Twenty-four games into the season and what do we know about these Dodgers? Not as much as you might hope, considering they currently have the second-best record in the National League.
They have yet to play a sixth of the season, so it’s a long ways from declaring anything definitive from their start. There are plenty of early indications to ponder, though, most unsurprisingly of the encouraging variety. To wit:
-- That master plan of absorbing the power loss of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier throughout a more balanced lineup thus far is working better than anyone dared dream. Unless you were the one certain the Dodgers would lead the National League in home runs on May 4. And Major League Baseball in slugging (.481).
-- The rotation is every bit as shaky as feared. Hyun-Ryu has yet to pitch while recovering from an uncertain shoulder injury. And in a surprise to absolutely no one not named Andrew Friedman or Farhan Zaidi, Brandon McCarthy has come up lame. Also Monday, Tommy Lasorda woke up hungry. His signing is looking like a $48-million fiasco.
-- Adrian Gonzalez, who turns 33 on Friday, still has plenty in the tank. He’s tied for the league in homers (eight), first in slugging (.723) and fourth in RBI (20) and hitting (.362).
-- It seems the guy the Dodgers wanted to unload in the off-season, Andre Ethier, has something left, too. Surprise, surprise. Ethier, 33, was the forgotten outfielder when the season started, but he’s currently third on the team in OPS (1.062), fourth in average (.321) and homers (four), and tied for fifth in RBI (nine).
-- The kids in the bullpen are OK, certainly to this point. Still without closer Kenley Jansen, their relievers have the second-lowest ERA (1.81) and WHIP (1.00) in the National League, and highest strikeout ratio (10.51 per nine). And already they’ve used 10 different relievers.
-- The defense is improved, although for now, not as dramatically as many may have hoped. The Dodgers have committed 13 errors (seventh in MLB) and have a .986 fielding percentage (eighth). Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has five of the errors.
-- And while we’re on Rollins, his .176 batting average is a budding concern. Rollins, 36, hit a career-low 243 last season. It’s still very early and all, but he needs to find his swing.
-- The Dodgers can’t steal a base. That’s something of a surprise. Only four Dodgers have a stolen base this season, and one of them is Juan Uribe. Joc Pederson, who stole 30 last year at triple-A, has made good on one of four attempts. Before they were injured, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, had yet to steal a single base.
-- Getting claimed by the Dodgers means next to nothing. The new front office loves to play musical chairs with the roster. Claimed today, designated tomorrow.
-- If you missed any of this because you’re part of the 70-plus percent who cannot watch the Dodgers on TV, the odds are now strong you’ll miss the rest, too.
Please excuse my unexpected absence of late, but there was a death in the family. Kudos to Dylan Hernandez, Bill Shaikin, et al, for their yeoman blogging efforts while I was out.