State of the Team
As the Dodgers enter into a crucial three game series with the Cubs, let us take a look at the state of the Dodgers. The pennant race is on. The Dodgers are just two and a half games above the Giants. If the Dodgers fall behind the Giants, a wild card spot will be difficult to come by, as the Dodgers are behind the Cubs by three games. While the Cubs still have to play six games each against the Cards and the Pirates, they also have six games each against the Reds and the Brewers.
The Dodgers have played well against weaker teams, except in the recent series against the Oakland A’s. The boys in blue swept the Reds in each of their recent two series against the team from Cincinnati. However, Houston, historically not a good team, but leaders in their division this year, swept the Dodgers.
The team’s first strength lies in its Ace starting pitchers, Ace #1 Clayton Kershaw and Ace #1A Zack Greinke. The team’s second strength is the number of hitters who can supply power. Eight of the hitters on the current team have ten or more home runs (Gonzalez 24, Pederson 23, Grandal 15, Turner 15, Rollins 13, Ethier 12, Puig 11, and Guerrero 11). Howie Kendrick has nine. Kike Hernandez, Scott Van Slyke, and AJ Ellis also have some punch.
However, the team has considerable weaknesses as it goes into the final push for the pennant race. The hitting can be sporadic at times, as they have hit only .219 over the past ten games. Hitting with the bases loaded has been poor this year, though not quite as bad as last year (2014 OPS was .460, while the 2015 OPS has been .604). Injuries to position players Kendrick, Turner, and Puig are troublesome. Turner has not yet got the timing on his hitting back to where it was prior to his MRSA issue.
The bullpen has been a sore spot, especially over the past two months. Let’s take a look at the bullpen’s WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and ERA by month for 2015:
April 1.109 and 2.25
May 1.173 and 2.82
June 1.255 and 4.20
July 1.621 and 6.27
Aug 1.390 and 5.34
Whatever was broken in the bullpen in July (and June) has not been fixed in August. This dones not bode well for September, let alone October.