The Good: The Dodgers struggle away from home: their ERA is nearly 1.5 runs higher on the road, their team batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage are all lower away from Dodger Stadium, and they own a road record of 23-24. Tonight’s starter Chad Billingsley is 4-9 with a 4.30 ERA and has struggled in July, going 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA while allowing seven earned runs on 14 hits in only 12 innings. The Dodgers lineup outside of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier is composed of mediocre veterans like Juan Uribe, James Loney, and Juan Rivera. Los Angeles’ offense is ranked 25th in runs scored, 19th in batting average, 17th in OBP, and 28th in slugging percentage. Speed demon Dee Gordon and his 30 stolen bases are on the DL.
The Bad: Kemp is an MVP candidate when healthy, the now-healthy Ethier was on pace for 120 RBIs before his DL stint, and 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will pitch tomorrow night. Closer Kenley Jansen has a 1.97 ERA with 68 Ks in only 45 innings pitched. Starters Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano, slated to pitch the last two games of the series, have greatly exceeded expectations, combining for 17 wins, a 3.14 ERA, and 25 quality starts.
The X-Factor: Anyone not named Kemp, Ethier, and Kershaw. Not to belabor the point, but there has to be a reason why Jerry Hairston Jr. has played on eight teams in the last seven years, Bobby Abreu was released by the Angels in April, and A.J. Ellis is virtually a 31-year-old rookie, yet all three have had resurgent seasons with the Dodgers. Even Harang lost an MLB-high 17 games with the Reds only four years ago. Manager Don Mattingly has squeezed every ounce of ability out of a mostly aged and untalented roster and no one knows how much longer Los Angeles can survive with such a large collection of overachieving, average players.