The Los Angeles Dodgers finished April with a 12-16 record, placing them fourth in a tough National League West division and 8 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The two teams played last night with Arizona picking up the 8-5 victory. A.J. Pollock smacked three solo home runs for the snakes and Zack Greinke pitched six strong innings, striking out 10 Dodger batters in the process. Greinke also chipped in with two hits and an RBI. Yasmani Grandal concluded his impressive month with three more hits, two runs scored, and an RBI. Max Muncy added a home run for Los Angeles, who started Ross Stripling after Rich Hill was unable to come off of the disabled list. Stripling gave up four earned runs on eight hits over four innings, an admirable effort for the spot starter.

The Dodgers currently have five key players on the disabled list. Yasiel Puig was the latest addition as he is nursing a left hip pointer. He is accompanied in the infirmary by shortstop Corey Seager, who will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Enrique Hernandez and Max Muncy will see increased playing time with Seager out. Infielder Logan Forsythe, third baseman Justin Turner, and the aforementioned pitcher Rich Hill are also injured.

Looking back at the month it’s been, here are the grades for the each Dodger with at least 46 plate appearances.

Infield and Utility:

Yasmani Grandal, Catcher: A+

Grandal has been outstanding for the Dodgers to start the season. His 4 home runs are tied for the team lead with Chris Taylor and Matt Kemp. In 102 plate appearances, Grandal is leading the team with a .387 wOBA and 151 wRC+, is third with a .221 ISO and has lowered his K% by nearly 8% from 2017.

Austin Barnes (C+) and Kyle Farmer (C-), Catchers:

Barnes and Farmer have split time backing up Grandal with both doing an admirable job. Their numbers, along with Grandal’s, are shown in the table below. A high BB% has given Barnes a nice wRC+ even though his average is only .190. For Farmer, he’s been able to maintain a similar wOBA to Barnes through a higher batting average.

Player Name Primary Position PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG wOBA wRC+ Grade
Yasmani Grandal C 102 4 9.8 18.6 0.236 0.315 0.412 167 A+
Austin Barnes C 56 0 17.9 19.6 0.071 0.190 0.323 107 C+
Kyle Farmer C 46 0 8.7 17.4 0.075 0.250 0.301 92 C-

Cody Bellinger, First Base: B+

Bellinger is having himself a nice year through 118 plate appearances. With a .280 average, .355 wOBA, and 129 wRC+, the only negative is that he is lacking in the power department. With only 3 home runs so far, it will be tough to match the 39 he mashed last year. Look for Bellinger to heat up as the season progresses.

Player Name Primary Position PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG wOBA wRC+ Grade
Cody Bellinger 1B 118 3 8.5 21.2 0.178 0.280 0.343 120 B

Chase Utley, Second Base: B+

Wo is this guy impersonating Chase Utley? He’s turned back the clock so far this season, producing on levels near his 2013 season. He’s not playing full time, but with Corey Seager done for the year, Utley looks to be in line for more regular action; at least until Justin Turner returns. Home runs seem to be a thing of the past for the 39 year-old veteran, but he still collected 6 doubles in April. A strong month earns him a B+ from me. Hopefully he can keep it rolling.

Player Name Primary Position PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG wOBA wRC+ Grade
Chase Utley 2B 72 1 13.9 16.7 0.150 0.283 0.354 128 B+

Corey Seager, Shortstop (out for season, elbow): C

Seager was having a average year before the injury, with a 101 wRC+ as evidence of that. There were some issues in spring training, but it took a month for the injury to truly reveal itself. The Dodgers will hope he can be ready for the 2019 season.

Chris Taylor: Outfield, Shortstop: C+

He’s going to be relied on heavily with Corey Seager out. A center fielder by trade, Taylor will be asked to play at short for the time being. He’ll need to be a bit more productive than he has been, but after only one month it’s too early to bash a guy with utility value. Taylor posted a strong 126 wRC+ in 2017, but has only managed a 91 to start 2018. That would earn him a C-, but I upgraded him to a C+ due to the fact that he is able to cover short in Seager’s absence.

