|Dodgers have...wait for it...|
The New Puig
|Puig is getting after it again.|
|Kiké raking against Bumgarner.|
His teammates loved him last year (remember the crazy rally banana costume?), and now the fans have a reason to cheer for this guy. Not only can Roberts slot him anywhere on the field (except for catcher), but he is absolutely killing left-handed pitching. I was at the game against the Giants last Friday when he ripped Madison Bumgarner for two homers and a double. Each time he came to the plate, you could actually feel that he was going to crush it. Bumgarner left the game with his tail between his legs--and just before Kiké could get another AB against him. Bum isn't know for backing down against anybody, but it was obvious that he wanted no part of a guy that clearly owns him. Kiké is 8 for 12 against lefties this season with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and 4 RBIs. And his energetic, team-first style is inspiring to everybody--players and fans alike. Nothing builds team chemistry like taking down your rival's ace, so you can't underestimate the effect of Hernandez's mastery of Bumgarner.
Joc Pederson & Corey Seager...Right On Target
|Seager looking like a big-leaguer.|
|Zack who? Maeda is making his case.|
Maeda is making Dodger management look brilliant. Everybody, and I mean everybody, ripped Andrew Friedman for not signing Zack Greinke to a new contract after the kick-ass season he had last year. Instead, he signs Maeda to a largely incentive-based deal, and this guy is pitching lights-out. Three starts, two wins, only 1 run allowed, 15 strikeouts. Greinke? Not so much. Three starts, 0 wins, 2 losses, 6.75 ERA. Combine Maeda with the always-dominating Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.64 ERA, 20 K's), the totally out-of-nowhere great showing of rookie 5th starter, Ross Stripling (a near no-hitter in his debut against the Giants), the continually improving Alex Wood, and you've got a solid rotation. I can't add Scott Kazmir into mix just yet as the jury is still out on what he will bring to the table. Let's just say that I am not impressed with what I see so far, but I am trying to keep an open mind; plus, there are plenty of reinforcements in the Dodger farm system to fill in the gaps as the season progresses. Overall, the rotation is getting the job done and giving the team a chance to win most every night.
|Roberts fighting hard for his team|
from every angle.
Aside from closer Kenley Jansen, last season the Dodger bullpen was a hot mess. And we got right back on the rollercoaster when the Dodgers entered their second series of this season. The 'pen dominated the Padres in the opening three games, then faltered mightily against the Giants with Chris Hatcher destroying Stripling's no-no by allowing a huge home run to a back-up rookie catcher; Pedro Baez gave up a grand slam to Hunter Pence later in the series, and so on, and so forth. But you have to give Roberts credit. He didn't lose confidence in his relievers, and stuck with them through some more scary moments. His patience shouldn't be overlooked, as Hatcher, Baez, Yimi Garcia, etc. all bounced back in the follow-up Giants series in L.A. People were calling for their collective heads, but Roberts held strong when a rookie manager could have caved. He's showing patience with the pitching staff and the team as a whole, allowing the guys to gel and build the chemistry that has eluded them for so many years and that could finally push them over the top.