The Los Angeles Dodgers completed the first half of their season with a 51-40 record and are currently in second place in the NL West. Like most teams, the Dodgers will refuel and start to think about moves to bolster their team for a chance to make a run in the pennant race.
The Dodgers didn’t look quite as explosive as they did a season ago and will now assess how the first half of the season went. There should be no concern about the Dodgers’ chances of competing going forward. A number of critics figured that the loss of Zack Greinke was a primary reason in why the Dodgers don’t look the same as last season, but that is simply not true. In 2015, they finished 51-39 in the first half which is identical to their performance this season.
So, from a record stand point, there is no concern – the only difference is that the San Fransisco Giants are just more competitive.
The biggest problem with the Dodgers is that they can’t seem to get all the pieces to work together – it seems as though if isn’t one thing, its another. Last year, the offense was explosive and one of the best in the league. But Clayton Kershaw didn’t play particularly well in the first half and Greinke had to carry the team, and of course the bull-pen was god awful.
This season, it seems to be the opposite. The Dodgers’ offense has been widely inconsistent, but Kershaw looks like his usual self and the bullpen is the best in the league.
Having said that, lets break down the Dodgers’ performance by offense, defense, and pitching.
The Dodgers’ offense has been highly inconsistent this season and sits near the bottom half in every statistical category. They are batting .241 as a team, which is ranked fourth worst in the majors. They are also ranked pretty low in home runs (18th), RBIs (19th), and hits (24th). This is an alarming statistic, but even the Dodgers explosive offense last season was not too far off from these stats. The only difference was they were ranked fourth in home runs and ninth in RBIs. Nobody really noticed this because it was largely overshadowed by the home runs and the stellar performance by the starting pitchers.
Don’t get me wrong – while the stats are certainly lower than last year, it is not time to panic just yet. If you look on the bright side, the Dodgers offense has picked it up significantly since the beginning of July. All the guys that were slumping like Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Howie Kendrick have been hitting a lot better.
For July, Gonzalez is batting a whopping .429 with 15 hits, a home run, and nine RBIs. The concern here is that you can tell he has lost a little bit of power and hasn’t been able to go deep very much this season.
Turner has also shown a little resurgence hitting .270 with 10 hits, two home runs, and 5 RBIs. It looks like he is getting healthy and has looked more like himself. Kendrick has looked great hitting .351 with 13 hits, a home run, and 6 RBIs. He has logged at least one hit in the last nine out of 10 games.
There are other players that have looked good too but these are the most notable guys on the team. Corey Seager doesn’t need to be mentioned because he has arguably proven himself to be the most consistent hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup.
It is clear the Dodgers are experiencing an upward trend on offense, which should carry over into the second half.
There isn’t much to talk about here, as the Dodgers have been a pretty solid defensive team dating back to last year. They are currently ranked third in fielding, which can be attributed to the veterans a long the diamond and having young dependable outfielders.
The Dodgers’ pitching has been a trademark of their team for many seasons and the fans are accustomed to seeing them dominate on a nightly basis. Like every season, Kershaw has been the savior and the fans and the team expect him to carry them on his shoulders. And every night, Kershaw has answered the call. He is having another stellar year with a 1.79 ERA, 145 strikeouts and a 11-2 record. Not to mention, the Dodgers have won 14 of Kershaw’s 16 starts this season.
Unfortunately, you can’t say that about the rest of the starting pitching staff. More often than not this season, the rest of the crew have let the team down. Outside of Kershaw, the rest of the staff combine for a 22-25 record. It certainly doesn’t help that the Dodgers have battled injuries and have had to rotate 12 different pitchers since the season has started.
Despite holding a 7-3 record, Scott Kazmir has been very inconsistent since being acquired this past offseason. He has been bailed out by the offense more times than not and he has only recorded six or more innings twice in his last seven starts.
Next, Kenta Maeda has played pretty well as a rookie and holds a 8-6 record. He doesn’t have anything that will overpower batters at the Major League level but subdues his opponents with his breaking ball and with his pinpoint accuracy. In his last seven starts he has pitched at least 6 innings in every start but one.
While the Dodgers’ pitching staff has not played close to the level they are capable of, they are ranked pretty high statistically this season. The Dodgers are ranked seventh in ERA with a 3.77, second in strikeouts and first in K/9 with 9.74. Of course, the only thing that matters is it hasn’t been enough to win games.
Finally, the biggest surprise of the season has been the Dodgers’ bullpen. Aside from closer Kenley Jansen, they have been atrocious in years past. This season, they appear to have turned the corner and have been amongst the best in the league. In fact, they are ranked first in ERA with 2.83 and have been, in some respects, the best players on the team.
Jansen has been light outs holding a 1.16 ERA and has struck out 51 in 38.2 innings pitched. Also, Adam Liberatore has been amazing – he hasn’t allowed a run in 24 straight appearances, which is a Dodgers franchise record, previously set by John Candelabra in 1991. Joe Blanton, a relative unknown, has been turning heads as well and has become one of the more reliable guys out of bullpen. He holds a 2.09 ERA, with 48 strikeouts and has established himself as an excellent relief pitcher this season.
The Dodgers are starting to heat up on offense and the likes of Brandon McCarthy and Hyun- Jin Ryu are back from the disabled list, which should stabilize the pitching rotation. As long as the Dodgers can hold down the fort until Kershaw returns, they look to be in a great position to challenge the Giants for first place in the NL West and/or make the playoffs.
The non-waiver trade deadline is approaching quickly, and it will be interesting to see what the Dodgers’ brass will do to bolster the team.
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