Enrique “Kike” Hernandez, UT: B-

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Seager’s injury is Hernandez. He can play all over the field, and will see time in center field with Chris Taylor moving to short. The two could switch between positions as needed, a luxury for manager Dave Roberts to have. I liked the way Hernandez played in April. He showed some pop with three home runs, and contributed positively with a 112 wRC+. He’ll need to replicate those numbers going forward.

Logan Forsythe, INF: F

Currently injured, Forsythe wasn’t contributing much before he went to the disabled list. He’ll hopefully provide more value at the plate when he returns to the lineup. His 42 wRC+ and .227 wOBA are evidence of how poor is performance in April was.

Player Name Primary Position PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG wOBA wRC+ Grade
Corey Seager SS 115 2 9.6 14.8 0.109 0.257 0.313 101 C
Chris Taylor SS/OF 133 4 5.3 24.8 0.192 0.232 0.299 91 C+
Enrique Hernandez UT 79 3 12.7 25.3 0.209 0.239 0.331 112 B-
Logan Forsythe INF 49 1 6.1 12.2 0.109 0.174 0.227 42 F

Outfield:

Matt Kemp, Left Field: A+Pinch me, because I must be dreaming. Matt Kemp has a 149 wRC+. The calendar says 2018 but Matt Kemp’s numbers say 2014. The guy is off to a great start, providing exactly what the Dodgers need. Backed by a .388 BABIP and a 43.4% hard hit rate, Kemp looks 29 again. The rumours of his demise have been exaggerated.

Joc Pederson, Left Field, Center Field: A

Heating up over the past two weeks, Joc Pederson now owns a .288 batting average and a .373 wOBA to go along with identical BB% and K% of 15.5%. He’s only hit one home run, but those will come. Pederson will see some time lost to Enrique Hernandez in center, but with him and Matt Kemp playing well, we may see Dave Roberts slotting them beside each other more often.

Yasiel Puig: Right Field: F

Putting up a dud of a year, Puig was mercifully placed on the disabled list to get healthy and to refocus. He’d been bad, posting a 43 wRC+ and batting under .200 with no home runs. Due to Puig’s injury, Alex Verdugo was called up and will see heavy playing time in the short term. Verdugo is a highly touted prospect with a solid hit tool who should provide a spark in the lineup.

Player Name Primary Position PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG wOBA wRC+ Grade
Matt Kemp LF 78 4 6.4 25.6 0.222 0.319 0.386 149 A+
Joc Pederson LF-CF 71 1 15.5 15.5 0.169 0.288 0.373 141 A
Yasiel Puig RF 96 0 7.3 19.8 0.057 0.193 0.227 43 F

It’s been a tough month in the Chavez Ravine, but the Dodgers still have a 72.2% playoff percentage according to FanGraphs, higher than the Diamondbacks’ 63.1%. With 134 games to go, there is plenty of time to right the ship.

Starting Pitchers:

The Dodgers have used seven starters so far this season. For the purposes of statistical significance, I will only be grading those who have pitched at least twenty-five innings.

Alex Wood: A

Through 35 innings, Alex Wood has been solid. His 4.11 ERA appears high, but is xFIP is only 3.15 which indicates some bad luck for Wood. His ERA should regress towards his xFIP as the season progresses and his HR/FB rate stabilizes.  His BB% is only 2.1%. That is an outstanding number. With a 21.4 K%, and a 51.9 GB% he has shown that he could contribute in a big way between staff ace Clayton Kershaw. His area to improve on is a low LOB% of 46.1%. He needs to do a better job of stranding runners.

Clayton Kershaw: A

Kershaw almost didn’t get an A because of a 1.18 HR/9. It’s the same number he put up in 2017, but is still higher than his career 0.94 mark. Most of his numbers are in line with his averages. There’s nothing I can say to sour what Kershaw is capable of.

Hyun-Jin Ryu: B

Ryu is currently leading the rotation with a 31.2 K%, 86.5 LOB%, and 2.22 ERA. The question surrounding Ryu is always whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season. The Dodgers will need him to continue to be strong if they want to catch the Diamondbacks.

Kenta Maeda: B

Maeda’s numbers confuse me so far this season. With a 3.31 xFIP, I was surprised to see that he only has a 68.2 LOB%. His groundball rate of 43.5% is the lowest among starters who qualified for grading. He’s only giving up 0.71 HR/9, so there is evidence that he is in line for a nice year. If he can strand a few more runners, he’s got a shot to post his best year in the league.

