Dodgers August Recap: The Month of Mookie and Continued Dominance

Mookie Betts’ remarkable hot streak paired with shutdown pitching propels Dodgers to an historic August as they all but put away the National League West Crown.

Mookie Betts (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Austin Gage | Contributing Sports Writer

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ obligatory August hot streak once again presented itself in 2023. Coming off of three seasons of scorching month of August records that include a 21-7 record in 2020, a 21-6 record in 2021, and a 22-6 record in 2022, the Boys in Blue of 2023 surpassed those marks comfortably by finishing the month with a 24-5 record. In doing so, they joined the 1878-1881(!) Chicago White Stockings as the only MLB teams ever to have a .750+ winning percentage in the same month for four seasons in a row. 

For a Dodger team that was playing good but not great baseball, for their own standards, up to the August month mark, the dominant stretch was a very helpful tool in the race to winning the National League West division once again. Los Angeles, winners of nine of the last ten NL West crowns, entered the month with just a 2.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants and a 3.5 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. A month later, the Dodgers would find themselves with staggering 13.5 and 14.5 game leads over the Giants and Diamondbacks respectively to all but basically seal the NL West.

The Dodgers’ opponents during the month included the likes of the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks (two separate series), Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Cleveland Guardians, Boston Red Sox, and the first game of the heavily anticipated series versus the MLB-best Atlanta Braves. 

Without a doubt the heart of the hot streak lied with star outfielder Mookie Betts. Betts, who has won an MVP once before in his time with the Red Sox, firmly established himself as a top NL MVP candidate as the regular season enters its last full month in September. 

Prior to his incredible month, Betts held a somewhat underwhelming .277 batting average in a season that would still be most other players’ career high in terms of playing level paired with his already excellent glove (which was showcased in his defensive versatility in playing outfield and in the infield this season). However, Betts was able raise his batting average to a stellar .317 by the end of the month and join real MVP discussions along with superstar first baseman teammate Freddie Freeman and Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and first baseman Matt Olson. 

For the month itself, Betts hit for an outstanding .455 average with 51 total hits and added 11 home runs and 30 runs batted in. Playing like a man possessed, Betts was able to surpass his career high for home runs in a season (36) and ride a wave en route to the NL Player of the Month award. Betts 51 hits in the month of August set the record for the most hits in a month in Dodger history. 

Outside of Betts, help was present in a number of different places. Not to be outdone, Freeman himself continued his own MVP-like campaign as he batted .374 in August with four home runs and 16 runs batted in from 43 total hits. Alongside the help of Freeman was rookie outfielder James Outman. Outman was able to provide offensive support to Betts and Freeman’s offensive explosions with a .277 batting average of his own to pair with five home runs and runs batted in. And like Betts, Outman was able to end the month with some hardware as he received honors for being August’s NL rookie of the month.

While credit is definitely due to the offensive for their part in the historic month, the Los Angeles pitching was also superb as well. 

In the month, the Dodgers team ERA (earned run average) was an MLB-low 3.00. For a rotation that has seen so many injuries and different faces throughout the season, they were not only able to survive but thrive in the month of August. 

Veteran trade pickup from the Chicago White Sox Lance Lynn was able to turn his season around and scoop up four wins in the month and 24-year-old Bobby Miller, 23-year-old Emmet Sheehan, and 26 year old Ryan Pepiot all played key roles in putting the team in position for wins. To act as the cherry on top of all the pitching excellence was the return of star ace Clayton Kershaw, who returned on August 10th against the Rockies to pitch five innings of one run ball and struck out four batters. Kershaw wouldn’t look back after the start, finishing with a 2.12 ERA for the month on 17 innings pitched and 15 strikeouts.

“It’s just good all-around baseball,” manager Dave Robert put it, “I think a lot of times teams talk about ‘you have the hitting and you don’t have the pitching and vice versa’ but I think right now we’ve had both every night.”

The Dodgers 24-5 month even included an 11-game win streak that saw victories over the Brewers and some NL West rivals in the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. The Padres, a team who eliminated the Dodgers from the postseason last October in the National League Division Series, just have struggled to get it going this year despite a star-studded lineup including the likes of outfielder Juan Soto, outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr., former-Dodger third baseman Manny Machado, and stud starting pitcher Blake Snell. Fortunately for Los Angeles, it looks like they will not be needing to face San Diego this season in a potential playoff run.

Although August could not end on the highest of notes with a wanted series opening win against the Braves in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers are still in a great position for a deep playoff run. Currently the two seed in the National League, it seems like the National League pennant will run through either Los Angeles or Atlanta. 

After the completion of the Atlanta series, the Dodgers will go on the road for a short road trip to face the Marlins in Miami and then travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Nationals. They then return home for a three-game series against the Padres, go up north to play the Seattle Mariners, and then return home for two series against the Detroit Tigers and rival Giants. To end the season, the Dodgers will hit the road to finish their 2023 campaign against the Rockies and Giants once again.