By Brandon HENSLEY
Chances are if you’re reading this, you still can’t watch Dodger games on your TV. Yes, the Time Warner Cable dispute is still ongoing, now in its second season, forcing most of Los Angeles to rely on AM 570 radio play-by-play for its chance to follow the club. There’s the option of visiting the Crowe’s Nest in Tujunga, but if the bar scene isn’t your thing, La Crescenta residents are out of luck as far as visuals go.
While this season has been tougher than expected, due to pitching injuries, the Dodgers are in the middle of a year where being able to watch the games would no doubt be exciting.
Earlier this season, 23-year-old phenom Joc Pederson exploded onto the scene, making an early case for rookie of year. Pederson has all of the offensive and defensive tools any team could ever want, and he wowed Dodger fans (at least, the ones at the stadium who could see him play) with his power at the plate and natural instincts in centerfield.
Since the All-Star break, when Pederson lost an entertaining Home Run Derby battle to Cincinnati Reds’ slugger Todd Frazier, Pederson has cooled off considerably. He’s always been a strikeout machine (up to 128 currently) but his batting average is down to .223 as of Tuesday, and manager Don Mattingly has given him several days off over the past week, including last weekend when the team swept the Anaheim Angels.
Yasiel Puig, the man seemingly behind every controversy, has underperformed. He’s been limited to just 58 games because of a sore hamstring, and his numbers are down across the board. Puig has just seven home runs, and his slugging percentage is .421, down from .480 last year and .534 in 2013, when he burst onto the scene as a can’t-miss player. There were even talks last month he could have been traded, packaged in a deal to the Reds for a starting pitcher, which the Dodgers needed at the time.
Though Puig is only 24 years old and ultra-talented, his reputation as someone who ruffles more feathers than a cat in a bird cage will continue to lead to trade rumors for the foreseeable future.
About that pitching: Since Hyun Jun Ryu, the Dodgers’ third starter, was put on the season-ending disabled list without even throwing a pitch this year, moves have needed to be made. The front office was involved in a monster 13-player trade last week that brought in Mat Latos from Miami, and Alex Wood from Atlanta. Latos pitched well in a no-decision win vs. the Angles on Sunday. Wood fared slightly worse in a loss to the Phillies on Tuesday.
It’s imperative the Dodgers sort out their rotation, because the Giants have closed the gap in the division. For a while, it looked like the Dodgers (60-46 as of Wednesday) might run away with the division, but that’s not the case anymore. The Giants are only two games out. If the Dodgers do get into the postseason – and let’s be honest, it would be shocking if they didn’t – they’ll need to rely on at least one more pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw or Zack Grienke.
Both Kershaw, who has a streak of 37 scoreless innings pitched currently, and Grienke, who had a streak of 45 scoreless innings broken two weeks ago, are the front runners for the NL Cy Young award (apologies to Washington’s Max Scherzer at the moment). But as we’ve seen in the past, Kershsaw’s not a sure thing in the playoffs – at least not against the Cardinals – and Grienke’s only one man.
The offense has cooled off after a torrid start. If the Dodgers want to make it to the World Series for the first time since 1988, they’ll need to rely on their arms.