So, the title of my story on Friday was “Dodgers Head to Arizona with High Expectations.” The Dodgers didn’t meet any expectations, really, losing two of three to the Diamondbacks and losing another spot in the division. Now they head into San Francisco, where the Giants are all kinds of not good, just lost their best pitcher to a freak (dumb) accident, and Dodgers fans might revolt if the Dodgers do not do well against them.
It seems silly to be so mad about a team’s start this early in the season, but with expectations for the Dodgers as high as they are, any chink in the armor is a reason to freak out. And maybe there are a few reasons to worry, mainly the starting pitching. Both Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu are off to rocky starts, not being able to throw with their prior velocity, missing spots and not going long into games. Scott Kazmir, Rich Hill and Brock Stewart are all on the DL, Hill for the second time this season.
This is a worry, especially after watching the pitching staff be decimated by injuries last season. Position players are injured, too, with Logan Forsythe, Rob Segedin and Franklin Gutierrez on the disabled list, and worry that Joc Pederson soon may join them after he felt a strain in his quad during Sunday’s game.
The Dodgers are currently third in the division, with a record of 9-10, four games back of first place Colorado. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is writing columns about whether the Diamondbacks and Rockies are primed to take over the division. Rosenthal asked Arizona manager Terry Lovullo what his biggest concern was about the season. His answer? Injuries. Hours later, that day’s starting pitcher Shelby Miller was removed from the game after feeling forearm tightness.
The good news is, the Dodgers are built to withstand the injuries, both to the pitching staff and to their position players. Triple-A Oklahoma City is loaded with players who didn’t make the big league squad, who are working to make it back. Julio Urias seems like he will be slotted into the rotation on Thursday, pushing everyone back and giving the pitchers an extra day off. Trevor Oaks is tearing it up in OKC — maybe too early to think about bringing him up, but it’s good to know he’s there.
Also, not all news is grim. There is one Clayton Kershaw on the team. Brandon McCarthy is having a fantastic year, with a 2.25 ERA and 3-0 record. Chris Taylor continues to make the most of his time in the big leauges. Adrian Gonzalez has looked better at the plate recently, as has Enrique Hernandez, finally doing at the plate what he was kept on the team for, hitting against left handers.
I also don’t expect things that have happened lately to the Dodgers to keep happening. There was some very ugly collapses by the bullpen over the weekend. The bats are slowly waking up against left-handed pitchers. They will not always leave a slew of runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers are built for the long haul, for the slow and steady rise to the top of the division. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are not necessarily built for that. They’re good, young players are playing now – any injury could decimate them. They also haven’t played much outside of the NL West — it remains to be seen how well they play against the likes of the Cubs and Nationals. I said it all through last year, and I’ll say it again. The Dodgers are too good a team to remain in third place for long, regardless of how other teams are playing. It’s a long season, and still way too early to freak out.
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