The Dodgers will finish April 13-14 and in fourth place in the NL West, which is certainly below where they’d hoped to be at this point in the year. However, given the injuries to the pitching staff, they have to continue to tread water until the strength of their team can come back when Zack Greinke and Chris Capuano return to health.
All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise linked.
So far this season, Ellis has a .755 OPS, which is above the league average of .713. He has continued the impressive walk rate (15.9 percent versus league-average 8.2 percent) that he demonstrated last year when he emerged as an everyday catcher. He appears to have done an admirable job behind the plate as well, as he has piloted the Dodgers pitching staff to a middle-of-the-pack ERA despite the losses of Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley from the rotation.
Gonzalez has had an excellent start to the season, posting a 149 OPS+ and demonstrating an elite ability to get on base with an OBP over .400. Worryingly, though, his power has showed no signs of returning. After hitting at least 24 home runs for each of his full seasons prior to last season, he hit just 18 in 2012 and is at only two so far this season.
If he continues to get on base at such an elite clip, though—he ranks 18th in the majors in OBP (minimum 85 plate appearances)—the Dodgers will be happy with his production.
Ethier has struggled to live up to his contract this season, posting an OPS barely above league average. Strangely, his struggles have come against right-handed pitching, and, given how small a sample size it is this early in the year, one would expect that trend to reverse itself. However, one also wouldn’t expect his success against lefties to continue.
He also has just seven extra-base hits so far this year. As his decline continues (as most hitters do in their 30s), the Dodgers have to be expecting more from their $95.5 million investment.
League gets a higher grade than his stats warrant because he has converted eight of nine save opportunities, and that’s what the Dodgers pay him for. But every other statistic is worrisome. He has struck out just 8.9 percent of the batters he’s faced this year, which is well below his career level of 17.5 percent. His ERA this year is over 4.00, so if he keeps pitching the way he has, we may see Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning sooner rather than later.
Crawford is off to a tremendous start with a .905 OPS. His skill set is different from what it has been in the past, as he’s slugging .516 but has just four steals and one triple. However, his walk rate and slugging percentage are higher than they’ve ever been in his career.
He has been a tremendous player so far this year, and, given his poor production the last two years, his start has to be unexpected and thus all the more spectacular.
Billingsley made just two starts before being shelved with elbow problems that require Tommy John surgery. He was decent in his outings—he allowed four runs total—but he is now out for the rest of the season.
Like Billingsley, Capuano has been sidelined with an injury, although his is a calf strain. He made just three appearances, with one of those being a start. It is impossible to draw any conclusions from a sample size as small as 4.2 innings, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Kershaw has been his usual great self this year: 41.2 innings so far, with a 1.73 ERA and 10.2 K/9. His dominance might be unparalleled in the National League, and he has been the ace the Dodgers desperately need him to be.
Ramirez made a big splash in his return from the disabled list on April 30 with a monster home run. Given the poor performance from Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers at shortstop, Ramirez’s return is welcome.
Ryu has been quite impressive this season, as he has a 3.35 ERA through six starts. His first start wasn’t great, as he allowed 10 hits, but he has avoided contact more and more as the season has developed. With the injuries to half the projected starting rotation, the Dodgers will need him to continue his excellent pitching. If he can keep up his 26.4 percent strikeout rate, sustained success should be expected.
Howell has been below average this year, with an ERA of 4.82. The sample size is small, though, so looking at his underlying numbers gives a better look at his struggles. He is walking an inordinate amount of batters thus far, as this season’s 14 percent is the highest of his career.
Interestingly, the Dodgers are using him as much against righties as they are against lefties, so as long as he remains effective, his roster spot is likely safe.
Hairston has been horrendous with the bat this year, posting a .570 OPS. All his value to the Dodgers has come in his ability to fill in at multiple positions, and while that is important, it won’t be enough to make up for his lack of offensive production if it continues throughout the year.
However, given that he’s had an OPS above .700 each of the last four seasons, it’s reasonable to expect that he will get back to that level before the end of the year.
So far this year, Beckett has disappointed. In the small sample after he came from Boston last August, he had a 2.93 ERA and 8.0 K/9. However, so far this year, he has a 5.24 ERA and has had only one excellent start.
There are some positive signs, though, as his strikeout percentage and walk rate are better than they were last year. In addition, the only difference in the rest of his underlying numbers is his batting average against. At this point in his career, that could be just bad luck, or it could be indicative of his failing stuff.
Wall has been spectacularly bad this year, with an 18.00 ERA in seven innings so far. He’s had two blowup outings—April 24 at the Mets and April 29 versus Colorado—in which he allowed 11 runs in 2.1 innings.
He has just been demoted, in fact. He was only forced into action because of the extent of the injuries to the Dodgers pitching staff.
Likely the biggest early-season surprise on this roster, Uribe has been fantastic given expectations. He has an OBP of .419, well above his career mark of .297. His .825 OPS is also more than 100 points over his career level.
All 14 of his appearances have been at third base, and he has been needed. In Hanley Ramirez’s absence, the Dodgers have had to rotate several poor offensive options through. With Ramirez’s return, though, some of the pressure is off. Uribe has been a huge benefit to the team so far this year.
Sellers is a bad hitter: career .590 OPS in 76 games. But he is known as a defensive whizz, and that’s why the Dodgers have had him in the lineup. He had a famously horrendous second game of the season. Since then, though, he has shown off his defensive chops.
