The Dodgers are 44-26. That translates to 102-win pace, and yet the club still resides a rung below Colorado in the National League West — and tied with Arizona, to boot. The Dodgers swept the Reds this weekend to complete a 5-1 road trip through Ohio. Yet they gained no ground. The Rockies swept the lowly Giants and the Diamondbacks swept the cellar-dwelling Phillies.
So here we are, in the middle of June, in a dynamic division race. It will be fascinating to see if the pitching staff of the Rockies can hold up through the long summer at Coors Field. The same principle applies to Arizona's lineup, which boasts Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and little else to concern opposing pitchers. The season is not even halfway complete, but the three-way dance should be entertaining.
The Dodgers return home on Monday for a four-game series with the Mets, their antagonists from the 2015 National League Division Series. These Mets have regressed into their injury-laden past, and flew west on Sunday after getting wrecked by Washington over the weekend. Here are the matchups for this week at Dodger Stadium:
Monday: RHP Zach Wheeler (3-4, 4.48 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23 ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Robert Gsellman (5-4, 5.50 ERA) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.14 ERA)
Wednesday: TBD vs. LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 5.14 ERA)
Thursday: LHP Steven Matz (1-1, 3.21 ERA) vs. LHP Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90 ERA)
As always, there are plenty of other things to discuss. You can send me questions on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let's do this.
I'm going to say false. Let's go player by player.
1. Clayton Kershaw: Yes.
2. Alex Wood: He still does not qualify for the ERA title, but he ranks fifth in FanGraphs' version of WAR for pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings. He belongs on the team.
3. Kenley Jansen: Yes.
4. Corey Seager: Zack Cozart may win the fan vote, but Seager shouldn't have a problem making the team.
5. Cody Bellinger: Here is where things get murky. Bellinger has been excellent, especially as a rookie. Only Eric Thames has hit more homers than Bellinger has (19). He stabilized the Dodgers lineup and has provided a slew of game-altering hits. But that's what first basemen and left fielders get paid to do. Bellinger ranks seventh in weighted on-base average (wOBA) and sixth in OPS among National League first baseman. As an outfielder, Bellinger has a much better case: He ranks third in OPS and third in wOBA. It'll be interesting if he makes it.
6. Chris Taylor: Another tough one. Taylor ranks second in fWAR among second baseman — but he's been playing the outfield for several weeks. He'll be reliant on the player vote, and I don't think that will carry him.
7. Justin Turner: He belongs on the team, given his incredible .985 OPS, but I don't know if he'll make it. The National League roster will already include Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, and Turner missed some time with a hamstring strain. He may need the fan vote to make it.
8. Pedro Baez: No.
9. Yasmani Grandal: It's a down year for National League catchers, so if the team wants to take a third backstop after Buster Posey and J.T. Realmuto, you could make an argument for Grandal.
McLovin', you have to get some new friends.
Corey Seager has been fine. His power is down a tad (slugging .462 after slugging .512 in 2016) but his on-base percentage is up (.392 after getting on base at a .365 clip in 2016).
Baseball is a difficult sport. Alex Rodriguez posted a 9.4 bWAR season as a 20-year-old in 1996. He played 22 years in the majors. He only reached that 9.4-win mark twice more in his career.
Honestly, I don't know what to tell you, besides mentioning that Hatcher provides depth. I thought the team would designate him for assignment last summer. I thought the team would non-tender him during the winter. I thought the team would try to sneak him through waivers and onto the Oklahoma City roster this spring.
Nevertheless, he persists.
Hatcher has pitched some good games this season, and he has shown some value by logging innings. But he also gives up home runs at an alarming rate, and Dave Roberts does not trust him in even medium-leverage scenarios. There are plenty of other arms in the organization (Josh Ravin comes to mind, as does Brandon Morrow) who could fill Hatcher's role with better results.
I'll say this: Hatcher's staying power is certainly confounding, especially with a team that prides itself on being a meritocracy. Ross Stripling pitched a couple bad games and lost his spot. Josh Fields may lose his spot after four rough ones this month. Morrow didn't even give up a run during his cameo, and he lost his spot.
The main reason Hatcher is still on the roster is he is out of options. If the team designated him for assignment, he could be claimed by any of the 29 other clubs. The Dodgers front office, it is readily apparent, fears this outcome far more than Dodgers fans do. I understand the theory behind depth — it is a guiding principle for the organization, and it has clearly worked these past three seasons — but Hatcher is testing the viability of that theory.
Fields could be a candidate for a demotion when the team looks to bring back Brandon Morrow. Morrow was optioned on June 10, so a 10-day period has to pass before he can be recalled. You may see some movement this week.
Andre Ethier is still rehabbing the herniated disk in his back, and he is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
Julio Urias has been shut down because of inflammation in his left shoulder. There is no timetable for his return.
Yimi Garcia underwent Tommy John surgery during the winter. He will not pitch this season.
Considering Julio Urias is hurt, while Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu have all been various forms of mediocre, I do not see the Dodgers finding a bevy of interested suitors in their rotation surplus. The team does not have an eight-man starting rotation. They have six starters, and three are in jeopardy of shifting into the bullpen.
To quote Royals general manager Dayton Moore: My crystal ball is broken.
Bullpen, starting rotation, corner outfield. Same answer as last week, and the week before, and the week before.
My favorite Thrice song is a newer one: "Black Honey," from the record they did last year.
Also: I received at least a dozen questions complaining about Chris Hatcher.
David Vassegh, is that you?
I am not sure the rest of the club would want to wear those pants. Enrique Hernandez did say he received a compliment from noted fashionista Joey Votto about them, for what it's worth.
1. A lot is riding on how Rich Hill performs this week against the Mets. His upside exceeds the upside of Kenta Maeda and the upside of Hyun-Jin Ryu. But Hill has been a mess for most of the season, and both Maeda and Ryu looked competent against the Reds. Hill looked something less than that against Cleveland earlier in the week. He has a chance to solidify his spot with a solid outing this week.
2. I was flying Sunday night, so I couldn't watch the full show. I caught some clips this morning (whoa, they jobbed out Mike Bennett already?) and watched the men's "Money in The Bank" match. It was a fairly generic version of this type of match. Some good spots, some decent action. Baron Corbin still belongs in developmental, but when you have Jinder Mahal as your champion, you've made clear that titles mean nothing, anyway.
3. "The Man" by the Killers sounds like it got recorded in 2009 and left in the studio for eight years.