A Dodger Assessment: Does L.A. Have a Chance?
As of this writing, the Los Angeles Dodgers have accumulated a record of 4-7 since the All-Star break, including a six-game losing streak.
Though there have been some notably good performances from Rafael Furcal, who currently leads the National League in hitting, and the duo Andre Ethier and James Loney, who rank among the league's top five in RBI. The Dodgers won three out of four games from the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium this past weekend, but the problems that have plagued the Dodgers all season continue to persist.
Despite the continued progress of Clayton Kershaw—who was outstanding yesterday in throwing eight shutout innings—and the recent pitching of Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda, L.A.'s staff has remained inconsistent in the bullpen and the fifth starter spot.
Jonathan Broxton has blown two saves in the 11 contests since saving the National League's win in the July 13 All-Star Game. Although his fastball is outstanding, his lack of an effective off speed or breaking pitch has hurt him as opposing batters have sat on his 98 mile-an-hour heat, plus he has walked too many batters on occasion.
As Crash Davis said to Nuke LaLoosh in the classic baseball film Bull Durham, "What you need is a curve ball! In the show everybody can hit a fast ball!"
Broxton really ought to take Crash's advice to heart.
In addition to Broxton's concerns, no one has established himself as a reliable number five starter; and don't even get me started on the middle relievers, Ramon Troncoso hasn't pitched at all due to personal issues and this is after a standout 2009. George Sherrill has been so bad that Charlie Brown could probably beat him (his last outing against the Mets notwithstanding). I think his 7.48 earned run average speaks for itself.
Injuries have devastated the Dodgers' fortunes as well, especially with regards to Manny Ramirez.
It truly grieves me to say this, but it's become clear that Manny's days as a devastating power slugger are over. Being 38-years-old and on the disabled list for the third time this year due to various leg problems, this future Hall of Famer, who's one of the greatest hitters of the past 20 years and among the best right handed sluggers ever, is officially past his prime.
Although Ramirez will likely play for another couple of years, it will undoubtedly be as a designated hitter in the American League as he will leave the Dodgers at the end of this season.
All of these issues that the Dodgers continue to have leads to one question: does L.A. have a chance at the post season?
Though anything is possible, at this moment I'm going to vote no, because of too much inconsistency on the mound, the recent performances notwithstanding, plus the Dodgers have had trouble scoring runs of late.
A wild card berth is within reach if they go on a hot streak, but it will be tough.
I recently heard the commentators on MLB Network's "Quick Pitch" say that the Dodgers know they need pitching, but feel they can't do anything about it due to financial issues stemming from the divorce of owners Frank and Jaime McCourt. They were never in the running for Houston's Roy Oswalt because he wanted too much money and the Astros wanted standouts like Matt Kemp in return.
So to sum this all up, it has been 22 years since Chavez Ravine has hosted a World Series—and it won't host a Fall Classic this year.
As such, I'm predicting a total of between 85 and 90 wins and third place finish—with a chance at second—for the Dodgers in 2010.
Whether or not 2011 will be any better remains to be seen.
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