On this episode of Dugout Blues, before Jared and I are back to talk about the good (?) Dodgers. Yes, it turns out that their season isn’t over quite yet (my B).
The offense is starting to click. Matt Kemp — best hitter on the team, as we all expected — is performing well, even if he isn’t walking much. Literal rectangle Max Muncy has been a very pleasant surprise. His batting average isn’t great (who cares), but he’s walking and hitting for power — exactly what a rectangular human should be doing. But the most encouraging part about the offensive performance has been Chris Taylor. He got off to a slow start this season, but has been really good for a month-plus, culminating in a .500 ISO mark over the last week.
The pitching staff has also improved, thanks to Walker Buehler, staff ace. Seriously, the kid has been incredible in his first seven starts and is showing exactly why the Dodgers were thrilled he fell to them at No. 24 in the draft three years ago. The stuff is great, but the command/control has been the biggest reason for his success.
An unexpected contributor to the rotation has been Friend of the Show Ross Stripling. After beginning the season as one of the team’s best relievers, Stripling has thrived in the starting rotation (2.42 ERA, 11/1 K/BB ratio). If Muncy has been the unsung hero on offense, Stripling has been that guy on the pitching staff. Kenta Maeda is also very good, as all three of these starters have a 1.4 fWAR to lead the Dodgers — exactly how Andrew Friedman and guys drew it up in spring training.
Even the bullpen has gotten on track a bit. Kenley Jansen is throwing well, and Tony Cingrani might be over his early season shoulder woes. The ‘pen is still an area of concern, but at least the group is performing better now than it was a few weeks ago.
On the farm, Gavin Lux is starting to make some noise. He started slowly, got incredibly hot, cooled off and is back on a bit of a hot streak. He still needs to prove himself at Double-A (next year), but the fact he has been hitting well since the second half of last season is encouraging. Mitchell White, on the other hand, has struggled mightily. He has been roughed up in each of his last four starts and is rusty after beginning the season in extended spring training. Hopefully he gets on track soon. Dennis Santana and Caleb Ferguson are basically attached at the hip. Both began with Tulsa, dominated, and have both been promoted to Triple-A. Each guy shined in their OKC debuts, and both will make it to the majors at some point. Santana might be the next man up on the pitching staff, while Ferguson will be that guy next year.
We close with a solid Q&A. Please keep the questions coming.
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