Sorry, what’s that? Even without Kershaw, Treinen, Jimmy Nelson, Tommy Kahnle, and Andrew Heaney, the team is still also buoyed by their incredible pitching, to a degree that’s separated a bunch of anonymous arms from the rest of the league? Oh. Noteworthy.
Yes, inspired once again by bounce-backs from middling pickups (Tyler Anderson), previously-heralded prospects who’ve rediscovered their worth (Tony Gonsolin), and your friendly neighborhood co-aces Walker Buehler and Julio Urías, the Dodgers are allowing the softest contact in MLB — and by a wide margin.
When you line up the hard-hit percentages of the entire league in descending order, you wind up with a beautifully-colored chart that slopes only slightly downward.
Until you reach the Dodgers, that is, a team that stands in first place (as per usual) in limiting hard contact across the rotation and bullpen. There’s a wide enough chasm between them and the No. 2 spot that you could kickflip over it.
Dodgers dominating entire MLB in hard-hit percentage (no, not on offense)
No surprises at the top, necessarily (unless you count the Phillies). The Rays and Yankees have built their entire ethos this season on pitching and defense (no, we know, the Yankees only kind of hit nowadays). The Marlins are well-known for their cadre of young arms, and the Diamondbacks hired former Astros pitching coach Brent Strom, so they’re very obviously cheating. The Mets are packed with aces.
But the Dodgers, led by reported also-rans like Anderson, Gonsolin, Yency Almonte, Daniel Hudson and Evan Phillips, are making the most noise (again, per usual).
If nothing else, this must be leaving Farhan Zaidi and the San Francisco Giants wondering why they were unable to overturn the same magical leaves this time around. Keep digging! You might someday escape the middle of the pack.
Kershaw suffered a recent setback. Treinen might not return at all, as his latest contract extension reflects. Craig Kimbrel isn’t exactly trained to limit hard-hit balls. And yet!
Give the Dodgers their midseason flowers for numerous reasons, but this pitching staff’s bounce back deserves credit for their familiar surge.
Oh, right, Buehler and Urías are coming off career-highs in innings pitched and fought back against early regression! And we’re still here. So impressive, but that’s nothing new.