We got fairly serious and contemplative this morning, so let’s break that up with something more in line with what this blog usually provides: questions and answers with other bloggers! Scott Andes from LAdodgerreport, a regular participant in the pre-season Playing Pepper series, contacted me since the Cardinals were heading into Chavez Ravine and asked if we could exchange some questions. As you know, I’m always up for that! You’ll find my answers over here, but here’s what I asked Scott about the Cardinals’ next opponent. Enjoy!
Daniel: As we start this discussion, the Dodgers are 26-19, tied with Arizona for second behind Colorado. What’s gone right so far this season and what hasn’t?
Scott: What has gone right for the Dodgers this year has been their relief pitching which has been tremendously good for the most part. The middle relief has been great. Generally speaking the pitching is good. The defense has been poor, and the offense at times has been dreadful. The Dodgers win because their core group of players are very talented. Guys like Kershaw, Jansen, Puig, Pederson, Turner, Seager, and Grandal are very gifted players. The offense has definitely perked up in recent weeks. Relief pitching, on-base skills and the bench have been the strengths so far. The first few weeks of the season brutal though with one one or two series wins over the first five weeks.
As for what’s gone wrong I can just point you back to the 2016 season to have those questions answered. The Dodgers have the same problems from last year that were never addressed. They can’t hit left handed pitching, and the starting pitchers are unable to provide adequate innings.
When the starting staff is unable to go past the fifth inning it puts a great burden of work on the bullpen. By August or September everyone is gassed or hurt and nobody has anything left for the playoffs. Last year Kershaw and Jansen had to carry the club into the NLCS on their backs but they can’t do it alone. They need help. Unfortunately the front office is so small market minded they are unable to realize that there is an easier way of doing things where you are allowed to acquire healthy durable starting pitchers that can give you 6-8 innings per start.
Oh and also the injuries. Everyone gets hurt constantly on this club. But again when management continuously acquires injury riddled pitchers with long and established histories of injuries and inconsistency than it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody.
Daniel: Clayton Kershaw is still Clayton Kershaw, but the rest of the rotation seems a bit hit or miss. Is there anyone else that you trust when they take the ball every fifth day?
Scott: Not really. If I were to choose someone it would probably be southpaw Alex Wood. He’s been fantastic of late, (recently winning NL player of the week award). His domination over the last few weeks has been a lot of fun to watch as he builds arm strength and develops his command. Unfortunately like all of the rest of the starters, he is unable to pitch past the fifth inning. The rest of the starters are either unable to as well, or are not allowed to by management. No matter what in every game no starter by Kershaw the Dodger bullpen will be pitching 4-6 innings. This is every day.
Daniel: After Corey Seager last year, the Dodgers seem to have found another great young talent in Cody Bellinger. What are the thought on the rest of his season? Has he had to make adjustments yet or has the league still not caught up with him?
Scott: Not yet. But that’s coming soon. So far these first couple of months are going to be icing on the cake for the super kid. The National League has never seen him before, so for the first couple of months they’re going to challenge Bellinger. This is the time for him to be raking, and he is. The adjustments from the league will come soon, and so will his. But he is able to make those adjustments on the fly. We’ve seen him do it in the minors, and his instincts at the big league level are top notch. This kid is ridiculously talented, and I expect for him to continue to be scorching the ball during this initial period until the league makes the first adjustments.
Daniel: Justin Turner was off to a great start before landing on the DL. How much is his loss going to hurt the team?
Scott: Tremendously. Turner is the heart and soul of the Dodgers. Period. He’s beloved in the clubhouse, beloved by all fans, and one of the best third baseman in all of baseball. He hits, hits for power, plays amazing defense at third, and bats third in the lineup every day. He makes the Dodger’s offense go, and losing him for any extended amount of time is a huge crushing blow for the Dodgers. I get worked up just writing this. We miss our red dream.
Daniel: What’s the weak spot in the lineup, if there is one?
Scott: Lack of speed and athleticism, and mediocre power to start the season. The Dodgers rank in the middle of the pack in power (17th in home runs) slugging, OPS etc.
The problem has been that every time there is a left hander on the mound opposing them, management puts the bench guys in the lineup. Some of the lineups put out have been horrible, and it’s a huge weakness. I have always felt that the regulars can hit left handers if given the chance. I prefer a set lineup to all of this lineup shuffling anyways. However the front office loves triple-A castoffs and light hitting utility players. When a left hander is on the mound expect for all of them to be in the lineup.
I joke a little, but the bench has actually been very good. Chris Taylor has reinvented himself, Kike has finally stopped being an automatic out, and Austin Barnes is very good. Even Chase Utley has started to hit again. The Dodgers are still a good club.
Daniel: What’s your prediction for this series?
Scott: I’ll say the Dodgers take 2 of 3 since the series is at home. However if this was at Busch then it would probably be reversed. But the series could go either way because the Cards are pretty good too.