Player Name IP K% BB% HR/9 LOB% GB% ERA FIP xFIP Grade
Alex Wood 35 21.4 2.1 0.51 46.1 51.9 4.11 2.47 3.15 A
Clayton Kershaw 38 26.9 5.8 1.18 86.1 46.1 2.84 3.41 2.88 A
Hyun-Jin Ryu 28.1 31.2 8.3 0.95 86.5 46.1 2.22 3.22 2.99 B
Kenta Maeda 25.1 28.3 8.9 0.71 68.2 43.5 3.91 2.99 3.31 C+
Walker Buehler 10 25.6 9.3 0 85.7 66.7 1.8 2.18 3.12 C
Rich Hill 15 24.2 10.6 1.8 70.7 28.6 6.00 5.05 4.21 C

Bullpen:

The relief corps for the Dodgers has a variety of arms. Only relievers with 10 or more appearances will be graded.

J.T. Chargois: B+

Chargois has been a reliable reliever this season. With a 2.98 xFIP, 94.3 LOB%, 57.1 GB% and a 33.3 K%, he has shown that he can get batters out when called upon.

Tony Cingrani: B+

He’s got a 6.30 ERA. That’s probably what you’re thinking when you see a B+. Yes, that’s all true. He’s been very unlucky. A great xFIP of 1.43 to accompany a 61.9 GB% and a 41.9 K% should he that ERA come down. He’s only stranded 47.2% of base runners, but if he can keep the ball on the ground, he’ll be fine.

Ross Stripling: C-

Stripling has been lucky in relief efforts so far. He has not given up a home run over 14.1 innings out of the pen, has stranded 94.4% of baserunners, and has a miniscule 0.63 ERA. His xFIP of 3.95 is likely due to him only getting groundballs 34.2% of the time. He’s giving up hard contact 32.7% of the time and 44.4% of batted balls have been in the air. It’s going to catch up to him soon, as evidenced by the two homers he surrendered in his spot start.

Josh Fields: C-

Fields has stranded 98% of batters. That’s the good news. He’s also giving up 1.35 HR/9 innings and only getting 17.1% groundballs, so there’s room for improvement.

Pedro Baez: C-

35.5 GB%, 76.5 LOB%, and a 4.04 xFIP. He’s been serviceable, but needs to walk fewer batters, and keep his 30.4 K% where it’s at.

Scott Alexander: D

He’s got a 17.7 BB%, a low 13.7 K%, 5.30 xFIP, and a 66.3 LOB%, but he is getting 57.1% of balls on the ground. Hopefully the outs start coming for him.

Kenley Jansen: F

Oh boy, this one is unexpected. Jansen performance is worrisome through the first month of 2018. His velocity is down, and he is giving up 2.79 HR/9 innings. He’s not getting groundballs, and has only had one perfect outing so far through ten appearances. His strikeout numbers are down, his walks are way up, and he’s not stranding as many baserunners as he should. The xFIP is at 4.36. His career average is 2.25. His velocity is ticked up as the season goes on, so these early season struggles may just be a blip on the radar. In all likelihood, he’ll receive a much higher grade in May.

Player Name IP K% BB% HR/9 LOB% GB% ERA FIP xFIP Grade
Tony Cingrani 10 41.9 4.7 0.9 47.2 61.9 6.3 1.8 1.43 B+
J.T. Chargois 10.1 33.3 11.9 0.87 94.3 57.1 1.74 3.49 2.98 B+
Ross Stripling 14.1 26.7 10 0 94.4 34.2 0.63 2.22 3.95 C-
Pedro Baez 12 30.4 14.3 0.75 76.5 35.5 4.5 3.45 4.04 C-
Josh Fields 13.1 26.9 5.8 1.35 98 17.1 2.03 3.72 4.33 C-
Scott Alexander 11.1 13.7 17.7 0.79 66.3 57.1 6.35 5.49 5.3 D
Kenley Jansen 9.2 26.1 8.7 2.79 64.8 26.7 5.59 5.99 4.36 F

When we check back in at the end of May, hopefully the Dodgers will be closer to the division lead, or at the very least above .500.

 

Stats from FanGraphs.

Image from NBC Sports

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