Los Angeles Dodgers Look to Take Advantage of Golden Opportunity

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMay 4, 2011

PHOENIX - JULY 03:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by teammates Andre Ethier #16 and Clayton Kershaw #22 after hitting a 2 run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 3, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Through 31 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a rather unimpressive record of just 15-16. While their mediocre start may not be particularly surprising, especially given the team's current situation, it is not something that the city of Los Angeles is boasting about, either. 

The story for the Dodgers up to this point has been great starting pitching, sub-par relief pitching and and a weak offense, despite the outstanding hitting of outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp

Los Angeles is one of the few teams with the luxury of possessing five reliable starting pitchers. However, it is the lone team in the NL that has a bullpen ERA over 5.00 (5.34 to be exact). 

Meanwhile, on the offensive end, the Dodgers currently rank in the bottom half of the NL in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Yes, they have been without shortstop Rafael Furcal for most of the season, as well as third baseman Casey Blake, who has already been on the DL twice. But it is not like either one of them was projected to be Silver Sluggers this season, either. 

The Dodgers are currently tied with the San Francisco Giants in the standings, four games back of the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies, but they have a golden opportunity to gain ground.  They are just five games into a stretch of 26 consecutive games against teams with records below .500. Of course, some of the Dodgers' opponents may be at or above .500 by the time the two teams meet up, but nevertheless, the schedule is extremely favorable. 

So far, through the first five games of the stretch, the Dodgers are not exactly off to a hot start. They lost two out of three to San Diego at home and have split the first two games against the Cubs. But with their next 21 games to come against losing teams, the Dodgers still have plenty of opportunities to gain ground.

Los Angeles will travel to New York this weekend to play the last-place Mets. It will then play at Pittsburgh for four games before playing home against Arizona, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Afterwards, the Dodgers will go on a road trip to play the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros, each of whom is in last place in its respective division. 

Meanwhile, Colorado has a similar schedule coming up, except it will play against the first-place Phillies and Cardinals, as opposed to the Astros and White Sox

If the Dodgers fail to rack up a bunch of wins in the next few weeks, they could put themselves in hot water.  

Starting in the last week of May, the Dodgers will begin a stretch in which they play 16 games in a row against what figure to be contenders. They will start it off by playing the first-place Marlins and Rockies at home. Afterwards, they will go on a road trip to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Colorado.  

For the Dodgers, even if they struggle a bit in the upcoming weeks, the two series against Colorado could help them gain ground in a hurry. However, they must prepare for the worse by taking care of business now before things have the potential to get out of hand.