Lessons from the Dodgers after the first series loss of 2022

DENVER — On paper, the Dodgers have what it takes to be the best team in the Majors. But as they repeatedly mentioned after acquiring Freddie Freeman this spring, games aren’t played on paper.

The Dodgers got a taste of that reality the first weekend of the season. With a 9-4 loss to the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field, the Dodgers dropped their first series of the 2022 season and the first at Coors Field since August 2018.

“We didn’t play baseball well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I just don’t think we’ve played our type of baseball this series.”

It’s a long season. But let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Dodgers’ first series.

Urias’ speed is concerning
After winning 20 games last season – the only pitcher in baseball to achieve that feat – Julio Urías arrived at camp this spring in much better shape. The Mexican southpaw lost a noticeable amount of weight. His hope was that the weight loss would help him take an even bigger leap on the mound.

While that may still be the case, Urías’ first start of Season 22 turned out to be a disaster. Urías allowed six runs (three earned) and didn’t strike out a single batter in more than two innings of work. He threw 57 pitches, only 33 of which were for strikes.

“Just the sharpness, even in his last outing against the Angels [in Spring Training] wasn’t sharp, and that has continued until today,” Roberts said. “I certainly expect him to get on the right track as we continue this season.”

But perhaps more concerning than his stat line was that his speed was significantly lower on Sunday than at any time last season. In 21, Urías averaged 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. Urías averaged 91.4 mph on the pitch on Sunday, nearly a three mph dip. For more context, Urías averaged 94 mph in his first start last season, also at Coors Field.

“It was a strange day in every way,” Urías said in Spanish. “But I feel good physically and ready for the next start.”

While Urías has suggested his lack of command has contributed to his struggles more than speed, there will be plenty of eyes on the radar gun next weekend when he takes the mound against the Reds at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are going to rely on him a lot this season.

“Today I just don’t think there’s anything he can go on or count on,” Roberts said.

The offense is always found
Once the Dodgers signed Freeman, the Los Angeles roster made headlines. It’s an attack that has a lot of firepower and will find its way as the season progresses. But it was an up and down performance this weekend at Coors Field.

Most of the damage for the Dodgers came in two innings: a five-run fourth Friday and a four-run frame Sunday. In the latter, they were helped by a three-point error from left fielder Kris Bryant.

Freeman and Mookie Betts are still trying to find their rhythm at the top of the lineup, combining for just five hits. Max Muncy also struggled, starting Season 1 for 13 at the plate. One bright spot, however, is that Cody Bellinger recorded his first two hits of the season and reached safely three times on Sunday.

“We expect to produce,” Dodgers utility Chris Taylor said. “We know we have, top to bottom, the best roster in baseball, and we didn’t show it this weekend.”

It’s the little things
The Dodgers’ team defense and base run were also not up to snuff this weekend. Taylor misplayed a ball to left field in the first inning that gave the Rockies the first three runs. There were 35mph winds Sunday at Coors Field, but Taylor admitted he should have played.

That misplay capped a weekend that saw the Dodgers miss a key double play on Saturday and a few other base-running errors. The Rockies, on the other hand, won the battle in these departments.

“I think it was a lot of compounded stuff today,” Taylor said. “We certainly have a lot to improve.”