Stock watch: Starters in cruise control
July, 3, 2014
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Control: Dodgers starting pitchers aren't infallible, but you've got to do something impressive to beat them most of the time. That's a pretty serious head start and part of the reason why the Dodgers have easily the best rotation in the National League so far. Hyun-Jin Ryu didn't walk anyone Wednesday and Dodgers starters have gone 36 straight games without walking more than two batters in a game. Is that impressive? One team, the 2005 Minnesota Twins, has matched it in the past 100 years.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP: He doesn't qualify among the league leaders yet, because he missed those five weeks because of an upper-back injury. But, wow, those numbers. Kershaw has struck out 107 batters this season and walked 11, an almost-absurd ratio of better than 9-to-1. Mike Matheny is almost certain to name his own guy, Adam Wainwright, as the National League starter in the All-Star Game. A similar thing happened to Kershaw last season, when Matt Harvey got the nod pitching at Citi Field. You could make a legitimate argument, once again, that Kershaw is more deserving.
Dee Gordon, 2B: It was not an impressive homestand for the Dodgers hitters. In fact, the Dodgers went 4-3 largely despite their offense. But Gordon became their catalyst again and reignited his All-Star chances by going 11-for-29 (.380). He has scored 11 runs in his past 16 games.
Yasiel Puig, RF: Don Mattingly says he thinks Puig looks tired. It's hard to tell, because Puig always plays with relentless energy. But what Mattingly senses is a mental fatigue. He's going out of the strike zone more and more and swinging at pitches the pitcher wants him to. After hitting eight home runs in May, he hasn't hit one since. His walk rate is down. His strikeouts are up.
Fundamentals. The Dodgers appeared to have fixed their primary weakness, and it was helping fuel their great pitching. They went from being one of the worst-fielding teams to being above average in short order. But in the past two games of the homestand, the Dodgers got a little sloppy in two areas. They ran into outs Tuesday night and they kicked the ball around Wednesday afternoon. That was particularly surprising since two of the offenders Wednesday, Carlos Triunfel and Miguel Rojas, are considered premium defenders.