Welcome to B&N, Birmingham’s premier Dodgers enthusiast Leon Boyne
From a view approximately 8,588.61 km away, the Dodgers have made a very solid start to the 2017 season but despite the apparent demise of the San Francisco Giants, they still find themselves in 2nd place behind the ‘atmosphere assisted’ Colorado Rockies and just ahead of the team with the worse uniforms in baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants and the Padres are currently 13.5 games back and are about as threatening at this stage of the season as a Jered Weaver fastball.
Having maintained the core of the team that reached the NLCS last season, the feeling was that this was going to be the year that the Dodgers finally make it back to the World Series. Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill all returned on long term deals and Logan Forsyth was acquired in a trade from the Tampa Bay Rays as the long term replacement for Chase Utley who later re-signed for the year because the Dodgers love Chase as much as Mac from ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ loves Chase. For the first month of the season, Utley’s batting average was lower than his age but he’s since exploded in to life and is once again an integral part of the team as Forsyth struggled with injuries and form.
The Dodgers exploded out of the box on opening day, demolishing the Padres 14-3 behind a typically dominant start by Clayton Kershaw. The one sour note being the home run given up by Kershaw who has since continued to give up home runs at an ever so slightly alarming rate of nearly 1 per game.
Whilst this is probably about average for an MLB pitcher, Kershaw is no average MLB pitcher. Despite all the home runs, he’s still managed to post an ERA of just 2.20 and recently reached 2000 strike outs.
After taking the Opening series against the Padres, the team didn’t manage another series win until sweeping the Phillies at the end of April. With the exception of Chris Hatcher and the lovable but now very hittable Sergio Romo, the bullpen remained solid throughout the month with the exception of an absolute car crash of an inning against the Diamondbacks who scored 9 times in the 8th to record a 13-5 victory.
Kenley Jansen remains an elite closer, racking up his 200th save and striking out 43 whilst not giving up a single walk. Kenley also acquired a staggering amount of sugary treats from his team mates to apologise for a lack of save opportunities for the month of May.
Number 2 starter Kenta Maeda had a very rough start after anchoring the team for most of last season and will be shifted to the bullpen due to the exceptional start made by Alex Wood. Wood has been amongst the best pitchers in baseball since the end of April with an ERA of 2.01. Rich Hill’s struggles with blisters have continued and have led to time on the DL but Brandon McCarthy has performed well in the majority of his starts. Julio Urias continues to work in the Minors with a view to bring him back up in the middle of the year.
The second game of the home Phillies series at the end of April saw the Dodgers overturn a 9th inning deficit with back to back to back home runs including the first home run for top prospect Cody Bellinger (His name’s Toby Bellringer – ed.) who then went on a tear with a further 14 home runs and currently sits on 15 home runs and is a legitimate candidate for either the home run derby or even the All-Star game itself, following in the footsteps of Joc Pederson and Corey Seager.
Bellinger’s arrival on the scene coincided with the Dodgers going 20 and 9 for the month of May and briefly topping the division for the first time since early April. There were series sweeps of the Pirates, the Padres and the Cubs who were shut out on consecutive nights.
Another bright spot has been the emergence of Chris Taylor who’s ability to hit grand slams has put a stop to the front offices desire to change the team’s name to LOB (Left on Base) Angeles Dodgers. 3 of the 8 home runs he’s hit for the dodgers have saved American punters 40% of a regular sized pizza at Papa Johns. Taylor joins Kiki Hernandez in the ultimate utility player bracket and has helped cover the loss of the underrated Andrew Toles who tore his ACL and is out for the season. Yasiel Puig remains an enigma to all but appears to have overcome the issues that saw his demoted to the Triple AAA OKC Dodgers.
At this stage last year the team were 33-32 but this season stand at 39-25 and hints at real progress. With the addition of a couple of fresh arms to an already solid bullpen, there is no reason why the Dodgers can’t reach the playoffs once and this time go even further and finally win it all.