Tag Archives: Paul Maholm

The Return of Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw Returns

Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers welcomed back Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night, just at the right time. In the midst of an extended road trip that included trips to Minnesota, Miami and Washington, the Dodgers find themselves in third place in a rejuvenated NL West. After a dominating season in 2013 that included a big margin of victory in the division over the second place Diamondbacks, the Dodgers find themselves fending off an improved San Francisco Giants team.

Kershaw pitched for the first time since the Dodgers kicked off the season Down Under in Australia. The two-time Cy Young winner dominated the Diamondbacks in Sydney and after six weeks off he showed the same form he had in late March. Kershaw tossed seven shutout innings, striking out nine and walking none, throwing just 89 pitches. The best Dodgers lefty since Fernando and Koufax returned just at the right time, to jump right into a division battle with the Giants.

San Francisco is off to a hot start with record of 21-12, currently the second best record in all of baseball. The Giants have won nine of their last eleven games. Their pattern of winning in every even numbered year is taking shape again. The Dodgers are currently 2.5 games behind the Giants and a big part of that advantage can be traced back to their success versus Los Angeles. The Giants have won four of six versus the Dodgers this season, taking two of three in the two series they’ve played.

CK Dodgers Pitcher

CLAYTON

After the Dodgers wrap up in Washington they’ll return home and jump right back into the rivalry as the Dodgers host the Giants in a four-game series. They’ll get a bit of a break since the Giants have put ace Matt Cain on the DL due to a cut on his ring finger. Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm will start the opening two games, with the Dodgers aces Zack Greinke and Kershaw starting games three and four. If Los Angeles can get off to a quick start and win one or two of the first two games they’ll be in position to win the series and start to build back momentum versus San Francisco. Maholm was due to move back to the bullpen when Kershaw returned, but the sudden injury to Ryu has kept the veteran lefty in the rotation for the time being. Beckett, coming off multiple injuries, doesn’t have a victory to show for it, but has pitched well this season. He currently sports a 3.14 ERA and has given up just 20 hits in 28 innings pitched while striking out 30. His solid secondary numbers, combined with the solid seasons that Haren is putting together, bodes well for the Dodgers near-term future.

Success versus San Francisco will require the Dodgers bats wake up a bit as well. While the offense has performed in spurts this season, they’ve also struggled at times. Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Juan Urible and Yasiel Puig are having outstanding years and have carried the Dodgers offensively. Conversely, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford have largely struggled. Ramirez, arguably the Dodgers best hitter, will come around. The bigger question marks surround Kemp and Crawford and whether or not they can regain their past All-Star form.

KERSHAW DODGERS

KERSHAW

Tuesday night the offense broke through at the right time with the top five in the lineup all collecting two hits. Hanley Ramirez homered and drove in two runs, with reserve catcher Drew Butera hitting a three-run home run. A win in the series finale on Wednesday would give the Dodgers a series victory, a 6-3 road trip, and real momentum for the upcoming home stand that starts with the Giants.

For Clayton Kershaw the quest for a third Cy Young starts again. He has his work cut out for him to catch up to the top contenders, including Zack Greinke, but with a near flawless first start back from injury he’s off to a good start.

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Opening Day Week Away Are The Dodgers Ready?

LA Dodgers Tickets

THINK BLUE

After a double-header that saw the Dodgers compete in split squad games versus the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox the team is off for the long trip to Australia for next weekend’s season opening two-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the early opener just a week away, here are some Dodgers notes.

Urias impresses: In the opening game of their doubleheader on Saturday the Dodgers started seventeen-year-old Mexican pitcher Julio Urias. The young phenom, whose drawn comparisons to Fernando Valenzuela, struck out two of the three batters he faced with his fastball reaching 97 miles per hour. The signing of Urias points to the impressive finds by the Dodgers scouting department. Los Angeles signed Urias on the same trip that yielded them Yasiel Puig. Urias will start the season in high A Rancho Cucamonga, but may be on the fast track to the major leagues.

Final Tune-up for Kershaw: Clayton Kershaw started versus the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, giving up five earned runs in just over five innings, throwing 86 pitches. The Dodgers ace had a rough spring training by his standards with a 9.20 ERA, but should be ready to start the Dodgers season opener next weekend at the Sydney Cricket Grounds. The Dodgers will arrive in Australia five games prior to the opening series to get acclimated to the time difference.

Australian Opener: Due to the time difference between Australia and Los Angeles both games between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers will technically be played next Saturday. The opener, a night game in Australia, will be air at 1:00 AM Saturday in Los Angeles. The second and final game, an afternoon game in Sydney, will take place at 7:00 PM in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw will face Patrick Corbin in the opener, while Hyun Jin-Ryu will face Trevor Cahill of the Diamondbacks in the second game. After returning home the Dodgers will have a full eight games before they travel to San Diego to face the Padres in the US opener.

Puig’s Slump Continues: Unlike last spring where he hit over .500 and impressed everyone, it’s been a difficult spring for second year Cuban star Yasiel Puig. With just over thirty at bats Puig is hitting just .152 with a lone home run. Many stars have tough springs and it doesn’t mean they’ll have a slow start to the regular season, but Puig’s struggles are making many speculate whether or not the tough end to the season he had in 2013 will translate into this season. Opposing teams seemingly found a way to pitch the young star towards the end of last year, busting him inside with fastballs while throwing breaking balls away. How Puig looks at the plate will be an interesting storyline as the Dodgers make the trip to Australia.

Rotation Question Marks: When the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm from the Pirates it looked like they had more than enough starting pitchers to kick off the season. With Chad Billingsley still recovering from Tommy John surgery and Josh Beckett getting hit hard in his latest spring start, while battling a thumb injury, the Dodgers may be looking to Maholm to occupy the fifth starter position when the season begins. Maholm, who looked solid in his first couple of spring outings was hit hard by the Reds on Thursday, giving up six runs on six hits in just over two innings. At this point Maholm is likely the Dodgers fifth starter, especially with Stephen Fife being sent to the minor league camp. If he struggles out of the gate the Dodgers may quickly turn to Fife.

This is one of the most anticipated seasons for Dodgers fans in a while. After the miricle run in the 2013 season fans are hoping and expecting the Dodgers to make it further in the playoffs this year. Does spring training predict the season we shall see as Opening Day is just a week away for the Dodgers.

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