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Dodgers Get Off to Hot Start

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Expect more scenes like this for the Dodgers. AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Two weeks and 12 games into the 2009 season and the Dodgers are looking better than expected. I say this, of course, in full knowledge that all games have been against the other NL West teams.

The pitching has been better than advertised. I said before the season began that the pitching needed only to be serviceable. They have been much more than serviceable thanks to the dominating starts by Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. In two weeks the Dodgers pitching staff leads the MLB with opponents batting .196, fifth with a collective 3.26 ERA and 139 ERA+ and fourth with only 38 runs given up. The bullpen has been decent posting a 3.80 ERA giving up 13 runs.

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But the injuries to Hiroki Kuroda and Cory Wade do not help. More than ever the pitching staff needs to be efficient and healthy so hopefully this does not become a trend. But with playing all of their games so far in the NL West where offense is definitely not the calling card of the division, the staff should be able to get things together.

As for the offense, well what can you say? With Manny not getting pitches to hit the Dodgers are still third in the National League in runs scored with 68 and second with an OPS+ of 112. Everyone in that lineup has contributed to the offense including pinch hitters Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Loretta. It’s been a while since the Dodgers have had pinch hitters that can actually get hits.

Another remarkable thing about this team is how deep they are. Even with Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin and Casey Blake taking the day off Saturday, the Dodgers still kept chugging along scoring nine runs.

However the one concern with the offense is when they score the runs. Back on Clayton Kershaw’s start against the Giants on Wednesday, the Dodgers left many men on base scoring only two runs during Kershaw’s seven innings. The bullpen gave up the lead in the eighth inning, and thankfully the offense came around to get the win in the final two innings. But in the first three innings the Dodgers have scored only 16 of their 68 runs. While they always seem to have runners on base during those three innings, they don’t seem to be able to get them home. Having said this though, the Dodgers really like the fourth inning plating 15 runs.

The Dodgers this week will have Monday off to go to Houston for a three-game series followed by a weekend series at Colorado. The Houston Astros are not very good. They couldn’t buy a win during spring training, and that has translated with a poor 4-7 record so far. They rank near the bottom of the NL in runs scored and on-base percentage and are middle of the road in ERA. The Dodgers shouldn’t have any problems winning the series in Houston, their first opponent outside of the NL West.

But what will be real entertaining will be next weekend’s series in Colorado. With the offense the Dodgers have, they should feast all over this Rockies pitching staff in that softball park. This should be another series the Dodgers should win.