His future with the team is in question, but he has made his case to stay up. In the first 25 games of the season, the Dodgers shortstop platoon of Sellers, Luis Cruz and Nick Punto has combined for two extra-base hits—and Sellers has both of them.
As usual, Jansen has been a machine in the bullpen. He has a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings and has allowed just 13 baserunners. This type of performance is certainly putting pressure on Brandon League at the back of the bullpen.
His strikeout rate is slightly down this year, but so is his walk rate. In addition, it’s still early and there is definitely time for his strikeouts to climb as his innings increase.
Cruz has been awful this year. He has a triple-slash line of .089/.119/.089. In 60 plate appearances, he has five hits. For comparison, Ryu Hyun-Jin has four hits in 12 plate appearances. And Ryu is a pitcher.
Cruz is a fine defender at third, but no amount of glove work is good enough to make up for this bad of an offensive line.
Ellis is off to an excellent start this year, with a .363 OBP and a .452 SLG. He has been solid defensively at second as well, as he has made no errors. However, he injured his right quad and has missed the last five games, so the possibly looming DL stint could derail his momentum.
A worrying sign offensively is that much of his on-base success is batting average-driven, and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .383, 90 points above his career level. His walk rate is way down as well, so once some of the balls he hits start to find gloves, his OBP will likely plummet.
In 9.1 innings this year, Guerrier has allowed six runs. While there are certainly small sample caveats that can apply, there are worrisome underlying numbers that do not bode well for Guerrier’s future.
His fastball velocity so far this year is 89.4 mph, two mph below his career level and a one mph drop from last year. In addition, his walk rate is about twice his career level, and his strikeout rate is just one-third. Now, there’s certainly time for these ratios to correct, and 9.1 innings is a tiny sample size, but his performance has certainly not been encouraging.
Kemp has gotten off to a slow start in 2013, with a line of .260/.318/.344. So far, he has not approached the heights of his last two seasons, but with five-sixths of the season remaining, he still has time to pick it up.
The worrying signs are his lack of power. Much of his underlying numbers look the same, but he has an ISO (SLG-AVG) of just .083. Seeing how he’s still just 28 years old, that seems like something that should correct itself over the course of the season.
Magill impressed in his major league debut with the Dodgers, allowing two runs and six total baserunners in 6.2 innings. With the injury troubles currently in the Dodgers rotation, manager Don Mattingly and the Dodgers will be relying more on Magill than they imagined they would.
Given his minor league track record, the team will expect him to be able to fill in capably.
Punto has a similar line to Mark Ellis: a batting average-driven line that looks impressive but is unlikely to be sustainable. He has a .400/.488/.429 triple-slash line, but it is likely unsustainable because his BABIP is .519. Once that stabilizes back toward his career line of .300, his offensive production will return to the level it has always.
Hernandez was brought over from Colorado in the Aaron Harang trade. He has only 20 plate appearances but has gotten off to a slow start, with just one hit.
He’s the backup catcher, so not much offense is expected from him, but Tim Federowicz is waiting in the minor leagues, so Hernandez does have some competition for his job.
Belisario has been the Dodgers' seventh- and eighth-inning reliever, and he has been pretty impressive in his 12.2 innings. He has struck out over a batter per inning and is yet to allow a home run. His walk rate is higher than the Dodgers would like it at this point (at 5.0), but given that his career level is 3.6, that should be expected to drop over the course of the season.
Tolleson has faced just two batters this season, so it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from that small a sample size. However, he walked both batters.
Thus far this season, Schumaker has been less than impressive with the bat. He has a .139/.295/.167 line, which comes out to a 36 OPS+.
He is really just a utility player, so his value comes from his versatility with the glove, and he has played four positions thus far (with an inning on the mound just for fun). However, if he can’t start to hit, he’ll lose a lot of the value that his defense brings.
Fife made one start in an attempt to fill in for the injured Chris Capuano before he was placed on the disabled list himself with shoulder bursitis. In that one start, he allowed four runs in 4.2 innings, but just one appearance is not enough to draw any conclusions from.
Rodriguez has made 14 appearances this year, but they have totaled just 8.1 innings. As would be expected, the majority of batters he's faced have been left-handed, and he’s been about average in his performance. He’s striking out nearly a batter per inning, and he’s allowing fewer than a baserunner per inning, which is about all the Dodgers could expect from him.
Lilly has made two starts: one terrible one and one good one. His good start was his debut against Matt Harvey and the Mets, and he gave up one run in five innings. His next start, though, was so bad that his season ERA is 5.63. Against the Rockies on April 29, he allowed five runs in three innings and only struck out two.
It remains to be seen how he will fare the rest of the year, but a back injury and "ineffectiveness" do not bode well for the future.
Federowicz has just six plate appearances this season. He was the backup for just a couple games until the Dodgers acquired Hernandez from the Colorado Rockies.
Greinke was pitching very well before Carlos Quentin broke his collarbone in a brawl on April 12, but he is now on the disabled list and expected to miss two months.
Before the injury, though, he had pitched well, with an ERA of 1.59 in an admittedly small sample of just 11.1 innings. Given his track record of success and the fact that the injury is to his non-throwing side, a return to elite performance upon his return is easily within reach.