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Busted predictions about the Dodgers, the Lords of August

Or “Admitting that a prediction or two from the beginning of the year was off.”

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
You’ve seen the Victory Formation a lot this past month
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

I am not one to shy away from the following sentence, but I was wrong about the 2023 Dodgers. As a staff, we made predictions at the beginning of the year, and I was the most bearish about this year’s team.

The Dodgers have won 74 games as of the end of play on August 17. The Dodgers have 42 games left, give or take when this essay is published. For the Dodgers to only end up with 88 wins means that the Dodgers would have to go 14-28 the rest of the way, which feels quite unlikely.

As such, I was wrong.

I suppose I should let some of you get it out of your system, before continuing.

My predictions made sense at the time

I explained why I made my predictions in some detail in early April, citing the paper-thin depth in some positions and that the Dodgers had bought a bunch of lottery tickets in the form of Noah Syndergaard, Jason Heyward, Miguel Rojas, and David Peralta. Now some of these tickets did not pay out.

But some of these tickets paid out. Not jackpot-level, but enough that a meager bet paid out some decent, “I can get myself a nice meal or sit in the front of the Loge at Dodger Stadium” money.

At the trade deadline, instead of the sensible trades I proposed (the Dodgers went after the wrong Tiger who wanted to stay home, instead of going after the guy who threw a no-hitter after getting traded in his home opener — baseball!), the Dodgers acquired Lance Lynn, Eduardo Rodriguez, Ryan Yarbrough, Joe Kelly, Enrique Hernandez, and Amed Rosario.

That last trade ended the Noah Syndergaard Experiment — which if fate has its way, I will likely have to sit through seven shutout innings next week in Cleveland while my mother wonders why I am so apoplectic.

To conclude this trade season, the Dodgers sold Andre Jackson (Pittsburgh), Justin Bruihl (Colorado), Phil Bickford and Adam Kolarek (New York Mets), and Eddys Leonard (Detroit) for that vaunted titan: Cash Considerations. Some reacted poorly to the Dodgers' moves, not realizing that big moves were unlikely to happen this year.

And somewhat on cue, the additions have joined this Island of Misfit Toys without missing a beat. The question of whether these Dodgers are a championship team is an open one, and a question for another day. The question of what went wrong in San Diego, San Francisco, and Arizona is ongoing, and a question for another day.

What is not an open question are the busted predictions and the Dodgers’ dominance in the month of August for the past couple of years.

What else was a whiff?

  • Evan Phillips will make his first All-Star Game.

At the beginning of the year, I felt that this prediction was a lead-pipe lock, barring injury. He did not make the All-Star team, although he probably should have as was snubbed in favor of Ryan “I give light beer as a gift” Bednar of Pittsburgh and Craig “Yes, he still did this” Kimbrel. Oh well, maybe next year.

  • Gavin Stone will make his debut in my presence in Baltimore.

It turned out that this prediction was a wild whiff as Stone was pressed into service far sooner than anyone could have possibly anticipated. I did get to have a front-row seat for a Stone start though. Unfortunately, most of the fanbase was asleep and he was slapped around by a potent Rays offense in a wacky game that was tied at seven after three innings.

Gavin Stone: Master of Two Strikes. Tropicana Field. May 28, 2023.
Gavin Stone: Master of Two Strikes. Tropicana Field. May 28, 2023.
Michael Elizondo / True Blue LA

Stone was quickly sent back to the minor leagues after this game, but he has fared better as of late, pitching with far more effectiveness in Oklahoma City.

What predictions are still in play?

  • Attendance and record

As of now, I am still scheduled to attend 18 games this year. Technically, I have an extra game scheduled at the end of the year in San Francisco. As for my prediction that the Dodgers will be 12-6 in my presence, that prediction is teetering as the Dodgers have gone 4-5 so far, dropping series finales in Tampa and Baltimore.

  • Chris Taylor will have a 20-20 season

My remaining prediction is that Chris Taylor will have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. For more than half of the year, this prediction felt silly as Taylor seemingly forgot how to hit and run for large stretches. The power was intermittent but the speed on the bases was not.

Taylor now has 13 home runs. Since August 5, Taylor has stolen five additional bases for a total of 12. Will he get to a 20-20 season? He has about six weeks to do it. Not impossible, but certainly not a layup.

The Lords of August

Milwaukee Brewers v Los Angeles Dodgers
Even Sam Barnes is on the act.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As the Dodgers are currently on a 11-game winning streak, it is important to note that the Dodgers have lost just once this month. And if you recall even just recently, it is not just you — over the past few years, with Dave Roberts at the helm, historically, the Dodgers have been really good in the month of August.

  • 2023: 15-1 (so far)
  • 2022: 22-6
  • 2021: 21-6
  • 2020: 21-7
  • 2019: 17-11
  • 2018: 14-13
  • 2017: 17-10
  • 2016: 15-13

One has to go back to the hangover year of 2018 to even find a mediocre record in the month of August. Just going back to last year, the Dodgers racked up 11 victories in a row to start the month smashing the Giants for four in San Francisco and beating the Padres and Twins at home for five more before winning their first two games against the Royals.

That last game? It was the Tony Wolters game. In fact, the Dodgers went from peerless to mortal after seeing them in Kansas City and Milwaukee before returning to ur-godhood after David Vassegh went down the slide and I returned home. And almost on cue, there’s another 11 wins in a row.

The point is that such stretches of dominant play are supposed to be uncommon and the fact they have become somewhat routine is a testament to the preparation and good fortune of the organization.

I am also saying that once the Dodgers are on the road, I will be with them for the next six games in Cleveland and Boston. If there is a dip in the road, just be patient until the Dodgers return home to play Arizona for three and Atlanta for four, which should be fun to watch.