Dodgers have MLB’s best record, and it just goes to show you that this is a funny game
Oh sure, you’re going t0 tell me you saw this coming. Even as the Dodgers were cutting payroll, losing players, making no splashy moves and barely being mentioned in the same breath with the Dodgers and Giants, you knew this little club had something special going on. There’s one like you in every crowd.
Actually, this 8-1 start isn’t as shocking as you might think. Yes, the Dodgers have gotten all kinds of attention in the last year or so, mostly the wrong kind. But during spring training in Arizona, almost everyone around the club and plenty of the scouts who saw them evaluated the ball club with essentially the same words.
“That’s a pretty good little club.”
Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley give the Dodgers a dynamic 1-2 presence in the rotation, and Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier do the same for the lineup. With Gold Glove winners in Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw, the Dodgers don’t give many runs away. Closer Javy Guerra has been perfect at the end of games. Throw in a pair of 24-year-old relievers, Kenley Jansen and Josh Lindbloom, and scatter Mark Ellis, Aaron Harang and Adam Kennedy around the clubhouse, and suddenly, the Dodgers are MLB’s most surprising team in these early days.
Two people deserve all kinds of credit. One is GM Ned Colletti, who has done an outstanding job in very tough circumstances. Another is manager Don Mattingly, who managed to keep his guys focused despite the flurry of negative news surrounding owner Frank McCourt. The Dodgers are off to their best start in 31 years. They’re second in the National League in runs, thanks to Kemp and Ethier hitting .382 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.
Guerra is five for five out of the bullpen. He’s just 26 years old, a former fourth-round pick in the 2004 First Year Player Draft. With Jansen in front of him, the Dodgers can shorten the game to six or seven innings. Jansen originally was signed as a catcher in 2005, but converted to reliever in 2009. Guerra spent eight years in the minors, none of them at Class AAA.
There’s some magic, too. Jansen blew a two-run lead against the Padres Friday night, but the Dodgers came back in the bottom of the inning to draw four straight walks off San Diego relievers. If you’re going to point out that the Dodgers have gotten all seven of their victories against the Padres and Pirates, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you. This, friends, is a cynicism-free zone.