Dodgers offense hits a lull

Harry How

The Dodgers are averaging 4.06 runs per game, pretty much right at the National League average of 4.09, but have scored just seven runs in their last four games.

LOS ANGELES -- Dan Haren will try to continue a streak of stingy starts by Dodgers starting pitchers on Saturday against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, but it probably won't matter unless the offense joins the party as well.

In the last four games, Dodgers starters - Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke - have allowed all of two runs in 24 innings. But the team has lost three of those four games, thanks to seven runs scored by the offense in those four contests.

That it came directly after scoring 28 runs in a four-game stretch against the Tigers and Diamondbacks makes it all the more frustrating for Don Mattingly.

"This game is so stupid sometimes. You swing the bats you get eight or seven, hitting the ball all over the place, next thing you know you're having trouble putting runs on the board. But it's the flow of the game," he said after Friday night's loss. "You'd like your guys to be robots and hit every time up and get hits when we need them, but it doesn't work that way."

The Dodgers have had their opportunities in those four games, but are just 5-for-31 (.161) with runners in scoring position during that span, and two of the hits were singles that didn't bring home a run.

They were 12-for-42 (.286) with runners in scoring position in a stretch that saw them score at least six runs in four straight games, a season-high streak.

"We're pitching really well, keeping us in the game. We're just not getting that big hit," said catcher Tim Federowicz. "We
weren't able to get the big hit at the right time, that's part of the game."

Federowicz and the catching crew have been part of the problem in the early going on offense. Federowicz, A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera are a combined 8-for-61 (.131) and are dead last in the majors in batting average, slugging percentage (.148), OPS (.368), adjusted OPS+ (6) and adjusted runs created wRC+ (11) among catchers, and 27th in on-base percentage (.221).

More on the catchers' struggles: Mike Petriello at Dodgers Digest

The outfield, a supposed strength of the team, hasn't done much to date either, well except Scott Van Slyke abusing left-handed pitchers, Wade Miley specifically.

Andre Ethier has one extra-base hit and is hitting .212/.276/.269. Carl Crawford is hitting .234/.250/.319. Matt Kemp has three home runs and seven walks but is also 7-for-39 (.179) with 14 strikeouts. Yasiel Puig has been the most consistent of the bunch but is hitting a pedestrian .235/.350/.373.

The Dodgers outfield is in the middle of the pack offensively, 13th in the majors in slugging (.394) and OPS (.710), 12th in adjusted OPS+ (97), 16th in on-base percentage (.316), 17th in wRC+ (97) and 22nd in batting average (.227).

That struggling offense gets to face Michael Bolsinger, making his first major league start and is, more importantly, not Archie Bradley.

The 21-year-old Bradley, rated the ninth-best prospect in baseball before the season by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, remains in Triple-A, as Nick Piecoro in the Arizona Republic detailed on Tuesday:

Talking to reporters before the game, Towers laid out his argument for promoting Mike Bolsinger from Triple-A Reno rather than Bradley.

"I think he needs more time down there as well as I don't think it's a proper environment," Towers said. "With what's going on with our ball club, throwing him in here, he would be viewed as the savior. I don't think it's the right time. If we were playing a little better baseball, maybe. But right now I don't want to put that on him. That's not to say he couldn't come up here and perform like we hope Mike does, but we don't like the environment based on who he is and what people will think once he comes here."

The 26-year-old Bolsinger made his major league debut on Monday with three innings in relief against the Mets, allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks.

Bolsinger in 2013 split time between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, going 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA, 128 strikeouts, 54 walks and 12 home runs allowed in 144 innings. Left-handers since the start of 2013 have hit .309/.392/.430 against Bolsinger, after hitting .232/.314/.319 against him in the lower levels from 2010-2012.

Expect Ethier and Crawford to be back in the lineup against the right-handed Bolsinger, especially after not starting each of the last two games against left-handed starters.

Puig is the only Dodger to have faced Bolsinger in the minor leagues, and was 1-for-9 with a single and three strikeouts in two games in Double-A in 2013.

Game info

Time: 5:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, Fox Sports 1

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