July was by far the Dodgers’ best month, as they went 19-5 and charged from last to first in the NL West. Superstars Hanley Ramirez and Clayton Kershaw were the key forces behind the run, but surprise performances from the bullpen and key substitutes also helped.
Manager Don Mattingly finally has something close to his ideal lineup available to him, so let’s see how each member of the Dodgers fared during July.
July was clearly Belisario’s best month this season. He allowed only a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings and stranded over 90 percent of the base runners he allowed on base. He emerged as a shutdown reliever for the Dodgers, easing some of the pressure on Kenley Jansen.
He still posted only a 2.0 K/BB ratio, though, which is well below average. But it’s difficult to argue with his success.
His ability to avoid walks has been huge, and he has been a fantastic fill-in to give the Dodgers some extra depth in a tattered rotation.
Dominguez made eight of his nine big league appearances in July, and he was quite good: his 2.45 ERA inspires confidence. But given his electrifying stuff, he exhibited a strange inability to strike batters out (just 10 percent).
Unfortunately, he was sidelined with a strained quad on July 23; However, he is expected back as soon as the 15-day minimum passes.
Greinke was good in July, but he wasn’t great. He struggled in two of his five starts, allowing four runs in seven innings on July 25 against Cincinnati and five runs in five innings on July 3 in Colorado.
His great month has been a huge part of the Dodgers’ success; without a shutdown bullpen, teams give away losses. But to go 18-5 and win 22 of 27, Jansen had to be perfect—and he basically was.
We all know that Kershaw is amazingly good, and his July performance merely reaffirms that belief. In 39 innings, he allowed 23 base runners while striking out 38. He lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.96, and his game log is unbelievable: he went seven innings and allowed three runs in his WORST start of the month, July 12 versus Colorado.
All in all, there isn’t much to say about Kershaw’s brilliance beyond what the numbers can display. He’s a pleasure to watch and a bona fide ace in the prime of his career.
Somewhat shockingly, League wasn’t terrible. In nine innings, he gave up only three runs, which is a huge improvement for someone with a 5.17 ERA on the year.
He’s still struggling to strike people out, though, as he had just a 7.0 K/9, which, while better than his season rate of 4.7, is still below league average.
Affectionately (or, more likely, unaffectionately) dubbed “the real Carlos Danger,” Marmol came over from the Chicago Cubs on July 2 in exchange for Matt Guerrier. After spending much of the month in the minors—where he posted a 3.60 ERA in five appearances—Marmol made his Dodger debut in spectacular Marmol fashion: in 1.2 innings, he gave up three runs and allowed five base runners without striking out a single hitter.
Marmol is not particularly different from Guerrier, the man he was traded for. At this point in their respective careers, both are middling pitchers who shouldn’t be counted on.
In four starts for the Dodgers, he’s put up a 3.13 ERA while striking out 16 and walking nine. Those numbers are more than acceptable from a team’s fourth starter.
Paco has been the unsung hero of the bullpen, and his July was spectacular. He made 10 appearances spanning 8.1 innings and didn’t allow a run or a walk. In fact, he gave up only two hits and struck out 11.
He has been dominant, and Don Mattingly is finally beginning to use him in high-leverage situations.
Ryu is a valuable member of the rotation, and although he is no longer as dominant as he was earlier in the year (2.70 ERA in 33.1 innings in June), he has still been serviceable. The innings he provides (24, third-most on the team) are important for a team that has struggled with injuries to its rotation all season. His 4.50 ERA, while unspectacular, is solid, and he actually had a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) nearly a full run lower.
Withrow made five appearances for the Dodgers, and threw very well—he had a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings. He’s been with the team the entire month, so the fact that he’s only been called on five times demonstrates the lack of faith Mattingly has in him.
However, he allowed less than one baserunner per inning, so perhaps he has figured out a way to harness his control and be a valuable big leaguer.
He has stepped in as a solid option at a position the Dodgers have had trouble filling since the decline of Russell Martin; he is in the top 10 among catchers in wOBA (FanGraphs’ cumulative measure of offense), a level the Dodgers haven’t reached since 2008—the height of Martin’s powers.
