Jun 22, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27), left fielder Scott Van Slyke (33), and right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) celebrate after defeating the San Diego Padres 2-1 at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Can Los Angeles Dodgers retake control of NL West?

Before the regular season even commenced, the Los Angeles Dodgers were considered the likely favorites to win the World Series. Between the fielding prowess of Yasiel Puig and the sheer dominance of the Dodgers bullpen, it was hard to contradict the notion of this ball club being in prime position to go all the way. Although the fiercely determined Dodgers are currently sitting in second place behind their hated rivals the San Francisco Giants, they haven’t shown signs of regression and continue to maintain a level of consistency with which to keep their hopes alive of ultimately winning their division.

Although the Dodgers have had their ups and downs with their offense this season, whenever it does find a way to click, it never ceases to amaze how methodically efficient it can actually be. With an on base percentage of .328 (4th in MLB), along with an impressive run total of 329 (8th in MLB), the Dodgers are the kings of patiently waiting for their grand opportunities to exploit their opposition.

While Yasiel Puig may be the most efficient offensive contributor in terms of his batting average (.317), he isn’t necessarily the most vital athlete the Dodgers have on their roster. Despite his lackluster batting average of .249, Adrian Gonzalez is an avid scorer as he leads his team with 12 home runs and 45 RBI’s. While Puig may not be far behind with one less home run and RBI, Gonzalez is a more proficient scorer, as he is able to put up impressive numbers with less hits than Puig. Although it may seem unfathomable that a 32 year old could stay this competitive with a youthful outfielder such as Puig, Gonzalez has remained vigilant at the plate and continues to come up big even when no one expects him to do so.

As encouraging as the Dodgers offensive perseverance has been this season, they wouldn’t be relevant without their well compensated bullpen that has earned every penny of their deserved contracts. Starting pitcher Zack Greinke has found life with the Dodgers since he joined the team last year and his improvements as a capable starter have only gotten better this season. With an ERA of 2.57 and a strikeout total of 97, Greinke has discovered a newfound confidence in his abilities that he never really had when he played for Kansas City. If Greinke can continue to win while frustrating anxious batters with his poised demeanor, he’ll inevitably become one of the many memorable faces of this franchise.

Of course, it’s hard to mention the Dodgers illustrious bullpen without discussing the loyal contributions of Clayton Kershaw. Since he joined the in 2008, Kershaw has managed to string together one miraculously consistent pitching performance after another. Although it’s hard imagine Kershaw emulating last years god like dominance with an ERA of 1.83 along with 232 strikeouts, Kershaw hasn’t regressed at all and continues to mature as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.

When all is said and done, the Dodgers need to continue to fight vigorously, regardless of their opponents if they hope to rise to the top of their division. Although the offense needs some fine-tuning to be truly great, the determined gusto of their bullpen has kept this teams confidence elevated to the point that they believe they can become a World Series contender when the time comes. Although the road to this lofty goal won’t be a cakewalk, the Dodgers have all the pieces to fight their way to a coveted destiny that is theirs for the taking.

Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers MLB

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