2018 Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Dave Roberts
History, Comments, Contributions
Coming off making it all the way to the seventh game of the 2017 World Series, the 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers were hoping to go all the way, after winning the NL West title for five consecutive years. However, the season started with a hiccup, as they were shut out, 1-0, on Opening Day, March 29th, and again by the same score the next day in spite of Alex Wood allowing just 1 hit in 8 scoreless innings. In both games, a solo homer by Joe Panik of the Giants, first off ace Clayton Kershaw and then against closer Kenley Jansen, were the only runs in the two contests. But just as fans were starting to panic about the lack of hitting, the Dodgers won their next two games over the Giants by a combined score of 14-0, with Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill both shining on the mound and the hitters starting to do their thing. Still, by all accounts, the first month went badly. Deprived of its leader, Justin Turner, placed on the disabled list following a hit by pitch at the end of spring training, the offense sputtered al month. As a result, at the end of the day on April 30th, the Dodgers had a record of 12-16 and were 8 games behind the division leaders, the Arizona Diamondbacks. That day was a particularly bad one, as the Dodgers announced that All-Star SS Corey Seager would have to undergo Tommy John surgery because of a sprained ligament in his elbow and would miss the rest of the season. They then lost that night's game to the Diamondbacks, 8-5, behind a three-homer performance by A.J. Pollock. It was the D-Backs' sixth win in seven contests between the two teams, and that went a long way towards explaining why the Dodgers were now 8 games behind the division leaders. More bad news hit on May 2nd when P Hyun-Jin Ryu tore a hamstring muscle, putting him out of action until the second half.
On May 4th, the Dodgers played the first game of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Estadio de béisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo León. It turned out to be a historic day, as rookie Walker Buehler started things off by tossing six scoreless innings, and the three men who succeeded him on the mound - Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore - tossed a hitless inning each to complete a combined no-hitter, which Los Angeles won, 4-0. It was the first no-hitter to be pitched outside the United States and Canada. The Dodgers lost the next two contests and on May 6th suffered another debilitating injury when ace Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Others on the DL at the time, in addition to Turner, Seager and Ryu were OF Yasiel Puig, 2B Logan Forsythe and P Rich Hill. The Dodgers hit a low point on May 10-13 when they were swept in a four-game series at home by the Cincinnati Reds, who until then had the worst record in the league. The losing streak reached six games before the Dodgers finally beat the Miami Marlins, 7-0, to end the skid on May 17th. However, when that game began, the Dodgers, coming off an appearance in the World Series, and Marlins, who had gone through a fire sale, had the same record, an irony which writers did not fail to note. One othe good point from that game was that 3B Justin Turner, who had finally made his season's debut two days earlier, showed he was back in good form by driving in 5 runs. They managed to sweep a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals on May 19th, but that came with a cost as well, as in the nitecap, Rich Hill, who had already made one visit to the DL with a blister problem, left the game after throwing just two pitches, forcing the Dodgers to use seven relievers to finish the game. The Dodgers managed to sweep the Nats, continuing their strange pattern of playing a lot better against contending teams than against those they should beat easily.
Kershaw returned to the mound on June 23rd, then the next day, the Dodgers hit seven solo homers in a strange 8-7 win over the New York Mets, the last being a blast by Turner in the 11th inning. The seven solo shots tied a National League record. The homers contributed to the Dodgers tying a club record for homers in a single month with 53; the record had been set the previous June. They hit two more homer before the end of the month, setting the new record at 55. On July 12th, they finally found themselves alone in first place for the first time of the year, having completed their slow climb back up the standings, having been as many as 10 games back in May. They were 8-3 in July and 35-17 since May 24th following a 3-2 win over the Padres. They had also the highest winning percentage in the NL since June 1st, another sign that the pieces were finally falling into place. One of the unlikely heroes of that climb was utility player Max Muncy, who was one of the league leaders in homers with 21 after spending all of 2017 in the minors. He had parlayed in first-half success into a spot in the Final Man Vote for the All-Star Game, quite an accomplishment even if he was not successful, losing out to another Cinderella-story, Jesus Aguilar, and also into participation in the Home Run Derby preceding the game.
The day after the All-Star Game, on July 18th, they pulled off a major deal that had been rumored to be int he works for several weeks: they sent five prospects, the most prominent of which was Cuban OF Yusniel Diaz, to the Baltimore Orioles in return for SS Manny Machado, due to become a free agent at the end of the season. Contrary to what had been the case the previous year, they were willing to pay a steep price in order to get their hands on the best player available on the market.
Awards and Honors
- Associated Press: "Dodgers a threat to get back to World Series in 2018", USA Today Sports, March 22, 2018. 
- Will Leitch: "Here's why the Dodgers are going to be just fine", mlb.com, May 120, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Why the Dodgers will respond vigorously to Corey Seager's season-ending loss", USA Today Sports, May 1, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Dodgers seize moment, go all-in with trade for Manny Machado", USA Today Sports, July 18, 2018.