The Dodgers are reaching the end of their first full month of baseball. If the adage that the Dodgers always start April slow is true, then the rest of the season should be an incredible show.
The Boys in Blue currently posses the best record in the NL at 19-11. They are in first place in the NL West by two games over the San Diego Padres, in the midst of a four game winning streak and have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Since the first month was such a big success, we’re going to do the excellent, the good and the bad, instead of the good, the bad and the ugly of the month that was.
The Excellent—This category had to be made to recognize the history in the making we are watching, courtesy of Cody Bellinger. After being chosen Rookie of the Year in 2017, he had a little bit of a sophomore slump of a year in 2018. But Belli has come out of the gates swinging, literally, in 2019. He leads all of MLB in batting average, RBI, runs, OPS, OBP, slugging, and hits, and is tied for first in home runs.
As the batting average portends, Cody isn’t just doing it with power, he’s also not trying to do too much and is making timely hits. He has set a record for the most total bases in the month of April with 93, breaking former teammate Chase Utley‘s record. His 14 homers are tied for most home runs before May 1st. As the month still has two games, he has ample opportunity to add to both of those. There really isn’t too much hyperbole about what Cody is doing right now. An inevitable slump will come, but this is so dang fun to watch.
The Good—The starting pitching, overall has been really good. There was a rough patch in which no pitcher could seem to make it through five innings, and where three of them were on the injured list. But they’ve since gotten it together. Clayton Kershaw, despite the decline in velocity, has looked sharp in his return from the IL. He has 21 strikeouts and a 0.75 WHIP in his three starts. Rich Hill was shaky in first two innings after his return from the IL on Sunday, but then settled in and retired the next 12 Pirates. Ross Stripling and Julio Urías were doing well, but will be relegated to the bullpen now that Hill and Kershaw are back. The staff leads the league with starter wins. Other teams should be so lucky.
Alex Verdugo is making the most of his time now that he’s reached the majors full time. He’s currently slashing .333/.353/.636/.989 with four homers. Defensively, he’s gunned down runners from outfield. The Kid is going to be okay.
Dylan Floro has been incredible out of the bullpen. He has yet to give up a run, and has a 0.73 WHIP. Overall, Scott Alexander and Pedro Baez have been clutch. On Saturday, Báez came into the game and somehow managed to get out of a bases loaded, no-out jam unscathed. He is really quite good when he is on.
And, overall, the offense has been good. The Dodgers are third in the majors in homers, second in RBI, tied for third in OBP, fifth in slugging and fourth in OPS. Perhaps the best stat is they have taken more walks than any other team in the majors. The Dodgers are patient at the plate, and it shows.
The Bad—No team is perfect, and the Dodgers definitely have some weaknesses. The bullpen is currently the biggest one. Joe Kelly has been the biggest disappointment, although he has been a bit better recently. Kenley Jansen is still giving up too many home runs and hits overall. And they could use a bit more consistency.
A.J. Pollock hasn’t quite lived up to his offensive reputation. He’s currently only batting .223 with two homers. We know that a better hitter is lurking in there somewhere, hopefully he’ll show up soon.
But the fact remains, even the bad is not all that bad. It can’t be when you’re the best team in the majors. Sure things need some tweaking here and there, but overall, the Dodgers are really good. Even after the last two seasons, Rich Hill yesterday remarked that “this is the best team he’s ever been on.” Orel Hershiser has remarked that this team has a 2017 feel about it. Let’s just hope they have what it takes to finally win the World Series.