Midseason Review: Los Angeles Dodgers

The injury-prone Los Angeles Dodgers are in a healthy spot leading the National League West by 4 1/2 games at the All-Star break.

Los Angeles has withstood 10 different players going on the disabled list since the start of the season. The significant reason for the Dodgers’ third-best record (51-39) in the National League is the starting pitching combination of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and Los Angeles’ ability to win at home.

The Dodgers have the most wins at home in baseball with a 33-17 record at Dodger Stadium. The unfortunate news for Los Angeles when it comes to venues is the Dodgers must play 10 more games on the road than at home after the All-Star break. They are 18-22 on the road.

As long as Kershaw and Greinke, both All-Star pitchers, can stay healthy and maintain their dominance, the Dodgers have a chance to keep their lead in the NL West and challenge for the pennant.

Graphic via thesportspost

Only Pittsburgh’s duo of A.J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole matches what the Dodgers have on top of their rotation.

Greinke (8-2) leads the National League with an ERA of 1.39, the only mark below 2.00. Kershaw was a late addition to the All-Star Game in place of Washington’s Max Scherzer, who pitched Sunday, nullifying his chance to play. Kershaw is 6-6 with a 2.85 ERA, numbers that are not entirely All-Star-like but he does lead the majors with 160 strikeouts.

Two of Los Angeles’ other starters – Mike Bolsinger and Brett Anderson – are reliable enough to keep the Dodgers on top of the standings. Bolsinger has a 3.08 ERA and Anderson is at 3.17. They combine for a 9-8 record and only 16 of their 31 starts are quality starts. By contrast, Kershaw and Greinke have combined for 32 quality starts in their 36 starts overall.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is counting on a strong return of starter Carlos Frias from the 15-day disabled list (right lower back tightness) to bolster the rotation. Frias is 5-5 with a 4.39 ERA. He was moved from the bullpen to be a starter to replace the injured Brandon McCarthy (elbow surgery).

The bullpen is solid behind set-up man J.P. Howell (0.35 ERA), Adam Liberatore (team-high 10 holds) and closer Kenley Jansen (16 saves and 1.66 ERA).

If Los Angeles makes a trade by the July 31 deadline, look for the Dodgers to acquire a quality starting pitcher to alleviate concerns Mattingly might have beyond Kershaw and Greinke. They may also try to bolster their lineup with a batter who can generate offense by getting on base.

The Dodgers’ lineup is potent with their MLB-leading 113 home runs but is not entirely productive with a team batting average of .252, which ranks in the bottom half among National League teams.  Only one regular batter in the lineup – third baseman Justin Turner (.308) – is batting over .300.

Mattingly has told reporters more than once that he is pleased with the Dodgers’ defense (which leads the National League with a .990 fielding percentage) but says “we still haven’t hit.”

The lineup has fought through injuries, most notably to Yasiel Puig, who spent time on the disabled list in late April and early May with a left hamstring strain. He was bothered recently by a left hand injury that made him day-to-day.

Puig made the National All-Star team only because fans voted him in. He is batting only .261 with a scant four home runs and 14 RBI.

The injury bug has also affected among others left fielder Carl Crawford (strained right oblique, 60-day disabled list), All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal (concussion, 7-day disabled list) and left fielder Scott Van Slyke (left mid-back inflammation, 15-day disabled list).

Rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, a starter in the All-Star Game, has a lively bat with 20 home runs but he has batted only .230 with a mere 40 RBI. Adrian Gonzalez, another All-Star, is Los Angeles’ most consistent batter, hitting .283 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI.

The schedule is not kind to Los Angeles coming out of the All-Star break with 10 straight road games at Washington, Atlanta and the New York Mets. Counting the break, the Dodgers will be gone from the comforts of Dodger Stadium for 16 days.

San Francisco, in second behind Los Angeles, appears to be the Dodgers’ prime competition. The teams play each other only seven more times, including four games at San Francisco late in the season (Sept. 28 to Oct. 1).

The lack of head-to-head matchups means those clubs will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching as the season winds down.


Graphic via bleacherreport


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