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Dodgers April review: Great start, terrible finish, somehow still in first place

Kenta Maeda was a bright spot for the Dodgers in an up-and-down April.
Kenta Maeda was a bright spot for the Dodgers in an up-and-down April.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Dodgers started April about as strong as possible, with a 25-0 three-game sweep in San Diego, and ended the month by losing six straight home games. The result was a losing record, but since the rest of the National League West has been a dumpster fire as well the Dodgers found themselves tied for first place to end a very mediocre first month of 2016.

What a difference a year makes. In April 2015, the Dodgers led the majors in home runs (32), slugging percentage (.486) and OPS (.832). But this year, the club was 29th in home runs (17), 26th in slugging percentage (.368) and 21st in OPS (.686).

The result saw them drop from leading the National League in scoring last April (4.76 runs per game) to a below-average eighth in scoring (4.20) so far this year.

The 12-13 April snapped a string of 16 consecutive baseball months for the Dodgers at .500 or better, their first losing month since going 10-17 in May 2013.

Dodger Batter of April: This one goes to Joc Pederson, though there was nobody in the lineup that was consistently good all month. Pederson had his ups and downs but ended with a .390 on-base percentage while tying for the team lead with three home runs. Adrian Gonzalez seemed a shoo-in for the award but ended April on an 0-for-17 slump.

Honorable mention goes to Chase Utley, who started 19 of 25 games at second base at age 37 while putting up a .375 on-base percentage with nine extra-base hits; and to Yasmani Grandal, who missed the first week with right forearm soreness but came back to hit .295/.426/.477

Dodger Pitcher of April: The transition from Japan to the United States went about as smooth as possible for Kenta Maeda, who allowed just one run in his first four major league starts, just the third major leaguer to do that since 1900. The right-hander kept hitters off balance all month to go 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA in his first major league month, with 28 strikeouts and just six walks in 32 innings. Maeda even homered for good measure, the first Dodgers pitcher to hit a home run in his major league debut since Dan Bankhead on Aug. 26, 1947.

Honorable mention goes to Clayton Kershaw, who continued to pitch deep into games while striking out 28.6 percent of his batters faced.

April Record: 12-13
105 runs scored (4.20 per game)
97 runs allowed (3.88 per game)
.536 pythagorean winning percentage (13-12)

April National League West Standings
Club W-L Pct GB RS RA
Dodgers
12-13 .480 --- 105 97
San Francisco 12-13 .480 --- 124 121
Colorado 11-12 .478 --- 126 135
Arizona 12-14 .462 ½ 120 138
San Diego 9-15 .375 95 123

Game of the Month: On April 24 in Colorado, the Dodgers won on getaway day in by far their wildest game of the season. Up 7-1 early, this settled into a Coors Field game, with the Rockies chipping away at the lead until taking control with a five-run eighth inning. But the Dodgers had a five-run ninth of their own to survive with a 12-10 victory. It was the final win of the month for the Dodgers.

Honorable mention goes to opening day, when the Dodgers blasted the Padres 15-0 at Petco Park in San Diego for the most lopsided opening day shutout in MLB history.

Missing persons: Clayton Kershaw came up just short in winning April pitcher of the month honors, but still had a fine month, even with allowing five runs in his final start of the month. Kershaw put up a 2.43 ERA and lasted at least seven innings in all five starts, the first time he has done that to open a season. With 40 strikeouts and just three walks in April, Kershaw had the fourth-most strikeouts in any month by a Dodgers pitcher with three or fewer walks, behind only Dazzy Vance (49 strikeouts, three walks in September 1930) and two other Kershaw months (45/2 in July 2015, and 43/2 in July 2013).

In two home starts in April, Kershaw did not issue a walk, and on Sunday (a May start) brought his Dodger Stadium totals in 2016 to 30 strikeouts and no walks. Only a nobody walks (batters) in LA.

Rough start for versatile Kendrick: After missing the first seven games of the season on the disabled list with a strained left calf, Howie Kendrick struggled mightily at the plate in April, going 8-for-53 (.151) with two walks and no extra-base hits. Kendrick also drove in no runs, making him the 18th LA Dodger with at least 50 plate appearances and no RBI in a single month.

Kendrick, who through Saturday started 1,065 games at second base in his career, showed uncommon versatility in April, starting five games in left field, his first time at the position since 2013 and first starts since 2011, and started four games at third base, his first time at the position since 2006.

Pinch Hitting: For the month, Dodger pinch hitters were just 7-for-41 with no extra-base hits but 10 walks, hitting .171/.333/.171.

Runners in Scoring Position: In April, the Dodgers hit .256/.325/.379 with runners in scoring position in 240 plate appearances, with 14 doubles and two home runs.

