Dodgers @ Giants June 26, 2012: Kershaw vs Vogelsong

I don’t begrudge Don Mattingly for continuing to play him, because it’s not like anyone would prefer to see Juan Uribe or Adam Kennedy in the lineup, but Elian Herrera is finding himself in the midst of a deeply cold streak. In 24 plate appearances on this road trip, Herrera has reached base just twice, striking out eight times without a single walk. For June as a whole, he’s hitting just .231/.326/.321 in 89 plate appearances.

I say that not to single out Herrera, because we all know that he’s far from being the only Dodger to slump this month. I just feel the need to point it out because I’m still seeing people on Twitter and elsewhere act like he’s the second coming, even going so far as to say they wouldn’t include him in any trades, and that’s just silly. This is a guy none of us had heard of just over a month ago. I’m not saying he can’t be a successful major league bench player, but he’s a career minor leaguer who has had one hot month in the majors. I feel like I’ve hit on this point so many times that it probably sounds repetitious, but hot starts can be terribly misleading simply because of how they make the stat line look good on television every night, and it’s starting to seem as though pitchers are figuring Herrera out.

Dodgers
Giants
SS
Gordon
RF
Blanco
3B
Herrera
2B
Theriot
RF
Ethier
LF
Cabrera
1B
Rivera
C
Posey
LF
Abreu
CF
Pagan
2B
Hairston
3B
Sandoval
CF
Gwynn
1B
Belt
C
Ellis
SS
Arias
P
Kershaw
P
Vogelsong

Fortunately for Herrera & the Dodgers, they have Clayton Kershaw on the mound tonight, and Kershaw simply doesn’t allow runs in San Francisco. In five career starts there, he’s allowed just two earned runs, both coming in a start back in August of 2010. By the way, I went back into the archives to see if I had written anything about Kershaw’s start that day – I hadn’t – but I did stumble upon this gem from that day, titled, “Will This Team Ever Hit Again?

We can make jokes about how Ryan Theriot looked gritty in his punchless 0-4, 2K Dodger debut, wonder how Scott Podsednik‘s scrappiness is more important than the 3 meager hits he’s contributed in 15 at-bats, and mourn that Blake DeWitt got only one fewer hit (3) in his Cubs debut than the entire Dodger team did today (okay, especially that last one), but this problem is the same as it ever was. Just like I’ve been saying for weeks, the new acquisitions are basically meaningless if the guys who’ve been here all season don’t start to hit. (snip)

You could really make the case that the Dodgers are below-average at seven of the eight lineup spots right now, and that’s before you consider that the bench is utterly worthless aside from Jamey Carroll‘s powerless OBP skills.

And that makes it hard to point the finger at anyone in particular, because they’re all terrible right now. Other than Furcal, not one Dodger has an OPS over .770 in July. Not a one. If anyone really stands out, it’s Casey Blake, who’s hitting under .170 for the month and making that guaranteed 2011 in his contract look even worse than I feared it’d be when they signed him nearly two years ago, but it’s hard to pretend he’s the only problem when Matt Kemp has an OBP below .300 for the month.

That was two years ago. The more things change…
 

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