Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers argues a call with umpire DJ Reyburn during the third inning against the Atlanta Braves. This week, he gave his struggling team a goal of .500 by the All-Star Break.
It is a modest goal, and not what anyone expected to hear from the manager of a $200-million roster, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced the objective for his team now is to reach a .500 win-loss record by the All-Star break.
"Getting back to .500 is really the goal for any team under .500," he said. "You'd like to do it in eight straight and then be on a roll but it’s hard to think like that. For us it is, continue to win series, and get back to .500."
While the Dodgers are playing with the eventual goal of winning the NL West division, setting their sights on a team with 14 more wins is daunting. At 27-35, the Dodgers are eight games under .500 with 32 games until the All-Star break. That means, to break .500, they need to finish 20-12.
Unless someone from the NL West goes on a streak, reaching .500 will be enough to put Los Angeles around four games out of the division lead.
"If we get back to .500 we'll be in touch with the field," Mattingly said.
In what has been a disappointing season thus far for the $200-million ball club, perhaps the most surprising thing is that they have only once won more than two games in a row, with a sweep of the Pirates at the start of April.
If they plan finishing 20-12, the Dodgers will have to start stringing together some victories in order to counter the six- and eight-game losing streaks they have been through in 2013.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this team is that they constantly look poised to make a big run. With the addition of Yasiel Puig, they won four out of five games and looked ready to make a run, before dropping two in a row to Atlanta scoring just two runs combined.
Another huge flaw is the Dodgers’ top-heavy rotation. The team has won 20 games when Hyun-Ji Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke started, and just seven from the six other starters this season: Fife, Lilly, Beckett, Billingsly, Capuano, Magill.
Plus, the team is 2-1 in Fife starts, and was 1-1 with Billingsley before he had his elbow surgery.
One of the biggest obstacles has been injuries, and you can see repercussions of that in the rotation.
The team is 0-6 when Matt Magill starts, but he was thrown in before he was supposed to because of all the injuries among Dodger pitchers.
On Sunday, the Dodgers had a lineup without Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez or A.J. Ellis. Injuries seem to be the theme of 2013.
"Almost daily someone goes to the DL or has an MRI. We are moving pieces all the time," Mattingly said.
So far, 16 players have been on the Disabled List, and it has been used 19 total times, with a potential 20th time coming due to Hanley Ramirez's hamstring.
As of June 10, the Dodgers are eight games under .500 and 7.5 out of the NL West. The All-Star break begins July 15.
Can they reach Mattingly's goal of being a .500 ball club by then?
Hopefully they will, otherwise the Dodgers are going to be in quite a hole come the second half of the season.