Grade Of The Week: Dodger Offense Heats Up, Bullpen Remains Shaky

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En route to going 4-2 last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers went through an abundance of roster changes. Between a doubleheader, catcher changes and injured starters, the team made a handful of moves in attempts to revamp their roster, which for the most part proved to be beneficial. Beginning the week with a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins and finishing the week by losing two of three to the Miami Marlins, the Dodgers bullpen continued to struggle in crucial situations as their offense improved in certain situations.

Grade of the week: B-

The good: Looking at the roster changes made by the Dodgers, many would agree Miguel Olivo’s replacement of Tim Federowicz was the move of the week. With Olivo batting .417 in just four games so far, the 35-year-old catcher already provides production at the plate that Federowicz could not. Olivo has just as many hits in 12 at-bats as Federowicz did in 49 opportunities this season. Even Drew Butera, who also has been under performing offensively, hit a home run against the Twins in the 12th inning. With A.J. Ellis still trying to recover from knee surgery, the Dodgers are beginning to piece together an effective back up catching unit.

The two starters who were called upon this week, Red Patterson and Stephen Fife, both held their own on the big league stage. Patterson received a no-decision in Thursday’s win, allowing two runs in 4.2 innings, and although Fife was not as impressive in Sunday’s loss, he still remained composed as he faced off against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and filled in the best he could following Hyun-Jin Ryu’s trip to the disabled list. Zack Greinke also continued his great start to the season this week as he threw six shutout innings against the Twins.

The Dodgers were a force to be reckoned with offensively this week. Starting with Carl Crawford, who seemed to arise from his dreaded slump over the past two games. Before his go-ahead home run as a pinch hitter in the 11th against the Marlins, the left fielder was batting an underwhelming .185 on the season. Crawford followed that up with an RBI single in Sunday’s loss. Dee Gordon was also on fire as he went 5-for-6 in an extra-innings win this week and went 3-for-5 in the previous game. Another player one cannot forget about is Scott Van Slyke. Van Slyke went yard when the Dodgers needed it most in game two of Thursday’s doubleheader and once again reminded the Dodgers that they are carrying five outfielders.

The not-so-good: The Dodgers major problems so far this season have all stemmed from the bullpen. Brian Wilson sports the pitching staff’s highest 12.91 ERA with Jose Dominguez close behind with an 11.37 ERA. Although Dominguez has landed back in Triple-A after being incessantly shuffled around this week, the bullpen’s issues go much deeper than one reliever.

With the Dodgers flirting with so many extra-inning games so far this season, the bullpen’s mistakes have been amplified. Wilson continued to make crucial blunders and Jamey Wright most recently gave up a walk-off double to the Marlins after the Dodgers tied the game in the top of the ninth. Chris Perez also gave up the tying run to the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. Although not every reliever is putting up terrible numbers, the overwhelming mistakes are clouding the fact that some relievers are actually doing well.

Overall: The Dodgers are beginning to put the forceful pieces of their offense together, but their relievers seem to be at a much slower, if not non-existent, pace towards improvement. The bullpen is fortunate Dodger hitters carried their weight this week, or else the team would have been on the losing side of many more games.
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