Dodgers are in danger of letting it all slip away

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You can say the short-handed Dodgers are suffering from a nasty and painful freefall. Quite frankly—to keep it real—they are ailing and struggling to treat the pain and open wounds.

In recent weeks, the Dodgers don’t have a remedy to fight the spread of an infection in the bullpen. Relievers have surrendered home runs, faltered in the late innings and taken losses. Hitters have chased after every pitch, lacked patience at the plate and left runners on.

The lowly Dodgers just got swept by the team with the worst record in the National League. It happened so fast and, in a matter of days, they have stunningly and suddenly hit rock bottom, with a 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Mother’s Day.

The Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers for the first time since the Big Red Machine era in 1976. Scott Schebler, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto are not even close to matching the excellence of Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose when they stare at themselves in the mirror, if that doesn’t sound too harsh.

Through the first 40 games the Dodgers, disappointingly and astonishingly, have fallen in the division standings, owning a dreadful 16-24 record with a .400 winning percentage, their worst start since 1958.

That was the same year Dwight D. Eisenhower, our country’s 34th president, signed a bill that authorized the creation of NASA. Disneyland was only three years old, and general admission at the gate only cost $4.60. And, for all the homeowners, the average house price was 2,390.

The definition of a “calamity” is indeed a significant amount of losses to teams below .500. Clearly, the Dodgers stink awfully bad, that they are seemingly incapable of smacking around the teams they are supposed to be slapping silly.

So it should surprise no one that fans have quickly placed hands on the panic button, willingly close to pushing it as hard as possible. If the Dodgers continue to fade, become torpid and then lose a bevy of games on their upcoming road trip, those tingling with fear would impetuously hit the button.

It’s hard not to overreact to the notion that the Dodgers are eight games behind the Diamondbacks, in fourth place in the NL West. If that isn’t crazy, the fact that only two teams in the National League have fewer wins than they do, is enough to give you a panic attack and have you admitted to a nearby hospital for medical evaluation.

The Dodgers, losing six in the last seven games, went into a tailspin and fell into a dark hole where they have nearly buried themselves. A season filled with such promise awaits a sudden turnaround, but it’s difficult when Los Angeles has completely unraveled.

This month, it has hit a horrible .158 and gone 16-for-101 with runners in scoring position. Over the weekend, the Dodgers were outscored by a large margin and only drove in nine runs. Needless to say, they’re not playing championship baseball and haven’t showed up at this point.

Injuries have piled up for the banged-up Dodgers—putting an emotional damper on their highly anticipated season. Going by what Manager Dave Roberts told reporters at the postgame interview on Sunday, he really can’t explain why his team lacks production. But what he should know for sure is that this team is hurting for bullpen help and then there’s a five-man rotation without a true ace.

It’s not even a question of when Corey Seager will return. He will be gone and missed entirely until the 2019 season. Two days after the Dodgers announced Seager would undergo season-ending surgery to repair a ligament in his right elbow, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu suffered a groin strain that will keep him out until July.

Kershaw is sensational when he’s healthy, to be sure, but the Dodgers did not give a timetable for his return from bicep tendinitis. Even after suffering the ailment, he’s an optimist who is positively hopeful for a better tomorrow, looking to be reinserted into the starting rotation rather quickly. His MRI test confirmed the diagnosis and gave a definite answer, one every Dodgers fan wanted to gladly hear.

Also, Rich Hill spent time on the disabled list with a cracked fingernail. He was the starter in the finale of a four-game series against the Reds.

But now let’s just keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t land back on the DL, especially since he tried to downplay a finger injury he suffered, forcing him to leave the game in the top of the sixth. Hill allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

As the Dodgers starting pitching begins to decay, so do untrustworthy and unreliable relievers. The bullpen, top to bottom, was the best in the National League, and it had healthy arms, and it didn’t really squander big leads last season. The relief corps, surprisingly but unsurprisingly, rank 26th in the league and regressed rapidly into old habits in the late innings of games.

The Dodgers have to change for the better, because we all know that they can play ball much better than this. The Dodgers are supposed to be good, at least on paper. But after being swept up by Cincinnati’s brooms, the Dodgers are in danger of drifting into obscurity.

Their staggering record suggests this. Their injuries are inevitable and tells us this. Their lethargic offense and watered-down bullpen are not very good but terribly bad.

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