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Dodgers' superb pitching will make them difficult to catch

August 22, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Clayton Kershaw (13-7) has a major league-best 1.72 ERA after holding the Marlins scoreless through eight innings in the Dodgers' victory over Miami, 6-0.
Clayton Kershaw (13-7) has a major league-best 1.72 ERA after holding the… (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)

This is, of course, some kind of otherworldly run the Dodgers are experiencing. Near-historic stuff.

According to research by Retrosheet’s David Smith, since 1901 the Dodgers are only the third team to be 12 games under .500 (or worse) and then improve to at least 22 games over the .500 mark in the same season. They join the 2009 Rockies (minus-12 to  plus-24) and the 1914 Braves (minus-16, plus-35).

In just two months, the Dodgers have gone from 12 games under .500 (30-42) to 23 games over (75-52).

They’ve gone from trailing in the National League West by 9 1/2 games to leading it by 9 1/2. That’s a stunning 19-game turnaround in just 55 games. It’s crazy, really.

And if it’s impossible to believe they will continue to win at this pace, there is very good reason to think they will not collapse, either.

Since the Dodgers turned things around on June 22, they’ve enjoyed baseball’s best pitching. It’s not just that the Dodgers have gone 45-10, but that their staff put together a combined 2.47 earned-run average in the process.

Gone is the constant revolving door in the rotation. Chad Billingsley (injury), Josh Beckett (injury), Ted Lilly (released), Matt Magill (minors) and Stephen Fife (minors) are all gone.

Clayton Kershaw continues to look like baseball’s best pitcher. Zack Greinke has recovered from his broken collarbone and is pitching like an ace. Hyun-Jin Ryu is proving a terrific gamble. Ricky Nolasco is much better than your average No. 4 starter. Only Chris Capuano -- brilliant one start, rocky the next -- gives slight pause.

Despite constant change early in the rotation, on the season the Dodgers'  starting pitchers lead all of baseball with a 3.13 ERA. It’s hard to catch a team pitching like that.

With Kenley Jansen settling the bullpen and looking more comfortable as the closer by each appearance, the relievers have posted a 1.78 ERA since the All-Star break. And now there is the promise that Brian Wilson will only add to the depth.

It’s not as though the offense hasn’t been producing -- since June 22 it leads the majors with a .283 batting average and the NL in runs -- but offense ebbs and flows. It’s the pitching that gives the team belief it can win every game.

If the staff stays reasonably healthy, the Arizona Diamondbacks will have to focus on a wild-card berth. And the Dodgers on the league's best record.

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