The Los Angeles Dodgers’ season has not started quite as well as most people expected. For anyone that knows baseball, they know that it is still extremely early to make any long-term assumptions or predictions. However, based on the first two weeks of performance, there are some things to look at. Things worth spotlighting include: rotation (the good and the bad), the bullpen, and overall work-ethic. With a record hanging around the .500 mark, the Dodgers are also carrying some flaws; but they are areas that can certainly be improved on.
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently sit in third place in the NL West, with a 5-4 record (as of Wednesday, April 12th), and are a game and a half back of first place. Unexpectedly, the Arizona Diamondbacks have opened the season at 7-3; good for the top spot in the West. On the flip-side, LA’s most heated rival – San Francisco Giants – are currently in the basement of an NL West division that has had one of the most unfamiliar beginnings to a season in years. To begin the 2017 season, teams like the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres are all seeing some nice, early success. Bright spots are already popping up for these three teams that have typically started off slower in past seasons but have already earned some early victories this year.
A very competitive-looking NL West division will make for a long road this season. So far, each team has showed great managing and versatility throughout their rosters. It also seems as though the West has attracted some eyes from around the league, with the firm competition. Even with it being tough to truly define a good or bad start to the season, it is undeniable that teams in the NL West have been showcasing some quality baseball against their divisional matchups and beyond.
It is best to leave out the words “rocky start” when dealing with Clayton Kershaw’s second outing of the year in Colorado. Although, it is tough to say that Kershaw brought his ‘A-Game’ to face the Rockies – since he did surrender back-to-back home runs for the first time ever in his 10-year career. That being said, Kershaw is slated to make his next start against former Dodger teammate, Zack Greinke, at Dodger Stadium. Both pitchers have had their share of success at Dodger Stadium from the home team’s side. Surely though, the Dodgers will want to get on Greinke and spoil his plans of shutting down their lineup. For Kershaw, it should be a good test against a hot Arizona team; while he looks to bounce back in the coming week.
So far, the depth provided by specific role-players has proven to be consistent for LA’s execution. Ross Stripling has pitched very well in his most recent appearances; along with quality stuff from Alex Wood, both in situations of being long-men out of the Dodgers’ bullpen.
The Dodgers have found some major improvements against left-handed pitching, with the role-players that were brought in. Dave Roberts has constructed many different lineups but more often than not, they seem to work out well. There is a lot of versatility when it involves players that are in the starting batting order. But the Dodgers have the added luxury of players on the bench who can contribute in any given game. As the season goes on, guys like Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles might see themselves starting more often against southpaws, if they can prove to put up good at-bats.
A bright-spot that all Dodger fans have wanted to see, is the turnaround of Yasiel Puig. They should not be disappointed. Puig leads the team with three home runs. To go along with his power, he has also shown more maturity at the plate. His patience has gotten him into more ‘hitter’s counts’, as reflected by his six walks and an on-base percentage over .100 points better than his batting average. It is fair to say that Puig is proving to be on better terms with himself as a baseball player and is showing phenomenal growth, early.
There are still many teams around baseball that haven’t exactly met their standards for the season yet, and in LA, it stands the same. Players will only start to adapt faster, as the season rolls on. Everyone seems to be reasonably healthy and ready to start taking in some more wins.