Two weeks after the single worst opening day in Los Angeles Dodgers history – Brian Stow donation fund details here – we’ve more or less worked up the stomach to talk about the product the team has been putting on the field.
It isn’t exactly scintillating, now is it? In fact, it’s about as downright meh as baseball gets, starting with the team’s 6-6 record so far. At this point, the only exciting things on a day Clayton Kershaw isn’t pitching are: (1) Andre Ethier at the plate, (2) Matt Kemp running the bases (or at the plate), and (3) Jonathan Broxton playing with fire in the 9th inning.
Here’s what we know about the Medium-Sized Blue Non-Wrecking Crew so far:
The Dodgers amazing six-deep starting rotation is absolutely, positively at least one-deep. Kershaw is what you thought he was, which is awesome. Y’know how Hiroki Kuroda has those periods where he looks unbeatable and those periods where he looks like Chad Billingsley on a bad day? (Check his 2010 for a great example.) He’s been Good Hiroki for two starts so far. Okay, so they’re at least one-and-three-quarters-deep.
Three starts in, Bills is off to a scary (as in 7.71 ERA) start. (He’ll get better. We think.) Ted Lilly’s almost two runs better than that. Vicente Padilla’s not coming back anytime soon. Jon Garland is angling to make it back tomorrow.
In the bully, we know Brox is nails, going 5-for-5 in save attempts. We also know Brox blows – he’s been channeling Wild Thing Williams in getting hit all over the lot while somehow not blowing any saves…yet. Hong-Chih Kuo – Big Blue’s Brox Backup – is still fragile, getting in 2 2/3 innings so far. The closer of the future, Kenley Jansen, has an era over 7. On the other hand, off-season pickup Matt Guerrier looks like a good move – he’s given up no runs and two hits in 6 2/3 innings of his first six appearances.
Translation: there are a couple bright spots and a couple promising signs, but overall, YIKES! Oh, and pitching is definitely the Dodgers’ strong suit.
The Dodger offense? Kemp and Ethier and Pray For Seven Walks. Two weeks in, Matty Ballgame looks like he looks in every Dodger fan’s ultimate baseball wet dream, with an OBP over .500, a slugging percentage over .600, and on pace to steal 90+ bases. Andre the Giant, er, Dodger is 100 or so points behind Kemp at the moment, meaning he’s killing it too.
Casey Blake has been solid in his first four games off the DL. Tony Gwynn Jr. looks like he’s going to be a stabilizing influence in left field. Oh, and Jamey Carroll is currently looking like a Derrel Thomas-caliber utility guy, currently hitting at a .342 clip, which will obviously end.
Those are the highlights. And now…everything else – or as we like to call them, the lowlights – starting with the fact that Carroll is playing as a starter because, the minute Blake got better, the inevitable Rafael Furcal breakdown happened. The Dodgers are getting exactly what you expected out of the catchers – next to nothing – but at least they’ve managed to nail 23% of the guys who try to steal on them. (In fairness, Rod Barajas does have three of the team’s seven home runs. He also has a grand total of eight hits.)
At best, however, Loney’s and Uribe’s eventual uptick will be largely offset by the inevitable drop in betting average from, Carroll, Kemp and Ethier, though with ‘Dre at two extra base hits in 46 at bats, his power production will step up. The starting pitching after the two K’s – Kershaw and Kuroda – has to improve, but Broxton – who we love cheering for – hasn’t really fixed last year’s problems, and there’s little in the bullpen to help bail him out when he stops catching breaks.
Going in, we expected another uneven season of Dodger baseball, and we’ve seen little so far to indicate that won’t be the case, though watching might be a little more fun this year if Kemp keeps playing like he’s capable of.
It might not be fun for Dodger fans to watch, but we can console ourselves by remember that ever loss moves us a small step closer to Bud Selig inviting Frank McCourt to take a long walk off a short pier.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and you can almost hear the splash when the worst owner in sports not named Sterling hits the potentially shark-infested waters of the Pacific.