It’s been quite an impressive turnaround for the St. Louis Cardinals, who have gone 11-3 in their last 14 games after an inauspicious start to the season. Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers dropped the series finale against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, bringing their record to 29-19. The 10-run barrage from St. Louis brought their final scoring total in the series to 32, a mark that the Los Angeles pitching staff will need to improve on as they head into a series with the NL East leading Atlanta Braves. Kershaw, who has been solid all year, was unable to reach the fifth inning today after allowing 4 earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. It was a big day for Óscar Mercado and Paul DeJong as the duo was responsible for 9 of the 10 St. Louis runs and 5 of their 12 hits.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Bullpen continues to struggle finding a groove
Once again, the Dodgers bullpen found themselves responsible for most of the damage done. Accounting for 6 earned runs on Sunday, it brought their total runs given up in the series as a unit to 18. It’s been difficult for them to find themselves establishing any sort of rhythm without a consistent starting rotation to hold things down. As key pitchers such as Dustin May and Julio Urías sit on the IL with arm and hamstring injuries, the team’s been forced into a next man up mentality that hasn’t allowed for their typical pitching dominance. The bullpen was forced to throw a combined 15.2 innings during the series, including 4.1 on Sunday.
Going forward, pitchers such as Tony Gonsolin and Noah Syndergaard will have to carry their weight in hopes that the team’s offense will be able to continue putting up enough runs to get the job done. Ideally, they’ll be able to give the bullpen a bit of an easier time the next few days, but it’s hard to do when you suffer as many injures to the starting lineup as Los Angeles has. The Dodgers still sit atop the National League West and boast the most wins in the NL alongside their next opponent, the Atlanta Braves.
Muncy ejected in the fourth inning
Max Muncy, who sits with the second most homers in baseball, let his emotions get the best of him on Sunday as he was ejected in the fourth inning. Muncy had something to say to multiple umpires about a strikeout call that he took which he thought was unjustified. The deficit, which was only 2 runs at the time (3-1), would only continue to increase. Muncy, who provides a key chunk of power for the Dodger’s lineup, contains a mere .210 average. However, his .538 slugging percentage and .894 OPS have delivered for the team in numerous key moments.
His ejection seemingly served as a representation of the frustration that the team dealt with all series long as they struggled to keep up with the St. Louis offense (excluding a dominant 5-0 victory on Friday behind Tony Gonsolin’s return from injury). The job won’t get any easier against a Braves team that will throw the likes of Charlie Morton, Spencer Strider, and Bryce Elder at them. The three pitchers each display a sub-3 ERA and a combined record of 12-4.
Freeman continues to be a bright spot
One man that the Dodgers can continue to rely on to produce for the top of the lineup is Freddie Freeman. Freeman, who rocks a .326 average, got on base twice today (a single and a HBP) and drove in a run. Throughout the series against the Cardinals, he went 7-16 (.438) and posted 5 RBI. Fittingly enough, his hot streak will continue against the ball club that he won his first world series championship with. It will be a battle of the slugging first-baseman as the Braves will have their own power source named Matt Olson slotted to take his hacks at the top of the Atlanta batting order. Olson, who the Braves acquired from the Oakland Athletics last offseason, was brought in as the replacement for Freeman after he decided to head to the west coast and ink a big-time deal with the Dodgers. Freddie and his .952 OPS will look to do some major damage as the Dodgers try to start a new streak of series wins.
The clash for national league supremacy will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta and last for 3 games. It serves as the second leg in a 10-game road trip for Los Angeles which will conclude against baseball’s biggest powerhouse, the Tampa Bay Rays. First pitch against the Braves will be tomorrow at 4:20 PST.