Who are these Dodgers? Why are they suddenly so dominate in the West after coming off a third place finish last season? They were over .500, but did not make enough wholesale changes to a warrant such a drastic turnaround. When you dig deeper into a roster comparison to last season you understand at the moment why they are 30-14, but also would not be surprised if things began to taper off (maybe that’s just the Giants’ fan in me talking).
The first player to look at is Andre Either, who is having a career year at this point since he’s on pace 33 home runs and 147 RBIs. This will not continue, in fact, my guess is you’ll see a significant drop off in production in the second half of the season.
Next up is A.J. Ellis who at age 31 is finally getting a shot at catching full-time for the Dodgers. Ellis, a lifetime .285 hitter who only played in a total of 87 games in his first four years with the Dodgers, is now starting with a .327 average with four homers and 20 knocked-in. This is the best production the Dodgers have had out the catcher’s position in years, and Ellis is well on the way to eclipsing Rod Barajas’ 47 RBIs of last season.
When those two players alone come down to earth, so will the Dodgers with the Giants taking over the NL West lead, but the wheels coming off the Dodgers doesn’t stop there.
Chris Capuano is currently 6-1 with a 2.25 era and a 1.05 WHIP. Chris Capuano? Are we supposed to believe at age 33 that Capuano has figured out to pitch, I don’t think so? While Capuano has decent stuff, he still has a lifetime 4.27 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. I would expect to see his current stats to start to inflate in the upcoming months. Another important thing to note is that Capuano has a lifetime winning percentage of .566% in the first half compared to a dismal .385% in the second half. His average ERA is the second half is 1.26 points higher that effectively means he allows close to two more runs per outing in the second half.
The next big question on the starting pitching staff is how long can Ted Lilly really keep it going at age 36? While he enters this week with 3.14 ERA his last two outings have not been good. He’s only pitched 10.1 innings with a 1.74 WHIP and 6.97 ERA. This could be an early sign that the veteran is tiring.
Now I know Dodgers’ fans will be chirping that they have a lot of players on the DL and are still winning. That is a valid point, only because one of those players is All-Star outfielder, Matt Kemp. The remaining names on this list have an average age of 33.5 years old, so it’s not surprising that they are on the DL. Mark Ellis, Matt Guerrier, Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Rivera, and Juan Uribe are not difference makers at this point in their careers. So, I’ll give Dodgers’ fans that Kemp is a huge loss, but other than that there’s really no one worth mentioning.
The way I see it is things will be right in the NL West by the All-Star break with the Giants leading the way while make a triumphant return to the World Series in 2012.