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Series #4: Athletics at Dodgers - No DH’s Allowed

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers’ Current Record: 3-6, 4th place in the NL West

Projected Lineup:

CF- Chris Taylor

SS- Corey Seager

RF- Yasiel Puig

1B- Cody Bellinger

3B- Logan Forsythe

LF- Joc Pederson

C- Austin Barnes

2B- Chase Utley

Pitcher’s Spot

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Alex Wood

Hottest Hitter(s):

The Dodgers aren’t off to such a great start largely because the offense has been anemic in the season’s first two weeks. Only Chase Utley and Yasmani Grandal have hit for OPS’s above .800, and all but three batters in total are below .700. This is a lineup that has just flat-out not produced like it is capable of in the early going.

Coldest Hitter(s):

The lineup has been bad top to bottom, but most of the offenders are in the Dodgers’ outfield. Of all the outfielders on the team, Matt Kemp, of all people, is hitting the best, sporting an uninspiring .273/.360/.318 slashline. This is unlikely to hold true for the entire season, but it is a clear sign that things aren’t going well for the World Series runner ups.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Frankly, the reason the Dodgers don’t have an even worse record than they do as of now is because the starting pitching has been an unstoppable force, with their own offense acting as an immovable object. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood each have ERA’s under 2.00, Kenta Maeda has yet to give up a run, and Rich Hill is still showing he can defy the sands of the hourglass and pitching as well as ever, though perhaps not lasting as deep into games as he should.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Kenley Jansen had a very unexpectedly awful start to the season, surrendering home runs and leads and had significantly diminished velocity, causing many to believe that the star closer was hurt. Those struggles may be behind him, as his cutter touched 94 MPH in his last scoreless outing, but even with Jansen potentially back on track, the closer’s ERA still sits at an ugly 9.00.

Key Injuries:

Slugging third baseman Justin Turner is out until at least May with a fractured wrist he got after being hit by a pitch in spring training, as he still isn’t able to grip a baseball bat. His absence from the lineup has clearly had an impact on the team in the early going. Logan Forsythe, taking over starting at 3rd duties while Turner is down for the count, is hitting just .156/.229/.250 so far this year.

* * *

With Shohei Ohtani and the Angels behind them, at least for now, the A’s will get their first taste of competition outside of the AL West, and outside of the American League in general. The A’s have played better than their record thus far, with glaring issues on defense costing the team several wins. That same defense is also likely to be both a temporary problem and a future strength of this team, ideally. Going toe-to-toe with champions of the other league is always a tall task, but the A’s are lucky in that the Dodgers are only firing on about half of their cylinders at the moment, and that they don’t have to face Clayton Kershaw. If there was ever a time for the A’s to sneak in an unexpectedly win an extra game or two in the early going, the time is now.

The Dodgers don’t have to be worried right now. It’s still the first half of April, and the team that was good enough to win 100 games and nearly win the World Series last year is still intact (apart from losing the pitcher who absolutely cost them of everything that World Series), and is now a year closer to its prime and more experienced in situations with the highest levels of intensity. Justin Turner will be back, soon enough, and lineup is simply too good and too deep to sputter along this pathetically for all too much longer.

Or maybe they’re just bad this year. How interesting that would be.

Game #12: Tuesday, April 10th, 7:10 - NBCSCA, Sportsnet LA, MLBN, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea vs Hyun-Jin Ryu

Sean Manaea seeks to maintain his dazzling start to the season. So far, he has been the only reliable pitcher in the starting rotation, showing off much better finesse and location than he ever has in the past. If this step forward is for real, Manaea will be the top of the rotation ace the A’s sorely needed this year. On the other side, Ryu has been the sole ineffective starting pitcher for the Dodgers so far, giving up three runs in 3.2 innings alongside five walks in his lone start on the year.

Game #13: Wednesday, April 11th, 7:10 - NBCSCA, Sportsnet LA, MLB.tv

Daniel Mengden vs Alex Wood

Daniel Mengden has some pretty ugly numbers to start the year, and he hasn’t been the most effective pitcher out there. However, both of his starts were plagued by error-riddled defenses (having said that, one crucial error was his own) that forced him to throw many more pitches in high-stress situations. With solid defense behind him, Mengden has a chance to refind what made him so successful last season. Alex Wood has been strong in each of his first two starts, including a truly dominant performance against the Giants in his first start. His velocity has been decreasing since last season, and has continued to drop in his first two starts this year, which may be a cause for concern.