The Dodgers are a better team without Clayton Kershaw. Of course, that’s a silly statement to make, but it’s surprising how well they have done without their ace.
Since June 26 (his last appearance), the Dodgers are 15-8, which is the third-best winning percentage (.652) in baseball behind the Astros and Red Sox. They have made up five games on the suddenly vulnerable Giants and stand just three games behind them in the NL West.
The biggest reason for the improved play is the offense. The team has scored 116 runs (5.04 per game) in the 23 games. That’s thanks in large part to the continued strong play of Corey Seager, the rediscovery of Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal‘s power and Howie Kendrick remembering he is actually a good hitter. And with two home runs over the weekend in St. Louis, perhaps Adrian Gonzalez is finding his power stroke that has been desperately missed.
This is something many thought would happen: The veterans (less Seager) would start playing to their career norms (or even above them, in Turner’s case). While they won’t continue to play this well the rest of the season (things always even out), it’ll still be better than the vast under-performance they were exhibiting for the season’s first 2-plus months. Also, some timely and unexpected boosts from the likes of Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles have been quite welcome.
Oh, and there’s no guarantee Kershaw is coming back this season. Back injuries are so fickle that there’s a reason the club didn’t want to put a timetable on a possible return. Kershaw’s latest setback doesn’t inspire confidence, so the team must make a significant move or two before 1 p.m. next Monday (the non-waiver trade deadline). Luckily, the Dodgers have been rumored to be interested in many impact players, including but not limited to Chris Archer, Carlos Gonzalez (as Stacie wrote), Andrew Miller, Evan Longoria and Chris Sale. I’d be one shocked Dodger fan if they didn’t come away with at least one of these players before the deadline. Archer makes a ton of sense, and a lot of baseball Twitter agrees with that.
I may have overvalued Archer a tad when I wrote about the initial rumor on July 3, but a match between the two clubs seems logical. A package led by Jose De Leon and either Cody Bellinger or Alex Verdugo (and additional pieces) probably gets it done. While it’d sting to lose those quality prospects, the prospect of getting a guy who could be Zack Greinke 2.0 (minus the huge contract) is appealing. Archer has struggled this season, but there are still signs that there’s an ace in there.
Oh, and he starts at Dodger Stadium — one way or another — tomorrow night. That should be fun.
Whatever happens in the next week, expect a flurry of rumors involving the Dodgers. They’re seemingly connected to everyone in one way, shape or form. FanGraphs has the Dodgers at 49.9 percent to win the NL West, while the Giants are at 50.1 percent. They’re certainly going to attempt a big move (Miller makes so much sense, as much as I’d hate that), as well as get Hunter Pence back soon. The division is there for the taking, and the front office won’t let the opportunity go by without doing something of significance.