Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14
If the Dodgers are going to turn things around this season, it may come down to the number four.  As in players, that is. Zack Greinke’s return to the rotation is one major step towards the Dodgers turning the season around. The Dodgers $147 million man, Zack Greinke, returned to the rotation Wednesday night for the first time since April 11th and pitched well in the Dodgers 3-1 win over the Nationals.  He gave up one run over 5.1 innings of work. “It’s pretty amazing what this guy was able to do tonight,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said in relation to Greinke’s first start since breaking his collarbone in a brawl with Carlos Quentin of the Padres. Greinke’s return may be just one step in a four step process to get the Dodgers turned around. Step one, of course, is Clayton Kershaw. And the man delivers in more ways than one.  He has given up just two runs in his last four starts and currently leads the National League in ERA and innings pitched. He trails only the Pirates AJ Burnett in strikeouts.  The new question isn’t if Kershaw will become a $200 million pitcher; the question is when. Kershaw is in the second year of a three year, $19 million contract and can become a free agent after the 2014 season. There have been rumblings of a long term contract but nothing of substance. It seems like Kershaw can command more after each start.  Justin Verlander’s $180 million deal with the Tigers (an option in 2020 could bring the final number to $202 million) is simply going to be the starting point for  Kershaw. Part three of the puzzle is Matt Kemp. Without a healthy Kemp, the Dodgers chances of going to the playoffs are slim and none. There was plenty to worry about when Kemp was hitting .206 in mid-April. The thought was Kemp hadn’t recovered from off season shoulder surgery.  Although it appears Kemp is still lacking “pop” in his swing as evidenced by his one home run in 2013,  he is currently on a 14 game hitting streak and hitting .342 over his last 10 games. The quartet is rounded out by Andre Ethier.  Ethier, like Kemp, struggled in April and was hitting just .244 at month’s end.  Fortunately, May is a different story.  Ethier is batting .311 for the month and has eight hits in his last five games. The hitters acquired in last season’s trade with the Red Sox have done reasonably well. Adrian Gonzalez is batting .349 and leads the team in RBI’s with 27.   The issue is whether Gonzalez will be able to provide the power hitting the Dodgers thought they were getting. He  has hit just 22 home runs dating back to last season after averaging 32 home runs a season the previous five years.   My  hunch is baseball’s crackdown on PRD’s may be a factor in there somewhere. Outfielder Carl Crawford is currently batting .311 and has become the “spark” at the top of the line-up the Dodgers haven’t had since Rafael Furcal. Unfortunately, pitcher Josh Beckett looks exactly like the pitcher who Red Sox fans believed lost his desire to pitch when he admitted to golfing on his days of.  Beckett is 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA this season and is just 2-8 as a Dodger dating back to last season.  Beckett has pitched more than six innings just once in his eight starts.  He recently went on the 15 day DL with a groin injury and could be relegated to the bullpen upon his return. His “fate” will most likely hinge on how well, or poorly, the current fourth and fifth starters, Chris Capuano and Matt Magill, do. Capuano gave up just one run in his last start but it was against the Marlins.  Magill, a local kid from Simi Valley, California,  has been up and down. He pitched well in his debut back on April 27th giving up two runs in 6.2 innings.  He followed that up with a horrible start against the Giants surrendering five runs in 1.1 innings.  In his last start on May 10th versus the Marlins, Magill was pulled after five innings and the score knotted at three. But forgetting the former BoSox and the questionable depth at the back end of the rotation, the fact is the Dodgers chances to make it to the final five in October will fall upon the eight shoulders of the current big four.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Robert Kraft: Richard Sherman is a 'marketing whiz'

Rob Gronkowski's party bus headed to Super Bowl

Matt Barnes not happy with NBA for $25,000 fine

Brandon Browner: 'No hard feelings' with Sherman, Thomas

Gronk reads erotica, sings Katy Perry at SB Media Day

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Governor donates $10K to UNM hoops star’s cancer charity

U.S. Soccer: Hope Solo needs to do 'number of things' to return

K.J. Wright: Targeting injured players 'unacceptable'

Five reasons the Patriots will win the Super Bowl

Five reasons the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl

Bill Simmons fires a shot at ESPN colleague Ray Lewis

James Shields need to adjust his contract expectations

Kurt Warner wonders about Patriots cheating in Super Bowl

4-star QB recruit decommits from Michigan

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Pacquiao, Mayweather meet at halftime of Heat game

One of Tom Brady's ‘treats’ is avocado ice cream

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Tiger on wearing mask: ‘Not a lot of brown dudes at ski races’

Putting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pieces together

Brodeur to retire immediately and join Blues front office

Michael Bennett talks about sex superstition, calls reporter gay

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

Barnes unhappy with NBA over fine

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Putting the Cavs’ pieces together

Super Bowl XLIX: Key people to know

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Can Yanks not pay A-Rod his bonuses?

Petition started to remove Pats from SB

On John Wall's adidas J Wall 1 NYC All-Star Edition

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.