Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

On April 24, the Dodgers were …

  • 11-10 (.524), in second place in the NL West
  • winners of seven of their past eight games
  • leading the Marlins by one run in the eighth inning
  • putting Clayton Kershaw (2.45 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) on the mound the next day.

I did not see this coming. I didn’t see a lot of this coming. I didn’t see two 1-0 losses to the Giants to open the season, and just when things truly seemed to be falling into place, the white-uniformed cream rising toward the top, I definitely didn’t see 13 losses in 18 games coming — turning those 11-10 Dodgers into these 16-23 Dodgers.

Almost perversely, the Dodgers have beaten the division-leading Diamondbacks in the past three weeks more than the Marlins, Padres and Reds combined. It is nothing new to have a bad series against a bad team, but to go 1-7 in their past eight games against the National League’s three last-place teams is turning the Dodgers’ struggles into something existential, pushing them to the edge of the old poker joke: “If you look around the table and and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”

Against the worst trio in the senior circuit, the Dodgers have lost seven straight games when they haven’t pitched a no-hitter.

We are not far removed from this kind of experience, however — that 2017 that managed to lose 16 out of 17 before winning the pennant. For the ’18 Dodgers, so much has gone uproariously wrong since April 24, from the trainwreck injuries to the contagion that has somehow left Max Muncy (.415 OBP, .571 slugging in his past 12 games) as their hottest hitter, that I’m struggling to accept this is the Dodgers’ true level.

As odd as anything: The Dodgers have still outscored their opponents this year, despite having gone nearly a month since their last three-run home run.

And weirdly, Arizona has lost four in a row and the Giants have lost six straight, so you can barely see the impact of the Dodgers’ latest slide in the division standings, unless you think about where they could be.

I don’t believe the Dodgers are worse than the worst teams in the NL, evidence over the past 20 days to the contrary. But it is possible that they did what — in retrospect — you would want them to do, which is to have a squad of players play at their best at the same time. That time was 2017.

Anytime they want to start playing like that again is fine by me.