by Joshua Worley
The Dodgers are alone in first place, again. I hope we don't look back on this day later in the season and say, "Remember all the way back to the end of May, when we were still in first place? That was the high point of the season, before the pitching collapsed and we tumbled below 0.500, below the Padres, Snakes, even the Giants. Little did we know ..."
Most days of the season have the potential to be looked back on as either the true high or low point of the season, depending on what happens after. There are often likelihoods that the current trends will continue, to be sure, but no guarantees. Present success or failure may be reversed. I'm sure every Yankee fan is hoping that months from now they can look on yesterday as the low point of the season. It's a strange way of making the current awful moment seem remote and unreal, to imagine a future from which the present appears outlandish and wrong. "Really, we were tied for last, 14.5 games back of the Red Sux? Seems so strange, now that we're in first place. I know it happened, but it seems a lifetime ago ..."
Did Brad Penny have an inkling when he started the All-Star game last year that this would be the high point of the year for him? When he was getting shelled in relief in a playoff game after being booted from the postseason rotation did he ever look back at the time when he was a top-5 pitcher in the NL and think, "Little did I know ..."
For Hendrickson, this year, the date was 2 May. He had given up only 1 home run and struck out more than 25% of batters faced. That was the high point of his season, maybe of his career. Since then, he's given up 6 home runs and is on the edge of losing his place in the starting rotation.
There was no sign that Penny would collapse in the second half of last year, while there was ample evidence to tell us Hendrickson would tumble from his great first month. Sometimes we can have a pretty good idea that we've reached the high point, and other times we couldn't have any way of knowing. Enjoy the good times while they last, even as you hope that they will last.
That's not the end of it, though. It's not enough that the Dodgers merly hope that they haven't already reached the high point of the season. How do the Dodgers guard against having to four months from now say, "Little did we know ... "? The Dodgers have no superstars. They are a team built on depth, but for that depth to mean anything they have to use it when necessary. Depth isn't just for injuries. To guard against a premature high point to the season, they have to be willing to play young players in place of veterans who aren't getting the job done. They're already doing this with the pitching staff. It remains to be seen if they will do it with the outfield and first base should current trends continue.