The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of playing some of their best baseball of the season. That trend continued over the last week as the team traveled to Kansas City and won two out of three against the Royals. A return home saw the St. Louis Cardinals come to Dodger Stadium for rematch of the 2013 NLCS. The Dodgers won the first game, dropped the second, and come out victorious in the final two.
Grade of the Week: A-
Pros: Once again, the starting pitching has been excellent. The man leading the way is none other than Clayton Kershaw.
Coming off his first career no-hitter, Kershaw pitched a solid eight innings Tuesday while keeping the Royals scoreless as he struck out eight batters in the process.
On Sunday, he again didn’t allow a run to cross home plate as he stifled the Cardinals over seven innings and recorded 13 strikeouts.
Josh Beckett did his part and continued his strong comeback. He also pitched seven scoreless innings in what turned out to be a pitchers duel with Adam Wainwright as the Dodgers scored the game’s lone run in the eighth inning.
As for Zack Greinke, despite having a rough outing Monday against his former team, he responded with a dominant performance Saturday against the Cardinals. In his seven innings of work, he allowed one run on four hits while striking out 10.
The pitchers were also aided by some good fielding from the Dodgers defense. Two specific instances come from Scott Van Slyke and Matt Kemp.
With Brian Wilson trying to protect a 5-4 Dodger lead Wednesday, Van Slyke made a leaping catch that ended the game when he converted it into a double play.
The next night, Kemp helped Beckett’s cause by nailing Allen Craig at home plate to keep the game scoreless in the seventh inning.
Recently, Kemp has been slowly regaining his form at the plate, but the throw seems to indicate he is on his way to improving his defense as well.
Cons: Just as the Dodgers continue to roll, stability and injuries questions persist.
Dealing with injuries for what seems like the whole season so far, Hanley Ramirez continues to be unable to get healthy. His latest injuries are two he’s dealt with earlier this year — irritation in the AC joint of his right shoulder and tightness in his left calf.
The latter resulted in Ramirez leaving Saturday’s game in the second inning. Adding to the Dodgers’ troubles, Ramirez wasn’t alone in leaving Saturday’s game with an injury.
Justin Turner strained his hamstring and has been placed on the disabled lis. Turner filled in admirably for an injured Juan Uribe, and his absence hurts the depth the Dodgers have established halfway into the season.
Overall: The Dodgers hot streak has helped them reach a tie atop the NL West with the San Francisco Giants. While the team has shown last season that they can finish a season strong and carry the momentum into the playoffs, this year’s squad will need to continue to see production from reliable sources.
Dodgers History: MLB Facts About Clayton Kershaw’s No-Hitter