Time For Dodgers To
The Dodgers thought they had a luxury entering this season with four very good outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. The thought was that Puig would play every day but that the Dodgers would rotate the other three depending on pitching matchups, fatigue, minor injuries, etc. Plus then L.A. also had build-in insurance if one of the guys suffered a fairly serious injury, and both Kemp and Crawford have been injury-prone in recent years.
However, it doesn't appear that this four-man outfield is working. Puig is hitting, entering Friday at .309 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. He is raking right now, batting .462 with seven RBIs over the past week. The problem is the other three guys. Ethier is hitting only .241, Kemp .207 and Crawford is below the Mendoza Line at .195. The Dodgers would love to trade one of those guys -- and their top minor-league prospect is outfielder Joc Pederson, who is tearing up Triple-A -- but their production on top of huge salaries make that problematic. Kemp is signed through 2019 at around $21 million a season. Ethier through 2017 at around $17 million a year. Crawford through 2017 at approximately $20 million a season. He's probably the least tradable because he really can only play left, will be 33 in August and doesn't hit for power. If any of those three go, the Dodgers will have to eat a ton of money.
That Los Angeles is well above .500 despite getting just one start from ace and two-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is a positive sign. He is expected to return from a muscle injury near his shoulder on Monday after pitching well in two minor-league rehab starts. That will give the Dodgers a glut of starting pitchers and means that Maholm will be headed to the bullpen unless another starter gets hurt this weekend. Maholm (1-2, 4.74) has been OK. He had one of his best outings last time out against the top offense in baseball, the Colorado Rockies. He held them to two runs and six hits over seven innings in getting his first victory; the Dodgers were -108 home favorites at sportsbooks in that one. They have been underdogs in his two previous road starts.
Last year with the Braves, Maholm made two starts against the Marlins, going 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings, allowing only eight hits but also walking eight. Look for Marlins second baseman Jeff Baker to possibly get a spot start here. He doesn't start often (and is hitting only .100) but occasionally he will against lefties, and he has had success in his career off Maholm, going 8-for-20 with four doubles and four RBIs. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is among the NL home run leaders and leads in RBIs, is 3-for-6 with two doubles off Maholm. Stanton is in a bit of a slump right now average-wise.
Miami welcomes back right-hander Jacob Turner off the disabled list. He was placed there April 9 with a right shoulder sprain. He's considered a key part of the rotation going forward at age 22. Turner was one of Detroit's top pitching prospects when traded in July 2012 to the Marlins in the Anibal Sanchez deal. In his only start this year, Turner (0-0, 7.50) was hit for five runs and eight hits against Colorado. Expect Turner to be on a pitch count, and he bumps Kevin Slowey to the bullpen. Last year Turner made one start against the Dodgers, allowing 10 hits and three earned runs over five innings of a no-decision. Not many Dodgers have faced him. Ethier is 2-for-2 with a walk. Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-3 with a double and RBI.
MLB free picks: Miami +102 on MLB odds and over eight runs at -115 at sportsbooks. The Marlins have been the majors' best home team this season and the fact many Dodgers haven't faced Turner could be an advantage.