It’s been a happy, yet rough week for the Dodgers. On Thursday, Clayton Kershaw tossed the first pitch to Yasmani Grandal, marking the official commencement of the 2018 season. Since then, we have seen some remarkable pitching performances, as well as some we wish could be erased, or redone.
The Dodgers, however, can’t go back. So it’s a good thing that the future is bright for Los Angeles.
Here are grades for the best, the most tumultuous, and the downright remarkable pitching performances of the week.
Clayton Kershaw – B
Appearances: Opening Day & 4/3 (12.0 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 13 SO, 3 ER)
Kershaw did his best, and it was pretty good. On Opening Day, he gave up eight hits and one run—a homer to Giants second baseman Joe Panik. Even if Kershaw didn’t give up the home run, there’s no guarantee that the Dodgers would have won the game, given that Ty Blach pitched the game of his life. The Dodgers could have won if they hit, but offenses are often quiet.
Blach’s performance was, simply, out of the Dodgers’ hands.
Kershaw’s only misstep on Thursday was giving up a home run. Normally, giving up one home run isn’t considered failure, and I don’t think that’s the case with Kershaw, either. However, Kershaw tends to give up a fair amount of home runs, and giving one up on Opening Day doesn’t do much to flip the narrative.
Alex Wood – A+
Appearances: 3/30 against the Giants (8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0 ER)
No, you didn’t dream last season. Alex Wood really is the star the Dodgers didn’t know they had. On Friday, Wood pitched an absolute gem, going eight strong innings of one-hit baseball. Though the Dodgers failed to re-sign Yu Darvish, Wood may have just proved that that’s surely not the worst thing, and he is willing to step up to the plate.
Between Kershaw and Wood, the Dodgers may just have one of the best one-two punches in the league.
JT Chargois – A-
Appearances: 2 (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0 ER)
Alright, I’m just going to say it; have the Dodgers found their new Brandon Morrow? J.T. Chargois made a big impression during spring training, earning him a roster spot. Dave Roberts has called on the switch-hitting righty-reliever twice this season so far, and Chargois has yet to give up a run. He has missed parts of the past two years due to injury, but the Dodgers’ pitching staff seems to help Chargois fulfill his potential.
That potential could be the thing that makes the Dodgers’ bullpen the best in baseball.
Kenta Maeda – A
Appearances: 3/31 (5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 ER)
Kenta Maeda shocked baseball with how well he pitched in the playoffs last year when he took on the role of a reliever for the Dodgers. Though he is now the No. 3 starter for L.A., he’s proved that he can still bring the fire and consistency that he had when he was a reliever. Maeda is going to be dynamite for the Dodgers this season. He’s going to have good performances and shaky performances, but after Saturday, I have a good feeling the former will be far more frequent than the latter.
Wilmer Font – A
Appearances: 4/1 & 4/2 (5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2 ER)
Wilmer Font, congratulations. You just won your roster spot.
On Monday night, Font pitched four innings of extra-inning baseball against the D-Backs. Not only was he the best option for Roberts, he was the only option. With the Dodgers’ bullpen empty after Ross Stripling was called upon to pitch the 10th, Font was LA’s last hope (unless Rick Honeycutt felt like jogging out to the pen and throwing a couple four-seamers.)
Font took the mound, and he didn’t falter until the end.
I don’t credit Font with the loss, and you shouldn’t either. Realistically, Font and Dodgers didn’t need to be in that situation in the first place. Had Kenley Jansen been able to hold the lead, the Dodgers would have won the game, and Font wouldn’t have had to pitch even a single inning.
Would you look at that, he just pulled a Cody Bellinger.
Scott Alexander & Pedro Baez – D
Walks in high-leverage relief situations will kill you every time.
Kenley Jansen – Incomplete, with a chance to make it up at a later date.
Appearances: 2 (2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 SO, 4 ER)
Where is 2017 Kenley Jansen? Asking because, well, Dodger nation misses him.
I wasn’t worried after the second game of the season. I wasn’t worried after Joe Panik did, apparently, what Joe Panik does. I didn’t worry after Jansen said “who cares,” after giving up said home run.
Then, Jansen gave up another home run, a bigger home run with far higher stakes. On Monday, he gave up a three-run homer to D-Backs shortstop, Chris Owings. That homer would tie the game that the Dodgers would eventually lose in the 15th inning. That’s not to say the loss is entirely on Jansen (but it looks as though it was, for the most part ) since he was long since out of the game by then, but had he not given up the home run, Dodger players would have been in their individual hotel rooms reading a book, or watching a movie, by 10PM. Kenley Jansen may just have a home run problem caused by a dropping velocity in his cutter. That, unfortunately, is a terrible problem to have.
I wasn’t worried before.
I am now.