July was a memorable month for The Blue Crew. The Los Angeles Dodgers finished with a record of 74-31, and separated themselves from both the tightly contested National League West Conference, as well as the entirety of the major leagues.
That’s what happens when a team drops just three matches in a month. The Dodgers took advantage of an easy stretch of games, with their strongest competition coming against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Los Angeles swept Arizona in that series.
When discussing the Dodgers’ success, it is always best to first look to the pitching mound. It was quite a July for Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw, as the duo combined to go 7-0, with Hill tallying four wins, and Kershaw collecting three. More impressive than their win count were the ERAs both posted. Kershaw, as usual, led the way in this category, posting an ERA of 0.72. For the month, he allowed just 15 hits, two earned runs, and one home run in 25 innings pitched.
Hill was not to be outdone by Los Angeles’ ace. Hill had an ERA of 1.45, with 19 hits, five earned runs, and two home runs in 31 innings pitched. He also struck out 40 hitters in the five games he started, an average of eight batters per game.
Just when Los Angeles’ pitching couldn’t seem scarier, they were able to add Texas Rangers ace, Yu Darvish, to the mix. The Dodgers had to part ways with second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexey, and infielder Brendon Davis to get the deal done. The results so far have been promising. In his first game in blue, Darvish pitched seven innings, allowed just three hits, and struck out 10 batters in a 6-0 win over the New York Mets on August 5.
The Dodgers’ pitching unit was supported by the team’s big bats. Left fielder Chris Taylor led the way with 37 hits at 94 at bats, leading to a stellar batting average of .394. His 15 RBIs were also the most by a Los Angeles batter for the month.
NL Rookie of the Year candidate Cody Bellinger cooled off a bit in this stretch of games, but still notched solid numbers that prove his talent is well beyond his years. He hit four home runs and had 13 RBIs on 21 hits. Corey Seager, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, demonstrated his continuing strong play at the plate, leading the team with six home runs on a .333 batting average.
Despite these healthy hitting stats, the Dodgers had a down July on offense. They came in 22nd in the MLB for runs scored with 107. Their 601 total runs trail only the Houston Astros’ 656, so for Los Angeles to be nowhere near the top of this category comes as a surprise. They also had just 105 RBIs, another shocker, as they are in 5th place overall in the majors, with 534.
When the offense is slow, the Dodgers are lucky that they can rely on their defense. They allowed their opponents to score 69 times in the 23 games they played in July, which is an average of three points per game.
Bellinger broke the hearts of a lot of opposing offenses, especially in a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on July 23. In this match, Bellinger had 14 putouts on 14 chances. His fielding had no flaws the entire month, as he committed not a single error.
Yasmani Grandal has already staked his claim as Los Angeles’ best defender, and his play in July cemented that. Although he had two errors, he had 127 putouts and eight assists on 137 chances. For the season, he has a fielding percentage of .994, same as Bellinger.
These two lead the way for a Dodgers defense that has allowed for a total of 365 runs scored against them. Their runs-scored-to-runs-allowed differential of plus-204 is far and away the best in the league. It also shows just how balanced a team Los Angeles really is.
Their pitching makes it hard for batters to even get a hit, and when they do, the defense nixes the play before it can become a threat. And if the opposition finds a way to score, the Dodgers rarely struggle to answer back before tacking on even more points.
This is the way they won July, and the reason they will continue to dominate through the remainder of the regular season. Fans have had their hopes dashed in the playoffs many a time, but this rendition of the Dodgers finally seems to be the one that can take it the distance.
They’re not out of the woods yet, as they still must face the Diamondbacks, as well as the Colorado Rockies a few more times this season, and even then, they still have the Washington Nationals and World Series winners Chicago Cubs to contend with.
However, Dodgers baseball is must watch TV, and Los Angeles has every reason to be excited. July is just a microcosm of what this team is capable of, and if their opponents fail to figure them out, the streets of L.A. will be filled with fans celebrating their team’s World Series title.