April is Over: Four Dodger Questions Heading Into May


Can Kershaw get just a little more run support, please?

The Dodgers offense has exploded out of the blocks this season. They are second in the National League in runs scored (100) and first in runs per game (4.8) since they have played 2 less games than runs leader San Diego (105). With that being said, would it be possible for Mr. MVP to get a little more help on the days that he pitches?

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In his 5 outings this season, the Dodgers have averaged 3.2 runs per game. Of the 16 runs they have scored in his support, 6 of them came on Opening Day against the Padres and 7 on April 17 against Colorado. Taking those two games out, that leaves run support of 1 run per game across the remaining 3. Granted, two of those games were against World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, but even that is little excuse for being locked down for 14.1 innings given the depth of the Dodgers lineup.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brandon McCarthy, who will miss the rest of the season with a UCL injury, is 4-0 with an average run support of 7.75 each game he pitched. I know a lot of this is tied to their place in the rotation. Kershaw will typically be matched up against the other team’s ace while McCarthy is usually matched up against riff-raff.  Zack Greinke, who will also typically be matched up against one of the better starters on opposition staffs, has still received 5.2 runs per game in support also leading to a 4-0 record.

I’m not asking for 5 homers and a dozen runs per start for Mr. Kershaw. Just give him another run or two. Because every time Kershaw falls in a one run game, a defenseless puppy dies from hunger and neglect.

Can we now believe in this Dodger power surge?

The Dodgers offensive prowess this year can now be considered more BAU than anomalous (except in the case of Kershaw starts as noted above). In Game 3 against the Giants on Wednesday night they knocked out another 4 home runs, 3 of them coming in the first inning. This gives them 32 dingers for April, putting them tops in the National League.

Helping to ignite some of that power, Don Mattingly’s decision to shift Joc Pederson to the leadoff position on Wednesday was an apparent stroke of genius. It’s also just the type of move many fans have been pleading for since opening week. Pederson has been a revelation so far the season while standard leadoff man Jimmy Rollins has been a bit underwhelming. In the first inning of Wednesday’s game, already trailing 1-0, Pederson strode up to the plate and promptly blasted a home run off Ryan Vogelsong to tie the game while many fans were still filing through the turnstiles.

According to columnist Ken Gurnick, Mattingly said he had been batting Pederson eighth to reduce the expectations on the youngster. He also cited Pederson’s performance entering Wednesday of third in the league with a .458 OBP and tied for second with 16 walks. Mattingly didn’t mention the difficulties Rollins has had (he’s currently batting .185 with an OBP of just .280).

Can Howie Kendrick’s defense get any better?

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick (47) makes an out in the third inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers’ second baseman has a sparkling fielding percentage of 1.000 so the answer to this question is probably ‘no’. He has played 179 innings with 82 chances, 36 put outs, and 46 assists. His diving catches and sound turning of double plays has warmed the hearts of millions. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also batting .295 with 3 home runs already. At this rate he could finish the year with 18 homers which would be tied for his highest single-season output. He also hit 18 home runs in 2011.

And one final question…

Was I wrong about Andre Ethier’s role with the Dodgers?

Oh, hell yes. I thank the Dodger gods every night that no deal was accepted to ship Dre out of LA, especially now with both Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford on the DL. Ethier has wrapped himself up snuggly in his new supporting role faster than Kim Kardashian putting on a new fur coat. On Wednesday night against the Giants he cracked the game open in the first inning with a 2-run bomb. He likely saved two runs in the top of the second when he stole a line drive off the bat of Joe Panik that was destined for the right-center gap, showing Joc Pederson he’s not the only one who knows how to read the ball.

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  • Ethier is now batting .304 with an OPB of .400 and 3 home runs. His defense has been strong in the corner outfield positions, and by the look of Pederson’s joyful reaction to Ethier’s catch on Wednesday it appears Andre is also doing his part to be a good clubhouse guy. Only the most die-hard of Ethier fans could have predicted such positives during the spring. I certainly didn’t expect it and I am very glad to have been wrong.

    After an off day Thursday, the Diamondbacks come to town on Friday as Carlos Frias faces off against Arizona’s Rubby De La Rosa. May the high run support continue.