After a horrendous start to the season, increased offensive production from several regulars, the return to health of Hanley Ramirez, and the play and enthusiasm of Yasiel Puig have combined to propel the Dodgers into NL West contention, despite the continued presence of the empty uniform non-manager, don mattingly.
The reality of the situation is that mattingly may ensure his continued presence on the Dodgers’ bench due not at all to any managerial ability he possesses – which is NONE – or even due to the talent and performance of the Dodgers’ team, but rather due to the fact that the NL West, with the decline of the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants, is now a vast wasteland, with not a single really good team that deserves to win the division title.
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|The Padres and Rockies have each made runs towards the top of the division, but they were barely pretenders, who sunk back to their level, and the Giants early season success was short-lived, due to injuries and serious underperformance by players who were perhaps over their heads last year.
The first place Diamondbacks are on top in the division despite being under .500 at 21-22 versus the horrible array of teams in the NL West. One of the over-achieving D’Backs’ problems is relying on
their one-year wonder, former trojan brain surgeon and former yankee, major league headhunter supreme, ian kennedy, who I said two years ago would never, ever, again come close to his 2011 stats. kennedy now stands at 3-6, 5.42 for 2013, and has been even worse as of late, at 0-3. 6.58 over his last seven starts. Their entire starting staff, in fact, is 17-31 for the season, if you leave off their one decent starter, Patrick Corbin. But, probably the biggest weakness Arizona continues to experience is their arson squad of a bullpen, that has blown 18 saves. Even the Dodgers, with all of their closer problems this season, have only blown 16.
The Dodgers open the second half tonight against the disappointing Nationals and their now tainted former wunderkind, Stephen Strasburg, who muddled through the first half at 5-7. The newest Dodger, righty Ricky Nolasco starts for LA, coming off an up-and-down early July start (1-1, 3.00) to his Dodgers’ career.
Despite all the early problems the Dodgers faced, and the presence of mattingly, and despite the Giants first half disaster, those two teams still figure to fight it out for the division title.