Sunday, May 18, 2014

Not even Kershaw can shake the Dodgers out of mediocrity

Apparently, Clayton Kershaw and pitching in Arizona are two things that do not go together.  The Diamondbacks felt the need to remind us of that over and over on Saturday night.

Kershaw had an inning he'll never forget for all the wrong reasons, as he was absolutely rocked by the NL West rivals, and the bullpen didn't do any better in an 18-7 beatdown to the Diamondbacks.  So, one night after Zack Greinke shutout the DBacks, which followed an ugly loss to the Marlins, the Dodgers are right back to where they started.

For whatever reason, Kershaw just isn't his normal self pitching in Arizona.  I tweeted out during the game how every pitcher seems to have that one place they aren't as successful as normal, and Kershaw's Achilles' heel is Arizona.  He's now lost five straight starts there and raised his ERA to 4.10.  That certainly isn't a bad ERA, but not Kershaw-like.

OK, so he also has a 5.24 ERA in 13 starts at Coors Field, but everybody sucks there.  Besides, he's 5-3 there.

Is there reason to worry about Kershaw?  Well, his normally nasty curveball was very hittable.  I remember listening to Orel Hershiser talk about Dan Haren before the season started, and he noted that once Haren got out of Arizona for Spring Training and into LA, his breaking stuff will have more bite.  I certainly think that applies to Kershaw as well.

Heck, even Kershaw's Spring Training stats the last two seasons aren't anything to brag about: 4.18 and 9.20.  Looks like The Bulldog is onto something.

Kershaw has set such a high standard for himself, which is why he's earning around $30 million a year now.  So when your ERA goes up nearly three full runs from 1.74 to 4.43 after one start, it's a reason to get worried.  But this is the two-time Cy Young Award winner, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt that this was just a blip on the radar.  We hope.

Other thoughts from the game:

* Like the headline says, the Dodgers just continue to be stuck in mediocrity.  They win two against the Marlins to start the week, then get drilled on Wednesday.  After a day off, Greinke takes care of the Diamondbacks Friday, then Saturday's shellacking happens.  It's no surprise they're 23-21 and just kinda treading water.

* The good news from this game is that the offense battled back from deficits of 7-0 and 9-2 to make it 9-7 in the fifth.  Yasiel Puig bombed a two-run shot and Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer.  Matt Kemp collected two more hits to raise his average in May to .323.

* But, any reason you had to feel good about a comeback was flushed down the toilet by the crappy bullpen (yes, pun was definitely intended).  Jamey Wright pitched was earlier than he ever expected, and while he did eat up 2 1/3 innings, he still gave up a two-run shot to Paul Goldschmidt.  Chris Withrow and Chris Perez combined for just as long and gave up seven runs.  They were absolutely pathetic.

* Who pitched the best out of the 'pen?  That would be Brandon League, who pitched a scoreless fifth.  Give him credit, as his ERA was lowered to 1.52.  The Dodgers can only hope he's Juan Uribe 2.0.

* One last note about the bullpen: Drew Butera had to pitch the ninth, giving up another two-run tater to Goldschmidt.  That makes two appearances in three game in blowout loses.  That's pretty embarrassing.

* Puig struck out three times, as you could tell he clearly was thinking about the long ball after tattooing a 444-foot shot in the third.  You can't question his effort in right, though, as he narrowly missed a diving catch and a long foul ball over the wall later in the game.  Plus, he nearly beat out an infield single on great hustle.

Even with the humiliating loss, the Dodgers will look to take the series on Sunday afternoon as Haren takes the mound.  He'll take on Bronson Arroyo, who flirted with joining the Dodgers in the offseason before settling with the DBacks.

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