After a grueling double header in frigid temperatures in Minnesota, the Dodgers will no doubt be happy to return to warm weather when they continue their road trip in Miami. The Dodgers swept the Twins, but there were many glaring miscues that shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Defense was lacking which has become an Achilles’ Heel for the team this season, the offense was spotty, and the bullpen has some kinks to work out. Luckily Minnesota has their own faults, and their lackluster pitching really allowed the Dodgers to capitalize when they were in town.
Twelfth inning homeruns by Scott Van Slyke and Drew Butera propelled the Dodgers to victory on Thursday night at Target Field. Even though it was nice to see some of the supporting players contributing, it also brings some of the starters’ woes to the forefront. Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford continue to struggle, and with Scott Van Slyke‘s power stroke on display Thursday evening, I have began to question the value in holding on to both Kemp and Crawford.
Matt Kemp is now hitting .207 after going 0-for-6 in Game 2 on Thursday versus weak Minnesota pitching. Kemp has always been a favorite player of mine, and I have not badmouthed him or booed him during these past couple of rough injury riddled seasons. I’m just finding it increasingly difficult to stay optimistic when he says he’s healthy but the results just aren’t there. Not only is he really beleaguered at the plate, but he seems to lose focus out in center field as well. It’s hard for me not to think about Joc Pederson who is waiting in the wings when I watch Kemp playing so frustratingly bad. Meanwhile he’s making $21 million this year, and the team really needs him to kick it into high gear and give us at least a glimpse of the player he once back in 2011 when he was a M.V.P. candidate.
Carl Crawford is just not the player he once was, and while he has spurts of vitality, I’m not sure he can consistently perform to that level ever again. After playing in Game 1 on Thursday, Crawford is now hitting an abysmal .195. He is often inconsistent in the outfield as well, and at one point committed a throwing error and then at a later point in the game made a great catch. Crawford is making $20.25 million this season, and that worrisome figure won’t be easy to pawn off on to another team.
Perhaps a little Miami sunshine will do the Dodgers good this weekend, although they all will most likely be feeling weary from the doubleheader and extra inning game on Thursday which transitioned into the long flight to the East Coast. Hopefully the sweep of the Twins has given them some momentum going into the series with the Marlins.
Josh Beckett is still looking for his first win since 2012. It’s not like he hasn’t deserved a win by the way he has been pitching. He really has
exceeded my expectations after returning from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. The veteran hasn’t been involved in any of the decisions of his four starts this year. Last time out against Colorado, he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits over a season-high 8 innings. He is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in just 1 start against the Marlins in his career, but ironically Beckett was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 1st round of the 1999 draft and was traded to the Red Sox along with Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota in exchange for Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, Hanley Ramirez, and Anibal Sanchez. His one start against his former team was back in 2012 when he was still with the Red Sox. Not many of the current Marlins have ever faced Beckett which could work to his advantage. Giancarlo Stanton does have 1 hit against Beckett with 1 strikeout in 3 at-bats.
The Marlins will be countering with right-hander Tom Koehler. He lost last time out to the Mets after going 5 innings and allowing 4 runs on 5 hits. He’s only made 1 start against the Dodgers and lost last year at Dodger Stadium. Scott Van Slyke hit a homerun against him in the game, so perhaps Mattingly will start Scotty again after his big night on Thursday. Gonzo, Puig, Hanley, and Uribe have never faced him.
The Marlins are coming fresh off of a sweep of the Atlanta Braves. Beckett, who helped lead the Marlins to a World Championship back in 2003 will be trying to beat his former team this time around. Former Fish Beckett and Ramirez will be looked to now to lead the Dodgers toward victory in Miami.
Prediction: Hanley enjoys being back in Miami by hitting a homerun.
The 4:10 p.m. PT game will air on SportsNet LA and FS-F in Miami. Check back here for our recap.