Dodgers: What Went Right and Wrong for the Dodgers in Week Three

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Chris Taylor
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Chris Taylor /

No matter what the Dodgers are doing on the field, no matter how they perform in the batter’s box, no matter where they are in the standings, one thing remains perfectly clear after three weeks of the 2018 Major League Baseball season: Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher on the planet.

But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Coming into Week three, it appeared the Dodgers had a terrific opportunity to get well in a hurry. The A’s were coming in for two games surrounded by two off days, followed by the Diamondbacks for a three-game weekend set.

After Monday’s scheduled off day, the Dodgers opened up the five-game homestand with a floundering Oakland team that hasn’t been relevant in the A.L. West standings since 2014, having finished dead last in the division in each the past three seasons.

Time to right the ship, right? Not so fast, my friend (with apologies to Lee Corso). Two wins in five tries, with seemingly the entire pitching staff imploding (except for that Kershaw guy), led to another frustrating and disastrous week at Chavez Ravine. Despite winning the first game of the series, the Dodgers were pummeled in the second game of the two-game set.

We learned that the Dodgers still have some power up and down the lineup, beginning with the top two spots in the order.

After Chris Taylor homered to lead off the bottom of the first on Tuesday, Corey Seager followed suit three pitches later with a 440-foot laser beam into the right-center field pavilion. Matt Kemp added a home run in the sixth in a 4-0 win, but something still didn’t feel quite right.

Despite a respectable 11 hits against four A’s pitchers, including former Dodgers Daniel Coulombe and Chris Hatcher, eight of those 11 hits were condensed into three innings. The Dodgers had three hits in the game’s other five innings combined.

Stringing together hits, especially with two outs, was a Dodger specialty last season, and one they must improve upon this season in order to not fall out of contention (which really isn’t a concern yet, as there were 148 games remaining after Sunday).

Closer Kenley Jansen was called upon with two on and one out in the ninth and, after striking out Jonathan Lucroy for the second out, eventually induced Stephen Piscotty to ground out to end the game.

Jansen threw five straight cutters to Piscotty at 89, 89, 89, 89 and 88 miles per hour before Piscotty grounded out.

Granted, velocity isn’t everything. Much like real estate, though, pitching is about three things: Location, location, location. Six of Jansen’s 10 pitches in the inning were in the middle portion of the plate. Coupled with reduced velocity, it felt fortunate to get out of that one alive.

Then came Wednesday. Last year’s surprise, Alex Wood, was on the mound after having his Tuesday start pushed back a day due to food poisoning over the weekend in San Francisco.

This game was in doubt for, oh, about five seconds. Offensively, the Dodgers opened up for six runs on 12 hits. But, when the pitching staff allows 16 runs and 21 hits, it’s hard to compete.

It was the most runs the A’s had scored in two years. Two years! The A’s!

One thing we did learn Wednesday was that Wilmer Font has a dandy of a curveball, and he loves to throw it. And he can hit 94 quite comfortably with his fastball.

Trouble is, we were also reminded that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw in the Majors. If you throw it down the middle, it’s going to get hit, as Font found out in his two innings of six-run ball.

Of course, Wood didn’t help himself by allowing seven runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings to put this one out of reach early.

After Thursday’s rare second off-day in a week, Friday told us this with regards to this year’s edition of the Dodgers (so far): Average pitching beats bad hitting.

Arizona’s first two pitchers Friday currently have earned run averages of 5.27 and 7.71. The Dodgers started three hitters batting over .300. The other five starters finished the night at .226 or below. That’s 62.5 percent of your starting eight batting near or below the Mendoza Line.

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Couple that with the fact that Dodgers’ pitchers gave up a combined 33 runs over a three-game stretch last week, and it’s no wonder the staff ranked 10th in team ERA and 21st in batting average against through Sunday.

A 7-2 victory on Jackie Robinson Day was little consolation to a 2-3 week. If nothing else, it hopefully brought some energy to a club that seems to be lacking intensity.

Kershaw proved his 0-2 mark prior to Sunday was a fluke when he threw 100 pitches (71 for strikes) and allowed one run (his fourth solo home run of the five earned runs he’s allowed this season) and struck out 12 with no walks.

This week brings possibly the toughest home test of the season as the Washington Nationals drop by for three games this weekend. L.A. is scheduled to face Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and “Undecided.”

Next: Dodgers: Matt Kemp Proving he's the Man for Left Field

Taking two of three could be the first step toward righting a listing ship.