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Dodgers notes: Breakouts & disappointments, Stephen Nelson, Mookie Betts

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have steadied the ship after a rocky start to the season, emphasized by winning seven of their last eight series. While the trio at the top of the lineup have performed to standards, there have been a handful of notable players who have exceeded expectations, with some stumbling to find their footing so far.

James Outman has gone from an afterthought to making the Opening Day roster to becoming the starting center fielder for a Dodgers team that desperately needs depth. Although May has been an overall struggle for the 25-year-old rookie, his overall numbers are still remarkable, as he carries a 121 OPS+ while seeing his average dip to a .245 mark. Outman is still in the running for Rookie of the Year after a blistering hot April, and is one of the Dodgers best hitters in late-game situations.

Now it’s tricky when identifying who has struggled to meet expectations and who has blown them away. According to Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report, there are two pitchers that come to mind. Noah Syndergaard as a key player who hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Syndergaard, after posting an acceptable 3.94 ERA and 102 ERA+ between the Angels and Phillies the season prior, has struggled to find any semblance of consistency, as he currently carries a stat line of a 1-3 record, 5.88 ERA, 4.44 FIP, and an ERA+ of just 75. Despite allowing six free passes in nine starts, his strikeout numbers have completely diminished in the past two seasons, netting him an average of just 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings, while also posting the worst WHIP of his career thus far at a 1.331 clip.

As far as bright spots are concerned, Reuter has noted another southpaw reliever as a surprise for the team: 25-year-old Justin Bruihl. He bounced between Triple-A and the big league squad ever since making his major league debut, but he’s been effective when the Dodgers do call on him. Although he’s pitched in just 11 games this season, Bruihl has posted a respectable 3.65 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.135 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 124, matching his career average.

Another player who has massively disappointed this season (that Reuter didn’t mention) is southpaw reliever Alex Vesia. Over the past two seasons Vesia was a reliable fixture in the Dodgers’ bullpen, with a 2.19 ERA and 1.060 WHIP, averaging 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. So far this season was a disaster for Vesia, allowing 23 hits and nine runs in 10⅓ innings. Vesia allowed five runs in his first Triple-A outing after getting optioned to Oklahoma City, but since then has allowed only one unearned run in nine innings, with 18 strikeouts.