While the first series of the shortened 2020 season against the Giants ended with a feeling of disappointment for the Dodgers, the beginning of the two-game set against the Astros in Houston ignited a bit of excitement.
Courtesy of Joe Kelly, benches cleared in the series opener on Tuesday night after the righty reliever punched out Carlos Correa for the final out of the sixth inning, seemingly mocking the shortstop on his trip back to the Dodger Dugout. Three batters prior, Kelly threw a 96 MPH fastball behind the head of third baseman Alex Bregman, causing the pre-existing tensions between the two squads to boil even hotter.
Regardless, the 5-2 victory—powered by a five-run fifth inning full of walks and singles, alongside a very stellar bullpen—couldn’t have come at a better time. Looking to Wednesday evening’s series finale, Los Angeles has a chance to sweep the Astros before preparing for a four-game set against division rival Arizona starting on Thursday.
Although we’re only just five games into the campaign, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the hot (and not so hot) bats of the Dodgers thus far. Indeed, five games is a tremendously small sample size, but considering those five games represent 1/12 of the season, some of the streaks we’ve seen could play large in the coming weeks. Accordingly, a five-game hot streak or a five-game slump could make all the difference when the playoffs roll around in October—if we ever reach the point of that happening.
So far, six Los Angeles players have tallied averages over .300, with A.J. Pollock (.455) and Justin Turner (.421) leading the way. Pollock has gone 5-for-11 with a double over three games in between a brief absence during which he brought his daughter home from the hospital, while Turner has been the clear offensive leader of the club, going 8-for-19 over all five games with three walks, four doubles and five RBI.
Leading the team in OBP is Joc Pederson, who has slashed .375/.545/.375 in only eight AB. Pederson has appeared in just three games, and did not play in Tuesday’s contest after posting a “trash can” joke on his Instagram account upon the team’s arrival in Houston. With righty Cristian Javier the presumed starting pitcher for Houston on Wednesday, Joc is likely to get the nod in left field.
Corey Seager has posted a .350 average after going an impressive 7-for-20 with two doubles over the first five games. The other two players hitting over .300 are Austin Barnes (.333) and Enrique Hernandez (.318).
Hernandez went 4-for-5 with a homer and five RBI in the season opener but has quieted down a bit since, having gone just three for his last 17. He joins Max Muncy and Will Smith as the only Dodgers who have hit home runs so far this season.
Speaking of Muncy, the first baseman has also gone a bit quiet after smashing two long balls in the second game of the year. Over his last three games, Muncy has gone 0-for-12, reaching base just once on a walk. Similarly, Smith has gone 1-for-11 (with two walks and the homer) in the only three games which he appeared.
As far as the superstars go, Cody Bellinger is hitting a not-so-impressive .227 (5-for-22 with a double), while Mookie Betts is slashing just .208/.269/.250 (5-for-24 with a double) through the first five games.
Despite the Dodgers having two losses, they still lead the National League with a +15 run differential, thanks mainly to the pair of routes of the Giants in the first two games.
Chase Field in Arizona is typically one of the friendliest hitter’s park in the majors, so the upcoming four-game set this weekend against the Snakes might be a cue for the Los Angeles offense to explode, especially in the cases of Bellinger and Betts.