The Dodgers have completed their first road trip of the season, returning home with just a 2-6 record against the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. As my friend Chuck says, just get in and out of those locales without any injuries, and we can call it a success. Mission almost accomplished. During the road trip the Dodgers lost Franklin Gutierrez to a left hamstring strain, placed him on the 10-day DL and recalled Trayce Thompson from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
There were a lot of things that happened on this six game road trip, and we’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good — The Dodgers’ bullpen, and Brandon McCarthy. Once again, the bullpen is holding its own. The Los Angeles relief corps is third in the NL in runs against per game at 2.90. Ross Stripling, Luis Avilan, Grant Dayton, Josh Fields, and Chris Hatcher all have not allowed any runs on the road. Stripling especially has put work in, including an 11 pitch at bat by Jon Jay that ultimately ended with Stripling striking Jay out.
“He had a good at bat to get to 3-2, and then I threw the kitchen sink at him,” Stripling said after the game.
Hatcher had two scoreless innings against the Cubs in Thursday’s game.
Brandon McCarthy pitched six shutout innings against the Cubs, scattering four hits and three walks. While he only struck out four, he was able to induce four double plays to help himself when he was in a potential jam. McCarthy is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA for the season.
The Bad — The rest of the pitching staff. Even Kershaw was susceptible to a bad outing in Denver. For the first time ever, he allowed back-to-back home runs in a game, and three total. In typical Dodgers fashion, the bats did not produce in that game, and Kershaw was handed his first loss.
Kenta Maeda allowed four runs on five hits, but the Dodgers bats came through for him, atypically against a left-handed pitcher, allowing Maeda to pick up his first win on the season. It was the most runs Maeda has allowed against the Rockies in his five starts against them.
Hyun-Jin Ryu failed to make it through five innings for both of his starts on the road. In his 9-1/3 innings pitched, he allowed 12 hits, six earned runs and three home runs, while striking out 10. His velocity was also down in his second outing, down an average of three miles per hour. Maybe it was the cold weather, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Kenley Jansen allowed two runs in 2-1/3 innings of work on the trip, including a hit by Anthony Rizzo to win the game in the first game of the Cubs series. I’m not at all worried about Kenley, but it is disheartening to see your closer give up the win.
The Ugly — As a whole, the Dodgers bats were pretty lackluster on this trip. While there were some would-be extra base hits that were taken away by the wind, overall the offense left much to be desired.
“I think there’s a little of trying to do too much with runners in scoring position,” manager Dave Roberts said after the series with the Cubs. “I think if you look at aggressiveness in the count, we’re a little bit aggressive with balls out of the zone and expanding too much. I know it’s early, but it’s a little bit of guys wanting to do too much.”
Dennis also highlighted the Dodgers’ trouble facing lefties on Thursday.
Whether it’s Yasiel Puig trying to do too much with one swing, or other teams lining up lefties to get into the Dodgers’ heads, or whatever the case may be, the Dodgers returning home may help the bats wake up. They face a tough challenge in Zack Greinke and the 7-3 Diamondbacks, but they will be back home where they are comfortable and face a pitcher and division rivals they’d love to take it to. It’s much too early in the season to be truly worried about a team that is this talented.
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