The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ payroll, lineup and front-line starting pitching led many baseball analysts to pick them as not only the NL West champions, but also World Series favorites.
The Dodgers are right in the thick of the mix in the highly-competitive division, and while Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke grab most of the headlines, Dan Haren could be the reason why the Dodgers go deep into the playoffs. Haren has battled injuries and poor performances over the last few seasons, but he looks to have regained some of his old confidence.
Haren picked up his fourth victory of the season in a 9-4 win against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field Thursday. Haren went 6 2-3 innings, allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, three walks and posted seven strikeouts. Puig led the way going 4-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base. Haren now stands with a 4-0 record, 2.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Both of those last two numbers are below his career averages. Haren is not the exact same pitcher who dominated with the Los Angeles Angels in his first two seasons there, but he is definitely one of the best No. 4 starters in MLB. It is unlikely Haren will ever get to the level of dominance he had during his heyday, but he now seems like a pitcher who can be counted on for quality starts whenever he us called on.
Haren will probably not start many games if the Dodgers make the playoffs, but his success during the regular year could place the team into favorable position to make a run to the World Series.