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Dodgers April review: Stuck in neutral

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dodgers were without the services of Justin Turner for all of the first month, and his replacement at third base — Logan Forsythe — was bad, before ending up on the shelf himself. Lineup anchors Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager were also bad, and both ended the month on the disabled list, too. Seager’s injury is catastrophic, out for the rest of the year after his Tommy John surgery this Friday.

But wait, there’s more. Kenley Jansen, as good of a reliever as anyone in baseball over the last five years, was bad in April, too, and he wasn’t alone among a gaggle of under-performing relievers.

The Dodgers added two pitchers this winter, both for the bullpen. One (Tom Koehler) is out for a long while with a shoulder injury, and Scott Alexander couldn’t harness his sinker ball and had to be sent down to Triple-A.

Quite a few things that could have gone wrong for the Dodgers did in April. Clayton Kershaw walked six batters in a game for the first time in eight years. Leadoff man Chris Taylor has a .271 on-base percentage. Rich Hill didn’t get a blister, but did get a cracked fingernail, then saw his time on the shelf get extended due to an infection.

But perhaps the most sobering thing of the Dodgers’ terrible April was how they are still mediocre despite several things going right. Matt Kemp is not an albatross but rather one of the team’s best hitters. Yasmani Grandal is as locked in as he’s ever been at the plate. Chase Utley is turning back time at age 39, the mirror opposite to his dismal start (and end) to 2017. The patience in Joc Pederson seems to have paid off so far at least. Kenta Maeda is striking out more batters than ever. JT Chargois appears to be a great waiver find, and Hyun-jin Ryu looks like the pitcher he was in his first two seasons.

And yet here the Dodgers are at the end of April, eight games back in the National League West, the most they have ever trailed the division at this point in the season.

April was bad, and it remains in question whether the Dodgers are good enough to overcome their poor start.

Batter of the month

Yasmani Grandal brushed aside his late-season fade to end 2017 and reclaimed a regular catching role with authority in April, hitting .315/.402/.551 with nine doubles and four home runs. He had a .941 OPS batting lefty and a .976 OPS batting right-handed, and started 21 of 28 games behind the plate.

The next three best Dodgers hitters in the opening month were Matt Kemp (.901 OPS), Joc Pederson (.852) and Chase Utley (.822), which in a vacuum might portend a fantastic month for the team but it was the opposite.

Pitcher of the month

Hyun-jin Ryu looked a lot like his pre-surgery self in the opening month, overcoming one bad start to strike out seven or more batters in four straight starts for the first time in his career.

April NL West standings

Team W L Pct GB Runs scored Runs allowed
Team W L Pct GB Runs scored Runs allowed
Diamondbacks 20 8 0.714 ---- 132 90
Giants 15 14 0.517 106 124
Rockies 15 15 0.500 6 115 140
Dodgers 12 16 0.429 8 133 124
Padres 10 20 0.333 11 119 155

Record: 12-16
133 runs scored (4.75 per game)
124 runs allowed (4.43 per game)
.532 pythagorean winning percentage (15-13)

Game of the month

On April 22 against the Nationals the Dodgers trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning but rallied to tie against Jeremy Hellickson and the Washington bullpen, then tacked on the go-ahead run in the seventh for a 4-3 win. This gets the nod for April because it was one of two comeback victories in the first 28 games. This month was bad, folks.

Situational stats

Pinch hitting: Dodgers pinch hitters for the month were 18-for-52 with two doubles and a home run, hitting .333/.429/.426. Their 18 pinch hits were seven more than any other MLB team (San Francisco) and also led baseball with 10 pinch-hit RBI.

Runners in scoring position: The Dodgers in April hit .277/.361/.446 with runners in scoring position, and ranked fifth in the National League and ninth in the majors in plate appearances (290) with RISP.

Bases loaded: For the month the Dodgers were 4-for-16 (.250) with the bases loaded with a double, three walks, one grand slam (by Yasmani Grandal) and one sacrifice fly, driving in 14 runs.

April weeks in review: Mar. 29-Apr. 1 | Apr. 2-8 | Apr. 9-15 | Apr. 16-22 | Apr. 23-29

The month ahead

After playing their first 31 games without having to change their clocks, the Dodgers branch out in a few different time zones in May including trips to Monterrey, Mexico, Miami and Washington D.C.

The Dodgers have 16 home games and 12 road games in May, including a 10-game residency at Dodger Stadium to end the month against the Rockies, Padres and Phillies.

