What’s happened to the National League preseason division favorites?

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May 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Dodgers

No one expected the Dodgers to “struggle” this season as they did last season. Recall that last season was far worse than this season. There were rumblings that manager Don Mattingly could be replaced. Still, no one thought the Dodgers would hold a 29-27 record and yet be seven and a half games behind the hated rival San Francisco Giants.

The offense has been above league average. They score 4.2 runs a game and are 5th in batting average (.255) and OBP (322), and 4th in SLG (.411), and 3rd and OPS+ (105). They fare above average in RISP and RISP w/2 out situations as well.

So it has to be the pitching, right? Well, sort of.

That starting staff has held up fairly well considering Clayton Kershaw missed some time. But I still don’t believe Kershaw is all the way back. And Hyun-jin Ryu missed a few days as well. Even with missing those two for a period of time, Dodgers starters are 3rd in the NL in ERA (3.21).

The bullpen has been a bit of a weak link. Combined, the ‘pen owns a 4.03 ERA, 13th in the NL. No bullpen has issued more walks (92), but hey have recorded the second most whiffs (187). The overall bullpen whip is 1.40. Only the Marlins (1.46) and the Reds (1.47) are worse in that stat. And their tied with the Mets with that 1.40.

Having three position starters on the disabled list never helps matters. A.J. Ellis (ankle), Carl Crawford (ankle), and Juan Uribe (hamstring) are out of the lineup.

But I hear ya. All teams deal with injuries.

If LA can get on a roll like the 50-game stretch they had last season (and that cannot and should not be expected), then Los Angeles should lay claim to the division once more. They could still if those Giants would just slow down some.

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