As was the case last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered this season under the assumption manager Don Mattingly would have a surplus of outfielders and potentially a crowded starting rotation to juggle.
In terms of the outfield picture, Mattingly’s job figured to be more difficult this year as Yasiel Puig was with the team from the outset and once Matt Kemp returned from the disabled list, the Dodgers were carrying five capable outfielders.
The depth in starting pitchers and in the outfield did prove beneficial as multiple players have been lost to the DL at various points this season. Kemp’s struggles in center resulted in him being benched in favor of Andre Ethier, who isn’t a natural center fielder.
In an interview with John Ireland and Steve Mason on 710 AM ESPN LA Radio, ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney said Mattingly acknowledged to him in a June 1 interview defense remains a concern. Olney further went on to point out the Dodgers roster is composed of players that don’t quite mesh:
“It’s an interesting team because they have a lot of stars, they have a lot of good players, but they don’t necessarily fit well together.”
How long Kemp’s stint on the bench would have lasted is unknown, and though he’s been a regular in the lineup since Carl Crawford suffered a sprained ankle, he’s now playing out of position. The Dodger infield hasn’t been immune to injuries with Hanley Ramirez missing time with calf soreness and Juan Uribe landing on the DL with a hamstring strain.
With Uribe going on the DL, the Dodgers called up Erisbel Arruebarrena — a natural shortstop that’s already filled in for Ramirez and who is capable of playing second and third base. Despite some of the versatility on the roster, the Dodgers have fallen victim to a committing an abundace of errors; 45 through Wednesday, which is fourth most in the Nation League.
Despite not yet meeting the expectations that were placed on them, Olney believes the Dodgers are in a win-now mode, but said it could change should the losses continue to pile up:
“I do think this. They are definitely a, as we talked about, ‘win the World Series or bust’ type situation. If they keep hemorrhaging in the standings, and they don’t play better, I think all options will be on the table. Pederson might be part of that.”
Olney concluded his thoughts with if the Dodgers are to get back on track this season, it will need to begin with their pitching. Led by Zack Greinke’s 8-2 record, the pitching has been one of the Dodgers’ strong suits thus far, though Dan Haren has taken some shine off the pitching staff by going 1-4 since beginning the season 4-0.
Mattingly voiced his displeasure with the current state of the team after Wednesday’s loss. Puig’s arrival in June helped spark the remarkable 42-8 run and without a similar move available this year, the Dodgers will need to look inward in order to right the ship.
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