Yesterday, I compared the Dodgers’ offense to a sputtering Corvette idling in the driveway (Usually not my driveway, usually my neighbor’s driveway at 2 in the morning).
Don Mattingly tacitly agreed with the comparison in his postgame press conference, saying: “we’re having our troubles putting up runs. (Eric) Stults, he can pitch, he can change speeds and keep the ball down, but I think we’ve got to do a little better job.”
ESPN, which televised last night’s game, put together this nifty head-to-head comparison of Stults and Clayton Kershaw, yesterday’s starters. Stults’ numbers aren’t bad this season. Neither are Kershaw’s.
Kershaw said he got to know “Stultsie” well during their two years together in L.A.
“It’s nice to see him doing well,” Kershaw said. “Wish he hadn’t done as well tonight.”
Maybe a 1-1 tie when both starters exited the game was to be expected. But at some point doesn’t the Dodger lineup have to start mashing?
Consider this: Among the active leaders in OPS+ under age 35 — excluding players past their prime like Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome — the Dodgers’ regular three-through-six hitters occupy four of the top 18 spots on the leaderboard. Those four players (Kemp, Gonzalez, Ramirez, Ethier) went a combined 4-for-19 yesterday with two RBIs.
“I expected us to score more consistently,” Mattingly said. “I definitely think we’re better than this. It seems like the left-handed pitching really gives us trouble.”
“It feels like it’s not coming easy right now for anyone,” Kershaw said. “That could be a chemistry thing. That could be something else.”
For Matt Kemp, it could be the lingering effects of his collision eight days ago with the center-field wall at Coors Field. Kemp said over the weekend that his knee was “as good as it’s going to get,” which implies it’s less than 100 percent; how much is unclear and the center fielder typically doesn’t volunteer percentage estimates of his health.
Further, Mattingly believes Kemp’s front (left) shoulder is still injured. For a right-handed batter, that can pose a significant problem at the plate. Kemp is batting .143 (3-for-21) with one home run since the collision.
As for the others, Adrian Gonzalez is starting to heat up (three doubles, five hits in his last three games) but still hasn’t hit a home run since his first at-bat as a Dodger. Andre Ethier is enjoying his hottest stretch of the season. Hanley Ramirez‘s power numbers are solid, but his batting average is still hovering around .250 — in other words, he’s been the player the Dodgers should have expected when they traded for him July 25.
“Every offense goes through this, whether you have the names we do or not,” Kershaw said.
If the Dodgers ever pull out of it, their offense should be fun to watch. We think.