The Los Angeles Dodgers have started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2012 and just the second time since 2000. They did it in convincing fashion, shutting out the San Diego Padres over the first three games and scoring 25 runs. The Dodgers are out to prove that they are still the team to beat in a division they’ve won in each of the past three seasons.
The Dodgers held the Padres scoreless through the first three games of the season. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, they became the second team to shut out an opponent in each of the first three games of a season (the 1963 Cardinals are the other).
Unsurprisingly, a number of different Dodgers have gotten off to hot starts in 2016. Rookie pitcher Kenta Maeda, signed from Japan this offseason, threw six scoreless innings in his MLB debut. He also hit a home run, which, according Elias research, makes him the first Dodgers pitcher to homer in his debut since Dan Bankhead in 1947.
Yasiel Puig, who struggled last season while playing a career-low 79 games, might be off to the best start on the team. Through his first 13 plate appearances, he has six hits, three of which have gone for extra bases, while scoring five runs and driving in another four.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Dodgers’ high-octane offense at the start of the season is that they have produced 25 runs despite only hitting two home runs -- both solo. In the series, five different Dodgers hitters had multiple extra-base hits; the Padres had one extra-base hit as a team.
The key to the Dodgers’ success has been their starting pitching. Clayton Kershaw and Scott Kazmir joined Maeda in tossing at least six scoreless innings in their first starts (Kershaw threw seven). The Dodgers’ rotation health was a concern out of spring training, and opened the season with five different starting pitchers on the disabled list.
The next step for the Dodgers could test that lack of depth. They travel for a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants, with Alex Wood and rookie Ross Stripling getting the starts in the first two games.
The Padres will look to end their scoreless streak in the friendliest hitter’s park in all of MLB: Coors Field. They face a pitching staff that struggled out of the gate, as the Colorado Rockies came out of Arizona with a pair of wins but allowed 19 runs in the three-game series.
If the Dodgers can continue their hot streak through the early part of the season, they could perhaps overcome the injury problems they faced through spring training. If they can do that, they might be well on their way to winning the NL West for a fourth consecutive season.
An earlier version of this post noted that Maeda was the first Dodgers pitcher to homer in his debut. That note has since been corrected to Maeda being the first to do so since Dan Bankhead in 1947.