Since Spring Training began, the Dodgers’ disabled list has been collecting casualties at an alarming rate. With 10 Dodgers currently on the DL, new manager Dave Roberts has plenty to keep him busy when it comes to organizing the lineup every day. When my brother informed me that Howie Kendrick would be in left field on Wednesday night, I had to pull to the side of the road to check my phone for myself. (I was certain he was kidding.)
Now don’t get me wrong, Kendrick in left field doesn’t bother in the least and it doesn’t damage Roberts’ credibility in the slightest. My only thought of apprehension was, “are we already running out of players?”
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For the past few years, the Dodgers have made moves in order to bolster the bench and increase the depth of the team should some of our starters sustain any ailments over the course of the year. However, I don’t think anyone could have predicted so many players beginning the regular season on the trainer’s table.
While Van Slyke, Bolsinger, Crawford and Guerrero aren’t expected to be out for too long, the rest of the DL is occupied by players who will need a lengthy recovery period. Three injuries in particular have really knocked the Dodgers pitching staff on their heels and actually sent management scrambling to find a suitable fifth starter. I’m speaking of the injuries sustained by starters Brett Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy.
Ryu and Anderson were slated to join lefty phenom Clayton Kershaw and Japanese sensation Kenta Maeda in what was predicted to be a competitive rotation, sans Greinke. McCarthy would then join the rotation some time around the all-star break, coming off of Tommy John Surgery.
This was not to be. Ryu ended up needing even more time to recover from his shoulder surgery last year and Anderson pitched in one brief outing during Spring Training before discovering a bulging disk in his back that required surgery. These untimely developments mean that the Dodgers will have to get creative at least until June when all three pitchers are due back.
What do the Dodgers miss without those three pitchers? Well, the three pitchers share a solid 3.67 ERA between them with a WHIP of 1.26.
The Dodgers received even more bad new when Andre Ethier fouled a ball off of his leg during a Spring Training game, breaking his leg. The lifelong Dodger will be on crutches for the next six weeks while the rest of the team pick up the slack in left field.
With all of this, it looks as if that fourth consecutive NL West Championship may be a little harder to attain than in recent years for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers have been in tough spots before.
In the first half of 2013, the Dodgers looked entirely out of sorts. As a matter of fact, they actually found themselves in last place at one point and dropped as far back as 9.5 games out of first. It was around the second half of the season when former Dodger Zack Greinke returned to the game after sustaining a broken collarbone. It was also around that time when Yasiel Puig made his much anticipated MLB debut for the Dodgers.
After treading water through the first half of the 2013 season, their record stood at a meager 47-47. After the break, the Dodgers caught fire. They went on to finish the season with a record of 92-70 and clinch the NL West for the first of three straight years.
It is much too early to predict with any certainty how the Dodgers will fare this season against a much tougher NL West division, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin drawing parallels to the 2013 campaign relatively soon. The division is still the Dodgers’ to lose, so it will be imperative that they come away from the first half with as many wins as possible as they wait for their regulars to return with a clean bill of health.
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