The Dodgers are formally playoff sure after a weekend sequence win towards the San Diego Padres, and will have the Nationwide League West clinched as quickly as Tuesday.
With 4 wins, they’ll cross the 100-win threshold for the fourth time within the final seven seasons. To interrupt the franchise file of 106, they don’t even must play .500 over the ultimate 4 weeks of the season.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” supervisor Dave Roberts stated Sunday. “I feel our best baseball is yet to be played.”
Because the group closes in on a drama-free stretch run with a division lead of 20 video games and an eight-game edge for the Nationwide League’s high seed, listed below are 4 takeaways on the place they stand.
Justin Turner’s scorching streak continues
A notoriously gradual starter, Justin Turner’s season-opening stoop was beginning to appear to be one thing extra after a dismal first three months of the season.
From the beginning of April to June 28, the 37-year-old was batting simply .217. He had a dismal OPS of .634 and simply 4 residence runs. And although he had 38 RBIs, there was hypothesis his finest years had lastly handed him by.
Since then, he’s been among the best hitters in baseball — and possibly one of the best within the Dodgers’ loaded lineup.
In his final 44 video games, the third baseman is batting .371. After a two-home-run recreation on Sunday, which included his second profession grand slam, his OPS in that stretch is 1.057, third-best within the majors amongst hitters with at the very least 150 plate appearances throughout that point.
“He’s very in tune with his body, his mechanics and how his swing works,” Roberts stated. “They cleaned some things up and from that point he’s been on fire.”
When pressed for specifics about these adjustments, Turner didn’t reveal a lot.
He stated for him, tweaks to his swing won’t look very apparent, however he’s discovered a really feel on the plate that has enabled him to cease “missing pitches that I shouldn’t miss.” An instance was the down-the-middle cutter from Craig Stammen that he launched for his grand slam Sunday.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into hitting, so it’s hard to put your finger on one thing,” he stated. “But just at-bats, confidence and results, kind of helped feed that.”
Roberts stated it has all added as much as what he referred to as “as good a stretch” as he’s ever seen out of Turner, whose season-long batting common (.277) and OPS (.798) each rank fifth on the group.
“Even when he was struggling, he was still one of our leaders in driving runs in, and he takes his walks,” Roberts stated. “So now you’re kind of adding on the slug, it’s pretty special.”
There was one thing else that occurred to Turner on the final day of June when Padres ace Joe Musgrove made some seemingly direct feedback about Turner’s then-slump on the plate.
“When he’s in the box, I don’t feel like he’s a huge threat,” Musgrove stated following a June 30 begin towards the Dodgers, a day Turner had three hits, together with two residence runs.
“He’s a good hitter,” Musgrove continued. “He’s done a lot of damage to the teams I’ve been on in the past. But out of all the guys in that lineup, I didn’t feel like he was a huge threat.”
As Turner has since heated up, the primary a part of Musgrove’s quote has been extensively circulated amongst Dodger followers on social media.
And through Turner’s offensive explosion Sunday — which included a 3rd profession residence run off Musgrove, one thing Turner has performed to simply 4 different pitchers — on-field cameras appeared to seize a number of of his teammates yelling out “not a threat” from the dugout.
Postgame, the three-month-old feedback grew to become a subject of dialog.
Turner brushed these questions apart and joked that, had they been any authentic motivator for his current efficiency, “I’d ask people to say stuff about me a lot sooner in the year.”
Musgrove stated: “I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it.” He tried to make clear that he solely meant he didn’t view Turner as the most important menace in a Dodgers lineup suffering from different All-Stars and former MVPs.
“When I said that, it was not [with] intentions that I think he’s a … [bad] baseball player. That’s not it at all,” Musgrove stated. “I’ve played against him for a long time now and he’s always been a good hitter. … [It’s just] there were other guys that I was a little more concerned about. And he got me that day, and again, he got me [Sunday]. So yeah, it is what it is.”
Roberts hadn’t been conscious of the state of affairs earlier than Sunday. However when he was knowledgeable of Musgrove’s feedback, he appeared shocked.
“Oh gosh,” Roberts stated. “I think he might want to retract that.”
Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger bounce again
One of many coldest Dodgers hitters coming into this weekend was Chris Taylor, who snapped out of his stoop by going 4 for 12 within the sequence towards the Padres, together with a house run on Sunday.
Maybe extra importantly, the outfielder solely struck out twice in three video games, a optimistic signal coming off a 13 for 83 stretch that had 38 strikeouts in his earlier 25 video games.
“I thought he was taking better swings, making better contact,” Roberts stated. “He elevated the ball pull side a couple times [Sunday]. Even his outs yesterday were hard outs. It’s good to see.”
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Cody Bellinger was mired in a 0 for 22 rut earlier than getting two hits on Sunday, pushing his season-long batting common again over .200.
Like with Taylor, will probably be vital for the Dodgers to try to get Bellinger taking place the stretch as properly.
The group continues to be hopeful each may be key to their postseason plans, as they had been final 12 months with clutch October performances.
For that to occur, they’ll want extra days like Sunday out of each.
Max Muncy to maintain stepping again
Whereas there hasn’t been only one factor behind Max Muncy’s mid-season turnaround, there could also be no larger issue than the brand new back-foot plant step he takes earlier than every swing.
The one downside is the new transfer led to some knee irritation this week that necessitated a pain-relief injection and sidelined him for 2 days.
Nonetheless, when Muncy returned to the lineup for a three-RBI efficiency on Sunday, his again step was nonetheless a part of his mechanics, one thing he and Roberts imagine he’ll have the ability to proceed with out challenge for the remainder of the season.
“[There is] no concern long term,” Roberts stated. “It’s more going to be a nuisance.”
Would Muncy, who’s batting .274 with 10 residence runs since including the again step in late July, think about eliminating it?
“I don’t think he’s going to change that,” Roberts stated with a sly smile, “because of the performance.”