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Los Angeles Dodgers Off to Great Start with Plenty of Room for Improvement

April 14th, 2014 at 2:17 PM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Adrian Gonzalez_ST 3.15.14' photo (c) 2014, Dustin Nosler - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

With just 13 games in the books for this young season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten off to a great start. At 9-4, the Dodgers are currently in first place in the NL West, one game ahead of their perpetual rival, the San Francisco Giants. While most prognosticators predicted big things for the Dodgers this year, the team has not exactly been firing on all cylinders in every facet of the game. In fact, the Dodgers have plenty of room for improvement as the season progresses.

As was the case last season, the Dodgers offense has looked stagnant at times. Over the past few games, Adrian Gonzalez has provided a spark by showing the power to all fields that was his calling card with the San Diego Padres. Dee Gordon has also wreaked some havoc with the bat and on the base paths, yet many of the Dodgers hitters are just beginning to show signs of putting it together. Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp got off to slow starts, and both are looking as though they are beginning to come around, making the Dodgers lineup quite fearsome from top to bottom.

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Hyun-Jin Ryu Bounces Back with Stellar Performance for Los Angeles Dodgers

April 12th, 2014 at 10:25 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Hyun-Jin Ryu' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Coming off an absolutely atrocious start, Hyun-Jin Ryu showed that his previous performance was nothing more than an aberration. The big lefty from South Korea proved that the Los Angeles Dodgers can count on him as a front line starter by throwing seven shutout innings against their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While Ryu endured the worst performance of his career less than a week ago, laboring through just two innings of work, last night’s start was nothing short of spectacular. He baffled the Arizona lineup with a dazzling array of pitches, making even Paul Goldschmidt look helpless at the plate. In the past, Goldschmidt has destroyed Ryu, but on this night, prior performance did not play a role.

Ryu was frequently ahead in the count, as he pounded the strike zone with excellent command. In an efficient start, Ryu threw 99 pitches, 70 of which were strikes. He gave up only two hits, walking one while striking out eight.

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Los Angeles Dodgers May Need to Turn to Zach Lee Earlier than Expected

April 10th, 2014 at 7:55 PM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Zach Lee_ST 3.12.14' photo (c) 2014, Dustin Nosler - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

With Clayton Kershaw still out and the back-end duo of Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm struggling, the Los Angeles Dodgers may be forced to call up Zach Lee much earlier than expected. Of course, Chad Billingsley will be called upon to fill in after he completes his rehab assignment, but that still leaves the fifth starter role filled by either one of Beckett or Maholm. If both pitchers continue to struggle, and Kershaw’s rehab takes longer than expected, the Dodgers will need effective starts from a pitcher not currently on the big league roster.

While Matt Magill and Stephen Fife filled in last year under similar circumstances, Zack Lee may be given the option due to his projected ability to be a mid-rotation starter. Currently at Triple-A Albuquerque, Lee has started one game, earning a win in five innings of work. Lee struck out three while walking one and giving up two runs.

Lee looked like a solid option in the early spring, but he hit a rough patch toward the end that caused his Spring Training ERA to balloon to 6.52. During his 9.2 innings pitched, Lee struck out seven and walked four, giving up 10 hits and eight runs. The numbers are not reflective of Lee’s ability or his potential, and he may ultimately prove to be the best option for a rotation that may be in disarray.

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Chris Withrow Impressive in Early Season Relief Appearances

April 8th, 2014 at 11:24 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Chris Withrow' photo (c) 2014, Ron Gallegos - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Chris Withrow clearly understands the value of seizing an opportunity.

During Spring Training, it was looking as though the Los Angeles Dodgers would have to leave Withrow off the big league roster because of a bullpen overloaded with veterans on guaranteed contracts. With options remaining, it seemed that Withrow would be the odd man out no matter how well the hard-throwing righty performed. Fortunately for Withrow and for the Dodgers, this proved to not be the case. Withrow is with the Dodgers, and is looking to be a very important bullpen piece.

In four appearances spanning five innings with the Dodgers this year, Withrow has looked unhittable. Opponents are hitting a mere .063 against him, and he has struck out eight batters while only walking one. Of course, the sample size is small and relievers are perhaps the most volatile in terms of the ability to produce consistent results. Withrow, however, has looked confident and poised in every situation in which he has been called upon.

The Dodgers should not be surprised by Withrow’s early dominance. The reliever was very effective out of the bullpen last year as well, and there were many who were disappointed at the notion that Withrow could begin the 2014 season in the minors.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Wisely Avoid Taking Risks with Injured Players

April 7th, 2014 at 6:13 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Clayton Kershaw' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Over the previous two years, the Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten very little production out of Matt Kemp. After signing the outfielder to a rather sizable contract, Kemp seemed to suffer injury after injury, though his effort to quickly return to the field was more than admirable. Kemp himself has admitted to rushing back in his return from these injuries, sapping his production and ultimately causing more injuries. It seems that the team’s experience with Kemp has caused a philosophical shift with regard to how the Dodgers handle injuries, and that shift may prove to be incredibly wise.

The team is rightfully taking no chances with Clayton Kershaw, and their rehabilitation schedule for their ace is far from aggressive. Brian Wilson is also on the disabled list with elbow trouble, though it seems likely that Wilson will be back well before Kershaw. Yasiel Puig injured his thumb while sliding head-first into first base, and was held out of the lineup against Matt Cain.

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