Clayton Kershaw Becomes a Member of the 2,000-strikeout club

Kershaw started his career in 2008 with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the age of 20 when recorded 100 strikeouts that year. Since his rookie year, the Dodger’s Ace has gone on to record over 200 strikes in six times in his 10-year career and recorded a career-best 301 strikeouts in 2015.

While this season headlines have revolved around rookie phenom Cody Bellinger, who was just named National League Rookie of the Month, this milestone allows us to take a step back and appreciate the greatness that is Clayton Kershaw.

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Kershaw greatness has become expected by fans, which has led to his under appreciation. Many fans expect complete dominance in every start and when it doesn’t happen they grow frustrated. In an article written by Buster Olney on Olney talks about how if Kershaw retired today “he would be eligible for election into baseball’s Hall of Fame.”

Olney points out that Kershaw ERA+ and WHIP are two statistics that prove his greatness. Kershaw has the best ERA+, which normalizes ERA by accounting for external factors like ballparks and opponents, of any starting pitcher in baseball history. Also, Kershaw has a career 0.9996 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), which is second lowest of all time.

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Kershaw’s 2,000 strikeout is just another statistic that proves that we are witnessing one of the greatest pitchers of all time, so appreciate him while you can.

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Dodgers Report Card

The Dodgers have had an interesting start to the season. While there have been a lot of surprises so far this season, and in this article, we will go over what players are trending up and what players are treading down.
This Dodgers Report card will go over the entire season to this point; the following report cards will be released on a weekly basis.
Trending up:
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Cody Bellinger:
Bellinger has been one of the best storylines in all of baseball. The Arizona product has already hit, eight home runs in 23 games, which is tied for most on the team. Bellinger hit the ground running by hitting two home runs against the Phillies in his fifth game of his career and then hitting another two bombs against the San Diego Padres and the again against Miami Marlins. Most importantly, Bellinger is hitting left-handed pitching, a problem the Dodgers have had dating back to last year, Bellinger is averaging .333/.407/.583 against left-handers.
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Chris Taylor:
Taylor has been a welcome surprise for the Dodgers this season. Taylor has been playing second base in the absence of Logan Forsythe. Also, Taylor has been very successful against left-handed pitching, averaging .381/.500/.571. Taylor has driven in 15 runs this year, which is sixth most on the team. Taylor has proven himself to be invaluable to the Dodgers and will force Manager Dave Roberts to make some interesting decisions when Logan Forsythe returns from injury. Taylor is currently averaging .324/.438/.979 this season.
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Alex Wood:
Wood has had a very dominate 2017 so far. Wood has posted a 5-0 record, 1.88 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Wood has proven to the Dodgers that he is an important part of the Dodgers rotation, showing he can play many different roles for Los Angeles and give the Dodgers six innings when ever his number is called. Wood earned National Player of the Week by striking out 21 batters in 11 innings. The Dodgers pitching rotation currently has a 3.31 ERA, which is the lowest ERA in the majors.

Trending Down:
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Sergio Romo:
Romo has brought in this past offseason to bolster the Dodgers bullpen. The former Giants set up man has an 8.10 ERA this season, and against the Arizona Diamondbacks he gave up five earned runs and has only pitched longer than one inning once this season. Romo has shown he can be a dominate pitcher in past years, helping the Giants secure two World Series Championships, so the Dodgers hope he can return to form later in the season.
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Joc Pederson:
Pederson has had a tough time finding his footing so far, this year. The Dodger’s center fielder is averaging .206/.310/.299, so far, this season. Pederson has seen stretches where he has ripped the cover off the ball and other times where he seems to go up to the plate without a bat. Pederson has kept himself in the lineup by playing excellent defense in center field, but Dave Roberts might have to consider other options if his slump continues.

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Kenta Maeda Placed on 10-Day Disable List

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One day after pitching 8.1 innings giving up 5 hits, 2 earned runs and striking out 5; Kenta Maeda has been placed on the 10-day disabled list. Maeda has a 5.03 era and has gone 3-2 in five starts this year.

