How far away is the trade deadline? Another devastating loss for the Dodgers comes at the hands of a Reds rally and another shaky bullpen game. It didn’t start badly for the offense, as they scored 3 runs in the 1st inning on a Max Muncy double, J.D. Martinez sac fly, and a David Peralta single. However, Tony Gonsolin’s 1st inning mirrored Luke Weaver’s, as he gave up a walk to young phenom Elly De La Cruz in his first major league at-bat to load the bases, and then hit Spencer Steer to bring in the Reds’ first run.
A 1-out single by Tyler Stephenson then tied the game at 3 going into the 2nd. The Dodgers’ offense did show up tonight, as JD Martinez launched another home run to extend his hot streak, and Freddie Freeman put a ball into the right-center field seats for a grand slam to give the Dodgers some cushion. The Reds continued to claw away, getting 2 runs in the 5th and the 6th innings to get it to 8-6.
Then the bottom of the 9th happened…Caleb Ferguson was in to close it, and he loaded the bases with one out and completely lost a handle on the game. A walk and a hit batter tied the game, and Matt McClain immediately hit a walk-off single to end the game and hand the Dodgers their 3rd straight loss.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
What to do with the bullpen?
The Dodgers have gone from having some of the best bullpens of the last 4 years to a disappointing and underperforming one this year. Now, you could argue that Dave Roberts bringing in Caleb Ferguson against 3 right-handed hitters in the 9th wasn’t the bullpen’s fault. But, regardless of the situation, this team needs its arms to step up. Yency Almonte boasts a 6.84 ERA, Phil Bickford has a 7.33 ERA, and Alex Vesia has a 7.62 ERA. Even Brusdar Graterol has had his struggles. That is not going to get it done. Unless there is a trade deadline move to shore up the bullpen, this team will have major problems holding leads for the remainder of the year.
The offense cools down after a hot start
You could say I’m nitpicking, but in all honesty, the Dodgers’ offense has cooled off in the past 3 games. Losing 2 to the Yankees to end the series and cooling off after the 4th inning in Tuesday’s game is not a good sign of this team’s ability to produce runs when it counts. Not to mention the fact that they need to score runs for them to build a cushion with the way the bullpen has been performing. The offense goes into lulls as we saw in the divisional round in 2022 and we are seeing now. If the bullpen continues to struggle, the offense has to step up big, with the superstars leading the way. Freddie Freeman (.329 AVG) and Will Smith (.300 AVG) have been doing their part, and JD Martinez (15 HR) is getting hot. Even with Mookie Betts hitting 15 home runs, his batting average is only .258, and around that, there is not much to be optimistic about.
It won’t be easy in the National League
Tonight’s game is a perfect indication that nothing will come easy for the Dodgers in the National League. They currently find themselves in 2nd place behind the Diamondbacks (36-25) who are one of the hottest teams in the National League and have to play the Phillies, who always give the Dodgers fits and have one of the best rosters in the league. Just look around the league, and you’ll see that there are teams exceeding expectations this year. The Marlins (34-28) have won 5 in a row and are only 2.5 games out of first. The Pirates (32-28) are over .500, and the Brewers (33-28) have been playing good baseball all year. It is going to be a struggle to not only win the division but to get a high wild card spot, so every game from here on out should have implications down the stretch. Now am I saying that the Dodgers are going to miss the playoffs? No, but it will be much tougher to do now than in years past.
The Dodgers will send Noah Syndergaard out to toe the rubber against Brandon Williamson for the Reds Wednesday. The first pitch is set for 4:10 PST.