Sunday, June 01, 2014

Almost Time To Start That Roll

Buried in Brian Kamenetzky's post-game analysis of Saturday's 12-2 win was the statement that the Dodgers are still strong favorites to make the postseason, even without a 42-8 run looming on the horizon:

The Dodgers entered Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 29-27 record, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants. That's not good -- San Francisco's pitching is too solid for the Giants to fall off a cliff -- but it's not a disaster, certainly not before the calendar hits June. The simulations at Baseball Prospectus still land the Dodgers in the postseason 80 percent of the time. It's hard to believe they'll be a sub-.500 team at home all year. There isn't too much about L.A.'s situation that two hot weeks wouldn't help alleviate, in the standings and the team's collective psyche.

The Dodgers know they need to be better, and certainly they were in Saturday's 12-2 beatdown of the Pirates, but you wonder if they're fighting a perception of just how much better.

Take Matt Kemp. Before Saturday's game, most of the questions directed at manager Don Mattingly were about whether Kemp would ever again be an elite, MVP-level player. Reasonable enough, particularly given the $100 million Kemp will earn over the five seasons after this one, and the Dodgers would certainly love to see him bounce back to that degree. Except they don't need an MVP-level Kemp to make the playoffs. There's a lot of space between that guy and the one currently patrolling (however begrudgingly) left field. Garden-variety "good" would make a big difference. Approaching All-Star levels would be transformative.

Some hoped Hanley Ramirez might turn last year's momentum into a dominant 2014. Obviously, it hasn't happened yet, and while it would be nice, what the Dodgers really need right now is enough hitting from Ramirez to make his lack of defense a relative nonissue.

Both came up big Saturday.

Oh, and those Giants? They lost yesterday, 2-0. Lead drops to 6.5 games.