With a 14-inning win and sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks two nights ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers moved to a record of 45-45. That was the first time the Dodgers had a .500 record since April 30, when their record was 13-13. Last night, they beat the Colorado Rockies at home to move above .500 for the first time since they were 7-6.
The Dodgers have had their series of ups and downs, and they’ve been mostly downs. Now they have surged, winning 15 out of the last 18 games.
Conventional wisdom and the law of averages suggest that the Boys in Blue will not remain as hot as they have been, but the Dodgers have figured out their problems and will not return to the terrible form they so recently displayed. The biggest issues that plagued the Dodgers in their early-season slump were offensive ineptitude and poor bullpen pitching.
At the beginning of July, the Dodgers bullpen accumulated an ERA of 4.44. In the 11 days since, the bullpen has posted a respectable 2.12 ERA, including a collective nine innings of shutout relief in their marathon win against the Diamondbacks. Manager Don Mattingly has figured out how to best use his relievers in an efficient way.
The Dodgers offense has also improved dramatically since their record was as poor as 12 games below .500 at 30-42. During that span of 72 games, the Dodgers only scored an average of 3.54 runs per game. Since then, the Dodgers have raised that average by almost two runs per game to 5.42.
Skeptics will claim that the Dodgers will cool off, and they may be right. But I do not believe they will return to their ways of old, so even if they do cool the pace they are currently on, it is reasonable to expect the team to win at least half their games. Since most of those games will be played against their flailing divisional foes, you can expect the Dodgers to finish the season above .500 and win the NL West.