Los Angeles Dodgers: The 5 Biggest Disappointments So Far
It's been a long season for the Dodgers and it's only mid-June.
Sixty-eight games into the season, the Dodgers are stuck in the quicksand of a last-place slot in the National League West with a 29-39 record.
Disappointment is one thing; having the highest payroll in major-league history and sitting 10 games below .500 is an entirely different level of disappointment that would be called failure if there weren't 94 games left to play in the season.
While the Dodgers' season has been filled with a few bright spots (e.g. Kershaw, Ryu, Gonzalez, Puig), there have been a long list of disappointments for the Boys in Blue so far.
Let's take a look at the highest on that list.
5. The Rotation
A collective 17-23 record is not exactly what was expected for a starting rotation that was so highly touted approaching the 2013 season.
Of course, the bulk of those losses can be attributed to a substandard bullpen and wallowing offense, but the rotation still hasn't been what the Dodgers had expected.
A good chunk of the reason? The rotation literally isn't the same as it was on paper this spring.
Chad Billingsley had season-ending surgery after two starts; Zack Greinke was out for a significant portion of the season after breaking his collarbone in a brawl; Ted Lilly has been on and off the disabled list with a variety of injuries; and Josh Beckett has a concerning hand injury.
The personnel inconsistency of the Dodgers rotation has left the majority of the onus on Clayton Kershaw (5-4 1.84 ERA 104 SO) and South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2 2.85 ERA 75 SO) to perform, which they have done marvelously.
Nevertheless, the bottom end of the rotation, including Greinke, who has struggled immensely on the road (0-2 7.45 ERA 2.07 WHIP), has disintegrated the quality of the rotation as a whole, which ranks 24th in the MLB in innings pitched (399.2).
4. Hanley's "Now You See Me" Routine
Hanley Ramirez's trademark "I See You" routine has taken on an entirely different meaning.
The All-Star shortstop missed Opening Day and nearly the entire month of April due to a hand injury he sustained playing for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Four games after returning back into the lineup and providing some pop for his struggling Dodgers, Ramirez pulled his hamstring trying to extend a hit into a triple and was sidelined for the rest of May.
With manager Don Mattingly being extremely vigilant about Ramirez's recurring injuries, the Dodgers hope that their starting shortstop can remain healthy for the duration of the season.
However, Ramirez has looked poor at the plate in his most recent return, only registering three hits in 20 at-bats.
Nevertheless, there is plenty of season left and the Dodgers want to see Hanley on the field all the time and hope that his vanishing act is through.
3. Stop-and-Go Nausea
The repeating story of the Dodgers' downfalls this season resides in their inability to garner even the most microscopic scrap of momentum.
Even with Cuban rookie phenom carrying the weight of the entire team on his back, the Blue Crew is bogged down by consistent losing streaks.
The most startling statistic for this Dodgers team, which has the highest payroll in major-league history, is that the highest win streak they've recorded all season is three games—and they've only achieved it on one occasion.
However, they don't seem to have much trouble tallying losing streaks, as the blues have boomed from Los Angeles with two three-game losing streaks and extensive losing stretches of six and eight games.
If the Dodgers are to resurrect their subpar season, they will have to pull off significant win streaks to boost momentum but also to simply cover the deficit of their 29-39 record.
2. Matt Kemp
Rehabilitating from shoulder surgery has proven to be a difficult feat for Dodgers' superstar centerfielder Matt Kemp, who hasn't been able to get it going all season long in the field and at the plate.
Kemp, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, joined the disabled list in late May hitting a meager .251 with two home runs and 17 runs batted in and a paltry .305 on-base percentage.
To add insult to injury, the 28-year-old 2011 National League MVP runner-up has tallied 60 strikeouts on the season (31%) with 48 hits.
Whether it was his shoulder or something else that was irking him physically or mentally, the Dodgers hope to have Kemp back in regular form when he returns from the DL.
To say that the Dodgers have been plagued by injuries this season is no exaggeration.
The Blue Crew has been significantly set back by stints to the disabled list and even worse, a season-ending surgery for starting pitcher Chad Billingsley.
Amid all their struggles, the Dodgers have witnessed injuries to their most valuable assets, from newcomer Zack Greinke to franchise player Matt Kemp.
It's two and a half months into the season and the Dodgers have yet to concurrently field the All-Star team they had on paper for this season.