None encapsulated the Dodgers‘Swinging performance at the pot this week against the Pittsburgh Pirates just like Justin Turner.
In the loss on Mondaythird baseman hit the ball hard but went blank, robbed by a left dive hold, a line drive that just landed foul and a sharp one-hopper got caught in third.
The next night, Turner typed explosive victory for the Dodgersgoing 4 out of 5 with three doubles and four RBI in his – and in the offensive – best game of the season.
But on Wednesday, he and the Dodgers returned to clay, with Turner having an unsuccessful performance in the team’s rubber match defeat who lowered his batting average to just .194.
Plenty of Dodgers hitters have gotten off to a slow start this year, an early season storyline for a team that is the best 20-9 in the National League and leads the majors in points per game, but this week dropped a disappointing streak to the Pirates partly due to the inconsistency to the plate.
The Turner crisis, however, was the most alarming.
Like some of his other struggling teammates, Turner said he feels better about his swing on this journey, hoping he’s rediscovered a feeling that could break his opening month routine.
But the results have yet to appear consistently.
“The good thing is we’re winning a lot of games,” Turner said. “So you keep grinding and finding a way to get into base, or run and help us win. At some point it will start clicking. I’ve been here before. I know there is another side to this. “
Here are the takeaways from Turner and the rest of the team.
Turner in search of the right feeling
Turner has actually suffered slow starts previously, with a .750-based career-most hit rate in April which is significantly lower than his overall score of .830.
But he also doesn’t usually fight like that.
In addition to its average of .194, it only has .543 OPS. He only has one home run and a .291 hit rate. He has more than twice as many strikeouts (20) as walks (9).
“I think the difference this April was that there were a lot of out-of-character lines,” Turner said. “Many chases, many weak contacts.”
The last time Turner hit below .200 on May 11 was his first year with the Dodgers in 2014, a campaign that reversed soon after and launched his legendary nine-year tenure with the squad.
Turner hopes last week was the start of a similar rebound.
Although he only went 5 of 21 on the trip, he collected his three most-hit balls of the season and showed better plate discipline, going for five straight games without a strikeout.
A hitter who describes his hitting process as “trial and error” believes he has found a better feel with his swing as well, after tinkering with the mechanics during cage work and batting rehearsals.
“It took me a while,” he said, “but I think I’ve found something sustainable.”
The 37-year-old also put aside any hints that age is playing a factor in his slow start, noting that offense is down across the league this year.
“I think it’s easy to point out in my case,” Turner said. “But a lot of other guys are going through it too. So what’s the excuse for those guys? I don’t think pointing the finger at my age is right. “
Until its production resumes, however, the questions will remain.
“Obviously, it looks uglier when it’s the first month,” Turner said. “But you can’t really sit and look at the scoreboard and feel sorry for yourself … You come again every day and try to honor things.”
Other candidates to rebound
Turner wasn’t alone with a slow start this year.
Entering Thursday, several other Dodgers regulars had an OPS below .700, the clearest sign of their slow production so far:
– Trea Turner has cooled down in the past two weeks by beating just .195 in his last 11 games. Manager Dave Roberts said Turner chased too much on both sides of the pot (Turner currently has a low career contact percentage on out-of-zone courts), and Turner said he’s reverted to an old hitting routine that he hopes he can help.
– Chris Taylor was hitting over .300 in late April, but has since looked oddly at the pot he hit 24 times in his last 45 at-bats.
– Cody Bellinger followed his NL Player of the Week accolades last month by going 7 of 52 in his last 14 games with 18 strikeouts.
– Max Muncy, who continues to lead the majors on walks with 25, is only hitting .138. His last moment of frustration came on Wednesdaywhen he struck looking with loaded bases, freezing on a center exchange after expecting to see a fastball.
Although the Dodgers are still leading the majors by points per game (5.13), they also insist that they are still not close to reaching their ceiling.
“There are a lot of guys up and down our lineup saying, ‘I’m not even close to where I need to be right now,’” Roberts said. “So yeah, I don’t think we’re hitting all cylinders.”
Rio is picking up opportunities
A player who took a look at the top of his game this week: Edwin Ríos.
Prior to Tuesday, the Dodgers had faced a streak of seven left-handed starters in a row, keeping the left-handed hitter on the bench for a long time.
However, given the opportunity to play more against the Pirates, Ríos got his best stretch of the season. On Monday he scored a home run. He had three hits on Tuesday, including another homer and three RBI. And he completed the journey with a double of three runs on Wednesday, finishing the 5 for 10 series with seven RBI and increasing his season average to .303 in the process.
“I’m always excited to come in and play,” said Ríos, who had only started five of the Dodgers’ first 27 games. “I feel like I keep repeating myself, but staying ready and being ready to play.”
With the Dodgers in the midst of a hectic 31-game spell in 30 days, Roberts said he expects to give Rios a more consistent playing time.
“He’s prepared,” Roberts said. “Obviously I see him and he’s buying a little more time to play. And even with the program where you have a boyfriend you can hook up with that you know will be productive, it’s definitely useful. “
After its stellar start, the Dodgers bullpen stumbled upon Pittsburgh.
Entering the series, the team’s rescuers finished first in the majors in WHIP, second in ERA and second in batting average against.
In 11 innings against the Pirates, however, the group gave up nine points.
Wednesday’s performance was the most surprising, with leverage relievers Tommy Kahnle, Daniel Hudson and Brusdar Graterol giving up racing in a close match.
“It was certainly unusual,” Roberts said. “I thought they were the right guys. We just didn’t run. It’s baseball. It will happen. But we’ll send them out there the rest of the way. “
The Dodgers bullpen still leads the table in WHIP (0.95), but is now in fifth place in ERA (2.94) and second in batting average against (.195).
The Dodgers have been decent on the road this year, but not as dominant as at home.
At Dodger Stadium the team is 10-2. After three away games, their away record is just 10-7.
When asked about the discrepancy on Wednesday, Roberts entertained the idea that teams give the NL’s leading and highest-spending Dodgers their best shot when they arrive in town, with the manager citing the Pirates previously down as last. example.
“It was marked on their calendar and they played really well,” Roberts said. “As long as I’m here in this uniform, people do their best to beat us.”
“But”, added Roberts, “we have to find a way to win away from home. I expect that we will be much better on the road in the future.”