This week, the Los Angeles Dodgers traveled across the world for the highly anticipated Opening Series in Australia. After a few days of enjoying their Sydney surroundings, the players were able to regain focus as they swept the DBacks in the two-game series. The Dodgers will remain undefeated for at least the next week and now have an encouraging start to the season.
Grade of the week: A
The good: Starters Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are largely to thank for the Dodgers ability to come out on top in Australia. After a shaky spring, Kershaw pitched 6.2 innings allowing only one run with seven strikeouts. Ryu threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out five. Although these may be two mere starts of a lengthy season, these impressive outings could already be setting the tone for the rotation as a whole to start the season.
Left fielder Scott Van Slyke also proved himself as an asset during this series. Filling in for Carl Crawford who welcomed a baby boy to the world on Saturday, Van Slyke hit a two-run homer and had two hits in the first game. In the second base department, Justin Turner and Dee Gordon seem to be a good pairing for a platoon. Turner had a hit in his first game as a Dodger and in the second game Gordon went 3-4 with two RBI.
In other news, it’s been rumored that Matt Kemp could be back within the first ten days of the season. While the results at the plate aren’t translating to the box score, the 29-year-old outfielder has reported no setbacks from ankle surgery. Additionally in the injury department, Chad Billingsley is also on track to make his first minor league appearance coming up in the next few weeks as he has faced no setbacks so far. With Josh Beckett dealing with a sprained thumb, a healthy Billingsley will be huge for the Dodgers rotation. Zack Greinke and Dan Haren also reported no setbacks and their scheduled to pitch the first two games of the Freeway Series.
The not-s0-good: While the Dodgers had an amazing week, there were a few setbacks pertaining to the bullpen. In the second game in Australia, Ryu left the game with the Dodgers leading 5-0. Chris Withrow pitched a scoreless inning of relief but Jamey Wright, Jose Dominguez and Kenley Jansen all gave up runs. Even though the Dodgers pulled out a 7-5 win, a shaky bullpen put the Dodgers comfortable lead at risk. Once the Dodgers make their final roster cuts, it’s likely Withrow and Dominguez will be optioned back to the minor leagues.
Lastly, Yasiel Puig might be dealing with a back issue that initially warranted an MRI, but there isn’t a scan scheduled as of now.
Overall: Other than a few blips in the bullpen, the Dodgers are off to an incredible start as they dominated in Sydney. With spring injuries looking to resolve themselves soon, the organization should be ecstatic looking forward to their second opener against the San Diego Padres in a week as well as their exhibition series against the Angels in just a few days.
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