Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dodgers get the sweep, so what did we learn from Australia?

The Dodgers got the results they wanted in beating the Diamondbacks on Sunday (or Saturday our time), holding on for a 7-5 win despite nearly giving it all away at the end.  The bottom line is they're 2-0, and have a chance to get three straight before nearly every other team even plays yet next Sunday in San Diego.

Let's take a look at things we learned from these past couple of games:

* Obviously, the top of the rotation is really, really good.  Clayton Kershaw gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings, and Hyun-Jin Ryu was scoreless through five.  Zack Greinke didn't even make the trip, so when you throw his name into the mix, that's an awesome top three for any playoff series.

* While I still think the bullpen is a huge strength, the middle relief looks like the weak link.  Chris Perez and Brian Wilson were great in the first game, but the parade of relievers on Sunday were not.  Chris Withrow (1 walk, 1 hit), Paco Rodriguez (1 walk, 1 hit), Jamey Wright (2 walks, 2 hits, 1 run), J.P. Howell (1 walk), and Jose Dominguez (2 walks, 1 hit, 3 runs) all ranged from bad to awful.

* To defend the relievers just a little bit, I thought home plate umpire Dale Scott had a very tight strike zone, especially late in the game when everyone just wanted to get out of there.  The close calls did not go the Dodgers' way.  Just thought I'd throw that in there.

* I can understand Don Mattingly wanting Kenley Jansen to face the mighty Mark Trumbo in the ninth inning of the second game, but was a little confused when he expressed how he didn't want Jansen to pitch again.  Paul Maholm was the only reliever who appeared to have a clue, as he struck out Miguel Montero for the second out.  Why not just leave Maholm in, as the worst that could happen would be a two-run shot?  Instead, Jansen got crushed on his first pitch before striking out Gerrardo Parra to end the game.  Just seemed a little odd to me.

* Jose Dominguez better keep his bags packed, because there's no way I envision him staying in LA for the start of the real regular season.  Yes, he throws hard, but so what?  His location was all over the place, and Major League hitters can just sit on his fastball, even in the upper 90s, and tee off.  Not a good appearance for him at all.

* For that matter, perhaps Dominguez's ineffectiveness will spell the return of Brandon League.  Great...

* Yasiel Puig drama is a story that will never go away.  Don Mattingly, along with others, were really pissed at him after the second game.  It's a shame, too, because after pulling an 0-for-5 in the first game, he was great hitting in the two-hole the next game, going 3-for-5 with a double and a couple RBIs.  But then there were the two outs he ran into on the bases, which is just ridiculous at this point.  I bet Mattingly can't wait to get Matt Kemp back if for no other reason to bench Puig when he pulls this crap and still have a great lineup on the field.

* Dee Gordon got the start at second and at leadoff, and boy was he exciting to watch.  He's still learning the nuances of playing second with an error and a botched cover to blow a double play, but at the plate, he had three hits with a double and two runs scored.  He's earned more playing time, that's for sure.

* The bottom line is just like any team, winning is fun, but there's always some issues to sort out.  For the Dodgers, it's Puig and bridging the gap to Jansen in the ninth.  They'll be getting some big guns back in Carl Crawford and Grienke once play resumes next week, and hopefully Kemp soon after, so that will be fun to watch.  As for Puig, stay tuned.  To quote ESPN, it's a "developing story" to say the least.

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