The Dodgers have been a team under a watchful eye for a couple of years now. They’re a team that over the last few years have changed owners, GMs, and players. Last season the bullpen had come under scrutiny and the starting pitching was let down by them all of the 2014 regular season. This caused the Dodgers to do a major overhaul on the bullpen this last offseason.
Turn to the 2015 season and it seems the team has flipped over. Now I know three weeks into the season that you can’t take stats too seriously but certain things do have to be a concern. It seems that roles have been reversed and things you wouldn’t expect of the team have come to fruition. This early in the season it has been the bullpen and hitting that have led the Dodgers into first place and not the starting pitching, which has served the team well in the past.
In fact if you look at the Dodgers’ starting pitching there are two surprising stats that stand out above all others. The first is that every Dodger’s starter, with the exception of Zack Greinke, has an ERA over 4.00. The second is that, combined, Dodgers starters have a MLB worst HR/FB ratio of 14.5%. The reason the HR/FB ratio is so surprising is that of all of the games the Dodgers have played so far have been in PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Chase Field, and of course Dodger Stadium. None of which are known as home run friendly ballparks to say the least.
The bullpen this season has turned a page and instead of letting the starting pitching down, they have actually picked them up. While they may have struggled in the three game series against the Giants, the Dodgers bullpen has been steady for the most part. In fact they lead MLB with a combined WAR of 1.6 and a combined K/9 of 11.44. Yimi Garcia has been amazing as a new comer to the team ranking sixth for K/9 with 15.19 K/9 rating.
On the other side of the field, the hitting has been spectacular, ranking second in the MLB with 6.0 WAR, First place ranking .363 wOBA, and 136 wRC+. Add a tenth-best 5.7 defensive rating and you have a team poised to run the NL into the ground. If the starting pitching that can match the rest of the team’s production, you could finally have a team poised to win the World Series.
The Cubs traded second baseman Darwin Barney and cash considerations to the Dodgers on Monday for a player to be named later. The Cubs had previously designated the 28-year-old Barney, who is known for his outstanding glove work and horrendous hitting, for assignment on July 22nd.
Barney won the Gold Glove in 2012 after tying a Major League single-season record with 141 consecutive errorless games, but batted .254 in the same year. This season he’s batting .230 with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 72 games. Barney has hit .244 with 88 doubles, 18 home runs and 146 RBIs in his career.
Since he’s not very handy with the bat I can’t see Barney getting to many starts. His role with the team will most likely be coming off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games, while getting the occasional start to give Dee Gordon a day off. Barney is not an inspirational acquisition, but a safe one. With Alex Guerrero far from ready to come up from the minors this year, it’s a smart move. The Dodgers get a really solid backup glove in the middle infield at relatively no cost, as “the player to be named later” will most likely be a low-level, non prospect, minor league player.