Superstars Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez have been slotted in between longtime Dodgers sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, which in theory creates one of the best lineups in baseball.
However, the Blue Crew has found out the hard way that it requires more than having the right pieces in place to construct a puzzle. These things can take time—time the Dodgers cannot afford if they are to still be playing in October.
While core Dodgers like Kemp, Ethier and Clayton Kershaw will continue to play a vital role in the team’s postseason chances, the Blue Crew will need its new additions to step up in order to overcome the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
Here is a ranking of just how important each new addition will be in the Dodgers pennant race.
The lesser-talked-about acquisition from the Boston Red Sox, Nick Punto has been decent in Dodger blue so far.
Judging from the way that manager Don Mattingly has used him so far, Punto will play the role of pinch hitter and occasional replacement at second or third base.
His role may not be huge in the overall scheme of things, but he will be a positive force for the Dodgers in the dugout, having just barely made the playoffs and then winning the World Series last season with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Another seldom discussed player, Randy Choate has performed in the region of what the Dodgers expected since acquiring him as part of the Hanley Ramirez trade.
Adding the southpaw to the bullpen was huge for the Dodgers, because they previously only had one lefty in the pen.
Choate hasn’t been dominant coming out of the Dodgers bullpen, but he has done a decent job as a specialist against left-handed batters and has preserved his stellar résumé against lefties (.146 BAA) with his arsenal of off-speed pitches.
The 2011 All-Star closer for the Seattle Mariners has proved that he is having an off year this season with some rough initial outings with the Dodgers, but Brandon League has settled down and hasn’t given up an earned run in his last eight outings.
With closer Kenley Jansen’s ability to play out the rest of the season being decided later on Tuesday (via ESPNLosAngeles.com), League may play a much bigger role for the Dodgers, either as closer or setup man for Ronald Belisario.
Despite the early obstacles that he faced in Dodger blue, League has now found his groove and will play a significant role for the team as it tries to overcome the Giants for the NL West pennant.
They were, however, expecting a little bit better than a 1-3 record and an earned-run average over six.
As a starter, Blanton’s performances from now until the end of the season will be huge. It’s no coincidence that the Dodgers have only won the two games in which Blanton surrendered three or fewer earned runs.
With the Dodgers currently struggling to manufacture runs despite a solid offensive lineup, starting pitching is huge, and Blanton has been a very marginal pitcher so far.
If he can hold the opposition to three or fewer runs, then he has done his job and will put his team in a good position to win games.
If not, the Dodgers are in trouble.
Hanley Ramirez has brought his smile, bat and trademark “I See You” hands to Los Angeles and has given the team a huge boost.
However, Ramirez has literally been hit or miss and has struck out nearly as many times as he has gotten a hit.
Nevertheless, the Dominican has managed to drive in plenty of runs, hitting in the meat of a lineup that features Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier.
Now anchoring Gonzalez and Kemp in the No. 5 spot, Ramirez plays a tremendous role in the Dodgers lineup, and the Blue Crew will either sink or swim on his back.
A risky, expensive acquisition in the Dodgers’ blockbuster deal with the Red Sox, Josh Beckett’s success as a Dodger is a key facet of their pennant race with the Giants.
The former Red Sox ace got off to a rough start in his first outing when he gave up an upper-deck home run to the first batter he faced in Colorado, but he shut down the Diamondbacks in his second start and earned his first win as a Dodger.
With Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly both potentially out for the rest of the season, the Dodgers need Beckett to come up with some quality starts in the homestretch of the season.
Most critics are pointing to the Dodgers offense as the source of the team's stagnation, and although they do need to score runs in order to win games, they can’t win games unless they are able to take early leads, which makes starting pitching crucial to their success.
With such a hefty meat of the lineup, you might figure that the Dodgers would be scoring in double digits every game, but to the surprise of many, they have fallen short of expectations and haven't yet gelled as a cohesive batting lineup.
As the No. 3 hitter, Adrian Gonzalez is the most important newly acquired player for the Dodgers' postseason hopes.
Hitting behind the inconsistent Mark Ellis and Shane Victorino often makes him the Dodgers' makeshift leadoff hitter, and the Boys in Blue rely heavily upon him as such, especially with Matt Kemp's recent skid.
Looking at his numbers so far in 10 games in Dodger blue might be disconcerting to fans (42 AB, .214 BA, .283 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI), but he has proven to be clutch by hitting a home run in his first at-bat with the team and recently coming up with a big walk-off hit against the Diamondbacks.
Baseball, like most sports, revolves around momentum. "One hit leads to another," you'll often hear baseball guys say. And if a team ever needed that one hit to lead to the other, it's the Dodgers.