Even though the Dodgers have completed just two games of their long 2018 regular season campaign, many amateur critics have already emerged from the woodwork, employing their masterful management skills in hopes of providing a solution to the club’s struggling offense.
There’s really no sense in digging into statistics after just two contests; however, what we do know is the team has collectively gone 7-for-58 at the plate, which, if you’re not aware, is absolutely dreadful. To top things off, there has not been an extra base hit, and two players—Yasmani Grandal and Clayton Kershaw—are responsible for four of those seven hits.
These critics have faulted for Kersh for not being in top form and closer Kenley Jansen for not having an effective cutter. They’ve blamed Logan Forsythe for having three unfortunate miscues at the hot corner. They’ve questioned the strategies of hitting coach Turner Ward, and they’ve offered up their own version of a batting order that could potentially prove to me more effective (myself included).
Considering what the Dodgers accomplished last season, the frustration is a bit understandable, yet at the same time, it’s just a little foolish.
Two games with a very sluggish offense is certainly not a reason for panic—no pun intended—especially considering what the Dodgers are capable of producing. It’s just a matter of time before the offense starts clicking, and for the sake of the stress levels and blood pressure readings of fans around Dodgertown, let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.
All that being said, Saturday evening could be the time when the offense awakes. The Dodgers will face veteran lefty Derek Holland, who found an opportunity with the Giants after it appeared his baseball career was in jeopardy. Holland conveniently slid into the San Francisco rotation when it lost two of its front-end starters to injury—left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
For the White Sox last season, Holland went 7-14 with a whopping 6.20 ERA over 26 starts, after his 2015 and 2016 campaigns for the Rangers were marred by injury. Over the past three seasons combined, the 31-year-old has posted a 18-26 record with a 5.51 ERA, a 5.62 FIP and a 1.522 WHIP over an even 301 innings of work.
Nevertheless, despite his recent struggles, Holland has impressed the Giants’ coaching staff with the way he produced during his opportunities in spring training.
“He pounded the strike zone, showed good stuff,” San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy recently told reporters. “He’s got the veteran presence you like on the mound. And he just pitches with a lot of confidence, too. You look at him, he’s usually pitching ahead in the count. That’s always a good thing.”
As far as the Los Angeles lineup goes, we’ll definitely see Enrique Hernandez return to the keystone, but whether or not he’ll assume the cleanup spot in the batting order remains to be seen. For now, Matt Kemp still holds down the starting spot in left field, although manager Dave Roberts said that Joc Pederson will likely garner starts in the season finale on Sunday and in the series opener in Arizona on Monday. And we’re still not sure how the catching duties will be split up between Grandal and Austin Barnes.
On the bump, Japanese righty Kenta Maeda gets the start for the Dodgers on Saturday night. The 29-year-old took a step back from his solid rookie season, posting a 4.22 ERA and receiving brief demotion to the bullpen at different points of the 2017 season. However, while many fans will be curious to see the early season form of Maeda, the focal point of the contest will indeed be the production of the Los Angeles offense.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. Los Angeles time.