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Dodgers in June: Top-heavy offense, injuries galore, staying afloat

Strong months by Will Smith and Tony Gonsolin kept LA above .500 for the month

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers in June lost their best pitcher until September, lost their best player for multiple weeks, and saw their most consistent reliever end his season with an ACL tear.

The offense was nowhere near as good as it was in the first two months, and the result was straddling a break-even record until the final week of June. But what clearly could have been a back-to-the-pack moment for Los Angeles saw them lose only a half-game in the standings, so at least they have that going for them.

June results

14-12 record
109 runs scored (4.19 per game, 18th in MLB)
94 runs allowed (3.62 per game, 6th in MLB)
.567 pythagorean win percentage (15-11)

Year to date

47-28 record
379 runs scored (5.05 per game, 1st in MLB)
248 runs allowed (3.31 per game, 2nd in MLB)
.685 pythagorean win percentage (51-24)

The not-so-usual nine

Mookie Betts missed the last 13 games of the month with a broken rib, but he wasn’t the only injured regular. Max Muncy’s elbow soreness came in May, but he also missed the first nine games of June. Edwin Ríos, who powered his way into more playing time with Muncy out, tore his hamstring on the second day of June and was second on the team in home runs when he got hurt, won’t be back until August.

As a result, the uncommon regularity of the Dodgers’ nine regulars starting — 88.2 percent of starts through May — dipped a bit. In June, the “usual nine,” as I’ve taken to calling this year’s opening day lineup, started 86.3 percent of Dodgers games in June, which is honestly a higher number than I was expecting, given the injuries.

Top heavy

The lineup regularity was buoyed by Trea Turner (.315/.342/.532, 142 wRC+ in June) and Freddie Freeman (.306/.370/.509, 146 wRC+), who have each started the first 75 games of the season. The last Dodger to begin a season with that many consecutive starts was Shawn Green, who started the first 79 games of the 2000 season.

Will Smith hit .295/.340/.568 with a 152 wRC+ and a team-leading seven home runs during the month. He’s hit the ball hard pretty much all year, but this was his best month in getting results. Perhaps related is him pulling the ball 44 percent of the time in June, after 29 percent during the first two months. Six of Smith’s seven home runs during the month were pulled to left field.

Gavin Lux rounded out the fearsome foursome with a .341/.389/.476, 144 wRC+ month.

But nobody else with more than 25 plate appearances during the month had higher than a 96 wRC+. Outside of Turner, Freeman, Lux, and Smith, the rest of the Dodgers hit .205/.276/.341 in June.

Pitching highlights

Tony Gonsolin continued to thrive, allowing only four runs in his five June starts, paving the way toward a potential All-Star appearance in his home park. Julio Urías led Dodgers pitchers with 34 strikeouts during the month, while posting a 2.20 ERA in his five starts.

Walker Buehler only made two June starts before getting shut down with a flexor tendon injury. Andrew Heaney returned after a long injured list stint only to be shut down again after one game with more shoulder soreness. Clayton Kershaw also returned from the IL and was mostly fine until his clunker on Tuesday in Denver.

But even with those injuries, Dodgers starting pitchers posted a 3.27 ERA during June, fourth-best in the majors.

In the bullpen, Evan Phillips had a 0.00 ERA in 11 appearances, allowing only one unearned run in 11 innings during June. Yency Almonte had a 1.86 ERA in 10 games. Daniel Hudson had a 2.16 ERA in nine games before tearing his ACL.

Craig Kimbrel led the relievers with 18 strikeouts, a 40-percent strikeout rate to go with his 2.70 ERA in his ten June innings.

Whiff city

Dodgers batters in June struck out in 23.8 percent of their plate appearances, sixth-highest in MLB, compared to 21 percent over the first two months, which was the 21st-highest strikeout rate.

Highest Dodgers strikeout rate in a month

Player Month PA K rate
Player Month PA K rate
Charles Johnson Jun 1998 87 37.9%
Billy Ashley May 1995 87 36.8%
Billy Ashley Jun 1995 83 36.1%
Yasmani Grandal Sep 2017 78 35.9%
Chris Taylor Aug 2018 92 35.9%
Chris Taylor Jun 2022 96 35.4%
Chris Taylor Jul 2018 114 35.1%
minimum 75 plate appearances Source: Baseball Reference

Chris Taylor led the way with 34 strikeouts during June, which contributed to his .218/.292/.356, 86 wRC+ month. On the season, Taylor has 95 strikeouts, which put him on pace for 205 strikeouts, which would shatter Taylor’s own franchise record of 178 strikeouts in 2018. But on the season, even with the strikeouts — which are tied for third-most in the majors — Taylor is having an above-average season offensively with a 107 wRC+.

Cody Bellinger is also on pace to break that 2018 mark, and struck out 30 times in June when he hit .189/.235/.368 with a 68 wRC+.

Taylor in June struck out in 35.4 percent of his plate appearances, just the seventh month by a Dodger with at least 75 plate appearances and a 35-percent strikeout rate. Taylor has the last three such months. Charles Johnson in June 1998 has the highest strikeout rate by a Dodgers regular in a single month, at 37.9 percent.

Welcome aboard (and back!)

With the aforementioned injuries, spots opened up on the bench and to fill in for Betts in right field. June saw several veterans joining the Dodgers, including Trayce Thompson back for the first time since 2018 spring training. Also new to Los Angeles in June were Eddy Alvarez, Jake Lamb, and Stefen Romero, though Romero did not play during his three days in the majors.

The month ahead

Dodger Stadium is the focus for July, and not just because it is hosting its first All-Star Game since 1980, on July 19. The Dodgers play 17 of their 26 games during the month at home, including long-weekend divisional showdowns with the Padres and Giants, the former starting last night on the last day of June.