Through eleven games, 103 innings of play, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been good, they’ve been really good. Whats more, is that they are even better than they’ve played.
The Dodgers have lost just three games in 2019, all came at the hands of the bullpen. Going into Sunday night’s game, Dodgers’ starters were 5-0 with a collective 2.92 ERA, 42 Ks, and 1.01 WHIP through 49.1 innings.
Relievers, however, have gone 2-2 with a collective 5.80 ERA, 31 Ks, and 1.45 WHIP through 35.2 innings. While Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, and Kenley Jansen have been solid, three Dodgers relievers have double-digit ERAs, Yimi Garcia (13.50), Joe Kelly (13.50), and Brock Stewart (18.00).
Stewart was optioned to Triple-A before Sunday’s game, but the other two will undoubtedly find their bearings soon enough. Joe Kelly’s career ERA is 3.96 and his pitches have too much movement that it’s hard to imagine he won’t bounce back. Once he regains his command he’ll be the solid 7th or 8th inning pitcher the Dodgers’ front office anticipated last winter.
Yimi Garcia has just 107 games under his belt at the major league level but has a 4.15 ERA during that span. The Dodgers are certainly hoping he can regain his 2015 form where he pitched in 59 games to a solid 3.34 ERA. Also, unless the Dodgers decide to utilize a 6-man starting rotation, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are due to be back in the starting rotation sometime this month. This will push Julio Urias and Ross Stripling to the bullpen, giving Dave Roberts more options and shoring up any weaknesses that may still exist.
To date, the Dodgers offense has hit 24 home runs, scored 87 runs, and the team is batting a collective .296. This all the while Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and Justin Turner have struggled bit at the plate, only just coming around in the last couple games. Going into Sunday night’s game though, those four had collectively just hit .210 to start the 2019 season, significantly less than their collective .273 career average.
Corey Seager and Justin Turner will be fine, in fact, Turner is now hitting .300 on the season. Recession with Max Muncy was expected. He’ll still get some knocks, but opposing pitchers have changed their approach with him and until he adjusts to them, he’ll continue to struggle. Taylor is overswinging, he needs to let the ball get deeper into the zone, back off his swing a tad and start making opposite field contact and he’ll regain form.
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Likely not his 2017 form, but at least that of 2018. These two will be key to additional victories this season. The Dodgers could’ve cashed in on Muncy’s performance last year and gotten good trade value for him, the same way they could’ve with Taylor’s 2017 performance, but the Dodgers have faith in them. After 4 1/2 years, if there’s anything to take stock in, it’s if the Dodgers’ front office has faith in a player, they’re going to pan out.
Yes, this Dodgers team, being led by a red hot Cody Bellinger, has been great, but one might argue that they are only firing on 6 or 7 cylinders. If the Dodgers can settle the bullpen down and get more consistency out of Chris Taylor and Max Muncy’s bat, they will return to the Fall Classic.
Opposing teams are watching and they’ve got to be nervous. Through 11 games the Dodgers are 8-3, but except for a couple of bullpen hiccups, they could easily be 11-0. Did I mention this has all been without Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw?