The Dodgers continue to win ball games, led by stellar pitching staff

LA is just the second team in the big leagues this year to reach 50 wins, including a 10 game winning streak that ended on Monday night

MLB.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers are clicking on all cylinders. From their starting pitching, to their bullpen, to their bats, they are getting the job done. When Andrew Toles went down just 31 games in with a season ending knee injury, their starting center field at the time, I’m sure there was some concern on who would replace Toles. Rookie Cody Bellinger was called up, unexpectedly. Well, the rest is history. Bellinger has put together a rookie campaign for the ages thus far, sitting second in the big leagues with 24 homers in just 58 games. Just like the Aaron Judge saga, no one could have predicted this type of performance from Bellinger. I’m sure no one could have guessed that two rookies would be leading the majors in home runs. Regardless, it’s been a treat to watch.

But Bellinger isn’t the only reason the Dodgers are sitting in first place in the NL west. They are playing all around great baseball, led by a stellar pitching staff that has been lights out all season.

Outstanding pitching

Between their starters and relievers, LA has arguably the best pitching in the big leagues. Led by three-time NL Cy young award winner Clayton Kershaw at the top of their rotation, the Dodgers hold the best team ERA in the big leagues at 3.31. Kershaw has ate up 109 innings this year, pitching like his usual dominant self with an 11 and 2 record and 2.47 ERA. Crafty lefty Alex Wood actually has a better ERA than Kershaw, at 2.02 with a perfect 7 and 0 record this year. Those two lefties have been the most consistent starters for the Dodgers this season so far. Brandon McCarthy, who just went to the DL, was pitching quite well with a 3.25 ERA and 6 and 3 record, holding opposing batters to a lackluster .229 average. Hyun-jin Ryu, and Rich Hill round out the starting rotation, who both have put together some good and bad starts this season with sub four ERA’s.

But the most valuable piece of the pitching staff — the bullpen.

Led by closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers bullpen have compiled an astounding 2.92 ERA as a group, sitting behind just the Cleveland Indians who have a 2.53 bullpen ERA. But here’s the part that’s the most impressive. LA’s relievers have struck out 306 hitters in just 264.2 innings. It definitely helps when you have guys like Pedro Baez who sit at 98 coming into the game in the seventh and eighth innings, just to prepare opposing lineups for closer Kenley Jansen, who throws a 95 mph cutter that’s practically unhittable. Speaking of Jansen, he has put up video game numbers this season for the Dodgers. He currently has a 0.83 ERA with 17 saves in just 17 opportunities. Jansen has also struck out 52 hitters in just 32.2 innings, which calculates to 14.33 K’s per nine innings. Talk about dominant. The most impressive part is Jansen’s command. Coming into the weekend, he failed to give up any free passes to opposing hitters, until he finally walked Nolan Arenado on Sunday night. It makes it extremely tough on opposing lineups when you pound the strike zone on a consistent basis and get ahead in the count 0–2 on almost every batter that steps to the plate. Especially with Jansen’s stuff, it’s not a surprise to see how well he’s doing. When Jansen gets up 0–2 or 1–2, he throws a hard slider that is also pretty much impossible to square up. Best closer in the game? He’s up there with Craig Kimbrel for sure. The Dodgers also have some great arms that don’t even pitch as much, like Luis Avilan, who is mostly a lefty specialist. Brandon Morrow, who used to be a starter, is just getting back in the thick of things but he has looked outstanding out of the pen. The velocity has shot through the roof for him as a reliever now, sitting consistently in the upper 90’s.

The Dodgers have a great pitching staff, loaded with hard throwers and guys who rely more on command and their off speed stuff.

But their offense has looked great as of late too, led by Cory Seager and Cody Bellinger.

Offense

In the 10 game winning streak, the Dodgers scored an astounding 79 runs during that span. They also hit 27 home runs during those ten games, with six of the homers belonging to Cody Bellinger. Yasiel Puig is slowly finding his stride at the plate, which is a great sign. Puig is hitting .306 in June with five homers. Cory Seager, who is first in the Esurance voting for representing the NL as the starting shortstop, is having quite the June, where he is hitting .329 with five bombs. Seager is currently nursing a sore hamstring, but isn’t expected to be out long. He’s been one of the staples of this Dodgers lineup at shortstop, playing consistent defense on a daily basis and contributing at the plate. Justin Turner has only played 54 games due to some minor injuries, but is hitting .385 in that span. Turner brings a powerful bat and solid defense at the hot corner.

There isn’t really one guy who is standing out at the plate except for Cody Bellinger, who is hitting .270 with 24 bombs. On June 20th, Bellinger became the first rookie ever to hit 10 homers in a 10 game span. The Dodgers have a very special player in Cody Bellinger. Overall it’s been an all around effort from the Dodgers lineup that’s helping them win ball games along with a great pitching staff.

This is a very good Dodgers team. In all aspects, they are possibly the best team in the National league. If their main guys stay healthy, they could most definitely make a World Series appearance this fall. With the non waiver trade deadline coming up on July 31st, this could be a valuable time to make some moves to solidify their roster. Another all-star caliber starter to join Kershaw and Wood in the rotation? Maybe another stud outfielder who can hit for some power. Or maybe even another hard throwing arm to add to the pen to be a set up man for Kenley Jansen. All of these are possibilities, and even just one move could make a very good ball club that much better.

This could be the year where the Dodgers actually get past the National league Championship series for once.

It will be interesting to see if they can keep playing good baseball deep into the summer.

They certainly have all the tools to do so.