Chris Taylor didn’t draw back from the hype.
“We know we have, top to bottom, the best lineup in baseball,” the Dodgers outfielder mentioned Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t show that this weekend,” he mentioned.
Indeed, the Dodgers’ extremely anticipated 2022 marketing campaign opened with a dud at Coors Field. Despite a number of vivid spots from the underside of the lineup and components of the bullpen, sloppy play within the discipline and shocking struggles on the plate conspired to drop the Dodgers to a 1-2 begin to the season.
After a loss in Sunday’s rubber match, supervisor Dave Roberts wasn’t sounding any alarms however didn’t pull any punches in his analysis of the sequence both.
“We didn’t play good baseball,” he mentioned. “I thought we pitched well, at times. We weren’t good situationally, as far as when we had guys on base, to cash runs in. Defensively, on the bases, I just don’t think that we played our type of baseball this series.”
Here are 5 takeaways from the season-opening sequence.
Quiet on the plate
The Dodgers scored 5 runs within the fourth inning of Friday’s opening day win. They scored simply six extra the remainder of the sequence.
It wasn’t the debut the Dodgers had been anticipating from an offense that features seven All-Stars and three former MVPs, not after they spent the spring visualizing how good they could possibly be.
While they’d 25 hits, solely 4 went for additional bases. They weren’t nice situationally, batting six for 23 with runners in scoring place. Most of all, they struggled mightily towards the Rockies’ bullpen, managing only one run in 13 innings.
“I still don’t think we’re, top to bottom, swinging the bats as well as we can,” Taylor mentioned.
Some of the group’s greatest stars bought off to the coldest begins. Mookie Betts was three for 14 with two RBIs but in addition a team-high 5 strikeouts. Freddie Freeman was two for 12 and didn’t drive in a run. Trea Turner and Justin Turner every went three for 13. Will Smith and Max Muncy every accounted for just one hit.
Three video games, in fact, is a minuscule pattern measurement — particularly after a lockout-shortened spring coaching. Still, Roberts couldn’t pinpoint one cause for his group’s early offensive points.
“I know that we had opportunities, but every at-bat was different,” he mentioned. “Whether it was a swing and miss in the zone, whether it was a chase out of the zone, whether it was maybe a couple lineouts. But I think a lot of times, we just didn’t finish at-bats when we could have.”
The lone Dodgers’ lone victory of the sequence included a promising first, with new nearer Craig Kimbrel incomes a save Friday in his Dodgers debut.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in change for AJ Pollock close to the top of spring coaching, gave up a run within the outing but in addition registered two strikeouts.
Another essential observe from his efficiency: He threw his curveball on 9 of 21 pitches.
Kimbrel mentioned Saturday that the curveball shall be key for him this season. It’s a pitch he has used with elevated frequency over his profession, as his fastball has misplaced a number of ticks and hitters have gotten higher at attacking velocity up within the zone.
When he’s capable of be aggressive and throw the curveball for strikes, “it changes the at-bat and approach,” Kimbrel mentioned. “It changes everything.”
Kimbrel says he believes it explains his roller-coaster efficiency in 2021, when he went from being probably the greatest relievers in baseball over the primary half of the season with the Chicago Cubs, to struggling down the stretch following a commerce to the White Sox, the place he was used as a set-up man.
“I think it kind of put myself into a hole,” mentioned Kimbrel, who threw the curveball a career-high 40.7% of the time in 2021. “I had outings where I got out of it and threw just fine. And other ones that weren’t so well.”
To that finish, Friday was a superb begin. While he gave up an RBI double with the curve — a “good pitch to hit” he was nonetheless regretting a day later — he bought each his strikeouts with the pitch, as properly.
“It was just getting the ball over the plate,” he mentioned. “I was able to attack and be effective with my breaking pitches. … There’s positives there.”
Lux getting a chance
The Dodgers traded for Kimbrel not solely so as to add to the bullpen, but in addition to clear taking part in time for younger gamers comparable to Gavin Lux.
Through the primary weekend, Lux is taking benefit.
The former first-round decide began all three video games towards the Rockies — twice at second base and as soon as in left — and went three for eight with two RBIs, two walks and no strikeouts.
“Gavin is doing exactly what we’ve talked about,” Roberts mentioned. “Being a SOB in the batting order, in the batter’s box. Fighting and scratching and clawing. He’s doing it. And if he does that, it’s gonna be a fun year for Gavin.”
Lux acknowledges the chance in entrance of him, particularly after he didn’t earn an on a regular basis position final season.
“It’s the first time for sure that I’m going to have runway and some leash,” he mentioned. “For me, it’s definitely an opportunity that I have to take advantage of and just have fun playing.”
The 24-year-old additionally mentioned he realized from his struggles in 2021, recognizing he doesn’t have to press to assist contribute to a loaded lineup.
“If you look at the guys one through eight in front of me, I don’t have to do a whole lot,” Lux mentioned. “I think for me, it’s about being who I am and not trying to do too much, like I have in the past.”
Rotation at DH
In their first sequence with a everlasting designated hitter, the Dodgers made it clear they gained’t be sticking the position on anybody participant.
Instead, the group had a unique title within the spot every day: Justin Turner on Friday, Edwin Ríos on Saturday and Muncy on Sunday.
Roberts mentioned it’s how the Dodgers are planning to proceed, including it’s unlikely that any participant can be within the spot on consecutive days.
“To be quite honest, I don’t think it’s ideal for any of our players, because they haven’t done it very often,” Roberts mentioned.
Roberts did say that Justin Turner, Muncy and Smith most likely will get probably the most time within the position — with Turner and Muncy alternating between that and third base, and Smith rotating in on days he isn’t behind the plate.
“I think if you asked each guy, would they rather play in the field or DH, they would rather play in the field,” Roberts mentioned. “But that’s just not feasible.”
The addition of the DH did have a optimistic impact on the Dodgers within the opening weekend. Where a pitcher as soon as used to occupy the ninth spot,, the group’s No. 9 hitters mixed to go 4 for 9 with two walks and a house run within the sequence.
Bulk relievers impress
The Dodgers carried 11 relievers to begin the season, partly to guard towards quick begins typical for Coors Field.
As it turned out, they didn’t want that many. Not with the best way Tyler Anderson and Mitch White pitched as bulk relievers.
On Saturday, Anderson gave up one run in 4 innings. White adopted that up with a one-run, 3 ⅔-inning look Sunday.
Though the Dodgers didn’t win both sport, the performances had been optimistic indicators for a group with questions surrounding the underside half of their rotation.
Anderson, a seven-year veteran who has been a starter for many of his profession, was notably spectacular, solidifying his place as the following man in line if the Dodgers sooner or later want one other starter.
“I think for Tyler, it’s important to give him some semblance of projection, what’s going to happen, routine,” Roberts mentioned, noting that in the interim, Anderson will keep lined as much as piggyback off of begins from Tony Gonsolin or Julio Urías. “But outside of that, just keep trying to build him up. It’s important to do that. And see where that takes us.”
This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.