The schedule heats up

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are riding a humble two-game winning streak, but does it have more to do with their improved play or the fact they were playing the bad and injured Miami Marlins? You could make an argument for either side, but it's really not worth the effort. Just wait a few days and see.

The Dodgers face nothing but contenders (depending how you feel about the Milwaukee Brewers) between now and Memorial Day. The Washington Nationals, with their dominant pitching and phenom right fielder, have come back from an early hole in the NL East and now trail the Atlanta Braves by just a game. The Dodgers have to face a hot pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, tonight.

Then they travel to Atlanta and Milwaukee before coming home to play the No. 1 team in ESPN's latest Power Rankings, the St. Louis Cardinals.

The disturbing truth is that the Dodgers have managed to get off to a lousy start despite playing a soft early schedule. Their strength of schedule is 23rd in the majors and their RPI, according to ESPN, is 25th in the majors.

There is, however, hope. The Dodgers could find out today whether Zack Greinke will be back to pitch Wednesday. Mark Ellis isn't far behind. Hanley Ramirez could return in a few weeks. It's hold-the-fort time, once again, with the barbarians are at the gate.