Saturday, June 10, 2023

Gold Gloves and Glass Arms


The more I think about it, the more I realize that the Dodgers may have inadvertently upped their defense perks going into this year, even if it did mean signing older players. Some of the Dodgers' best defenders this year so far, like Miguel Rojas, David Peralta and Jason Heyward, all came from cheap deals that they weren't sure would pay dividends. All this combined with the preexisting defensive standouts, like Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor, makes for an improved defensive squad, even with the occasional liability like Max Muncy. 

It is so wild to me that Jason Heyward is having something of a comeback year with this team. I honestly think Chicago was just a bad fit for him that he never recovered from, and while he stayed consistent defensively, maybe something about Wrigley wasn't somewhere he could really thrive as a contact hitter. So far Heyward has 6 home runs and 13 RBIs, which isn't terrible.

And then you at least have Mookie Betts putting up another landmark season for the books. This is his 10th season, he's possibly got enough monster years to make a compelling Hall of Fame case, I wanna see if he can do a few more but I think he's one of the marquee guys of this era. Right now Betts has 16 homers, second only to Muncy, and 37 RBIs. His 2.6 WAR is second only to Freddie Freeman's 2.8 as far as the team goes. I think the Dodgers should be very happy that Betts and Freeman have been playing so well and fulfilling their dreams for their respective contracts.

The big issue with the Dodgers right now, despite their success, seems to be the fragility of the pitching. The season began with Ryan Pepiot and Walker Buehler nursing injuries, and now all of Dustin May, Julio Urias and Noah Syndergaard have joined them. This leaves Clayton Kershaw, who's at least been phenomenal this year, Tony Gonsolin, who's been strong albeit careful with his own fragility, and Bobby Miller, the rookie who has a 1.0 WAR through his first 3 starts. There's not much else below that; Michael Grove has been getting bopped around all year, including by the Phillies last night, and the nearest two choices, Gavin Stone and Andre Jackson, don't have great 2023 track records. I've always praised these Dodgers teams for their pitching depth, but when everyone's either hurt or being careful at the same time, that goes away pretty quickly. 

So the Dodgers have dropped down to second, and might be there for a bit, at least until some of the hurt guys come back. I think this team does have a shot, and could still be a playoff contender, but these injuries could dull their appeal a great deal.

Coming Tonight: A pitcher for my team who's very good at going in and out of my doghouse.

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