Ellis is another Dodger who was better than league average in July, as he posted a .313/.356/.386 line, which was good enough for a .324 wOBA and a 109 wRC+.
He isn’t spectacular, though. Despite hitting in front of Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, Ellis scored only five runs.
Gonzalez had an excellent month, posting a .308/.358/.485 line, which is his second-best power month by both SLG and ISO. He led the team in RBIs with 17—and for all of the faults with RBI as a statistic, it tells a story in small sample sizes.
His power, which has noticeably deserted him over the past few years (see his declining ISO for the past four years) has bounced back somewhat this year, which is a big positive development for the Dodgers.
Hairston is what he is—a role player whose value comes from positional flexibility and not being totally horrible at the plate—and he succeeded in those duties in July. He posted a .693 OPS and got time at third base, first base, and left field.
His ability to be a right-handed bat in the outfield has been more valuable than anticipated with Matt Kemp’s repeated trips to the DL.
Punto has come crashing back down to earth after a hot start, posting a .291 OPS in 32 plate appearances in July. For comparison’s sake, all but two other Dodgers posted OBPs higher than that (not counting Elian Herrera’s one PA).
Punto’s only saving grace is his ability to fill in at shortstop, but he only got four games there this month. Instead, he has provided a left-handed platoon bat at second or third, but he has been so ineffective at the plate that he has basically been useless.
Well, this sure has been fun. He’s played 23 games and racked up 106 plate appearances. In those 106 PAs, he has five home runs and 16 RBIs. He put up a .375/.434/.667 triple-slash and was three-for-three in stolen bases.
And he did all of this while playing shortstop.
According to FanGraphs, Ramirez has been the most valuable player in baseball in July. But part of that value comes from defense and position (shortstop is more difficult to play than, say, left field); so if you remove everything except offense, Ramirez still ranks as the best hitter in the major leagues over the past month according to wRC+.
Uribe has continued to be a solid contributor for the Dodgers, posting a .254/.304/.413 line in July while shockingly providing a reliable everyday third base option for Don Mattingly.
Crawford had a down month, with a .254/.288/.302 line and .590 OPS. His problems stemmed from a slight increase in strikeout rate and a decrease in walk rate as well as a complete inability to drive the ball (.048 ISO).
On most teams, a .306/.390/.471 line would stand out as elite—except when that line follows a man hitting .375/.434/.667.
Ethier’s production behind Hanley Ramirez can’t be overlooked, though. He’s been phenomenal in July, with a walk rate three percent above his season mark and a SLG about 70 points higher.
A right fielder for the past several years, Ethier has also been versatile enough to man center field for much of the month while Matt Kemp struggled to stay on the field.
Kemp’s rate stats suggest a superstar (.368/.429/.895), but they came in only five games. He’s been bugged by injuries all season, and July was no exception. He went on the DL on July 6 after re-injuring his shoulder, but only lasted one game upon returning, as he sprained his ankle trying to score on a ground ball.
The Cuban import was never going to be able to maintain the obscene 1.180 OPS that he put up in June, but he hasn’t come all the way back down. His .299/.361/.448 line is still quite good, and the most encouraging note is that his walk rate nearly doubled from June to July.
Puig has garnered a ton of attention for his “arrogance” and attitude, but his presence in the lineup and on the field has had a measurable impact on the team’s success—particularly in light of Kemp’s absence and Crawford’s struggles.
Schumaker exploded in July, putting up a 1.068 OPS in 41 plate appearances. He’s still a utility man, but his ability to fill in around the outfield and at second base gives Mattingly some needed roster flexibility.
He is a solid player, and his hot July has brought him up to a near-league-average OPS (94 OPS+, with 100 being average). He even hit his first two home runs of the year in the last 10 days as he filled in for Puig and the sick Crawford.
Van Slyke received a limited amount of playing time—just 17 plate appearances—before being sent down to Triple-A on July 21. In that short time, he wasn’t very good (.267/.294/.267), but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which 17 plate appearances actually means anything.