While many fans of the Dodgers have attributed an extremely potent offense to the team’s success so far this year, the starting pitching has undoubtedly been the backbone of the squad’s consistency.
Because of the starters ability to go much deeper into games compared to the rest of the league, the bullpen has performed better in some situations. Los Angeles starters have averaged an impressive 5.79 innings per start this year, which is far and away the best number in the National League.
After another double-digit run output against the Pirates in the series opener on Friday night, skipper Dave Roberts confirmed in the postgame that in his eyes, the rotation is certainly the team’s strength.
“I think we all know this,” Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “We have a very dynamic, athletic position-player group. But the strength of our team is our starting pitching—the depth and the quality. And it’s showing true right now.”
Plunkett also noted that Los Angeles starters have a 2.09 ERA over the last 25 games.
Through the first 51 games, the Dodgers’ starters have a 2.93 ERA. The next closest team in the National League is the Cubs with a 3.50 mark (no, that is not a typo). What’s even more impressive is that the Los Angeles rotation has a .217 batting average against—the Reds’ rotation is second at .229. Furthermore, Los Angeles starting pitching is first in the NL with a 3.47 FIP, first with a .265 OBP against, first with a .373 SLG against and first with a .638 OPS against.
They even lead the league with a 1.02 WHIP, a number that leads the Cubs by a whopping 0.25 point discrepancy.
All of these numbers were accomplished despite both Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill beginning the season on the injured list. Hyun-Jin Ryu was also on the shelf for 10 days with a groin issue, as was righty Kenta Maeda most recently after fouling a ball off his left leg.
Despite Ryu’s short stint away from the squad, he’s leading the world in almost every statistical category and is the main reason why Los Angeles has been dominating the league’s starting pitching stats. He has a ridiculous 271 ERA+, a 0.74 WHIP and a 1.52 ERA—all numbers which lead the bigs by wide margins. What’s more, he’s amid a 32-game scoreless inning streak. And the fact that he’s walked just 0.67 batters per nine innings gives us some indication as to why he has been so successful.
In the middle game of the weekend series against the Pirates on Saturday, Ryu gets the start and will oppose righty Joe Musgrove. In five career starts against the Pirates, Ryu has a 5-0 record with a 2.51 ERA over 32-1/3 innings of work.
Several patches of heavy thunderstorms are in the forecast for the game, but hopefully none of them will prevent the contest from being played in its entirety. I’ll be on hand at PNC Park for the affair, so stay tuned to our Twitter feed for the latest updates on the weather and other game notes.
First pitch is set for 4:15 PM Los Angeles time.