All that pressure got you down
Has your head spinning all around
Feel the rhythm, check the ride
Come on along and have a real good time
Le Freak – Chic
Remember last Monday? When the Dodgers scored 15 runs, Kershaw threw seven innings of shutout ball allowing only one hit, and all was right with the world? Here we are a mere week later, and all those good feelings have gone away. Coming off losing three of four to the Giants, one of which included Ross Stripling being pulled from his no-hitter in the 7th to see the lead gone in two pitches, one can only think that the Dodgers season is doomed, done, over. Time to pack it in, forget that there are 155 games left to go.
That’s how one would feel if they were to spend too much time on Twitter. Lucky for you, I, your ever present source of optimism and rationality, am here to highlight some reasons to still have hope in such a dark, hopeless world.
Clayton Kershaw is still Clayton Kershaw — Sure, its a special type of pain when Madison Bumgarner takes Kershaw deep. But in 15 innings pitched, Kersh has given up a total of five hits (opponents hitting .100 against him), allowed two earned runs, struck out 14 batters, and is sporting a team low 0.467 WHIP. Two of those hits were home runs, but rest assured, Kershaw is not going to allow that happen very often.
The team is scoring runs — Heading into the start of the season, many were worried about the offense. With 11 players on the DL, including Howie Kendrick and last year’s steady Andre Ethier, it seemed that offense would be hard to come by. For the most part, that hasn’t been a problem. Fifteen runs in the first game sure quieted that quickly. To date, the team has scored 41 runs. And what stands out to me is how they’re scoring runs — 21 doubles, and only three home runs.
Adrian Gonzalez, resident butter and egg man, is leading the entire offense with four doubles, a.429 BA, a .485 OBP, a.571 slugging percentage and a 1.056 OPS. Corey Seager is as advertised, starting the season with three doubles, and a .333/.344/.433 slash line. And, of course, now there’s another pitcher giving Kershaw a run for his money in the home run department — Kenta Maeda. Chase Utley has been a pleasant surprise at leadoff, with a .394 OBP, two doubles and a triple.
Yasiel Puig — If there’s anyone that the Dodgers need to perform up to his true potential, it’s Yasiel Puig. And so far this year, he’s done just that. In seven games, he’s sporting a .385 BA and an impressive 1.154 OPS, including two doubles and a home run. Puig is showing patience at the plate, leading the team with five walks. He has the most batted balls over 100 MPH so far in the season with 11. Manager Dave Roberts made a point to convey to Puig that this was a new season, and Roberts would do all he could to help him. Seven games in, it seems that it’s working out very well.
Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling — After Kershaw, there are many questions about the quality of the other pitchers. Kazmir threw excellent in his debut, but then fell apart in his second start. Kenta Maeda, his first season in American baseball, also glittered in his debut, scattering five hits over six shutout innings with four strikeouts. Maeda has won the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young award twice, and I feel he will continue to pitch well.
Stripling only went out and threw 7-1/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Giants in his major league debut, ho hum. Obviously, there will be some regression from that in upcoming starts, but with Roberts’ confidence in him and coming off an (almost) no-hitter, look for more solid innings from Stripling.
Grandal and Kendrick back for home opener — Ten players on the disabled list is a tough way to start the season, even for a team with plenty of depth. Two of those players will be returning for the home opener on Tuesday — catcher Yasmani Grandal and second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick talked to Craig Minami of True Blue LA after a rehab game with the Quakes on Saturday, assuring fans that he’s ready to take the field.
“I felt good, probably about as good as I can be coming back; I feel like my timing is there,” Kendrick said. “It is just fun to get back on the field.”
Grandal, dealing with forearm strain, caught games on Thursday, Friday and Sunday for Triple-A Oklahoma City in Nashville. Grandal went 3-for-9 in the series, including a home run and two walks.
All in all, it was a good start to the season, when you consider that it included starting with all those players on the DL, and four games against a very good team in the San Francisco Giants. Sure, the bullpen needs some help, and Kazmir could straighten out a few issues, but nothing is pointing me in the direction of a freak out. It’s a long season, and the Dodgers will be just fine.