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What's going on against the NL West?

5/6/2013

They lost their second-best pitcher, Zack Greinke, in a brawl in San Diego. They lost their star shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, twice within a 12-foot radius of third base in San Francisco.

Lucky for the Dodgers, they haven’t had to brave the snow in Colorado or a sandstorm in Arizona, but they have managed to lose series to the other two teams in their division, as well.

The Dodgers were hoping to exert their dominance over the NL West early this season, but the other teams -- who had to read about the Dodgers' expensive upgrades all winter -- haven't complied. After the weekend sweep in San Francisco, the Dodgers are 5-13 against teams in their division and 8-4 against everybody else.

It’s a bit puzzling and, of course, a small sample size. But one thing that stands out: The Dodgers struggle to hit pitchers in their division. If that doesn’t improve, it will be a disappointing season. They have scored 55 runs in the 18 games against the West, barely three runs per game.

Dodgers hitters have a .699 OPS against Arizona, worse than every team the Diamondbacks have played besides the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates. Even against Colorado, not exactly rich in pitching, the Dodgers’ OPS is .679, the worst of any team the Rockies have faced. They’ve been just marginally better against San Diego (.749) and San Francisco (.680).

The National League average for OPS is .709 this season, so the Dodgers have been woeful hitting against three of the pitching staffs they’ll face most often and slightly better than mediocre against the other. That's a rough start, especially considering two of the teams in this division, Colorado and San Diego, were supposed to be a steady diet of wins for three three division teams viewed as contenders.

After these next three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers play 19 in a row outside their division. You can’t hide for long, though. The Dodgers have 54 games, or 41 percent of their schedule, left against NL West teams.