Stats

April batting

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP SH SF PA BA OBP SLG OPS BABIP Player
Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP SH SF PA BA OBP SLG OPS BABIP Player
Grandal 89 15 28 9 0 4 20 0 1 10 19 3 0 0 102 0.315 0.402 0.551 0.953 0.364 Grandal
Kemp 72 11 23 4 0 4 13 0 0 5 20 0 0 1 78 0.319 0.359 0.542 0.901 0.388 Kemp
Utley 60 9 17 6 0 1 11 2 0 10 12 1 0 1 72 0.283 0.389 0.433 0.822 0.333 Utley
Bellinger 107 21 30 6 2 3 12 0 0 10 25 0 0 1 118 0.280 0.339 0.458 0.797 0.338 Bellinger
Hernandez 67 8 16 3 1 3 10 0 0 10 20 0 0 2 79 0.239 0.329 0.448 0.777 0.283 Hernandez
Seager 101 13 27 5 1 2 13 0 0 11 17 2 0 1 115 0.267 0.348 0.396 0.744 0.301 Seager
Taylor 125 21 29 8 2 4 10 1 3 7 33 0 0 1 133 0.232 0.271 0.424 0.695 0.281 Taylor
Forsythe 46 2 8 2 0 1 4 0 0 3 6 0 0 0 49 0.174 0.224 0.283 0.507 0.179 Forsythe
Puig 88 11 17 5 0 0 7 4 1 7 19 0 0 1 96 0.193 0.250 0.250 0.500 0.243 Puig
Starters 755 111 195 48 6 22 100 7 5 73 171 6 0 8 842 0.258 0.325 0.425 0.751 0.304 Starters
Verdugo 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 7 0.400 0.571 0.400 0.971 0.500 Verdugo
Pederson 59 9 17 3 2 1 13 1 2 11 11 0 0 1 71 0.288 0.394 0.458 0.852 0.333 Pederson
Muncy 29 6 6 1 0 2 4 0 0 3 12 0 0 0 32 0.207 0.281 0.448 0.730 0.267 Muncy
Farmer 40 1 10 3 0 0 4 0 0 4 8 2 0 0 46 0.250 0.348 0.325 0.673 0.313 Farmer
Barnes 42 6 8 3 0 0 2 1 0 10 11 4 0 0 56 0.190 0.393 0.262 0.655 0.258 Barnes
Valera 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 0.000 0.250 0.000 0.250 0.000 Valera
Bench 178 22 43 10 2 3 23 2 2 31 43 6 0 1 216 0.242 0.370 0.371 0.741 0.301 Bench
Pitchers 55 0 6 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 29 0 6 0 62 0.109 0.125 0.127 0.252 0.231 Pitchers
Offense 988 133 244 59 8 25 125 9 7 105 243 12 6 9 1120 0.247 0.324 0.399 0.723 0.300 Offense

April pitching

Pitcher G GS W L Sv IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP ERA WHIP FIP Pitcher
Pitcher G GS W L Sv IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP ERA WHIP FIP Pitcher
Buehler 2 2 1 0 10.0 10 2 2 0 4 0 11 0 1.80 1.400 2.20 Buehler
Ryu 5 5 3 0 28.3 15 7 7 3 9 0 34 1 2.22 0.847 3.24 Ryu
Kershaw 6 6 1 4 38.0 34 12 12 5 9 0 42 0 2.84 1.132 3.41 Kershaw
Maeda 5 5 2 2 25.3 27 14 11 2 10 0 32 1 3.91 1.461 3.00 Maeda
Wood 6 6 0 3 35.0 28 18 16 2 3 1 30 0 4.11 0.886 2.40 Wood
Hill 3 3 1 1 15.0 17 10 10 3 7 2 16 0 6.00 1.600 4.67 Hill
Stripling 1 1 0 1 4.0 8 4 4 2 1 1 2 0 9.00 2.250 8.70 Stripling
Starters 28 28 8 11 0 155.7 139 67 62 17 43 4 167 2 3.58 1.169 3.26 Starters
Liberatore 6 1 0 5.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 4 0 0.00 0.600 2.80 Liberatore
Maeda 1 0 0 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 2.000 -0.80 Maeda
Stripling 10 0 0 14.3 12 1 1 0 6 1 16 0 0.63 1.256 2.01 Stripling
Chargois 12 0 0 10.3 6 2 2 1 5 1 14 1 1.74 1.065 3.20 Chargois
Fields 14 2 0 1 13.3 10 3 3 2 3 0 14 0 2.03 0.975 3.73 Fields
Baez 13 0 1 12.0 13 6 6 1 8 0 17 0 4.50 1.750 3.45 Baez
Stewart 1 0 0 1.7 3 1 1 1 1 0 3 0 5.40 2.400 9.20 Stewart
Jansen 10 0 1 3 9.7 11 8 6 3 4 0 12 0 5.59 1.552 5.99 Jansen
Cingrani 14 0 1 10.0 9 7 7 1 2 0 18 1 6.30 1.100 1.80 Cingrani
Alexander 11 1 0 11.3 12 8 8 1 9 0 7 0 6.35 1.853 5.49 Alexander
Neal 1 0 0 1.0 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 9.00 2.000 16.20 Neal
Font 6 0 2 10.3 18 13 13 5 1 1 7 0 11.32 1.839 8.14 Font
Hudson 4 0 0 3.7 5 7 6 1 4 0 4 0 14.73 2.455 7.84 Hudson
Relievers 103 0 4 5 4 103.7 104 57 54 17 45 3 118 2 4.69 1.437 4.33 Relievers
Totals 131 28 12 16 4 259.3 243 124 116 34 88 7 285 4 4.03 1.276 3.69 Totals