Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I'm beginning to think Sergio Romo is a double agent sent over by the Giants.
The Dodgers split the four games with the San Francisco Giants and are now 11-12, 3 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.
So what are the strong points and the worries after the first 23 games of the season? Keeping in mind that this is an extremely small sample size, here's what it looks like so far:
Justin Turner is hitting .363 (sixth in the NL) and leads the league with nine doubles, while Corey Seager is hitting .318 and is on pace for 120 RBIs. There's not much to complain about there.
Before he was injured, Logan Forsythe was hitting .295 with a .407 OB%, so missing him from the lineup has really hurt, especially considering Chase Utley is just 3 for 34 this season.
Other than Turner, Seager and Forsythe, no other Dodger who receives regular playing time is hitting over .250. However, while the Dodgers are currently 10th in the NL in batting average, they are fourth in OB% and hitting the league average in BABIP, which is an indicator that they are having a bit of bad luck on offense. They are ninth in NL in runs per game and are hitting .221 against lefties (12th in the NL) and .260 vs. righties (fourth).
Here's something else to keep an eye on: The Dodgers lead the NL with 49 pinch-hit at-bats, which is 13 more than the next closest team (Milwaukee).
With runners in scoring position and two out, the Dodgers are hitting .232, ninth in the league.
The person I would like to discuss on offense though is sort of the Chris Hatcher of batters, a guy I really can't figure out why the Dodgers keep: Scott Van Slyke. This season, Van Slyke is four for 30, good for a glittering OPS+ of 54. OPS+ is basically a stat that compares a hitter to the league average, adjusting for the home ballpark. If you are an average hitter, your OPS+ will be 100. A 54 means Van Slyke is 46% worse than an average player.
Last season, Van Slyke's OPS+ was 66. In 2015, it was 96.
Van Slyke isn't exactly a Gold Glove at any position, so how long will the Dodgers wait until they realize it's time to try someone else?
I'm sure Van Slyke is a great guy and all, but Mr. Rogers was a great guy and I wouldn't have wanted him to be my first right-hander off the bench.
Another problem on offense is Andrew Toles, who is hitting only .207 with a .258 OB%. You could say the Dodgers' problem is the same they have had for a couple of seasons now: the lack of a true threat in the outfield.
On the mound, the Dodgers have two solid starters in Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias, a guy who has pitched well but I still get nervous about (Brandon McCarthy), a guy who showed signs of improvement in his last start (Hyun-jin Ryu), a guy who has been horrible (Kenta Maeda) and a guy who I think should be a permanent part of the rotation (Alex Wood).
There's also Rich Hill, who probably has developed a blister while reading this on his computer. That mouse button can be rough.
The bullpen has had two effective relievers (Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez). Sergio Romo has a 10.57 ERA in 10 games, Luis Avilan has a 1.412 WHIP and Ross Stripling and Chris Hatcher have been hit and miss.
They seem to be missing the stabilizing influence of Joe Blanton. There is no one who can effectively bridge the gap between a six-inning start and a ninth-inning appearance by Jansen. It's just pick a guy and hope to turns out OK.
But despite all of that, guess what? The Dodgers lead the NL in ERA.
In short, it has been a wildly inconsistent team, but a team I still think has room to improve and will improve as soon as they stabilize their pitching roles and get at least one more batter hitting consistently. There's a lot to be optimistic about.
Ask Ross Porter
Once again, former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter is back again to answer select reader questions. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. Here's this week's answer:
Brad Turell asks: "Ross, as the king of stats, which statistic that you came across did you find to be the most astounding?"
Ross: There have been countless statistics which have been eye openers, Brad, so it's impossible to name only one. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN came up with a dandy. Only FIVE non-pitchers since 1900 have played 1,000 major league games batting RIGHT-HANDED and throwing LEFT-HANDED. They are Rickey Henderson, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Cleon Jones and Hal Chase.
Friday, 7 p.m., Philadelphia (Zach Elfin) at Dodgers (Kenta Maeda)
Saturday, 6 p.m., Philadelphia (Jerad Eickhoff) at Dodgers (Hyun-jin Ryu)
Sunday, 1 p.m., Philadelphia (Nick Pivetta) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
There will be three more games on KTLA this season:
April 30, 1 p.m., vs. Philadelphia
May 3, 6 p.m., vs. San Francisco
May 7, 1 p.m., at San Diego
The Dodgers don't expect Andre Ethier back until June at the earliest. Read all about it here.