Don’t look now, but the Dodgers have a big chance ahead of them. I’m aware they’ve been sleepwalking through the first 1/4 of the season. With embarrassing losses to the Marlins 3 days ago, and yesterday versus the Diamondbacks in which relief ace Drew Butera had to mop up, it’s easy to see why one could be pessimistic about the young season. We understand how awful the bullpen has been, we’re aware at Clayton Kershaw‘s horrendous start yesterday, we know Hanley Ramirez is looking like the Hanley Ramirez of 2011-2012 rather than the one we saw last season. Juan Uribe, Hyun-Jin Ryu, A.J. Ellis, Matt Kemp, have all been on the disabled list at various points this season, Carl Crawford (even with last night’s home run) is looking like a marginal platoon player at best who suddenly forgot how to play defense, Andre Ethier has started in 3 out of the last 9 games and is looking like this is the season where his decline truly begins.
Despite all of that. And yes, that’s a LOT a championship contender has to deal with within the first 2 months of a season, there is a huge opportunity waiting for the Dodgers. After today’s matchup of Dan Haren vs Josh Collmenter, the Dodgers have a surprising schedule ahead of them. From this point to essentially the all star break, the Dodgers schedule is very, very forgiving.
Lets keep in mind that the Dodgers will likely have Hyun-Jin Ryu back sometime next week, setting up a Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu-Haren-Beckett rotation going into these next several series. I’ll write a sentence about each team and where they stand right now just for some perspective. After the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers play
@ New York (Mets): The youth injected Mets have a solid, young pitching staff, but rank 25th in on base percentage, and 30th in slugging percentage leading to a 20-22 record
@ Philadelphia: lol 18-22.
Cincinnati: Jay Bruce, Joey Votto are hurt, Dee Gordon has been more than half a win more valuable than Brandon Phillips, they are relying on Alfredo Simon to be their #2 starter because Homer Bailey is bad all of a sudden, they’re 19-22
Pittsburgh: Charlie Morton being your best pitcher = disaster, they’re missing key pieces such as Russell Martin, Jason Grilli, and the regression monster has reared it’s ugly head on the Pirates, they’re 7 games under .500 and 17-24
Colorado Rockies: The 2nd best team they’ll face until the All Star Break, they’re 24-20
@Cincinnati: Homer Bailey in Great American Ballpark is fun 19-22
Arizona: Forever and always, please, 11 games under, sitting at 17-28
Colorado: Very good, will they keep this up? 24-20
@San Diego Padres: Possibly the worst offense in baseball, 29th in runs, 30th in on base percentage, 29th in slugging percentage, just lost Andrew Cashner, sit at 21-23
@Kansas City: Incredible potential and young arms, but that offense leaves something to be desired as they’re 24th in on base and 28th in slugging, they’re at .500 winning 21, also losing 21
Saint Louis: I hate them and they’re stupid faces, and I hope the Dodgers sweep them. They’re 23-20.
Cleveland: Maybe this isn’t a year to be a 2013 cinderella playoff team. Really struggling this year, the regression curve has not been nice to the Pirates or the Indians, they’re 5 games under at 19-24.
@Colorado: 4 game series against the NL West’s surprise 24-20
@Detroit: Very, very, very good team who is somehow getting away with starting Andrew Romine, I would not want to face them, luckily it’s only a 2 game set against a team who is 26-12
San Diego: A nice way to finish off a relatively easy run of opponents. 21-23
The best thing about this schedule? No Giants, no pesky BABIP demons to destroy our hopes and dreams. No Angel Pagan, no Madison Bumgarner dominance, none of that for 2 months. Now it’s important to say that I am not taking away from anything these teams have accomplished, Colorado has surprised, Cincinnati can turn it around, Detroit is excellent, but accounting for some personal bias, I truly believe the Dodgers are the best team here. So it may feel like doomsday right now. Losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks by 11 runs is not fun by any stretch of the imagination. The bullpen is a mess, but Lucas has some good perspective on this situation, with a rotation of Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu-Haren-Beckett, and Yasiel Puig carrying the entire offense on his back while Kemp-AGon-Hanley break out of their respective “slumps”, I feel the Dodgers are just a forgiving schedule run away from proving they’re the best team in the National League. It’ll be interesting to see how these next few weeks play out, but none of the opponents aside from Detroit scare me much at all, going anywhere from 8-12 games above .500 during this period is something I feel is easily attainable with the roster and level of competition the Dodgers face over the next 2 months.
Now of course, simply having a forgiving schedule doesn’t mean anything unless you have a talented schedule to win those games, but the Dodgers certainly have a roster capable of going 42-8, what’s to say they can’t go on a big streak soon?
Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see anything like 42-8, especially in back to back seasons, but the beauty is, they don’t need to, the point is they are capable of rattling off a lot of games in a row, look for a big run that the boys in blue will go on, soon.