Following the Dodgers and Exploring The Team’s Past
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The Dodgers have lost two of three against the Mets and the end result is the Dodgers now sit just one game ahead of the second place Padres and they’re tied in the loss column. It’ll be interesting to see what the brain trust does. The Dodgers have a ton of talent down in the minors and they could use that to give them an edge in the final two months. Of course you don’t want to cost the team’s future but there’s no doubt this team needs some hitting. Adding a guy like Adam Dunn to the lineup would be a huge coup but for now it looks like the Dodgers are looking more for pen help like Octavio Dotel then they are a big bat.
Brad Penny didn’t have his best stuff yesterday but he helped the Dodgers end their two game mini-skid to the Mets. Penny is now 12-1 and one of a few guys in line for the Cy Young. Of course he’ll have to keep it up down the stretch but he’ll be one of several guys who will be a key to the Dodgers making the postseason.
Jeff Kent is starting to heat up and he’s belted three homeruns in his past seven games. He also has a nice little five game hitting streak going again and in the month of July, he’s slugged .635. He’s been even better in his eight games since the All Star Break with a .769 slugging.
Russ Martin continues to keep his batting average over .300 and his OPS is still over .850. Martin and Kent have been the big bats but you wonder how long they can both keep it up. They’ll need guys like Rafael Furcal and, gulp, Juan Pierre to provide some punch if the Dodgers want to stay in the lead.
The Dodgers finish up with the Mets this afternoon and then it’s three against the Astros and three against the Rockies. The Rockies have hung in the hunt for the division and it’d be nice to bury them. In the meantime, a tune up series against the Astros is just the thing this team might need.
The last thing you could call the Dodgers season is boring. As expected, they’ve lived and died with their pitching staff and they’ve gotten solid contributions from some expected players (Jeff Kent) as well as some surprising performances like Russ Martin’s. At the end of the day though, they’re just one game (two losses) behind the Padres with a three loss lead over third place Diamondbacks. Even the Rockies at .500 and 5 1/2 games back of the Padres are in it and they’re closing then most other third place teams are in their division.
The team MVP has to go to Russ Martin. To produce like he has, and from a catcher, is nothing short of phenomonal. He should both scored 100 and drive in 100 and 20 homeruns isn’t out of the question. Throw in a 46/34 strikeout to walk ratio and an .865 OPS and it goes to show how good of a first half that Martin has had.
The biggest disappointment, and I’m not surprised here, has been Juan Pierre. Yes, he leads the team with 52 runs and he very well could end up with another 200 hit season but that .649 is low, low low. Even when you factor in the fact that he turned 34 singles in to doubles with stolen bases doesn’t make up for a truly disappointing season.
The top pitcher is Brad Penny, who sports an impressive 10-1 record with a team leading 2.39 ERA. Penny goes out there and gives the Dodgers a chance to win. Prior to getting hit hard on July 5, Penny went five straight starts where he pitched at least seven innings and gave up just one run (he only won three of those games). His walk rate is good and his strikeout rate is good but not great and it all adds up to a potential Cy Young. He just has to avoid the poor second half like he had last year.
Most disappointing pitcher is Jason Schmidt, just because he didn’t earn his keep and he’s been damaged goods. Live and learn here, because I thought this was a big signing and so far it’s a major bust.
It’s Derek Lowe against Matt Cain on Friday night. Saturday’s game is an afternoon one and taking this series is appealing on a couple of different levels. It puts heat on the Padres and we beat our arch-rivals. I liked how the Dodgers players got booed at the All Star Game last night. You have to keep that rivalry alive.
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