbacks are third to last in runs in the MLB, and their best hitter in 2018, A.J. Pollock (1.001 OPS), could miss the next couple months with a broken thumb.

Five-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt has gotten off to his worst start in the majors. His current .695 OPS is the lowest of his career by far and he is hitting an abysmal .145 over the past 15 games.

Colorado has somehow managed to stay above .500 despite a bottom ten scoring offense in the MLB and a pitching staff that ranks in the bottom ten in team ERA in the league. But they have struggled to string wins together and gain momentum.

Injuries have plagued the Dodgers’ start. Clayton Kershaw has been on the DL since May 5. Corey Seager will miss the remainder of the season. Pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill have both missed multiple starts.

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When healthy, the Dodger rotation can more than capably set the team up for a playoff spot. Kershaw will be back on top of the rotation in a couple of weeks according to MLB.com. Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda have had healthy starts and have pitched well recently. Rookie Walker Buehler has thrived thus far with a 2.38 ERA in his first six starts. He also has a WHIP under one.

LA’s leader in batting average in 2017, Justin Turner, was hit by a pitch in Spring Training and returned just nine games ago. In those games though, the Dodgers are 6-3.

However, with Seager’s production lost and 2017 Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger hitting just .214 in the past 30 games, the assumption is that Los Angeles needs another bat to contend for the division.

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While another bat would be a big help, trading good young assets for a superstar talent like Manny Machado may not be necessary in winning the division.

So far, the Dodgers are the only team who rank in the upper half of the MLB in runs. Colorado, Arizona and San Diego all rank in the bottom six for team OPS in the league.

LA could certainly use another guy who can produce runs, but with next year’s free agency class being filled with top players like Machado and Bryce Harper, trading away valuable prospects may not be necessary to add a star player in the near future. A couple of quality but not overly expensive veterans should plug some holes in LA’s lineup, specifically in the infield where, besides Turner, the highest batting average is Bellinger’s .243.

 

 

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