This hamstring injury comes at an inconvenient time for Maeda, who had struggled to start this year but had recently strung together three consecutive games where he averaged 1.67 earned runs and seven strikeouts.
While Maeda is sent to the 10-day disabled list, Hyun-Jin Ryu is being reinstated to the Dodger’s rotation and will pitch again the Colorado Rockies

Dodgers will play the Rockies at 5:40 p.m.

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Positive Side of Toles’ Injury

Andrew Toles injured himself trying to catch a flyball to preserve Julio Urias’s no-hitter Tuesday but was unable to retrieve the out and ended up tearing his ACL on the play.

Toles has provided the Dodgers with flexibility by showing he can hit lead-off and provide power in the middle of the lineup. Also, he has shown he can be a plus defender in both left and center field. Toles is averaging .271/.314/.458 with a .772 on-base percentage.

His absence in left field allows the Dodgers to make room for other players, most notably Cody Bellinger. Bellinger has forced himself into the lineup by averaging .315/.383/.704 during his first 14-games this season.

Bellinger has been playing first base while Adrian Gonzalez has been on the disabled list, but Gonzalez’s return is imminent. With the injury to Toles, the Dodgers can let Gonzales slide right back into first base and allow Bellinger to crush the ball and play left field.
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Toles’ injury also opens an opportunity for Franklin Gutierrez, who in limited time, has averaged .300/.391/.550 with a .941 on-base percentage.While Gutierrez was brought in to help hit left-handed pitchers, he could prove to be more valuable with increased time.
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This injury could be a blessing in disguise.

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Cinco de Mayo with the Dodgers

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates the Mexican’s Army victory over the French army on May 5, 1862. While this is still an important part of the celebrations, Cinco de Mayo is more about celebrating Mexican-American culture in the Untied States and what better way to talk about Mexican-American culture than talking Dodger baseball.

Embed from Getty ImagesLooking back at the Dodger’s history there are many connections to Mexican culture. Fernando Valenzuela, a former Dodger pitcher, is the most obvious when talking about the Dodgers relationship with Mexico. Valenzuela lit the baseball scene on fire when he arrived in 1981, captured both a Cy Young and the Rookie of the Year awards.

Embed from Getty ImagesToday, the Dodgers continue to have star players from Mexico. Adrian Gonzales has been with the Dodgers the past six seasons averaging .282/.343/.458, and always driving in at least 90 runs a year. The Dodger’s starting first baseman has been a leader and someone who can provide clutch hitting for his team. Also, A-Gon has been a mentor to some of the Dodgers best young players, including Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and the Dodgers most budding Mexican star, Julio Urias.

Embed from Getty ImagesUrias has been one of the most talked about Dodgers since he signed with the team back in 2012. The young pitcher has been a dominate pitcher in the minor leagues posting a 2.62 ERA, 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and winning 12 out of the 20 games he pitched. While his time in the majors hasn’t been perfect, Urias has posted a 0.84 ERA in two starts this year and could be the Dodgers second best pitcher in the starting rotation by seasons end.

These two Mexican stars represent two different things on this Dodger roster. Gonzales is a player that represents wisdom and mentorship while Urias represents hope and the future. Both Gonzales and Urias are crucial to the Dodger’s World Series hopes.

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The Future is Here, and It’s What We Need

The Dodgers are going through a bit of a rough patch to start the 2017 season. They have begun the season 10-12, which places them third in the NL West and puts them on pace to only win about 70 games this year. While this start should be concerning to Dodger fans, we must keep it in perspective a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Dodgers still have a lot to look forward to.

This past weekend in San Francisco is representative of the current woes the Dodgers are going through, but also they great promise they show. The Dodgers have dropped two of the three games they have played against an already struggling Giants team, but glimmers of hope have shined down on us with top prospect Cody Bellinger being called up to the majors and Julio Urias will be on the mound to end the series on a high note. While the Dodgers have their problems, this injection of youth could be a spark that ignites the engines for the Dodgers.

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Cody Bellinger

The 21-year-old power hitter was called up to help his major league team put runs on the board, an area where they have struggled. Bellinger seems like the perfect cure for the common slump because he batted .343/.429/.627 and had a 1.055 OPS in Oklahoma City this year. Bellinger has been proclaimed the first baseman of the future, as we see Adrian Gonzales’s play slowly decline, but his first trip to the majors he is being asked to play left field and do something that seems impossible for the rest of the Dodger players, hit left-handers. There are very high hopes for Bellinger, and hopefully, he could be a part of a Dodgers championship core for years to come.

