Dodgers Roster: A Few Early Season Surprises

I think if I had to name the one thing I love the most about baseball, it’s that it just so darn unpredictable. Almost a third of the way into the season, there are quite a few things that no fan of the Dodgers could have predicted.

Take last night’s game, for example. After Rich Hill could not throw a strike to save his life on Wednesday, and the Cardinals took a lead that the Dodgers couldn’t recover from, it looked like deja vu all over again. The Dodgers had struggled to get runs against the Cardinals in the previous two games. They fell behind 3-0 early. But hey! Then Kenta Maeda got his stuff together — so much so that Dave Roberts let him bat in fourth inning, down one with two outs. After fouling off pitch after pitch, he ended up hitting a two-run single to put the Dodgers ahead for good.

Subsequently, Maeda followed up with a 1-2-3 fifth inning. The Dodgers scored two more runs in the bottom of the frame, knocking Michael Wacha from the game. Maeda was replaced in the sixth with Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu seemingly is the odd man out in the Dodgers rotation with the return of Maeda from the DL. Before the game, Roberts talked about it was a “very delicate” situation, and that the possibility of Ryu being long man in the bullpen was discussed.

The first experiment with doing just that went very well. Ryu only gave up two hits over four innings of work in his first ever relief appearance. He struck out two, walked one and threw a total of 51 pitches. Whether he will remain in that roll long term, time will tell. But it’s not something anyone saw coming at the start of the season.

Let’s talk about Chris Taylor, shall we? Originally left off the club in favor of Enrique Hernandez to start the season, he has made himself indispensable to the team. He has continued his hot hitting that started in spring training. Currently, his slash line is .344/.445/.581/1.026 with five home runs. He’s played games at second, third, shortstop, and has now forced the Dodgers to give him starts in the outfield, too, just to keep his bat in the lineup. The fact that he doesn’t play much outfield is why he was left off the roster in the first place. The last two nights he has started in center field, however, and has really held his own, even making a spectacular diving catch to rob Dexter Fowler of a hit.

Taylor has become something of a folk hero to Dodgers fans. On a team that boasts some of the best talent in the majors, it’s CT3 that has won over many a heart. His quiet, unassuming way he plays and his hot bat have consistently brought happiness to Dodgers fans. The fact that he seems to be a Giants killer doesn’t hurt either. While some complained that Zach Lee should not have been traded from the organization, its clear that LA stole a gem from the Mariners.

The top three pitchers on the staff currently are Clayton Kershaw (duh), Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy. Only one of those is not surprising. Fans probably also would not have wanted to predict that the Dodgers would be in third place at this point in the season either, or that it would be Colorado and Arizona ahead of them. Colorado seems to be the real deal. I do have a feeling Arizona will fall off as the season progresses. The Dodgers have too much talent and depth to remain in third place. Their record at this point extrapolates to a 95 win season. They will be fine, even though we are sure to encounter many more surprises before the postseason begins.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERGIRLINPA)

 

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A Few Random Thoughts About the Dodgers Bullpen

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

As avid followers of the Dodgers, many fans often know which relievers aren’t the most reliable out of the bullpen without needing to dig heavily into specific player statistics. At the same time, it’s difficult to comprehend that the Los Angeles relief corps still ranks second in the National League with a sub-3.00 ERA while having two or more relievers who seemingly are mainly utilized in low-leverage situations.

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Dodgers Hope to Gain Momentum in San Diego Series

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Today could very well turn out to be an interesting day for the Dodgers. It appears as though a couple of roster changes will be made, including one that has never happened before. Up until now, Adrian Gonzalez has never gone on the disabled list in his entire major league career. Will that change today? Also, will Kenta Maeda be able to build on his success from his last game?

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How Can Dodgers Boost Offensive Productivity?

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(Mandatory Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, the most common conversation themes these days between fans of the Dodgers have been about inconsistencies in several areas of the game, primarily discussions regarding either the sputtering offense or the somewhat unsteady starting rotation.

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Dodgers Opinions: There’s No Need to Panic Just Yet

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So, the title of my story on Friday was “Dodgers Head to Arizona with High Expectations.” The Dodgers didn’t meet any expectations, really, losing two of three to the Diamondbacks and losing another spot in the division. Now they head into San Francisco, where the Giants are all kinds of not good, just lost their best pitcher to a freak (dumb) accident, and Dodgers fans might revolt if the Dodgers do not do well against them.

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Dodgers Head to Arizona with High Expectations

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The Dodgers head into Arizona this weekend with a record of 8-8, a little sub-par for what most Dodger fans were hoping. Los Angeles currently is in third place in the division, behind both the Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. With a sweep of Arizona, the Dodgers would move ahead of them, and possibly be back on top of the NL West.

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Dodgers Roadtrip Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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The Dodgers have completed their first road trip of the season, returning home with just a 2-6 record against the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. As my friend Chuck says, just get in and out of those locales without any injuries, and we can call it a success. Mission almost accomplished. During the road trip the Dodgers lost Franklin Gutierrez to a left hamstring strain, placed him on the 10-day DL and recalled Trayce Thompson from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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Dodgers Lineups: What’s the Problem Against Lefty Pitching?

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(Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Last year, a few stubborn fans who didn’t care to comprehend simple math believed it to be a season-long jinx. But only ten games into the 2017 campaign, the struggles the Dodgers have been wrestling with against left-handed pitching have become so obvious that other teams are realigning their pitching rotation when they see a series vs. Los Angeles appear on their respective schedules.

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Dodgers Roster: Is It Too Early for a Few Performance-Based Adjustments?

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One week into the season, and fans of the Dodgers are already getting restless. The narratives from last year have carried into this one — the injuries, the inability to hit with runners in scoring position, and the troubles facing left-handed pitching. Other teams are changing their rotations to have as many left-handers as possible face the Dodgers. Rich Hill is the first starter to be placed on the DL, and Justin Turner left the game early last night with a quad strain.

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Better Utility Option: Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernández or Charlie Culberson?

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(Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Listening to the Dodgers radio broadcast yesterday, Rick Monday said something that piqued my interest. He said that he thought Chris Taylor might have a better chance making the 25-man roster because he was there, in camp, showing his hustle. Meanwhile, Enrique Hernandez was playing with the Team Puerto Rico, and not being seen or evaluated by the front office and coaching staff.

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