After a slow start to the season the Los Angeles Dodgers (41-33) have turned things around and if the season were to end today they’d be one of the two wild card teams for the National League. The Dodgers are riding a hot streak 8-2 in the last 10 games having won 6 in a row going into Pittsburgh. Though the San Francisco Giants (47-27) are 9-1 in the last 10 games winners of their last three. Thus the Dodgers still trail the Giants in the NL west by 6 games. It is an “even numbered year” so if history repeats itself the Giants will win it all. The Dodgers will need to continue playing solid and improve their head to head match-ups with said Giants. For a team with such high expectations not to mention such a high payroll it can be said they’re under performing. The Dodgers need to focus on winning baseball games. Clubhouse chemistry has been an issue in the past and we’ll see this year if new manager Dave Roberts can steer the ship in the right direction. Roberts held firm when the team was playing poorly and one of the reasons he was hired was due to his leadership and ability to be cool under pressure.
The pressure is definitely on for the Dodgers having been eliminated in back to back National League championship series. Phenomenal pitching is keeping the Dodgers in the hunt like most years. With the staff currently sitting with a 3.32 era third best in the majors trailing only the New York Mets (3.19) and Chicago Cubs (2.76). Though if their star players don’t start playing like it they’ll find themselves out of the playoffs sooner if not entirely. Adrian Gonzalez (.267) is not looking like the player he was in years past. He is hitting 20 points below his career average but more importantly only has 6 home runs on the season. The silver lining for Gonzalez is he still has managed to drive in 32 runs. The Dodgers will need his “A” game if they’re to advance to the World Series this year. Though it is not only Gonzalez who has seen his numbers drop. Yasiel Puig is hitting only .244 with 5 home runs. Which does not make up for all his strikeouts; 45 in 55 games played. Not having a good year could be said for many other Dodger hitters. The Dodgers overall are 27th in the majors, hitting .235 collectively. Lower, believe it or not, than their neighbors to the south the San Diego Padres (31-43). A team that didn’t score a run until the 4th game of the season.
The Dodgers do have some players who are performing better or as expected. The indomitable Clayton Kershaw (11-1 1.57) has anchored the rotation. When things were bad early this season, the team could count on him to snap them out of a losing streak. Kenley Jansen (3-2 1.48) has blown three saves thus far but has been solid overall. It’s best this happens early in the season and not the post season. The brightest star for the Dodgers has to be rookie Corey Seager. Seager is a leading candidate for rookie of the year hitting .289 and belting 16 home runs while leading the Dodgers with 37 runs batted in.
Seager and Kershaw cannot do it all on their own. The Dodgers need Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal (.192), A.J. Ellis (.191.) and Joc Pederson (.239) to start playing a lot better. This may be an “even numbered year” but the Dodgers don’t have just the Giants to worry about. They also have to look out for the Chicago Cubs (47-24) and Washington Nationals (43-30). Will it be the year the Cubs escape the curse? Will it be another one in the books for the Giants? Or will the Nationals and Dodgers mix things up. If you’re a Dodgers fan you can only hope this current streak is a sign of more sunny days ahead.
If the trends are to be believed “even numbered years” are the San Francisco Giants years to win it all. Since 2010 the Giants have won it all every other year. After a rocky start, the Giants are back on top the National League West leading by 5 games after taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. The Giants are doing it again this year with their typical formula of outstanding pitching (3.51 5th overall) and solid defense (.988 Fielding Percentage 3rd overall). The Giants always seem to struggle with offense and are not different this year ranking 17th of 30 teams. Yet somehow they always find a way to get the job done. Though this year there are some serious contenders in the National League.
If the Giants seek to continue the trend they’ll need to deal with the like of the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and New York Mets to make it to the World Series. The Giants need Angel Pagan to come back from the disabled list and stay in the lineup. Kelby Tomlinson has been a nice surprise hitting .289 on the season though has struggled as of late. Buster Posey while doing a great job behind the plate has not been stellar on offense hitting only .251. Madison Bumgaurner has been his stellar self with a 7-2 record and 1.88 era. The Giants will need to have all cylinders firing if they’re to make it back to the World Series.
The Giants are always the team everybody sleeps on. Though the Cubs have dominated headlines let us not forget who has won 3 of the last 5 World Series. The Giants go about their business during the regular season and have veterans who are used to the postseason pressure and continue to win. One things for sure come October, even though things are cooling down in the States baseball will just be heating up.
San Diego sports fans don’t have much to be excited about these days. When the Executive Chairman of the Padres Ron Fowler comes out and calls the teams recent play “pathetic and embarrassing” and overall “miserable failures” it’s hard to hold out hope. Fowler doing his best Ray Kroc impression expressed the sentiment of all Padres fans. It was a breath of fresh air to hear such candor from men at the top. Which led to the Padres are making the wrong kinds of national headlines.
The Padres sitting at 26-38, 12 games out of the National League West and firmly entrenched at the bottom of the NL along the likes of the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. Like many last place teams, the Padres have been frustrating to watch. One day they’ll deliver spectacular pitching with no offense and the next an offensive explosion with terrible pitching. Not being able to string it all together has cost them dearly this season. The high note of the season was taking 2 out of 3 from the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley. This was during the Cubs hot start where they went 25-6, with the Padres handing the Cubs their first back to back losses all season. The Padres returned to the real world in the coming weeks while the Cubs bounced back to their winning ways. The Padres have also shown an inability to close teams out on the series finale falling to 1-20 after their most current loss to the Rockies. In the year they’re hosting the All Star Game for the first time in decades it would have been a sweet treat for the fans to have fielded a good team. At this point expect only the mandatory one player to represent the team come the All Star game.
Though it is not all doom and gloom there have been some bright spots for the Padres this year as long as some pleasant surprises. A couple which deserve All Star considerations. Wil Myers and Jon Jay are paying dividends both currently hitting .287 with Myers hammering 13 home runs thus far. Look for Jay to be involved in trade talks with Myers a possibility. Though don’t hold your breath on the latter as he’s under team control for a couple more years. Yangervis Solarte has also been a pleasant surprise despite his recent struggles this past week hitting .284 on the season. Melivn Upton Jr’s bloated contract makes him hard to trade though up until his recent struggles last month was hitting around .270 and supplying superior defense patrolling the expansive outfield that is Petco Park. On the pitching side of things Fernando Rodney and Ryan Buchter have been nice surprises though Buchter has struggled as of late. The brightest spot in the rotation has been Drew Pomeranz (5-6 2.44 era) showing signs of brilliance after some rough years in Colorado with the Rockies. No one could have guessed at the start of the season Pomeranz would be leading the pitching staff. While on the subject of the pitching staff, it’s disappointing to see once again this year so many padres pitchers on the disabled list. Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Cesar Vargas and Andrew Cashner joining them this past week. The Padres are enduring one of the worst streaks in recent years of pitchers going on the DL. They must find an answer if they wish to compete in the coming years.
The future is all fans can look forward to this year. This team has some pieces to build upon with the likes of Myers and Pomeranz. If the Kansas City Royals can win a World Series as a small market team it lends hope to teams like the Padres. Build from the ground up and make smart transactions in the free agent market. The risky experiment General Manager A.J. Preller attempted last year failed miserably. Trading James Shields even though it meant eating half of his contract was a good move. More high priced contracts like Matt Kemps and Upton Jr’s are needed as are getting returns from prospects. Which might mean brighter days ahead for America’s finest city. In the meantime enjoy the All Star Game.