Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a great run at the end of the season, despite struggling with injuries. This season, the run should be starting early, like right now. At full strength this early in the season, and with star players getting back to their full potential, the Dodgers should run away with the National League.
They have virtually everybody back, including Hyun-jin Ryu, who came off the disabled list after suffering from inflammation in the shoulder, and threw a great game in the Dodgers win against the New York Mets Wednesday night. He racked up eight strikeouts, and really made only one major mistake, which led to two runs from the Mets.
Juan Uribe is still on the 15-day disabled list, but Justin Turner and Chone Figgins have proved to be excellent additions in the infield, to go along with the now solid Dee Gordon and the always productive Adrian Gonzalez. Uribe’s most important role is in the dugout, as a veteran player who guys like Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez look up to, and in Puig’s case, actually listen to. With Uribe back soon, the Dodgers will be as solid as any team in MLB.
Puig is on fire, there’s no question about it, but what is really improving is his decision-making. He still makes dumb plays, and that won’t go away cold turkey, but there are signs of great things to come. In the sixth inning against the Mets, Puig hit a homer off the wall that was initially ruled in the park. To his credit, he did not do the usual cocky bat flip, and instead ran hard all the way to second until the umpire finally ruled the hit a home run. In fact, Puig was nearly rounding second when the call was officially made. That’s a great sign for the Dodgers.
Gonzalez, Ramirez and Puig all homered against the Mets, and Matt Kemp got a couple great stings on the ball, picking up a double as well. Kemp has looked like he’s on his way to being a key player, if not a star again.
The bottom of the batting order is still a bit shaky, but guys are stepping up, and with continued great pitching after the return of Ryu, the Dodgers are going to be the team to beat in the National League all season long.