The Los Angeles Dodgers faced their toughest stretch of the season so far in the final week of April. Since last Monday, the squad has gone 2-5 including two extra-inning losses and a ninth inning demise. Managing to drop behind the Giants and the Rockies in the NL West standings, the Dodgers have this dynamic roster that failed to live up to its potential this week with increasing turmoil in the bullpen becoming the biggest source of frustration.
Grade of the week: D
The good: The upsides to this week come within the starting rotation and mainly in the form of injury updates. Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw made his first rehab start with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Friday and will be working up his pitch count in at least one more rehab start before returning to the team despite Kershaw’s hope to make his next start with the Dodgers. Either way, rehab starts mean progress, and progress means Kershaw is inching towards a return. A.J. Ellis is also working his way towards a fast recovery as the catcher is doing all but running just two weeks after his knee surgery and could be back before the initial four-to-six week timetable.
Josh Beckett had the most impressive performance of the week. The right-hander went a strong eight innings on Friday and gave up just two runs in an unfortunate no-decision. Zack Greinke went a season-high seven innings against the Phillies on Wednesday allowing just two runs and striking out eleven, and Paul Maholm also had a solid start in Sunday’s win although it followed a far less impressive outing last Monday. In other good pitching news, Kenley Jansen seems to be back on his feet, throwing scoreless ball over five outings this week.
The bad: It’s no secret that the Dodgers bullpen has been detrimental to the team this week, especially in its’ inability to withstand extra innings. Realistically, blaming every reliever for the Dodgers bad week is unfair, but the magnitude and repercussions of the mistakes out of the bullpen over the past seven games allow the generalization to be made. Between Jansen, Chris Perez, Chris Withrow, and dark horse of the week Brandon League, not many mistakes have been made, but let’s take a look at the rest of the pen’s pitching performances this week.
Brian Wilson, sporting a 14.40 ERA, gave up four runs to the Rockies in the top of the ninth and erased his team’s efforts to tie up the game in the seventh. The Dodgers may have won on Saturday, but Wilson’s consecutive walks in the ninth that led to a run being scored will not go unnoticed. The combination of J.P. Howell and Jamey Wright blew the Dodgers’ chances in the 11th against the Rockies on Friday, and while we’re on the topic of late inning blunders, we can’t forget about the miscommunication between Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford that cost the Dodgers the game on Tuesday.
The Dodgers have been on the wrong side of tied games far too many times over them month of April, and Don Mattingly has expressed his frustrations. With so many close games this week, the blame does not fall heavily on a lack of run support although the Dodgers were held to two or fewer runs three times this week.
Additionally, Ryu had an uncharacteristically terrible start on Sunday, allowing six runs and nine hits in just five innings, and Hanley Ramirez was taken out of the game on Saturday with his bruised thumb that he has been claiming all week to be 100 percent healthy.
Overall: The Dodgers failed to live up to any sort of hype this week as they failed to triumph in any close games this week and fell victim to bullpen blunders far too many times for a team expected to unanimously head the NL West .
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