They had a runner on third base with less than two outs 54 times in April, and got the runner home 32 times, or 59.3 percent (the entire National League scored 400 of 770 times, 51.9 percent).

They had a runner on second base with nobody out 38 times in April, and the runner advanced 18 times, or 47.4 percent (the entire NL advanced the runner 268 of 492 times, 54.5 percent).

Bases loaded: The Dodgers were 7-for-21 with the bases loaded in April, with two doubles and a hit by pitch, hitting .333/.364/.429.

The Month ahead: The Dodgers are Dodger Stadium for 13 of their 28 games in May, but upon further inspection get to sleep in their own beds at least two more nights since two of the road games are in Anaheim. Interleague play is in full force with two games in Tampa Bay, three in Toronto and a four-game home-and-home against the Angels. The May schedule includes 15 games against 2016 playoff teams - seven games against the Mets, three at home against the Cardinals, three on the road at the Blue Jays, and two to end the month at Wrigley Field.

After 18 games against the NL West in April, the Padres are the only divisional opponent for the Dodgers in May, with Sunday's home win followed by a three-game weekend series in San Diego from May 20-22.

April weeks in review: April 11 | April 18 | April 25 | May 1

April Stats

Player PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SB/CS BA/OBP/SLG OPS
Grandal 54 44 3 13 5 0 1 6 10 0/1 .295/.426/.477 .903
Pederson 77 64 12 17 4 0 3 10 12 1/1 .266/.390/.469 .858
Utley 96 84 13 24 6 2 1 7 9 1/0 .286/.375/.440 .815
Gonzalez 105 91 9 26 4 0 3 15 13 0/0 .286/.371/.429 .800
Puig 96 88 10 22 3 2 2 9 6 3/0 .250/.313/.398 .710
Seager 106 96 14 24 6 1 2 12 9 1/1 .250/.311/.396 .707
Turner 88 77 9 19 4 1 0 5 6 0/1 .247/.330/.325 .654
Ellis 42 37 7 8 1 0 1 8 4 0/0 .216/.293/.324 .617
Kendrick 55 53 5 8 0 0 0 0 2 0/0 .151/.182/.151 .333
Starters 719 634 82 161 33 6 13 72 71 6/4 .254/.337/.386 .723
Hernandez 60 52 6 14 3 0 2 8 8 1/0 .269/.367/.442 .809
Thompson 49 46 6 12 3 0 1 5 3 0/0 .261/.306/.391 .697
Crawford 27 25 3 5 1 1 0 2 2 0/0 .200/.259/.320 .579
Culberson 21 21 2 5 2 0 0 4 0 0/0 .238/.238/.333 .571
Van Slyke 10 9 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0/0 .111/.200/.222 .422
Barnes 17 15 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 0/0 .133/.235/.133 .369
Johnson 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 .000/.000/.000 .000
Bench 187 171 18 39 10 1 3 22 15 1/0 .228/.294/.351 .645
Pitchers 58 51 5 6 1 0 1 4 2 0/0 .118/.151/.196 .347
Totals 964 856 105 206 44 7 17 98 88 7/4 .241/.318/.368 .682

:

Pitcher G W-L Sv IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Maeda 5 3-1 -- 32 24 5 5 6 28 1.41 0.938 2.77
Kershaw 5 2-1 -- 37 27 11 10 3 40 2.43 0.811 2.27
Stripling 5 0-2 -- 27 26 14 13 12 22 4.33 1.407 3.24
Wood 5 1-2 -- 28 31 18 15 12 21 4.82 1.536 3.52
Kazmir 5 1-2 -- 25 28 16 16 7 21 5.76 1.400 5.05
Starters 25 7-8 -- 149 136 64 59 40 132 3.56 1.181 3.26
Liberatore 7 0-0 -- 6⅓ 2 0 0 2 5 0.00 0.632 2.42
Jansen 10 0-0 9 10⅔ 5 1 1 1 12 0.84 0.563 1.09
Blanton 11 2-1 -- 10⅓ 4 1 1 2 9 0.87 0.581 3.15
Baez 11 0-0 -- 10⅔ 6 3 3 4 14 2.53 0.938 5.21
Garcia 9 0-0 -- 8⅓ 9 3 3 1 4 3.24 1.200 2.81
Coleman 9 0-1 -- 10 7 5 4 5 8 3.60 1.200 3.25
Avilan 3 0-0 -- 3 3 3 2 1 40.50 7.500 9.05
Hatcher 13 2-3 -- 11 11 10 10 9 10 8.18 1.818 7.24
Howell 10 1-0 -- 7 10 7 7 1 3 9.00 1.571 2.63
Relievers 25 5-5 9 75 57 33 32 27 66 3.84 1.120 3.67
Totals 25 12-13 9 224 193 97 91 67 198 3.66 1.161 3.39