At the beginning of the 2018 season, there were several teams that could lose a starting pitcher such as Yu Darvish and barely miss a step. The Dodgers happened to be one of those teams.
To be fair, while the Darvish trade was important for the 2017 Dodgers, it produced varying results that ultimately caused Los Angeles to fall to the seemingly destined Houston Astros.
However, going in to the season, very few saw the Dodgers getting off to such a slow start. The Dodgers are 3-6, sitting in 4th place in the NL West, behind the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants. They are currently on pace to win 92 games, in a much weaker division from top to bottom.
The biggest noticeable difference so far in 2018 has been the quiet bats. While the team is only through 9 games, they are batting .231 as a squad with a .285 OBP and SLG .293. To compare, the Astros posted, in the same span, .251/.331/.410 with an OPS of .740. The Dodgers have a .578 OPS through the season thus far.
Bottom line? The Dodgers need to get the bats going. The good news? The young core that the Dodgers deploy has not changed much at all this year, which is one of the advantages of taking on $250 million in payroll in order to build a youthful, exciting base. (There are certain teams in the league that should seriously consider taking a page out of that book, but I digress.)
The brightest spot for this team? You already know what it is. Clayton Kershaw has taken the loss in his first two starts, however they were not nearly as bad as it may feel. Kershaw did not allow a single run through spring training and currently has a 1.89 ERA over 19.0 IP. Kershaw has allowed 4 earned runs over 18 hits and has a struck out 19 so far this season. Kershaw will be absolutely fine.
The Dodgers will rely on the rest of their rotation, which contains Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda. I can almost guarantee that health will be an issue with this rotation, with 38 year old Rich Hill, who suffered from constant blister troubles in 2017. The injury to Kenley Jansen, alone, has seemed to have this team out of sorts.
It will be fascinating to monitor how the Dave Roberts manages this team as the season progresses. As long as health does not destroy this well constructed roster, the Dodgers will pick things up and claim their rightful place at the top of the rotation.