The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the postseason with their second consecutive National League West title and arguably the best one-two starting pitching punch in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Kershaw will win his third Cy Young in four seasons after putting together one of the best overall seasons by a starting pitcher in decade. In his second season as a Dodger, Zack Greinke put together another solid season, winning 16 games with a 2.74 ERA. When it comes to the top two starters, who’ll start four of the potential games in the NL divisional round series, the Dodgers are in good shape. It’s who comes after Kershaw and Greinke that has Dodgers fans concerned. Due to injuries in the starting rotation and an up and down year by the bullpen, the Dodgers enter the postseason with major concerns in the back half of their starting rotation and among the bullpen set up men.
There’s no question that the Dodgers are in good hands with Kershaw, Greinke and closer Kenley Jansen. The big question is whether or not the rest of the staff will hold up. Here’s a look at back half of the Dodgers rotation and the bullpen as they enter the opening round of the playoffs versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here are three big questions the Dodgers will have to answer as they enter the postseason:
Who is the number three starter? For the majority of the season there was no question who the Dodgers third starter was. Hyun-Jin Ryu put together a solid regular season and the second year left-hander from Korea gave the Dodgers as good a top half of the rotation as any team in baseball. Since Ryu went down with late season arm soreness the Dodgers rotation depth is now a big question. The Dodgers are cautiously optimistic that Ryu will be back for the postseason. What they don’t know is how healthy he’ll be and what he can give them. If Ryu can’t go veteran Dan Haren is thrust into the third spot. Haren started the season strong, had a brutal stretch in the middle, and has now pitched better of late. In Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn the Cardinals have an outstanding top of the rotation duo, two starters who can match Kershaw and Greinke pitch for pitch. The Cardinals series will be a tight one. In order to prevail and prevent last season’s outcome the Dodgers need a strong performance from Ryu, if available, and Haren.
Who is the set-up man? Last season the Dodgers found a strong set-up man in former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson. The Beard resurrected his career after arm injury and put together a solid regular season. The year Wilson has struggled, with pitch location and velocity. As a result the Dodgers have been scrambling all season to find a consistent set-up man. They have a solid left-hander to match up with opposing lefty batters in JP Howell, but Howell can be relied on to be the consistent 8th inning setup man. Brandon League, Pedro Baez, Chris Perez and even Paco Rodriguez have had opportunities in the setup spot. League, who failed as a closer a year ago has had a solid season. Perez, who the Dodgers acquired to supplement Wilson, has pitched better since coming off the DL on September 1. The Dodgers still have the option of Wilson, who can be an effective setup man provided he’s hitting his spots. Whoever claims the setup spot, the Dodgers will need a strong performance to win tight postseason games.
Can Kershaw out-duel Wainwright? After a strong performance in the opening series versus the Atlanta Braves a year ago, Kershaw was out-dueled by Adam Wainwright in last year’s Cardinals series. In ten innings pitched versus the Cardinals, Kershaw gave up seven earned runs in ten innings pitched. A big story this postseason is whether or not Kershaw can cement his legacy and carry his dominant performance into the postseason. Many have compared Kershaw to Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax, especially with his incredible season. The Dodgers need Kershaw to pitch like Koufax to bring home their first World Series title since 1988.
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The three-game Dodgers winning streak has given them eight wins in their last ten games, and an important three-game home winning streak. The Dodgers remain just 18-20 at Dodger Stadium, combined with an impressive 22-14 road record.The recent win streak and strong road performance point to the Dodgers righting the ship. The Giants have burst out to a substantial lead but the current five-game losing streak, coupled with a solid run of play for the Dodgers, has come at the right time. Like last season the Dodgers seem to be making their June run.
So will the Dodgers repeat as National League West champions? Although it looked bleak less than two weeks ago, there are several positive developments that point to a Dodgers repeat. Here are five reasons the Dodgers will surpass the Giants and repeat as division champions.Their Home Record: Last season Los Angeles was 47-34 at home. In 2012 when they finished eight games behind the Giants for the division the Dodgers were 45-36 at home. This year they are a surprising 18-20, which includes this week’s three-game sweep of the Rockies. Chances are the Dodgers will play significantly better at home in the second half of the season, which bodes well for a division push.
Matt Kemp: The Dodgers recent strong form has coincided with the best form of the season for Matt Kemp. After missing nearly all of last season, the Dodgers star outfielder seems to be rounding back into form. Over the past seven days, he’s hit .417 with two home runs and seven runs batted in.The Bullpen: Heading into the season the Dodgers bullpen was a massive strength, with Kenley Jansen coming off of a dominant first season as the closer, and Brian Wilson returning as a premier setup man.
