Final assessments of this year’s trade deadline won’t become clear for a couple more months.
One week in, however, the Dodgers’ new arrivals are making a strong first impression.
While Freddie Freeman led the way in the team’s 8-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday — collecting two hits, including a three-run homer — the core of the Dodgers’ seemingly underwhelming deadline class continued to outpace expectations, as well.
Lance Lynn pitched six strong innings in his second Dodgers start, yielding just a lone solo home run while striking out six and giving up only four hits.
Amed Rosario opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run blast, giving him nine RBIs through his first eight Dodgers games.
Kiké Hernández added three hits, improving to 11 for 33 (.333 batting average) in his first 10 contests back with the team.
“With guys like Joe [Kelly] or Kiké who have been here, it’s easier to kind of project, but some of the newer guys you just really don’t know, because it’s a different environment. ” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s a credit to the guys in the clubhouse to make them feel comfortable. Lance already is all-in on us. It’s been really good to see.”
Since Tuesday’s deadline passed — lapsing without the Dodgers landing any of the big-name players they pursued over the previous week — the club is now 5-1.
It’s NL West lead is up to four games, matching a season-high.
And over the last couple series at least, all the new pieces have fallen into place, with the Dodgers new-look lineup jumping all over a left-handed pitcher (this time, ex-Dodger Rich Hill) once again.
“Just seems like everyone we run out there takes a professional at-bat, can take a walk, can slug if we need to, can hit to the other side of the field,” Roberts said. “I feel really good about where we’re at.”
Rosario started the onslaught early, slicing his two-run homer into Petco Park’s short right-field porch in the top of the first. Rosario finished the day batting .296 in his first week as a Dodger. He also now has two home runs with L.A., one shy of the three he hit in 94 games with the Cleveland Guardians to start the year.
Hernández helped extend the lead in the second.
The utility man hit a leadoff single off Hill, who has been renting Hernández (his former teammate with both the Dodgers and Boston Red Sox) a house he owns in Los Angeles since Hernández was traded back to the Dodgers last week.
Hernández later advanced to third on a Miguel Rojas single, then scored on a sacrifice bunt from catcher Austin Barnes. Hernández was initially ruled out on the play, but the Dodgers successfully challenged that Padres catcher Gary Sánchez was blocking the plate.
With two outs in the inning, Freeman delivered an early knockout blow.
In a 10-pitch battle with Hill, Freeman fell into an immediate 0-and-2 hole, fouled off four pitches while working the count full, then turned on an inside sweeper, launching his 23rd home run of the season on a no-doubt trajectory to right field.
“We knew from our hitters meeting that he’s heavy [using his] breaking-ball 3-2,” said Freeman, finishing the day batting .339 with a 1.011 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, just three points behind NL leader Ronald Acuña Jr. “So I was just kind of looking up in the zone and hoping to see something pop. I saw something pop and I was able to get it.”
Gifted an early six-run lead, Lynn limited the stress the rest of the way.
He gave up a long solo shot to Sánchez in the third inning, the fourth homer Lynn has allowed in two starts with the Dodgers and the MLB-high 32nd he has given up all season.
From there, however, the former Chicago White Sox right-hander cruised through much of the rest of the day. He worked around a couple baserunners later in the third, escaping the inning on a key double-play. After stranding two more runners in the fourth, he retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced.
“They’ve been fun,” Lynn said of his first two Dodger starts. “Offense has given me runs early. Defense has been good behind me. Thrown to both catchers now and they’ve been awesome. So just trying to make pitches, make sure I don’t put up a big inning, and go from there. It’s been good.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.