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Julio Urias

Julio Urias might be the most intriguing Dodger on the roster. The young pitcher from Mexico has been presented as the Dodgers next ace and a possible partner to Clayton Kershaw to lift the Dodgers’ to their first championship since 1988. Urias has a 1.93 ERA in the minor leagues this season, and that is after posting a 1.40 era in the minors last year. While in the majors Urias had some rough outings including outs against the Cubs and Orioles where they roughed him up for five runs apiece. Still, overall, Urias was very impressive and showed that he could dominant at the major league level. Hopefully, Urias will provide the Dodgers with a second ace in their starting rotation and help the Dodgers get back on track

Many people think that you need established stars to get you a World Series title, but just like the Cubs that rode Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to a championship, I think the Dodgers will need to rely on their young stars; Bellinger, Urias, Seager, Peterson and Puig; if they want to win a World Series.


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Rich Hill Insurance

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The Dodgers have some problems when it comes to their starting rotation. After Clayton Kershaw, the starting rotation has some real question marks. This past offseason the Dodgers gave Rich Hill a three- year deal worth $48 million to fix their problem. The deal seemed like a no-brainer at the time because Hill posted 1.83 era and nearly pitched a perfect game against the Miami Marlins last September.

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Still, not everything went smoothly for Rich Hill last year. Hill missed his first two weeks wearing Dodger blue because of blister problems that still plague him. Dave Roberts has put an innings restriction on Hill and pulled him before he could complete his perfect game against Miami.

Regardless, the Dodgers knew what they were doing when they signed a 39-year-old pitcher to that contract. The Dodgers only expect him to make 15-20 starts during the regular season and to be a part of a deadly one-two punch with Kershaw.

The Dodgers will need more Hill insurance if they want to compete for a World Series. Does that mean to bring up Julio Urias to the Majors? Possibly a trade? Maybe they will just ride their bullpen all the way to October. No matter what the answer, Dodgers need to find it.

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Can Yasiel Puig Be Dodgers’ X-Factor?

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Coming into the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have had championship aspirations. The team added players such as Logan Forsythe to cover their deficiencies at second base. Still, the most important part of the Dodgers offseason was keeping players from leaving them in free agency, such as Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen, which leads us back to everyone’s favorite or most hated Dodger, Yasiel Puig.

The Dodgers have received consistent excellence from players like Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Corey Seager the past few years, but these players have only led them as far as the NLCS. While continued greatness for these players is required for the Dodgers to compete for a championship, they still need more production from the rest of their lineup and someone that can push them over the top.

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Puig first came onto the scene in 2013 and helped the Dodgers go on an incredible stretch, 46-10 from June to August, which helped the Dodgers win the division. Still, the Dodgers were not able to finish off the season holding the World Series trophy. During the 2013 season, Puig had a batting average of .319 and OPS of .925. Between his substantial bat flips and his ridiculous plays in the outfield, Puig made the Dodgers into a team that would be taken seriously come October. While postseason success didn’t find the Dodgers in 2013, 2017 is a very different year.

Justin Turner showed the ability to come up in big moments for the Dodgers. Turner had a .400 batting average against the Nationals, and even against the Cubs when the bats went quiet. Tuner also had an on-base percentage of .683 during the playoffs. Turner’s two-run triple in game 5 of last year’s series against the Nationals put the Dodgers in a position to win the series.

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Puig finds himself becoming the Dodgers’ X-Factor yet again. While Turner, Seagar and Kershaw might be better overall players, the Dodgers need Puig to set up if they want to win the World Series. While many people think of Puig as expendable to this front office, Puig fits very well into their plans. This front office expects you play defense, get on base and put the team’s success as your No. 1 priority. Puig has shown he can be a top defensive player in the league, and when he gets hot one of the most feared men at the plate. Still, some people might question if he is mature enough for his early success to continue, and to find that out we will just have to wait and see, but if Puig has figured it out, the World Series Trophy might find itself in Los Angeles this year.

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