Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Rise and Fall of the National League West

There was a time this season when I wondered if the Dodger’s place in the N.L. West was unfortunate for them.  Virtually every team was playing winning baseball and they couldn’t seem to win within the division.  2013 just seemed to be one of those years where everyone was good in the division except for them.

My how the tides have changed.  And in a two week period no less.

On May 6th, the Dodgers fell into last place.  A position they have maintained since that date.  The standing were as follows:

SF 19-13
Col 18-13
AZ 17-15
SD 14-18
LA 13-18
This Paul Goldschmidt home run at Dodger Stadium on May 7th further moved L.A. down into the basement. (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty images)

Paul Goldschmidt had just single-handidly dismantled the Dodgers with a two home run night.  Capuano was shelled, Hanley Ramirez had just blown out his hamstring in San Francisco the day before after his first return from the D.L., Chad Billingsley blew out his elbow and was undergoing TJ surgery, Zack Greinke was out for a prolonged period thanks to Carlos Quenten, Mark Ellis had pulled quad muscle, Adrian Gonzalez was day to day with a stiff neck and Yasiel Puig was dealing with a police matter for speeding through the streets of Chattanooga.  There seemed to be no hope in sight.   The Dodgers were in the midst of a free-falling spiral into the cellar of the division, a season long 8-game losing streak.  It came to an end on May 11th with the division standings as follows:

AZ 21-15
SF 21-15
Col 19-16
SD 16-19
LA 13-21

Being behind four teams in a division is a tough mountain to climb.  It isn't unsurmountable, especially in mid-May, but it's hard to get out of that rut.  It isn't often that four teams ahead of you lose on the same night, so even with a victory on a specific date, often times you maintain your slot and games behind position in the standings.  

The return of Carl Crawford tot he top of the Dodger lineup will give the club a valuable boost in the leadoff spot just ahead of Yasiel Puig. (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By June 21st, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett were now out.  Matt Magill was making spot starts and the bullpen was in a shambles.  The Dodgers remained in last place and they hit their low water mark going into action that date.

AZ    40-33
SD    38-36
SF    37-36
Col   36-37
LA    30-42

We can essentially say that the Dodger season began then and the rest of the division began to lose it's luster.  Arizona remains in the lead today, but only because of the failures of the remaining division rivals.   It's a precarious lead at best.  The Diamondbacks, Padres and Giants  in in the last eleven days have all gone 2-7 and Los Angeles has gained 6 games on each team in that time period.  The Rockies  have held ground with a .500 record since June 21, and the Dodgers have gained 4 games on them.  

So here we stand today.

AZ     42-40
Col    41-42     1.5
SD     40-43    2.5
SF     39-43    3.0
LA     38-43   3.5

Again the unimaginable occurred last night as all three NL West teams lost again.  D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson keeps putting JJ. Putz out there as his closer and he hasn't saved a game in over a month.  Their loss to the Mets last night was an absolute heartbreaker in 13 innings.

The best may be yet to come as Los Angeles now plays 13 straight inter-division games as they hit the road against Colorado, San Francisco and Arizona before returning home for four against the Rockies.  The club is almost at full strength with Crawford returning in a few days.  Dead weight from the roster has been cut, (Luis Cruz and Matt Guerrier),  Puig and Ramirez and tearing it up, and Kemp is looking better.

Back to Coors Field go the Dodgers as old nemesis Todd Helton and the second place Rockies will face the Dodgers in seven of their next thirteen games before the All Star break. (photo by Garrett Elwood/Getty Images)

The Dodgers have weathered the storm of being in last place.  They are within a 1/2 game now of escaping the cellar.  Will tonight be the night that they climb out of it?  It has been 57 days and the Dodgers have gone 8-1 since hitting that low point of being 12 games under .500.  Clayton Kershaw toes the runner against Roy Oswalt tonight.  Fasten your seat belts, a very interesting point of the season has arrived.

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