As the Marlins get set to host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Marlins Park, we reached out to the co-editor of Lasorda’s Lair, Stacie Wheeler to get some insight on the Dodgers. Lasorda’s Lair is one of the great Fansided sites, and they specialize in covering the Dodgers. Stacie was kind enough to answer some questions that we had regarding the Dodgers. Here was our conversation.
MM: Clayton Kershaw is nearing the end of his rehab. What is the latest on him and is their any chance that the Marlins might face him in Miami?
Wheeler: The earliest that Clayton Kershaw will rejoin the Dodgers will be on Monday in Washington. The Marlins will be lucky to miss him this time.
MM: The Dodgers got off to a decent start but recently faltered against the Phillies and Rockies. What stands out about this team through the first month of April?
Wheeler: The Dodgers, although rich with talent, have some defensive issues as well as inconsistent offense and bullpen questions as well. Poor defense has really plagued the Dodgers through April, and they lead the league in errors. The offense has been at times an issue as well, and that was due to slow starts from their outfielders. While Yasiel Puig has heated up recently, Carl Crawford is hitting below .200 and Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have also struggled at the plate. Hanley Ramirez also had a slow start to the season as well, but he has been faring a bit better of late. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been taxed early in this season when the starters have failed to go deep into games. Brian Wilson has had a disastrous April which included a stint on the disabled list. The bullpen has had trouble retaining leads in the late innings, and the Dodgers have lost quite a few extra inning games in April because of this.
MM: Yasiel Puig seems to be in the news constantly for everything from showing up late to his connections with certain people who helped him get out of Cuba. Is all this a distraction for him and the team? What do you think his ceiling is as a player?
Wheeler: The Dodgers are not letting the Yasiel Puig narratives to be distracting, and the Dodger fans hope that his antics will not affect his game on the field. So far, Puig has been nothing but a spark to this team since coming up last June. His harrowing and somewhat sketchy story of his defection from Cuba is certainly worthy of a Hollywood movie script, but the real entertainment still remains in Puig’s amazing baseball talents. Like I have said before, if you are a baseball fan and do not enjoy watching Puig play, you are a sad and bitter individual. Of course I don’t condone his personal choices and mistakes, my only concern is that he matures and uses all of his potential for the good of the team.
MM: It seemed that Hanley Ramirez may have just needed a change of scenery away from Miami. Have the Dodger fan’s embraced Hanley?
Wheeler: We love Hanley! I’m not sure about what went down in Miami, but Hanley is nothing but smiles since being traded to the Dodgers. Hanley is one of the best hitters I have ever watched, and last season he was an integral part of the Dodgers’ success and playoff run. I think I can speak for most Dodger fans when saying that I hope the Dodgers extend Hanley Ramirez with a new contract, because when he’s healthy he is a M.V.P. caliber player.
MM: Could you preview the pitchers that the Marlins will likely face during this series?
Wheeler: The Dodgers had to do some rotation shuffling due to the postponed game in Minnesota and subsequent double-header on Thursday. Josh Beckett is slated to start on Friday, Paul Maholm on Saturday, and Hyun-jin Ryu will face Jose Fernandez on Sunday. Josh Beckett, who has returned successfully from thoracic outlet syndrome, has really pitched well so far even though his record might not reflect that. He’s really exceeded my expectations. The same goes for Paul Maholm, who pitched well against Colorado in his last start and went a season-high 7 innings for the win. Hyun-jin Ryu struggled his last time out against Colorado, but Ryu has been fantastic this season for the Dodgers. With Kershaw being out, Ryu really stepped up and has pitched like an ace which has really been valuable to the Dodgers. Ryu and Fernandez will be a great match up on Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
MM: Any bold predictions for the upcoming series? Are you thinking Dodgers can sweep?
Wheeler: The Dodgers had some issues last season in Miami including the Puig showing up late incident. I don’t think they will sweep, but I can definitely see them winning at least two of three. Beating Fernandez will pose a challenge. My prediction is that Hanley Ramirez will have a big series as well as Yasiel Puig who lives in Florida. I think the Dodgers will definitely be glad to feel some sunshine after the chilly series in Minnesota.
There you have it. We want to thank Stacie for giving us such great insight into the Dodgers, and remember to check out Lasorda’s Lair for all the latest Dodgers’ news and notes.