Tha Sports Junkies 101

Dodging Bullets: Los Angeles Thriving Despite Setbacks

Dodgers Alvin Battle/Via


Dodgers catching Giants in hunt for NL West Crown.

On the morning of July 1st, the Dodgers were sitting pretty.  A 44-37 team, Los Angeles sat six games behind the division-leading San Francisco Giants.  The Dodgers were comfortably entrenched in the wild card race, though.  Clayton Kershaw was well on his way to a fourth Cy Young Award, and maybe even a second Most Valuable Player designation. All was well in Chavez Ravine.

And then, the Dodger’s ace landed on the disabled list.  Things have only worsened for Kershaw in the weeks since his injury.  The herniated disk in his lower back has not improved significantly.  After nearly one month since placing Kershaw on the shelf, there is still no timetable for his return.  The baseball world figured that the Dodgers were done for, and San Francisco would run away with the N.L. West.  The Los Angeles Dodgers did not get that memo.

Los Angeles has posted a 14-8 record in the month of July without Kershaw.  They are currently just 1.5 games back of their arch-rival, the San Francisco Giants, who have succumbed to multiple injuries.  The Dodgers’ lineup has heated up along with the weather.  Although his power has disappeared this month, Corey Seager has continued to hit at a superb level, batting .333 in July.  Adrian Gonzalez is in the midst of a sub-par season, but the Dodgers’ first baseman has hit at a .306 clip with 16 runs batted in since Kershaw’s injury.  Scott Kazmir has done a nice job on the hill in the past month, going 3-0 in four starts with a 3.00 ERA.

Seager, Gonzalez, and Kazmir have all been factors in the Dodgers’ rise, but none of them have made an impact like Justin Turner.  Heading into the month of June, Turner had just a .235 average with only three home runs.  The Dodgers’ third baseman appeared to be a total bust in 2016, but he has totally flipped on the switch over the last eight weeks.  Turner hit .286 in June with eight longballs, displaying power that allowed the former Mets’ utility man to hit 16 home runs in 126 games last year.  In July, Turner has not missed a beat.  He followed up his performance in June with seven dingers, twenty RBI’s, and a .311 average.  The Dodgers offensive struggles and successes have correlated directly with the play of Justin Turner.  If Turner can swing the bat as well as he has the past two months, then Los Angeles have a great chance of passing the San Francisco for the National League West lead.

The Dodgers have every reason to feel good about themselves, but the front office is not taking any chances.  Los Angeles and their ambitious executives have been very active on the trade front.  Some of the names discussed include Reds’ slugger Jay Bruce, Rays’ ace Chris Archer, and even White Sox’ southpaw Chris Sale.  Bruce would offer some power from the left side of the plate, and a trade for the three-time all-star would likely send Yasiel Puig out of Los Angeles.  Archer and Sale are both young, affordable starting pitchers with team-friendly contracts.  Archer is the more likely of the two that could be traded.  The White Sox have been looking for a big package of impact prospects for Sale.  The Dodgers would probably have to part with top prospect Julio Urias in any swap for Sale, making the trade unlikely.

Even though the Dodgers have faced plenty of setbacks in 2016, they are looking like a lock to reach the postseason.  Clayton Kershaw may be injured for the long-term, but Dave Roberts‘ team has plenty of players who are willing to step up to the challenge.  With an offense led by Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles has some firepower coming from their lineup.  Should they decide to make a big splash at the trade deadline, they will be primed to make a playoff run.  No trade can match the return of the Dodgers’ ace though.  If Clayton Kershaw comes back in full force, the Dodgers may go deep into October and win the World Series.