Thursday, June 5, 2014
Stock watch: Pitching up, offense down
By Mark Saxon
Clayton Kershaw, LHP: It looks as if he has fixed most of what ailed him in that strange 1 2/3-inning debacle in Arizona. Kershaw is coming off a start in which he gave up only four hits in eight innings and struck out nine. There is evidence he's still struggling a bit with his curveball and right-handers are hitting .269 and slugging .448 against him, but this is a bit nitpicky. He looks like an ace again and the Dodgers need all the starting pitching they can get the way they're hitting.
Dan Haren, RHP: OK, so it hasn't been pretty. He has been giving up a lot of hard-hit balls lately and six of those (in his past four starts) have left the ballpark. But Haren always finds a way to hang around for six or seven innings. In fact, only once this season has he failed to make it through the sixth. That means the Dodgers are in every game he pitches, which is way more than can be said of most No. 5 starters. With diminished stuff, he seems to be getting it done purely on desire and smarts.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP: Get the impression starting pitching might be the Dodgers' strength lately? You could pretty much pick any of them for this category. Ryu deserves to be in the mix, because he has won all three of his starts since coming off the disabled list May 21. Last time, he somehow got through six innings while giving up 10 hits. Granted, it's not easy to pitch at Coors Field for anybody, but Ryu has the right credentials. He's 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA on the road this season.
Matt Kemp, OF: Don Mattingly wouldn't say what will happen when Carl Crawford comes off the disabled list late next week, but it seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? Kemp is going to be spending a lot of time on the bench. He is 4 for his past 38 with two RBIs and 14 strikeouts. And here's the tough part: You can't really platoon them, because Kemp is, inexplicably, batting .136 against left-handed pitchers this season.
Andre Ethier, CF: If it seems as if the Dodgers never score at home, blame Ethier, at least a little bit. He has struggled mightily at Dodger Stadium. Ethier is coming off a 5-for-32 homestand and is batting .220 at home. He is the steadiest center fielder on the roster, but his slump and career-long inability to hit left-handed pitching make it difficult to just leave him out there for weeks on end. Scott Van Slyke has been getting some spot starts in center field, which tells you how desperate the Dodgers are to get a little offense from the position.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B: When Gordon Beckham bobbled a ground ball Gonzalez hit him Wednesday night, Gonzalez suddenly broke out of his listless jog. He would have been out anyway, except that Beckham bobbled it again and dropped it. You would think a player batting .132 in his past 10 games would work a little harder to get on base.