It was common knowledge that Freddie Freeman was a good player when the Dodgers signed him in free agency a little over a year ago. But after watching him every day over the last season-plus, he might be even better than advertised.
Freeman has been the Dodgers’ most consistent hitter to start the season. But if you ask him, he feels like he’s still working through his mechanics. On Wednesday, however, Freeman put together one of the best at-bats you’ll see, drawing a walk on the 15th pitch against Giants ‘left-hander Taylor Rogers.
Rogers couldn’t find the zone all night, which only makes him even harder to face in a 3-2 count. Freeman spoiled a few good sinkers and sliders then casually bat flipped his way to first base after driving in a run with a walk. That’s a plate appearance that could swing momentum in the Dodgers’ favor.
“He’s relentless in the batter’s box,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Obviously it goes without saying [that] it’s the best at-bat we’ve had this year. What it did for the dugout and the team, we just kind of fed off that momentum.”
3. Bullpen struggles are a concern
The Dodgers’ bullpen has been a strength for at least the last four seasons, but it’s been a rough start the year for this group of relievers.
Alex Vesia, the Dodgers’ best left-hander each of the last two seasons, has really struggled in his five appearances, posting a 9.82 ERA. His four-seamer doesn’t have the same life it did a year ago. Perhaps that corrects itself as the left-hander appears in more games. Yency Almonte’s velocity is back, which is a good sign, but he has struggled with his slider in the early going. The same can be said for Brusdar Graterol.
But the one the Dodgers need to get right on the mound is de-facto closer Evan Phillips. Through five appearances, Phillips hasn’t looked like the same pitcher that dominated the league last season. Velocity is slightly down, and the sweeper isn’t as sharp. He paid the price on Tuesday against the Giants, giving up back-to-back homers.
On Wednesday, however, Phillips gave the Dodgers some much-needed relief, striking out the side in the 10-5 win. It’s been a tough start for the bullpen, but Roberts has maintained that his relievers are all still working through the kinks. Maybe that’ll solve itself soon and the bullpen can be a strength again.