On Thursday, the Dodgers wrapped up their three game series with the Giants with a much-needed win after dropping the first two games of the series. This was one of the most disappointing series so far this season, mainly because well, it’s the Giants. Dodger fans alike take losing a series to the Giants harder than losing to any other team. The series was weird in a way because it was definitely a tale of two sides of the Dodgers that was not to be expected. In fact if I would have told you what would happen before the series began, I don’t think to many people would have thought I was being serious.
Everyone knew that game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu would pitch well during his start. Now if someone would have said both Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm would only give up a run combined during their two starts, I would have laughed at them in humorous disbelief. To my amazement they did, though it wasn’t smooth waters by any means. Combined Ryu, Beckett, and Maholm stat line was 18 IP, 9 SO, 1 ER and a 0.50 ERA. The bullpen was a little shaky but decent. In their defense they pitched a lot this series going a combined for 12 2/3 IP, 5 SO, 4 ER, and a 2.84 ERA. With that kind of pitching you would expect to win the series right? Wrong.
What people would not have believed is that he Dodgers hitting would be just ridiculously bad. Unfortunately that’s exactly what it was. It definitely didn’t look like a championship lineup out there this week. As a team they hit for a .255 BA (25-98) but the real problem was they couldn’t hit when they had chances to score runs. There were a few time this week when the dodgers had the bases loaded and couldn’t push across a single run. In fact the Dodgers bats hit .192 (5-26) with runners in scoring position and left 24 runners on base. I don’t care how good you think you are, you will not win many series posting those kind of numbers. Not to mention Hanley Ramirez getting plunked on the hand by a pitch, adding injury to insult, and was out of the lineup for the last game.
Leaving runners on base and in scoring position is something the Dodgers struggled with last season too. According to www.teamrankings.com, the Dodgers had an average of 3.62 runners left in scoring position and of 7.17 runners left on base per game. This season hasn’t fared any better in the early going for the Dodgers. So far in 2014 the Dodgers have an average of 4.06 runners left in scoring position and of 7.00 runners left on base per game. This is a lineup built to score but at times they seem to struggle with stringing hits together. If the Dodgers have hopes of going to the World Series anytime soon, this is a trend that must stop.
The season is finally here, well at least briefly, as the Dodgers and D-Backs open up their two game series in Australia Saturday morning. Though it will be a half a world away this Dodgers fan is excited to see a few meaningful games. My excitement can be summed up in the words of Entourage’s great Ari Gold when he said,“We are gonna get drunk with Russell Crowe and we’re gonna head-butt some goddamn kangaroos.”
Clayton “No Flaw” KKKershaw will get the start for the Dodgers in the land down under. While he might not be one to head-butt kangaroos with me, he is one to completely manhandle a team. Kershaw has had a rough spring by his standards but looks to turn it around in the series opener. Kershaw is 7-6 with a 2.22 ERA lifetime vs. the D-backs. he owns most of the hitters but will have to be mindful when facing Gerardo Parra. Out of all the D-Backs, Parra has had the most success against Kershaw, posting a .333 batting average in 18 career AB against the lefty.
Wade “They Hit It Off Me A” Miley will get the start for the D-Backs. Miley is replacing Patrick Corbin, after Corbin damaged his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. This change won’t make the game any easier for the Dodgers as Miley is a pretty solid pitcher in his own right. Miley is 3-1 with a 3.59 ERA lifetime about the Dodgers. Keep a lookout for Hanley Ramirez in this game as Ramirez seems to own Miley. Ramirez is batting .455 with a home run and 3 RBI’s in 11 career AB against Miley.
Tim Welke is scheduled to be calling the balls and strikes in the first game of the series. Welke habits in 2013 were calling strikes on 10.46% of balls out of the strikezone. That percentage is the 12th highest for umpires
One thing that is kinda cool for me as a baseball fan, is to see non roster invitee Justin Turner not only make the team, but actually start the first game of the season at second base. Turner earned a spot with the Dodgers after posting a triple slash line of .355/.447/.484 this spring with some solid defence too. It also means we won’t have to see Dee “I Like Big Bunts And I Can Not Lie” Gordon until Sunday.
So get hyped up for a long morning Dodger fans, and get ready to hear Vin Scully, who made the trip to Australia, utter those magic words, “It’s Time For Dodgers Baseball!”
