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Will the real Los Angeles Dodgers please stand up?

April 21, 2010 | 12:42 pm
Kemp1 Confused? Feel out of sorts? Uncertain? Having a hard time understanding the Dodgers team you’re watching?

Fear not, die-hard types, it’s not you but the Dodgers who are suffering an identity crisis.

For years, forever, the Dodgers' primary strength has been pitching. Particularly, starting pitching.

This year's team has started from the polar opposite. It's hitting as though it wants to take aim at the record books. It's pitching as though the hitting will have to if it wants to win.

The Dodgers currently lead the majors with an impressive .306 team batting average. They're second in slugging percentage, and at .473, just behind the Phillies at .474.

And then there's the pitching, or what's masquerading as pitching. The Dodgers' dismal 5.55 team ERA is ranked 26th in baseball.

Let that sink in a bit. The Dodgers' ERA is 5.55. Otherworldly.

Relying solely on offense every day is a guaranteed way to lose in the long run. Witness Tuesday night’s 11-9 loss to the struggling Reds.

It’s all out of whack. These are the Dodgers, the organization of Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, one steeped in proud pitching tradition.

And they can't pitch, but can crush the ball.

No one expects the team ERA to continue to hover anywhere near 5.55. Still, there's little indication it can streak down to the 3.41 mark it was last year, either.

For now, it's a real identity crisis.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Matt Kemp hits a two-run home run as Arizona Diamondbacks catcher John Hester can only watch during a game last week. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press