The Dodgers played their most complete series of 2020 this weekend in Anaheim. While the starting pitching still isn't where it ideally would be, the bullpen continued to dominate and the offense finally ran like the well-oiled machine it is on paper, combining small ball with their signature power.
After exploding out of an offensive slump for 11 runs on Thursday against the Padres, it was unclear what to expect from the Dodgers this weekend. Angels pitching has been atrocious this season, but often times bad pitchers will just dominate the Dodgers. Such is baseball.
However, the hitters didn't disappoint. Mookie continued to demonstrate why he needs to be hitting lead-off with some incredibly clutch hits, including a game-tying homer on Saturday, and constantly being on base. Bellinger busted out of his slump by clobbering two homers on Friday and rocketing two singles on Saturday. While Cody was hitless on Sunday, he faced some tough lefties and looked confident and comfortable at the plate.
Angels pitching was a similarity for Muncy, who had a 2 RBI single on Saturday and barely missed two homers that day, settling for a go-ahead sac fly right at the right field wall in the tenth inning. He finally got results on Sunday, obliterating a two-run homer and doing the signature Muncy bat-flip.
Seager, Pollock, Taylor and Turner all continued to hit well. Pollock and Turner had a couple of RBI knocks and Seager broke out of a very, very, mini slump, blasting a three-run homer to blow the game open on Sunday. Taylor had a few hits, including a double, and stole third after he started Saturday's 10th inning on second base per the new rules, a crucial play considering Muncy's sac fly would've only gotten him to third otherwise before the Dodgers made two outs.
Number 3 prospect Keibert Ruiz replaced Will Smith after he went on the IL with neck inflammation after a collision in San Diego and homered in his first Major League at-bat. Austin Barnes continued to hit in Anaheim, and Joe Kelly said Betts is working with Barnes on his hitting because the men are roughly the same size. Any production out of Barnes to go along with his elite defense would be awesome. Matt Beaty, not hitting well up to this point, went 3-4 with a homer on Sunday as well.
Walker Buehler and Dustin May both struggled in their starts. Buehler hasn't been able to utilize his off-speed stuff that well so far this season, leading to him getting hit harder than he should, but his walks were way down in this start and he fastball seemed effective. I think he'll put it together vs. the Rockies, a team he usually dominates, this week. May didn't have his slurve on Sunday, but was effective with his fastball and cutter and competed the entire game and limited the damage. He rarely let balls in the air or far past the infield, but he just didn't have his put-away pitch. Neither start is cause for concern.
The Dodgers bullpen continued their dominance this season, although they allowed more baserunner than they normally do. The did, however, limit the damage, and it was nice to see Brusdar "The Bazooka" Graterol used two days in a row in key situations. He was awesome; getting Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon out both days in key moments is no easy task. Jake McGee continues to dominate with his fastball and has been one of the best under-the-radar pick-ups of 2020.
Kenley Jansen, however, was nothing short of spectacular. He came in when things got dicey on Friday, carrying momentum from a dominant outing on Wednesday, and struck out Jason Castro looking to end the game. Similarly, Jansen pitched a dominant tenth inning on Saturday, earning the save. He recorded the first pitch on one out, struck out 2019 All-Star Tommy LaStella, and then struck Mike Trout looking on three pitches to end the game, probably the most impressive thing Jansen has done since 2017. He consistently hit 94 and his hard-hit rate of about 5% is second in baseball to only Jack Flaherty - who's made one start. All signs point to him being back.
Clayton Kershaw was similarly awesome, and it was nice to see him rebound from his poor start against the Giants and pitch much more like his dominant outing against the Diamondbacks. Kershaw thew 7 innings and allowed only on run on one hit, a homer to Anthony Rendon. The only baserunner over those seven innings was Rendon, whom Kershaw walked twice. After what he did to Kersh in Game 5 last year, I'm not complaining. Clayton hit 94 multiple times and located and effectively used all three of his pitches. He's overall been really fantastic this year, with a 2-1 record, 0.82 WHIP (!!!), and a 2.65 ERA.
The Dodgers begin a four-game set with the rebuilding Mariners this season up two games on the Rockies for first place in the NL West. It would be unreasonable to expect a sweep, considering the Dodgers have already won five in a row, but I expect them to take at least three of four.
Right now, though, the Dodgers are in cruise control.
Photo Credit: Dodgers Twitter