Dodgers Inching Closer to First Place
By Joseph Lopez
See what strong pitching can do for a team? The Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that struggled with their pitching staff for the first month of the season, have turned things around and are just one game behind the San Diego Padres for first place. The Dodgers have experienced an improvement in their pitching department, and as a result have placed themselves in a nice position to recapture a division that many analysts expect them to have won by the end of September.
The NL West is much like the AL West in the sense that the division is expected to come down to the wire. The Dodgers, Giants and Rockies are all expected to be within striking distance of each other come playoff time. The Padres, who have led the division for awhile now, seem to be coming back down to Earth. The Padres are currently 14th in the NL in batting average (.245) and are hitting just .245/.325/.365 as a team. The offense for the Padres is not characteristic of a division leading team, but their pitching staff is. The Padres currently lead the NL in ERA (2.98) and are holding opponents to just a .226 batting average.
In comparison, the Dodgers boast a much better offense, as they are batting .277/.347/.426. The Dodgers have scored 224 runs (4th best in NL) and have remained aggressive on the base-paths. They have successfully swiped 28 bases so far this season, which is best for 6th in the NL.
While the pitching staff has been getting better for the Dodgers, it still fails in comparison to the Padres’ staff. The Dodgers have a team ERA of 4.32 (11th in NL) and opponents are still hitting pretty well off them, with a .251 average (5th highest in NL). Despite these comparisons, however, the Dodgers appear to be on the rise once again, and are looking like the preseason favorites they once were.
The Dodgers will face the Chicago Cubs starting today, and will give the ball to Clayton Kershaw (4-2, 3.23 ERA), who has won his last three decisions.