With a payroll over $230 million, good for first in all of baseball, coupled with their postseason run in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2014 amid expectations of winning their division and a World Series berth.
Over a quarter of a way through the regular season, the Dodgers resemble nothing of the team that ripped off a 42-8 record en route to clinching the NL West title. With a loss on Sunday to the Arizona Diamondbacks, which also resulted in another series loss, the Dodgers are just one game above .500 and third in their division.
Dan Haren began the day 5-1 with a sub 3.00 ERA. Though the right-hander didn’t have his best stuff, but he managed to keep the Dodgers in the game. The team spotted him a 1-0 lead in the first inning and a 3-0 lead in the third, but Haren simply couldn’t keep the Diamondbacks at bay and he wound up surrendering a two-run homer to Eric Chavez in the fifth that proved to be the difference in the game.
With a shaky bullpen and inconsistent hitting, Haren and the rest of the starting staff have been under pressure to pitch as much mistake-free baseball as possible. When asked what the reasoning behind the team’s erratic play may be, Haren could only assume it may have to do with the talent on the roster, according to the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
I don’t have the answer, really,” Haren said. “I think we’re so talented that sometimes maybe we expect the talent to just take over. That being said, we really haven’t hit our stride yet. We haven’t put several games together that were just real clean.
Haren further went to express his belief the Dodgers are capable of putting together a run:
here’s a long way to go. We’re definitely not buried… We could be in a lot worse shape and we’re in position to make a run.”
With much of last season’s roster intact, the points Haren raises appear valid. However, one glaring difference may be there likely isn’t another Yasiel Puig coming up from the Minor League ranks to provide a spark.
While the Dodgers do have highly-touted prospects in their farm system, the team doesn’t appear to be in a rush to add one of them to the big league roster. Another disappointing series in the books, the Dodgers have Monday off for travel and can find some solace in Hyun-Jin Ryu’s expected return, which will arguably get them to as healthy as they’ve been all season.
Dodgers Update: Dodgers Fall Behind Giants And Rockies In NL West