The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up Week 1 of the 2015 season with mixed results, splitting six games against fellow National League West opponents.

It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions, with several exciting moments peppered with the sobering reminders that some old wounds may still need tourniquets.

The sample size is undeniably small, but here are the three main takeaways from the first week of Dodger baseball.


Clayton Kershaw Hasn’t Found His Rhythm

Through his first two starts in 2015, the reigning National League MVP has looked like anything but the pitcher who took home his third Cy Young Award last season.

Kershaw got the Opening Day nod at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres. He came away with a no-decision after making 99 pitches in just six innings and allowed three earned runs. It wasn’t a terrible start but certainly below the standard Kershaw has set for himself during the past several years.

Surely the offseason rust would have crumbled away by his second start?

Not quite.

The Arizona Diamondbacks torched the southpaw for 10 hits and five earned runs in less than seven innings at Chase Field. Kershaw couldn’t avoid a decision on Saturday night, suffering the loss to begin the season 0-1.

“Basically, I got blasted today,” Kershaw said, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know what else to say.”

Kershaw has already allowed eight earned runs on the young season. He didn’t surrender his eighth earned run until May 17 last year—coincidentally against the same Diamondbacks team at Chase Field during what would end up being his worst start of the season.

Kershaw will take on the Colorado Rockies in a home start this Friday.

Adrian Gonzalez Is Locked In

The Dodgers are going to need Adrian Gonzalez to hold down the middle of the lineup more than ever now that Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez are gone.

So far, the veteran first baseman hasn’t disappointed.

He’s recorded a hit in every game this season, including five home runs during the season-opening series against San Diego—the team for which he belted 161 long balls from 2006-2010.

The highlight of the week was Gonzalez’s three-homer game last Wednesday. The Padres’ starting pitcher, Andrew Cashner, served up each dose of the trifecta—the first of Gonzalez’s career.

“I was able to run into three fastballs and I thank God they were able to go over the fence,” said Gonzalez, per ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon. “It’s definitely right up there as a personal feat.”

The three home runs piggy-backed another one he had hit late in the previous game, making it four consecutive plate appearances that ended with a long ball.

All five of Gonzalez’s home runs this year have landed beyond the right field fence, illustrating a recent trend of pulling his round-trippers rather than sending them to the opposite field.

Gonzalez’s performance wasn’t solely about the power surge, though. According to Ace of MLB Stats, he also became the first player in the last decade to open a season with at least three hits in his team’s first three games.

While none of Gonzalez’s four hits over the weekend left the yard, the 32-year-old still enters Tuesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners with a robust .556 average (15-for-27), four doubles and seven RBI.

Bullpen Concerns Remain

A winter removed from ranking 22nd in bullpen ERA, 20th in FIP and 27th in walk rate, the Dodgers bullpen is once again struggling to begin the 2015 season.

Determined to solidify a shaky situation, new president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi decided to clean house over the winter. They severed ties with Brian Wilson and made trades to bring in right-handers Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio and Chris Hatcher.

With closer Kenley Jansen out for at least a few more weeks as he recovers from foot surgery, the Dodgers have turned to a bullpen by committee.

Hatcher recorded the save on Opening Day but retired just one of the next nine batters he faced over two appearances—ballooning his ERA to 33.75 in the process. Peralta has since assumed closing duties and has yet to allow a run.

Although Peralta has turned in serviceable work so far, the 39-year-old has just 14 career saves in 561 innings pitched. Continued reliance on him in the ninth inning may eventually cost the Dodgers, who must patiently wait for Jansen to return.

Left-hander J.P. Howell, one of the few holdovers from last season, began the season by allowing a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning last Tuesday. After pitching a scoreless inning the next day, he then took a loss in Arizona by surrendering a walk-off single in the 10th inning on Friday.

Los Angeles relievers, whose combined 3.60 ERA ranks 21st in baseball, have been directly responsible for two of the team’s three losses.

“We’ll just play it out,” said Mattingly, per NBC Los Angeles’ Michael Duarte. “You’ll have to stay tuned. It’s a fluid situation.”


All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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