The Dodgers return home on Friday after going 4-3 on the recent road trip. While the Dodgers came out one game ahead on the trip, the two series in Colorado and Cincinnati seemed sort of ho-hum with little offensive sparkle and a lot of missed opportunities. The Dodgers are riddled with injuries and with rife right now as they try to keep their head above water before the All-Star Break. With the Giants playing stellar baseball right now, the Dodgers find themselves mired in second place and 8 1/2 games back. When you have to pinch-hit Jamie Romak over Hanley Ramirez in the late innings, you know things aren’t going well.
Hanley Ramirez received a cortisone injection in his aching shoulder, and he will be unavailable to play for two games. Without Hanley, the Dodgers have to play Miguel Rojas at short. Without Hanley, Uribe, A.J. Ellis, and Carl Crawford, the Dodgers lineup is a lot less potent. The injuries coupled with the horrible slump by Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers can’t buy a run right now. After going 0-for-4 on Thursday, Gonzo is now hitting .246 and has just 3 hits over his last 8 games. He looks like his is totally out of whack at the plate, and I’m thinking it may be a mechanics issue. Without Gonzo and Hanley contributing daily, it will be very difficult for the Dodgers to score many runs without help from the bench and the bullpen in close games.
Brandon League had another bad outing on Thursday, but it really was for naught since the Dodgers weren’t able to muster more than one run off
Alfredo Simon and Aroldis Chapman. J.P. Howell remains to be the most reliable arm out of the bullpen along with Kenley Jansen, but the rest of the bullpen boys have given us heart aches for most of the season. In order to defend their NL West title and hopefully win some games come October, the Dodgers will need to consider acquiring a proven bullpen arm. Don Mattingly cannot use J.P. Howell every game otherwise he may end up in the broken bullpen arm graveyard along with Chris Withrow, Scott Elbert, and the many who came before them.
A.J. Ellis is ready to return to work, and the Dodgers waited until they came home in order to activate Ellis. Tim Federowicz will most likely be optioned down to AAA once again. Having Ellis back is a start in the right direction for the Dodgers. While Drew Butera has filled in admirably in his absence during his two disability stints, there’s no one that could really replace the heart of the team= A.J. Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis are the battery which defined the Dodgers last season in Kershaw’s Cy Young year, and without the two succeeding in 2014, the Dodgers will be hard pressed to get very far.
Last time out in Colorado, Kersh pitched a five-inning complete game after rain shortened the contest. He allowed just one run on a homerun by Troy Tulowitzki, and he struck out 9. In fact, Kersh has struck out 9 batters in each of his last 4 games and in 6 games total this season. Kersh has already faced the D-backs twice this season while winning one (Opening Day in Sydney) and lost one in Arizona in May. The southpaw is 8-7 with a 2.69 ERA against Arizona in 19 career starts. Kersh had one of the worst starts of his career in the loss to Arizona on May 17th when he only lasted 1 2/3 innings while allowing 7 runs. Let’s hope Kersh can defang the Snakes this time around.
The re-match between Kershaw and rookie Chase Anderson will be played at Dodger Stadium this time around. Anderson is 5-0 on the season, but he did allow 5 runs over 5 1/3 innings to the Dodgers in the game which he went on to win thanks to the explosive offense against Kersh. Anderson has been solid for Arizona along with Josh Collmenter and Bronson Arroyo who have all been pitching well of late. Yasiel Puig has hit a homerun against Anderson, and the Dodgers’ star outfielder is third in the league in hitting with a .328 batting average.
Prediction: Clayton Kershaw strikes out 10 Snakes.
With disappointment and anger swirling the internet, Don Mattingly has come under fire for the underachievement of the Dodgers. We have to remind ourselves that the Dodgers are still 2 games above .500 and have remained so even after losing most of their starters to injuries. Firing Mattingly will not make Gonzalez hit nor would it heal Hanley’s shoulder. Everything needs to come in to place for the winning to be consistent. There’s plenty of time left, but the questions regarding the team’s viability are certainly warranted.
Join us after Friday night’s game for our recap, and remember to let us know in the comments what you are feeling whether it be frustration or joy (should Kershaw fan 10 and Puig hits a grand slam).