With 91 victories to their credit as the curtain fell on August, it's difficult to say the Dodgers have anything to be concerned about. Their 16-game lead over the D-backs almost guarantees them their fifth consecutive National League West Division title.
Although the Dodgers have a huge lead in the West, they have dropped two series in a row. Before they lost two of three games against the Brewers, the Dodgers hadn't lost a series since the beginning of June, when they lost to the Nationals. For the first time this season, the Dodgers have lost five games in a row.
Since Cody Bellinger went on the disabled list, the Dodgers haven't been the same team offensively. He. returned to action this week in Arizona, however, on Thursday as the D-backs completed a sweep of the Dodgers.
So what is wrong with the Dodgers?
Every team goes through rough patches during the 162-game marathon. The Dodgers found August a little difficult. They had only eight games at Dodger Stadium during the month, and although the Dodgers are a good road team, spending almost the entire month on the road is difficult for any team.
At one point in August, the Dodgers had four starting pitchers on the disabled list. Not many teams can survive this. It is a tribute to the Dodgers' front office for having this incredible depth.
Clayton Kershaw returns tonight after spending more than a month on the disabled list with a strained lower back. And on Sunday, Alex Wood returns from an inflamed SC joint (where the shoulder meets the neck).
The Dodgers haven't announced a timetable for Brandon McCarthy's return from a blister. At times this season, McCarthy has been brilliant, but at other times, he has been plagued with control problems.
Since the beginning of June, both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda have dominated their opponents, but both had difficulty in their last starts. It happens.
Most knowledgeable baseball people thought the acquisition of Curtis Granderson strengthened the Dodgers offensively. After all, the move allowed the Dodgers to demote Joc Pederson, whose batting average was .215. As a Dodger, Granderson has hit four home runs but has a batting average of .122 and an on-base percentage of .294.
During last offseason, baseball pundits wanted the Dodgers to trade Yasiel Puig because they questioned his commitment to baseball. Now many Dodgers fans are grateful the Dodgers didn't listen to the "experts" about Puig. After having a slow start to the season, Puig has revamped his swing to make more contact than he has in the past. He has stopped chasing sliders out of the strike zone. He has taken more walks than ever before. His 24 home runs are a career high.
Puig's defense in right field also has been consistently spectacular, saving countless runs. Whereas in the past, Puig played with reckless abandon that made him commit many mental errors, now he has channeled his enthusiasm to make spectacular plays without driving manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers' coaching staff up the wall.
Although the end of August has been difficult for the Dodgers, they can be ready for baseball in October. They must have more consistent offensive production and a healthier starting rotation.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.