After a terrible start to the season, the Dodgers bullpen is beginning to show the form that many predicted coming into the season. Adding to the recent performance of the bullpen has been the performance of Brandon League. Last season League began the year as the closer but struggled, eventually losing his closer job to Jansen. This season League has regained his form and become a reliable setup man. League has an excellent 2.27 ERA in 35 innings pitched. League, JP Howell and recently Brian Wilson have combined with Jansen to give the Dodgers the pen many expected. With League’s re-emergence the Dodgers have a strong bullpen group to compete with the Giants down the stretch.
The Return of Kershaw: After missing nearly a month and a half due to a muscle strain behind his shoulder, the Dodgers ace left-hander is back in elite form and staking a claim for another Cy Young Award. Wednesday night’s no-hitter was Kershaw as his most dominant.
That Starting Rotation: With the emergence of Josh Beckett and a healthy Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers have the deepest and best starting rotation in baseball. At the top of the rotation, the Dodgers have two elite left-handers in Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke, whose 24-7 over the past two seasons. Veteran right-handers Josh Beckett and Dan Haren have solidified the back-end of the rotation, with Beckett sporting a 2.49 ERA.
All signs point to the Dodgers catching and surpassing the Giants and living up to the expectations that many led to early in the season. The big upcoming matchup is the late July Dodgers visit to Pac Bell Park to face the Giants. If the Dodgers are within striking distance, they’ll have a prime opportunity to take over the division lead.
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“Touring together for the first time in more than two decades, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks catch that perfect wave beginning in Arizona in April.”
Disc-wise, The Beach Boys will release an album in 2012 filled with new songs. The group is also working with Capitol/EMI to release a greatest hits collection as well as a box set.
The Beach Boys will preform at the Hollywood Bowl on June 2nd, we have Beach Boys Hollywood Bowl Tickets in stock now.
Here is the North America Tour Dates for the Beach Boys
April 24 – Tucson, Ariz., Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre
April 26 – Grand Prairie, Texas, Verizon Theatre At Grand Prairie
April 27 – New Orleans, La., New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 28 – Atlanta, Ga., Chastain Park Amphitheatre
April 29 – Raleigh, N.C., Raleigh Amphitheater
May 2 – Saint Augustine, Fla., St. Augustine Amphitheatre
May 4 – Hollywood, Fla., Seminole Hard Rock Live
May 5 – Tampa, Fla., David A. Straz Jr. Center For The Performing Arts
May 8 – New York, N.Y., Beacon Theatre
May 9 – New York, N.Y., Beacon Theatre
May 11 – Pittsburgh, Pa., Benedum Center
May 12 – Uncasville, Conn., Mohegan Sun Arena
May 13 – Uncasville, Conn., Mohegan Sun Arena
May 15 – White Plains, N.Y., Westchester County Center
May 17 – Bethlehem, Pa., Sands Bethlehem Event Center
May 19 – Atlantic City, N.J., Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa / Event Ctr.
May 21 – Chicago, Ill., Chicago Theatre
May 27 – Las Vegas, Nev., Red Rock Casino Resort
June 1 – Berkeley, Calif., Greek Theatre
June 2 – Los Angeles, Calif., Hollywood Bowl
June 8 – The Woodlands, Texas, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
June 10 – Manchester, Tenn., Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
June 13 – Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Blossom Music Center
June 15 – Columbia, Md., Merriweather Post Pavilion
June 16 – Camden, N.J., Susquehanna Bank Center
June 17 – Bethel, N.Y., Bethel Woods Center For The Arts
June 19 – Toronto, Ontario, Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
June 20 – Montreal, Quebec, Bell Centre
June 22 – Bangor, Maine, Waterfront Park
June 23 – Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saratoga Performing Arts Center
June 26 – Boston, Mass., Bank Of America Pavilion
June 29 – Darien Center, N.Y., Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
June 30 – Clarkston, Mich., DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 1 – Milwaukee, Wis., Marcus Amphitheater (Summerfest)
July 3 – Virginia Beach, Va., Farm Bureau Live At Virginia Beach
July 10 – Morrison, Colo., Red Rocks Amphitheatre
July 13 – Woodinville, Wash., Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
July 14 – Eugene, Ore., Cuthbert Amphitheater
July 15 – Stateline, Nev., Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys