Under the newly added flashing LED blue lights, the Dodgers showed every aspect of their game during their first week series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
They unleashed a dominating starting rotation that gave up four runs in 25 innings of play. The offense displayed their inconsistency by scoring 10 runs in one game and going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring positions the following game. Will Smith also doesn’t know how to deal with runners stealing bases.
Expect this season to be a reflection of the first series, a roller coaster of consistency.
I spent the offseason praising Mark Prior. His track record is stellar, coaching multiple players out of a ditch. His ability to create gold has turned everyone in LA into a fanboy that brags about him at any given time.
During their first run through the lineup, the concrete starters Urias, May, Kershaw and Syndergaard gave up 4 runs in 25 innings. They struck out 25 batters while only giving up one walk.
After giving up 2 runs in the first two innings, Urias settled down. Urias gave up 4 hits. Since he was called up, his first innings have always been shaky. Urias settling down after his rocky first innings can be a result of his high leverage outings from the bullpen.
May returned to the rotation for the first time since his short stint last season. His season was cut short after being placed on the IL for tightness on his back. In his first game of the season, May pitched his longest game of his career–7 innings. He struck out 4 batters while only giving up 1 run on 4 hits. Say it with me, “It’s gonna be MAY’S SEASON.”
Kershaw pitched a vintage performance against an old foe, Madison Bumgarner. His curveball scared away any possible hits. Kershaw’s only blemish came on a home run by Christian Walker, who owns him with 5 homers against the future Hall of Famer. After pitching 6 innings, the left-hand legend struck out 9 batters while giving up no walks and 4 hits.
When he is on, this team is unstoppable.
Noah Syndergaard made his Dodgers debut under Mark Prior’s tutelage. Syndergaard signed with the Dodgers because of their ability to turn everything into gold. In his Dodgers Stadium debut, he pitched 6 innings and gave up a run on 4 hits with no free passes. The only earned run came in after Corbin Carroll stole two bases and scored on a Geraldo Perdomo double.
The starting rotation was one of the biggest question marks coming into the season. If this first series is an indicator of what’s to come, the rotation will be just fine.
With Gonsolin out, this will be the starting rotation’s core four and when they are firing on all cylinders the offense just needs to do their part to win games.
Which brings me to my next point…
Hitting with runners in scoring position is a curse the Dodgers cannot seem to shake off. The curse does not care which names are in the lineup; it will continue to jinx anyone in its path.
Behind great performances by Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard, the jinx made its season debut, causing the offense to go 0 for 13 in the losses against the Diamondbacks. The biggest victim of the curse is Max Muncy.
Sitting in the middle of the lineup, his productivity is much needed. The team is hoping for a bounce-back season after dealing with his injuries last year. After the series against the Dbacks, Muncy struck out seven times and left 12 base runners on base with just one hit.
How long will the leash be?
The team hits in bunches. When they are scoring, the runs flood in. But when they are struggling, the offense struggles in style. Hopefully, they get the struggles out of the way before October.
With the new rules in place of throwing to runners on base, during the first 4 games of the season, the league had 70 out of 84 runners successfully stealing bases. Will Smith dealt with it during their 2-1 loss in Sunday’s series finale behind Noah Syndergaard.
Corbin Carroll stole second and third before scoring to tie the game. Both times, Smith double-clutched the ball before attempting a throw. It’s a bad look for one of the league’s best catchers. Runners will be running this season, and Smith’s double-clutch put a target on his back. Opposing runners will be looking to take advantage of his hesitation and steal bases.
It’s time to put in some work, Mr. Smith.