The hot streak that vaulted the Dodgers from a distant second to a solid division lead and competing for the league’s best record began in San Francisco late in July, and this weekend they return for three more games at A T & T Park, hoping to show the Giants that they are the best in the west. While the team continues to have a zero offense from behind the plate, question marks in the bullpen, inconsistent infield defense, and a slumping Yasiel Puig, the solid play from Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Justin Turner, Carl Crawford and Dan Haren of late has solidified some major question marks. Will they continue all this into the post season?
The biggest surprise as I see it, has been Carl Crawford, who, after his usual array of injuries and missed games, sunk to a low of .230 on Aug.3. Since then, he has hit .406,
|raising his average to .289, and he has scored 22 runs in 32 games played over that period. Turner has been a phenomenal pickup, having by far the best season of his career, and with his play has forced the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly to consider him a regular, playing him most every game, at one position or another. His .330 average is almost 60 points above his career average. Kemp, who may or may not have been close to being traded, depending on who you listen||
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At a time when the Dodgers’ strength, starting pitching, had become a weakness, with Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Zack Greinke all having nagging to serious health issues, and the team going out and acquiring, and then having to rely upon, third-tier starters like Roberto “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez and Kevin Correia, the resurgence of Dan Haren has been a tremendous boost to the team. I’ve written a lot about him this season, but
With Kershaw, and Greinke and Ryu apparently injury-free, with Haren as the number four starter, the Dodgers’ rotation can again stack up with that of any team they figure to see in the post season. I wish I had as much faith in the bullpen. While J.P.Howell has been great, the rest of the set-up guys, primarily Brian Wilson, Jamey Wright, Brandon League, and Chris Perez, have been worse than inconsistent, and generally unreliable. Of late, besides Howell, a couple of young guys with scant experience, have done the best work, and should see more action in key spots. I’m talking about Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias, and I have more faith in them than in Wilson, Wright, Perez or League, and I hope
|the empty uniform sees that as well, going into the stretch run. And PLEASE - no more Kevin Correia EVER when a game is on the line!|
An then there is Yasiel Puig. The talented but erratic outfielder has been in and out of the lineup, batting first, second, sixth, seventh, and nothing has helped snap him out of his,… his,… sophomore jinx? At the end of July, Puig was hitting .315, but
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The Dodgers will face one of the NL’s best pitching staffs this weekend, beginning tonight with Madison Bumgarner, the Giant’s ace, and Puig will be in center, batting leadoff, followed by Turner, playing second base in place of Dee Gordon. The Dodgers need an opening series win, for momentum, and to avoid seeing their West Division lead drop to a single game.