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Dodgers in August: Mookie Betts goes supernova, pitching staff stabilizes

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers in August had one of the best months in franchise history, turning a close National League West race into another laugher.

At 24-5, the Dodgers had their third-best win percentage (.828) of any month in franchise history, behind only July 2017 (20-3, .870) and April 1977 (17-3, .850).

Twenty-four wins is tied for the most wins in August in nearly seven decades, tied with the Moneyball A’s in 2002 (24-4). The last team with more August wins was Cleveland in 1954 (26-6).

The Dodgers did won all nine series during August, and they did not lose consecutive games all month. That turned a 2½-game division lead at the beginning of the month into a 13½-game runaway.

Dodgers in August

24-5 record
176 runs scored (6.07 per game, 3rd in MLB)
95 runs allowed (3.28 per game, 1st in MLB)
.756 pythagorean win percentage (22-7)

Year to date

83-50 record
754 runs scored (5.67 per game, 2nd in MLB)
585 runs allowed (4.40 per game, 15th in MLB)
.614 pythagorean win percentage (82-51)

Previously monthly reviews: April | May | June | July

Peak Mookie

Mookie Betts was already having a fantastic season before August even began, but then he had one of the best months in franchise history to vault into the lead in the race for National League MVP.

Betts’ hot streak actually dates back for over two months, one of the best extended hot streaks in Dodgers history.

In August Betts was on another level, hitting .455/.516/.839 with 11 home runs, 30 RBI, and 35 runs scored, the latter an LA Dodgers record and the most in a month by a Dodger since Babe Herman scored 38 runs for Brooklyn in July 1930.

His OPS is the fifth-best in a month in Dodgers history, with a minimum of 75 plate appearances.

Betts is only the fourth Dodger to bat at least .450 in a month with at least 75 PA. He’s the first major leaguer to do so since everyone’s favorite Jose Altuve hit .485 in July 2017.

He’s just the 15th Dodger to reach base at least half the time in a month of 100 or more plate appearances.

Betts’ 51 hits are the most by a Los Angeles Dodger in a calendar month, surpassing the 50 hits by Willie Davis in August 1969. It’s the most by any Dodger in a month since Brooklyn left fielder Lefty O’Doul (52 hits) in July 1931.

Scoring 30 or more runs in a month is quite rare, done only 23 times in franchise history. Betts also did so in May 2022 and August 2022. The only other Dodger with three 30-run months was Jackie Robinson (July 1947, July 1948, June 1950).

Betts played in 28 games during the month, and 19 of them were multi-hit games, including a trio of three-hit affairs and one five-hit game to tie his career best.

Betts was so dominant in August that he almost made Freddie Freeman’s month — .374/.434/.617, 16 doubles, breaking the Los Angeles Dodgers doubles record for a season — an afterthought.

Pitching stabilization

In July, the Dodgers starting rotation had a 6.18 ERA, the second-worst month in franchise history and their worst since World War II. But in August, they cut that ERA down by nearly half (3.63). Trading for Lance Lynn was the big driver here, as he led the team with 35⅓ innings and had a 3.57 ERA, the latter exacerbated by a clunker on Thursday against the Braves.

Clayton Kershaw returned from the injured list after not pitching at all in July, and Julio Urías looked more like himself in August (2.90 ERA, 36 strikeouts, three walks in five starts) than at any point during this season.

Twenty-two different Dodgers pitched in a game in August, and 10 of them had ERAs under 2.00. Brusdar Graterol did not allow a run during the month in his 11 appearances and 11⅔ innings.

Dodgers pitcher workload

Stat July August
Stat July August
Team games 23 29
6-inning starts/bulk 7 15
Relief appearances 88 84
Relief innings 90.3 102.0
Relief IP/game 3.93 3.52
0 days rest 22 11
1 day rest 23 16
3 out of 4 10 3

Having starters go deep had a multiplying affect on the bullpen, which was much more well rested and effective during the month. Counting the four bulk efforts following an opener — Ryan Yarbrough on August 5; Ryan Pepiot on August 19 and 24; and Gavin Stone on August 27 — as starts, Dodgers pitchers lasted at least six innings 15 times, more than double the total from July (seven).

Having trade-deadline acquisition Yarbrough available to go multiple innings in relief every five or six days also helped a great deal, as did his 1.86 ERA.

As a result, the bullpen was less burdened, on averaging needing to get more than one fewer out each game in August compared to July. Dodgers relievers put up a 2.03 ERA this month.

In a month that featured 29 games in 31 days, the Dodgers bullpen had fewer relief appearances on zero days rest and one day rest than in July, when the club only played 23 games and had more off days. Dodgers relievers in August pitched three times in four days only three times, compared to nine in July.

That’s a match

Miguel Rojas has 12 RBI on the season through July, and drove in 12 runs in August, including hitting his first three home runs of the season.

Chris Taylor stole seven bases in August, matching his total for the first four months of the season.

Austin Barnes had 13 hits, two extra-base hits, and 15 total bases through July, then had 12 hits, two extra-base hits, and 15 total bases in August, hitting .355/.375/.484 for the month.

The home stretch

The Dodgers have 29 games remaining in the final 31 days of the regular season, including 13 at Dodger Stadium and 16 road games. They actually have three days off, not two, thanks to a scheduled doubleheader on September 26 at Coors Field, to start the final week of the regular season.