As the Los Angeles Dodgers trudged through the first week of the season and got off to their worst start since 1988, the popular refrain within the clubhouse was how much baseball was left to be played.
It factually wasn’t incorrect, but the Dodgers also looked nothing of the part of a team that was one win shy from a World Series. Yes, not having Justin Turner in the lineup on a daily basis can have that impact.
But Los Angeles largely struggled top to bottom, and had their approach at the plate called into question by manager Dave Roberts on multiple occasions. After falling to 4-9, they’ve responded with back-to-back wins.
More importantly for the Dodgers, the quality of at-bats mirror those that constantly took their toll on opposing starting pitchers in 2017. One explanation may be Turner and Chase Utley addressing the team to emphasize working counts.
After a rout of the San Diego Padres, Roberts credited Turner’s and Utley’s message for
“I think is a direct reflection of what those guys said,” Roberts added. “It’s very powerful when the team leaders to step up and give their thoughts. And for the rest of the guys to buy into that the last couple of days, we saw the results.”
The Dodgers have scored 17 runs in their last two wins and chased starters Zack Godley and Robbie Erlin in four-plus and three innings, respectively. They’ve worked the Arizona Diamodbacks’ and Padres pitching staffs for 14 walks but also struck out 24 times.
Last season, the Dodgers led the Majors with a 10.5 percent walk rate and 26.2 percent rate at which they swung at pitches outside of the strike zone. This season they’re second overall in plate discipline (25.2 percent) but 23rd in walk rate (8.4 percent).