By Dalton Brown
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ struggles this season have been well chronicled – and how could they not be? The team has a payroll of $217 million, good for the second largest in the game (it’ll be the largest next year unless anything major changes), and the big name talent you’d expect with that kind of money. And yet, here we are, on May 27, looking at a 21-28 ballclub struggling offensively and failing to pitch when they occasionally score some runs. Matt Kemp, expected to be the catalyst of an offense that on paper looks as good as any in the league, has struggled to a mid .250s batting average, 2 home runs, and is slugging .333 through 49 games. Between the injuries, inconsistency, strange coaching decisions, and general ineffectiveness, anybody who has followed the Dodgers this season is well aware of the struggles.
Before I lay out my thoughts on how to fix the 2013 Dodgers, however, I’d like to put out one disclaimer: tonight may have been just what this team needed. For the first time this season, the Dodgers showed some competitive fight. They took good at bats when they needed to, moved runners into scoring position, and found a way to get them in. They hit with runners in scoring position, picked one another up when something went wrong defensively, and looked more like a contender than they have all year (after the first two innings, of course). Hopefully tonight wakes them up a bit and builds momentum in a positive direction.
But if its not, and Joe Blanton throws seven scoreless innings and the Dodgers inconceivably lose 5-0 to the Angels tomorrow night, what can be done? Here are a few tips/options to help the Dodgers from here on out.
1. Fire Don Mattingly. I know it seems like this is being said everywhere, but there is a reason for it. While I don’t think Mattingly is a bad guy or even really a terrible manager, when the talent the Dodgers have isn’t producing the results it should, this is where blame falls. Besides the fact that many would agree his decision making has been faulty on a number of matters this year. I attended my first Dodger game (of many) on the season on Sunday, an incredibly frustrating and yet incredibly pedestrian 2013 Dodgers loss to the Cardinals. One situation really infuriated me, however. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Dodgers trailed St. Louis 4-3 with 2 outs and the bases loaded, with Skip Schumaker coming to bat (starting in place of Matt Kemp that day). Now I know Kemp hasn’t produced this year. Trust me, I’ve been frustrated by him as much as anyone else. But if I’m Don Mattingly, how do I not give one of the most talented players in the game a chance to do big time damage when we need it most? No offense to Skip Schumaker, who has certainly helped the Dodgers fill voids this season, but Kemp has to hit there. As if to add insult to injury, Mattingly then proceeds to pinch hit Matt Kemp the next inning in the pitcher’s spot… with two outs, nobody on, and trailing by 2 runs. Add that to the fact that Brandon League is the Dodgers’ closer while Kenley Jansen continues to have some of the most electric stuff in the league, the team looks nonchalant on the field, and the losses are piling up… if things don’t change in a hurry, Mattingly will likely be out of a job.
2. Trade Andre Ethier. There are a number of ways this could be effective. The Dodgers are a team with a surplus of outfielders, but a shaky bullpen and tons of issues on the right side of the infield. Nick Punto is having a great year filling in, and while I don’t intend to take anything away from what he’s done, there is little chance of him finishing the season hitting .340. Why not flip Andre Ethier to a team for prospects, let them eat his salary, and use those prospects to lure the San Diego Padres into trading 3B Chase Headley when they inevitably fall out of contention? Who knows, depending on how far the Padres fall, Huston Street could end up being added to a package deal. Furthermore, dealing Ethier would open a spot in the outfield for Scott Van Slyke, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig to fight over, the result of which should be one hell of a young player any way you slice it.
3. Move Matt Kemp down in the batting order. The Dodger slugger has been struggling mightily, and doing so in a position where he is constantly batting with runners on base. By moving Kemp down in the order, the Dodges would both improve their production with runners in scoring position in the short run and give Kemp confidence in the long run after he begins to see more pitches to hit. The downside: who can protect Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup?
4. Getting a healthy Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup. With Hanley potentially on the verge of a rehab stint, The Dodgers could gain a ton with his bat. I could see a lineup of Crawford-Ellis-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier-Kemp-Ellis-Punto looking awfully productive before long. And if they take my advice with the Ethier moves mentioned above? Try Crawford-Ellis-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Headley-Puig-Kemp-Ellis on for size. Hanley adds a lot of depth to a team in desperate need of help on the left side of the infield.
Despite the beginning the Dodgers have endured to this point, it’s still far from panic time for a team sitting only 7.5 games out of a division lead. The Dodgers are still afloat, and primed to make a run if things start falling into place like they can. Tonight may have been just the push the team needed.
And remember, the Angels are not from Los Angeles. They are from Anaheim.