Dodgers takeaways: L.A. technically hasn’t clinched playoff spot, MLB clarifies

Dodgers' Justin Turner, right, is congratulated by Will Smith after hitting a grand slam against the Padres.

Dodgers’ Justin Turner, proper, is congratulated by Will Smith after hitting a grand slam in opposition to the Padres on Sunday in San Diego.
(Derrick Tuskan / Related Press)

The Dodgers are usually not formally playoff-bound, in any case.

Although Main League Baseball had initially acknowledged the Dodgers as clinching a playoff spot with their 11-2 rout of the San Diego Padres on Sunday — with playoff hats being handed out within the clubhouse, a congratulatory tweet from MLB’s official account and an “X” being briefly positioned subsequent to their title within the official on-line standings — the league needed to backtrack on Monday as a result of there are nonetheless three- and four-way tiebreakers that also exist.

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The Dodgers now want yet one more win (or yet one more Milwaukee Brewers loss) to formally punch their ticket. They’ll nonetheless clinch the NL West as quickly as Tuesday.

Both manner, it gained’t dampen the membership’s temper after leaving San Diego with one other sequence win over the Padres.

“There’s nonetheless quite a lot of work to be carried out,” supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned Sunday. “I really feel our greatest baseball is but to be performed.”

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 sizzling streak continues

A notoriously sluggish starter, Justin Turner’s season-opening stoop was beginning to seem like 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 house runs. And although he had 38 RBIs, there was hypothesis his finest years had lastly handed him by.

Since then, he’s been probably the greatest hitters in baseball — and perhaps the most effective 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 together with his physique, his mechanics and the way his swing works,” Roberts mentioned. “They cleaned some issues up and from that time he’s been on fireplace.”

When pressed for specifics about these adjustments, Turner didn’t reveal a lot.

He mentioned 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 “lacking 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.

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“There’s quite a lot of stuff that goes into hitting, so it’s exhausting to place your finger on one factor,” he mentioned. “However simply at-bats, confidence and outcomes, form of helped feed that.”

Roberts mentioned it has all added as much as what he referred to as “pretty much 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 nonetheless one in every of our leaders in driving runs in, and he takes his walks,” Roberts mentioned. “So now you’re form of including on the slug, it’s fairly particular.”

Joe Musgrove clarifies feedback

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 within the field, I don’t really feel like he’s an enormous menace,” Musgrove mentioned following a June 30 begin in opposition to the Dodgers, a day Turner had three hits, together with two house runs.

Justin Turner runs the bases after hitting a solo home run off Padres' Joe Musgrove in the fifth inning Sunday in San Diego.

(Derrick Tuskan / Related Press)

“He’s a great hitter,” Musgrove continued. “He’s carried out quite a lot of harm to the groups I’ve been on up to now. However out of all the blokes in that lineup, I didn’t really feel like he was an enormous menace.”

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 house run off Musgrove, one thing Turner has carried out to simply 4 different pitchers — on-field cameras appeared to seize a number of of his teammates yelling out “not a menace” 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 respectable motivator for his current efficiency, “I’d ask individuals to say stuff about me loads sooner within the yr.”

Musgrove mentioned: “I don’t know why everyone seems to be making such an enormous deal out of it.” He tried to make clear that he solely meant he didn’t view Turner as the largest menace in a Dodgers lineup plagued by different All-Stars and former MVPs.

“Once I mentioned that, it was not [with] intentions that I feel he’s a … [bad] baseball participant. That’s not it in any respect,” Musgrove mentioned. “I’ve performed in opposition to him for a very long time now and he’s at all times been a great hitter. … [It’s just] there have been different guys that I used to be a bit of extra involved about. And he obtained me that day, and once more, he obtained me [Sunday]. So yeah, it’s what it’s.”

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.

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“Oh gosh,” Roberts mentioned. “I feel he would possibly wish 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 in opposition to 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 assumed he was taking higher swings, making higher contact,” Roberts mentioned. “He elevated the ball pull facet a pair occasions [Sunday]. Even his outs yesterday have been exhausting 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, it will likely be essential for the Dodgers to attempt to get Bellinger taking place the stretch as effectively.

The group remains to be hopeful each may be key to their postseason plans, as they have been final yr with clutch October performances.

For that to occur, they’ll want extra days like Sunday out of each.

Max Muncy to maintain stepping again

Max Muncy watches his two-run single against the San Diego Padres.

(Derrick Tuskan / Related Press)

Whereas there hasn’t been only one factor behind Max Muncy’s mid-season turnaround, there could also be no greater issue than the brand new back-foot plant step he takes earlier than every swing.

The one drawback is the new transfer led to some knee irritation this week that necessitated a pain-relief injection and sidelined him for 2 days.

Nevertheless, 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 be capable to proceed with out problem for the remainder of the season.

“[There is] no concern long run,” Roberts mentioned. “It’s extra going to be a nuisance.”

Would Muncy, who’s batting .274 with 10 house runs since including the again step in late July, contemplate eliminating it?

“I don’t assume he’s going to vary that,” Roberts mentioned with a sly smile, “due to the efficiency.”

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