(News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Dodgers are securely in first place in the National League West and, barring disaster will make the postseason for an 11th consecutive year. Their loss to the division rival Padres in the first of a three-game set on Monday night has people wondering if the team peaked too early. The Dodgers eventually dropped two of the three games against San Diego.
The Padres closed the three-game series with a 6-1 win against the Dodgers on Sept. 13. The 11-8 win by San Diego in the Padres’ other victory of the series was the seventh loss in the last eleven games for Los Angeles. They must start stacking wins together to gain momentum at the most crucial part of the season. For the Padres, it was their largest comeback victory in what has been a disappointing campaign.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, and Manny Machado were met by boos all night when they came to the plate and went a combined 6-15. Soto hit a towering three-run homer to seal the deal in the ninth. Former Dodger Machado hit two home runs, one of which tied the game in the sixth.
“We haven’t seen that in a while, and I’ve said often we have the ability to do that. It was nice to be able to come back after being down big… It is something that has been lacking this year,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said postgame.
Mookie Betts recorded his 100th RBI with a lead-off home run to tie the game at 1-1. Later in the 3rd inning, Betts was feet away from hitting his 40th home run, adding three more RBI to his total with a ground rule double.
Los Angeles has high hopes for a deep playoff run, but questions surround how much noise they can make come October. This is not the same Dodgers team that won 111 games last year. The lineup is still one of the best in baseball; However, the starting pitching staff is extremely thin.
The rotation was already weaker than in years past, and recent news has significantly hurt their chances. The Dodgers announced earlier this week that Walker Buehler would not be making his return from Tommy John surgery this season. The report comes on top of allegations against Julio Urías for domestic violence.
Urías had his locker removed from the clubhouse before Monday’s game. The star pitcher will likely not suit up again for the organization and is a free agent this offseason.
“I think that was an organizational thing. I just actually found out about it five minutes ago. It’s sad. It is sad on every level,” said Roberts about the locker decision.
The Dodgers appear to be heading toward a Bobby Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Lance Lynn starting rotation down the stretch. Kershaw will make his next start on Saturday after rehabbing a shoulder issue. Dave Roberts was asked before the game if they made this move due to wanting those three in that order for the playoffs.
“In theory, yeah. What we do with these guys still remains to be determined, as well as with the other guys, but in theory, yeah,” said Roberts.
The offense will have to step up if the team wants to have a chance of making it to the World Series. Other recent Dodgers rosters have relied on their pitching depth to make deep runs. That will not be the case this season.
Luckily for Los Angeles, they have two of the top hitters in the league, Betts and Freddie Freeman. It is essential that both of the MVP candidates are at the top of their game, or else the boy in blue will be making an early exit.
Benjamin Verbrugge is a student at CSU Dominguez Hill studying journalism. “Sports have brought me much joy throughout my life, and I want to be able to give a little back to something that has meant so much to me. I grew up in Los Angeles primarily following the Lakers and Dodgers, but I am also an avid fan of sporting events, news, and stories in general.”