Dodgers Minus Kershaw Equals Disaster
May 23, 2016

News flash. The Los Angeles Dodgers won a game that Clayton Kershaw didn't pitch. It took 17 innings to do it, but yesterday, in San Diego, the Dodgers prevailed. Dodger fans likely remember the first three games of the season. In San Diego. LA won all three games, and all by shutout. The Dodgers and Padres have the same record in all games since.

It really is amazing when you think about it. The Dodgers had that week-long homestand with Miami and San Diego at the end of April. Remember that? The Dodgers' only win was 1-0 with Kershaw on the mound. Kershaw also drove in the only run. It was mostly a bullpen problem that week. And while they have shown microflashes of brilliance at times, Dodger relievers have not been that good. This week, it was Mr. Reliable, closer Kenley Jansen. He gave up the walkoff home run Saturday night, and blew the lead in the eighth inning the next night, which counts as a blown save.

Offensively, rookie Corey Seager is having himself a nice start. A .273 average with seven homers and 23 runs batted in is pretty good, especially since he just turned 22. Seager, though, is leading the team in hits, doubles, and RBIs. That shouldn't happen. Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, or even Yasiel Puig should be putting up those kind of numbers, but they're not. Trayce Thompson is leading the club in homers, and he's supposed to be in the minor leagues!

Back to the rotation. Kershaw has been brilliant. And that's it. Kenta Maeda started great, but perhaps the league is starting to figure him out. Or maybe because Japanese pitchers only start once a week in their homeland, he's getting tired. Scott Kazmir should have two nicknames. Jeckyl and Hyde. You just have no idea what's going to happen. Alex Wood, who started horribly, seems to be the second best option at the moment. Ross Stripling, who got the win Sunday, pitching in the 17-inning marathon, will have to skip his start Tuesday because of it.

With Kershaw on the hill, tough, it's a different story. He's 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA. His only loss was really the result of just one bad inning. He also has 88 strikeouts to just 4 walks, and has struck out ten or more batters in a row in six straight starts. He's on the mound tonight, but I had to pause the game after three innings to write this. He had not allowed a run, but the Dodgers hadn't scored either. What's new?

And that 17-inning game yesterday? Kershaw didn't pitch, but he did play. He grounded into a force play as a pinch-hitter, but he was in there. Maybe if he did that more often, the Dodgers would have more Ws.

Foul Odor: How is it that Texas second baseman Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista in the face over a week ago, and has played in every game since? Odor was suspended eight games following the fracas, but because he can appeal, gets to continue to play. He punched a guy in the face! Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in December, and this issue should be addressed. It's not number one on the list but it should be. Many may disagree, but the NBA has it right. You are suspended, you sit. No appeal. That's it.

Giants (base)ballin' old school: Since seldom is heard an encouraging word about the Giants in this space, we gave you San Francisco fans this tidbit. From Monday through Thursday of last week, the Giants bullpen worked just one inning. While in today's world that might be considered a concern, that's what's supposed to happen. The Giants were actually off on Monday, got complete games from their starters Tuesday and Wednesday, and an eight-inning out Thursday with Santiago Casilla in to pitch the ninth. Back in The Day, relievers wouldn't pitch at all if the starters were doing their jobs. That Day was a long time ago.

Face time: With all of the 'pace of play' rules aimed at speeding up the game, it gives Vin Scully less time to tell a story. As he has done on Dodger telecasts for many years, when they come back from break after the fifth inning, Scully is on camera and regales viewers with a tale that usually has something to do with that particular date in Dodger history, and names like Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, or Ebbets Field will come into play at least once. Now, Scully can barely get a sentence or two in, they cut away from him for a pitch or two while he settles back into his chair, and then tries to finish the story while the game is going on. There was one night a couple of weeks ago where they had to scrap his on-camera appearance because the game had already resumed. An extra moment to hear Scully talk should be encouraged by Major League Baseball, especially during his final season.

Speaking of Scully: It's amazing that its easier to watch Dodger games with Vin Scully out of Los Angeles, than in Los Angeles. You have to pay for or the 'Extra Innings' package, but most viewers in Los Angeles don't get Tim Warner Cable, and the television providers don't carry Time Warner's SportsNet LA because of its price. In a Viewpoint letter to the Los Angeles Times Saturday, it was pointed out that fans got to watch the Dodgers five nights in a row—the ESPN Sunday game against St. Louis, and then four straight versus the Angels. Those games were an Angels telecast, so that means, of course, no Scully.

View All Commentaries