In the game of baseball it’s a valuable weapon to have a 1-2 punch in your lineup or on your pitching staff. If you look at the teams that are constantly in contention for a World Series, they have this weapon. The Philadelphia Phillies have both, with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in their lineup, except this year due to injuries. When it comes to their pitching they really have a 1-2-3 punch with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. This is why they’re in the hunt, every single year. In the American League you have 1-2 punches in lineups everywhere like Miguel Cabrera/Prince Fielder in Detroit, Alex Rodriguez/Mark Teixeira in New York, Adrian Gonzalez/David Ortiz in Boston, and Josh Hamilton/Adrian Beltre in Texas. As long as these teams can have a productive 1-2 punch, they will always be in contention. A 1-2 punch in your pitching staff with a lack of offense can even take you a long way in the MLB, just look at the 2010 San Francisco Giants.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are being overlooked by everyone, might have both weapons this season. They already have Matt Kemp who is coming off of what should have been an MVP season, and Clayton Kershaw who won the NL CY Young award last year. So who will be the two players to complete the Dodgers 1-2 punch? In the Dodgers lineup look for Andre Ethier to be the guy to fill that spot. In last night’s game against the San Diego Padres he went 2-4 with 4 RBIs, against left hander Cory Luebke. I mentioned that it was off of a lefty because that will be the big test for him this year, can he hit left-handed pitching? It was just one game, but for me that question was answered last night when he tripled off the wall. When the Dodgers went to back to back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009, they had one of the deadliest 1-2 punches in baseball with Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez. So if Ethier can get back to his All Star form and hit left-handed pitching consistently, a Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier 1-2 punch could take this team a long way.
The pitcher that needs to step up and complete the Dodgers pitching 1-2 punch will be Chad Billingsley. He has the stuff to be a dominate pitcher in this league, but the consistency hasn’t been there for him. He once won 16 games in 2008 and was named a National League All Star in 2009. The All Star Chad Billingsley made an appearance last night against the San Diego Padres when he went 8 1/3 innings with 11 K’s, 1 BB, 0 R, and 4 H. Now I know with his consistency he could do the complete opposite in his next start, but let’s be optimistic. If he can pitch anything close to those numbers consistently, the Dodgers will have a dominate 1-2 punch. We already know what Kershaw can do; he threw 3 innings of shutout ball with the flu on Thursday afternoon! So if the All Star Chad Billingsley decides to show up on a consistent basis this year, the Dodgers will have their pitching 1-2 punch. The key word here is CONSISTENT, if Ethier and Billingsley can be that, and Kemp and Kershaw do anything remotely close to last season, the Dodgers 1-2 punches could take them deep into October.