SAN DIEGO — On May 5 in San Diego, the Dodgers lost to the Padres with Clayton Kershaw as the starter on the mound. The Petco Park scoreboard operator put up a meme of Kershaw crying in a mocking fashion. Since that point, the Dodgers have won 8 of 9 games against the Padres and have gained 10 games on them in that span. If you don’t think the baseball gods are real, then this is your sign to start believing.
The Dodgers took 3 out of 4 games against San Diego over the weekend and made a loud statement about who is still the king in the National League West. If it was not for the blunders in the 8th inning on Saturday, this would’ve been an easy sweep. However, they extended their lead in the division to 4 ½ games and more importantly made a statement against a team that gave them fits in the playoffs last year to eliminate them.
Despite having the 2nd worst team ERA since 1958 in Dodger team history, they are still winning and in this series, they won convincingly despite some hiccups from the staff. Tony Gonsolin went 6 innings but also gave up 6 earned runs in the process. At the time, the 5-0 deficit early looked insurmountable, but with how the lineup is swinging the bat, it seems as if the Dodgers didn’t really need to add another big name starting pitcher at the deadline to keep winning.
Here are the takeaways from the weekend series:
The New Guys Are Producing
The Dodgers made multiple moves at the deadline, but failed to add any marquee names to a roster that needed some upgrades in lineup depth and pitching help. At the time it seemed like it was a massive failure by many, myself included, but if we look at the numbers and the totality of the moves the front office made, it has been a resounding success. Kiké Hernandez is slashing .324/.350/.541 in 11 games and hit his first home run in his return for the Dodgers in 2023 on Monday afternoon. Amed Rosario has 9 RBI’s in 9 games with solid defense including a sensational play at second base and a home run on Sunday night.
In terms of pitching, those arms have produced too. Joe Kelly has not given up an earned run in 3 games, Lance Lynn has gone 2 starts with a 2.77 ERA and 2 wins, and Ryan Yarbrough made his debut Saturday and threw 4 ⅓ innings giving up only 1 run. If that is the type of production we are going to see from these guys, it would be a massive help to solidify the staff.
Mookie Betts Is At His Peak
Mookie Betts might be having his best year as a professional. He is hitting a ridiculous .345 with a .459 on-base percentage with 4 home runs and a whopping 43 RBI’s. For a guy that has already won MVP in his career early on, two world series titles (one with the Dodgers), and multiple All-Star appearances, it is crazy to think that this year could be the peak of his powers. He hit another Dodger grand slam on Monday afternoon to give the Dodgers the lead in an 8 run 5th inning and that is just his offense. He has shown the ability to play an excellent second base as well as gold glove caliber outfield to go with the elite offense. Oh yeah, and he has 10 years left on his contract…
Freddie Freeman Deserves To Be MVP Over Ronald Acuña
It is essentially a two man race now in the National League MVP race, with Ronald Acuña and Freddie Freeman at the top by themselves. There is a question as to Mookie Betts being involved in that conversation, but he will not have the stats to keep up with the two leaders. Freddie Freeman has passed Acuña in wRC+ at 172, which is a huge stat that voters consider in voting and is also hitting .340 with 16 of his own stolen bases.
While Acuña does have 50 stolen bases and will probably end up with a ridiculous 70, I still believe Freeman deserves it due to the name of the award itself. It is the “Most Valuable” Player award, not the best player, and Freddie Freeman is the most valuable to his team over Acuña at this point. If you take Acuña off of the Braves, they still win 90+ games and are a legit contender regardless. If you then take Freeman off of the Dodgers, their offense sputters immensely, their offense isn’t anchored by anyone other than Mookie Betts, and they would probably win 80-85 games. He is a very critical part of this team in the clubhouse, on offense and on defense and should be held to that standard when voters make their decision.
The Dodgers will head to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks in another crucial series. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. PT on Tuesday.