Many would consider that a poor start for a team with a $217 million payroll, but considering how badly the Bums have been bitten by the injury bug, 12-12 ain't so bad. We discussed that, and more, with Eric Stephen (by far my favorite person whose name is comprised solely of first names) of True Blue LA...
Bryan Kilpatrick: Carl Crawford has experienced a bit of a resurgence (applying the small sample size alert here, of course, so that people don't feel as inclined to accuse me of being an idiot who doesn't understand simple caveats). Is it simply a matter of Crawford staying healthy, or has he made some adjustments to his offensive game?
Eric Stephen: Crawford has made some adjustments to his stance at the plate, and is less open than he was during his two lost years in Boston. He realy does look more like the Tampa Bay Crawford, which is a huge boost to the offense. It's funny because he was very questionable to even be ready to start the season, coming off Tommy John surgery in August. He didn't even play in the field in games until about 10 days prior to the season, and he not only been healthy but has done nothing but hit since the season began. I would not have guessed that at any point in the season, Crawford would be the team leader in home runs, as he is after 24 games, with four.
BK: Nine players have already started a game for the Dodgers, who have lost Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley for extended periods of time. Outside of Kershaw, do you feel any of those other seven guys has the ability to step in and shoulder the load until Greinke returns?
ES: The one I have the most confidence in is Hyun-jin Ryu, who has a four-pitch arsenal and pretty good command. He has been a big boost to the rotation so far and is used to the limelight as he was a superstar for seven years in Korea. The Dodgers aren't quite out of the woods yet with the rotation though. Chris Capuano is due back in a week, and Matt Magill looked very good in his MLB debut, but Ted Lilly is 37 and coming off shoulder surgery, and Josh Beckett has given up home runs at an alarming rate so far. Losing Bilingsley for the season was a big blow. The rotation will look a lot better once Greinke returns, obviously, but it could be patchwork until then, especially if anyone else gets hurt.
BK: How does Juan Uribe have more walks than almost everyone else on the Dodgers' roster? More importantly, how emo is he about it?
ES: There haven't been any shots this year of Uribe sitting on the bench looking longingly to the field, at least that I know of. But he was pretty emotional when he hit the game-winning home run in San Diego to win the game that Zack Greinke broke his collarbone. Don Mattingly offered what seems like a simple explanation, but probably has a lot of truth to it. Uribe was so bad for the last two years that most scouting reports on him say you don't have to throw him a strike to get him out. With nobody challenging him and Uribe more engaged and locked in this year, for now it means more walks. After 13 walks in 179 plate appearances last year, Uribe has 10 walks in 38 PA in 2013. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts when pitchers start throwing him more strikes.
BK: Nick Punto has the best OPS+ on the team. I knew he was the centerpiece in that trade all along.
ES: There is a reason the nine-player Aug. 25, 2012 transaction between the Dodgers and Red Sox is referred to as The Punto Trade. He also leads the world in sliding into first base.
BK: A lot of folks have talked about how disappointing the Dodgers have been thus far, but the fact that they're 12-12 despite seeing so many key pieces (Greinke, Billingsley, Hanley Ramirez, et cetera) seems like more of an accomplishment than people give the team credit for. What are your thoughts, and how do you think things will turn out when this season is all said and done?
ES: I still think the talent is there to win the division, though losing Greinke for two months will hurt that quest. The Dodgers had a truly bad week when they were swept at home by the Padres (outscored 22-7), then dropped two of three games in Baltimore. In that week the pitching imploded but has otherwise been solid. The offense started off very disappointingly, but has shown signs of snapping out of it. Matt Kemp only has one home run, but is hitting .394/.474/.515 in his last nine games. Hanley Ramirez will be back soon, possibly even as soon as Monday night (though we won't know until later today, as he needs medical clearance). Dodgers' shortstops have hit .177/.250/.228 and third basemen have hit ..145/.273/.181, so Ramirez should help quite a bit. The Dodgers haven't quite put everything together yet, but there is still plenty of time left in the season to get back on track.
Game 1: Monday, April 29 at 8:10 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 30 at 8:10 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Jorge De La Rosa (2-2, 2.86) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 3.41)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 1 at 8:10 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.62) vs. Josh Beckett (0-3, 4.75)
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
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|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|