The second half of the MLB season is finally underway, and the Dodgers continued their hot streak in New York. Granted, the Mets have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball, but to come into Citi Field and come away with a solid victory to start your playoff run, it has to feel nice. The game was scoreless into the 5th inning as Julio Urias was picking apart this Mets lineup which is still formidable despite their struggles this year. He went 6 innings giving up just one hit and striking out seven hitters, making quick work of a lineup that featured Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, and Pete Alonso.
I know I mentioned that the game was scoreless until the 5th inning, but in that inning the Dodgers exploded for three runs after three walks and a Mookie Betts single and Freddie Freeman double. The stars came right back to the team after the All-Star break and continued to stay hot. Usually guys come back from the break in two ways: a slump or scorching, and Friday night it seemed like the two best Dodger players were on the latter side of that conversation. Oh, and there was another All-Star that did his thing Friday night as well: J.D. Martinez. He crushed his 23rd home run of the year in the 8th to put the game away for good and looked just as good as he did before the break. The Dodgers are 52-38, 14 games over .500, which is their highest of the year and now in sole possession of first place after a Diamondbacks loss Friday against Toronto.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Julio Urias is Back
The start before the All-Star break was a little bit of an indication of how Urias can look when he is on, and Friday night’s start was all I needed to see to validate his place in the Dodgers’ rotation as the go-to guy. I know Clayton Kershaw has been excellent and much better than expected this year, but Urias was the opening night starter for a reason. He is 23-2 with a 1.75 ERA in his career in the second half, which is just remarkable. For a team that needs all the help it can get, “Second Half Julio” might be needed more often down the stretch.
Bullpen Solid Once Again
Maybe words and criticism do go a long way in changing the narrative of a topic. The bullpen has been fantastic as of late and all together the staff only allowed one hit Friday night. That means that after Julio Urias came out of the game, Yency Almonte, Caleb Ferguson, and Ryan Brasier didn’t allow a single hit to close out the game. That is big time and if this team can add a bullpen arm or two, they will be in perfect shape in the playoff hunt.
The Dodgers Are Getting Hot
Looking back around a month ago, you would think the sky is falling and that there was no hope amongst Dodger fans, but now in the middle of July they find themselves 14 games over .500, the highest of the year, and a full game ahead of the upstart Diamondbacks. Arizona hasn’t been as sharp lately, and the Dodgers are taking full advantage, playing their most complete baseball at the right time. Of course, there is a load of time left before there are any absolutes in this season, but hey, it is always great to start off the home stretch with a victory.
Tony Gonsolin takes the hill for the Dodgers against the electric Kodai Senga of the Mets Saturday. First pitch is set for 4:15 PM PST.