The Dodgers are officially a .500 team at the end of April. The Dodgers took a 13-13 record into the first game of May and got disposed of by the first place Colorado Rockies 7-3. Many things have gone wrong for the Blue Crew in the first month of the season. Mostly a slew of injuries that has decimated the starting rotation. In addition several key players have struggled early on including Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Although the Dodgers have underachieved, things could definitely be worse and there are some positives to build on going forward. I’ll break the bad news to you first.
The Dodgers have underachieved in April, but that’s mostly been due to injuries. Hanley Ramirez missed all of the month with a thumb injury he suffered in the World Baseball Classic. Chad Billingsley is done for the year and will have to undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Chris Capuano went down with a strained hamstring in his first start replacing Billingsley. Mark Ellis got shelved with a strained quad while hitting .342. And, of course, Zack Greinke went down with a broken left collarbone in the now infamous spat with the Padres’ Carlos Quentin. However, Ramirez made a triumphant return to the starting lineup Tuesday night, hitting a solo home run. Capuano could rejoin the team this weekend, as well. Zack Greinke has been throwing, and he also could return before June.
0-4, 5.24 ERA, ouch. Clayton Kershaw has been his usual Cy Young self, and Hyun-Jin Ryu has impressed, but with injuries to Greinke and Billingsley, the Dodgers need a veteran pitcher to step up. Sadly, Beckett hasn’t been that guy. He hasn’t pitched completely horribly. His 31:11 K:BB ratio and 1.43 WHIP show he can get guys out. However, it’s the 8 home runs given up, tied for third worst in the NL, that have ultimately doomed Beckett. Beckett, does have interesting company in that department. The Brewers’ Marco Estrada has given up a league leading 10 home runs, but the Giant’s Matt Cain has given up 9 homers, and Beckett is tied with Roy Halladay for third. Two elite pitchers who have also struggled. Regardless, Beckett needs to figure something out in order to contribute to the team.
MATT KEMP’S STRIKEOUTS
No Dodgers players’ struggles have been scrutinized quite like Matt Kemp. A month into the season, Kemp, the face of the team, is hitting .260 with only one home run and 11 RBI. He also has only six extra-base hits total on the year, and is striking out far too much. 28 times so far on the year, compared to only eight walks. Not nearly enough from the man who should be one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. His line of .260/.315/.655 is hardly on par with Kemp’s MVP talent. Juan Uribe and both A.J. Ellis and Mark Ellis have better hitting lines. Enough said.
Adrian Gonzalez has been, by far, the anchor of the Dodgers lineup. Adrian is fifth in the NL with a .330 batting average, and tied for seventh with 20 RBI. He leads the team in hits (32), doubles (7), and RBI (20). Adrian’s line is .330/.393/.888. Don Mattingly also shifted the lineup moving Adrian up to the three-spot and slotting Kemp in the cleanup spot. Although, he may not hit 40 home runs, Adrian looks comfortable at the plate, and appears poised for another all-star season. If Kemp and Ethier can hit consistently behind A-Gon, the Dodgers lineup will start destroying lives.
When the Dodgers made the blockbuster trade to acquire Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett from the Boston Red Sox last season, Crawford was seen as the biggest question mark. Coming off elbow surgery, the consensus was Crawford would not be ready for the start of the regular season. Turns out, Crawford was more than ready. Not only, has he been the Dodgers other best hitter aside from Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford has proven to be a catalyst at the top of the L.A. lineup. Crawford is hitting .308 with a team leading four home runs. He’s also scored a team leading 20 runs, tied for seventh in the NL. He’s tied for the team lead in stolen bases. Crawford and Kemp each have four. Crawford’s line is .308/.388/.905. Kind of looks like the all-star we all knew and loved on Tampa Bay who sparked that lineup. Crawford sat the past two games with a sore knee, but it does not appear to be serious.
The Dodgers dived into the unknown by signing Korean pitcher Ryu to a 6 year, $36 million dollar deal this offseason. It looks like this is going to be a sound investment. Ryu improved to 3-1 with a 3.35 ERA Tuesday night with a masterful start where he struck out 12 batters in six innings. Ryu was one of the Dodgers’ biggest uncertainties heading into the season, but he’s alleviated any doubts. I point out Ryu’s insane 46:10 K:BB ratio to anyone who doubts whether he can hang at the Major League level. Ryu’s 46 K’s are tied for fourth in the National League. So far, the transition to the major leagues, seems to be seamless for Ryu.
May will be a big month for the Dodgers. They open the month with a key series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. The Dodgers will have some intriguing series’ against non-division rivals such as the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Freeway Series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Dodgers will also have a road-trip that visits Milwaukee and Atlanta. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to take the mound against Barry Zito Friday night. It will be an emotional start for Kershaw. Sadly, Kershaw’s father passed away earlier this week. DodgersNation sends its condolences to Kershaw and his family.