Blue Jays Series Preview: Jays look to continue streak against Dodgers top arms
Across the Diamond: L.A. Dodgers
As I previously mentioned, the pitching staff of the Dodgers has been the foundation for their .500 record. Their 3.71 team ERA ranks 10th in the league, and their FIP of 3.50 ranks 5th. When isolating the numbers their starters have derived, those numbers improve to 3.55 (8th) and 3.31 (5th) respectively.
However, despite strong team numbers, they’re largely that good because of only two pitchers. Kershaw owns a 1.96 ERA and a 1.86 FIP on the back of downright nasty peripherals: 10.57 K/9, 0.59 BB/9, and 0.59 HR/9.
Maeda has put up a 1.41 ERA and a 2.79 FIP with a solid 7.88 K/9 and excellent command. His ERA is likely to regress, but there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to be a solid mid-rotation starter.
The rest of the Dodgers’ rotation has been pretty awful, with Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir putting up ERA’s of 4.33, 5.18, and 5.68 respectively. Stripling has been solid, but nothing spectacular, and the two lefties have been nothing short of awful, but the Jays don’t draw either of them, so they’ll have to go through the heart of the Dodgers rotation.
Their bullpen has been fairly average, bordering on poor. They own a 4.03 ERA with a lacklustre 7.84 K/9 and 3.47 BB/9. If the game gets into Kenley Jansen’s hands with a lead, it’s as good as over. Joe Blanton has been pitching shutdown ball with a 0.77 ERA, but lacks the strikeout potential for that number to stay there. Pedro Baez is a hard-throwing strikeout threat, but he struggles mightily with the free passes and home runs. Overall, it’s a fairly average bullpen.
On the offensive side of things, Pederson has been the best Dodger at the plate thus far, but his numbers could be slightly skewed due to splitting his time in the OF with Trayce Thompson and Kike Hernandez, but nonetheless, he’s hitting .265/.386/.500/.886 with a wRC+ of 137. He offers both pop and excellent plate discipline from the left side.
Grandal entered the year on the disabled list with a forearm injury, but since returning to action, he’s posted strong numbers. His 10:10 BB:K ratio is excellent, as he offers both plate discipline and quality contact rates while mixing some pop as a switch-hitter. Although, he’ll be out of the lineup when Kershaw takes the hill, as his personal catcher A.J. Ellis will be starting that one.
Utley and Seager have gotten off to decent yet inconsistent starts, posting wRC+ totals of 128 and 93. They can both take a walk and limit their strikeouts, and offer a little bit of pop from the middle of the diamond.
Gonzalez is probably the hitter that should be feared the most, and his track record is very strong on a recent and long terms basis. He’s been fairly average with a 109 wRC+, but he can get on a roll in no time, and you don’t want that to happen this weekend so he should be pitched accordingly.
Without many of their veterans hitting like they can, or without the power that the power the Jays possess (even if they’re struggling), this lineup isn’t to be feared. Jays pitchers need to be aggressive and go right after the majority of these hitters.
Next: Game 1 Preview: Stroman seeking a 5-0 start