The Dodgers have an important series
Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers begin an important two-game series against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Because June has been a struggle for the Dodgers who have won seven and lost nine, the Dodgers are five games behind first place in the National League Western Division. The San Francisco Giants are breathing down the Dodgers' neck for second place. If the Dodgers do not split their two-game series with the Diamondbacks, it will be difficult for the Dodgers to win their division.
This year the Dodgers have had many injuries that hampered their performance, but the Diamondbacks have had injuries to Matt Williams and Todd Stottlemyre. Though the Dodgers have had ten players on the disabled list, they must learn to win despite having injuries because every championship-quality team overcomes adversity. For the most part the Dodgers have done well dealing with their injuries, but they have struggled without Kevin Brown and Andy Ashby.
The Dodgers will pitch Darren Dreifort and Chan Ho Park against the Diamondbacks. This season Darren Dreifort has struggled, especially at Dodger Stadium. Last time he faced the Diamondbacks; he allowed eight runs in two plus innings. The last few starts Chan Ho Park has pitched with a sore back. Lately Park has pitched well, but sooner or later the sore back will hamper his performance. The Dodgers hope both Dreifort and Park pitch well against the Diamondbacks.
With Kevin Brown and Andy Ashby on the disabled list and Eric Gagne's ineffectiveness the Dodger bullpen is depleted. Terry Adams and Giovanni Carrara, originally relievers, have been forced to be starters. Neither Prokopec, Adams, nor Carrara can go past the sixth inning putting undue stress on the bullpen. Mike Fetters, who was super in the 2000 season, has struggled. Gregg Olson has not been dependable. Matt Herges has been excellent, but he cannot pitch daily though he has a rubber arm. Although Jeff Shaw has been excellent this year, he has blown two save opportunities within a week. The Dodgers' highest ERA of 4.91 this season has been in June. The Dodgers hope both Dreifort and Park will go at least seven innings, so they do not have to go the bullpen much.
The Dodgers will face Randy Johnson tonight. What do you say about Johnson? Johnson plainly is a tough hombre. This season he leads the National League in strikeouts, and he has the fourth lowest ERA in the league. The Dodgers are free swingers and prone to strikeouts. Neither Gary Sheffield nor Eric Karros has regained his batting stroke since returning from the disabled list. Shawn Green has not had a hit in seven at-bats. Mark Grudzielanek, the Dodgers' best hitter, is on the disabled list. Johnson's ERA against the Dodgers this year is 2.57.
The Dodgers' series against the Arizona Diamondbacks is important. Though the Dodgers can still win their division even if the Diamondbacks sweep the Dodgers, it will be extremely difficult for the Dodgers to make the playoffs. Every team meets challenges, but the championship-quality teams meet their challenges and succeed. Are the Dodgers equal to this challenge?