The Dodgers hobbled through most of the season with little more than two dominant pitchers and one good hitter. However, the team that traveled to first place Arizona suddenly has four strong batters and four strong starting pitchers. They have dominated two games in a row and now have a chance to leave Arizona just 1 ½ games out of first with Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.82 ERA) on the mound Wednesday.
If Ryu can throw his ninth straight quality start, the Dodgers can also hit the .500 mark after being 12 games below just over two weeks ago.
The four batters that can fuel a run for the Dodgers include:
Leadoff hitter Carl Crawford had been hitless in 18 at bats since missing a month to an injury, when he finally laid down a bunt single in the fifth and walked in the sixth, scoring both times.
Yasiel Puig had another hit to keep his batting average over .400 (.407).
Adrian Gonzalez had been the only good hitter for most of the year at .298 with 13 home run, and tonight he had his 55th, 56th and 57th RBIs when center fielder Adam Eaton tripped and dropped his 400-foot drive to center field.
Hanley Ramirez finally had his 19-game hitting streak come to an end, but since coming back from early season injuries for good June 12 has actually increased his batting average from .350 to .404, including going 15 of 30 in July.
With those four now at the top of the line-up, the Dodgers now also go four deep in the rotation instead of just having the two stars. The rotation now includes:
Clayton Kershaw leads the majors with a 1.89 ERA and is not even pitching in the Arizona series.
Ryu is not far behind at 12th in the league with a 2.82 ERA, and if he turns in his ninth straight quality start Wednesday, the Dodgers will be the only team with two starters that have 15 quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs).
Zack Greinke appears to finally be getting back into dominant form after breaking a collarbone when Carlos Quentin charged the mound and broke Greinke’s collarbone. The $147-million pitcher lowered his ERA from 4.30 to 3.91 with seven scoreless innings against Arizona in Monday’s win.
Ricky Nolasco looks in position to give the Dodgers the fourth starter they need for the stretch run and playoffs. He was dominant in his first start since being acquired from Miami, allowing only one run in seven innings and having half as many hits batting (2) as he allowed (4).
In a weak division, four strong starters and four strong pitchers could be enough for the Dodgers.