Don't sleep: These 5 teams have rebounded

May 29th, 2018

The Dodgers finally are the team we thought they'd be. That is, airtight pitching and a resourceful offense. Funny how a team turns things around after its best player walks back on the field. Good on ya, .

That Dave Roberts held his team together through a hellishly bad period -- does 16-26 qualify as hellishly bad? -- is one of the ultimate tests for a manager. Roberts had passed plenty of tests already, and this is another.

We're constantly warned that small snapshots prove very little. On the other hand, lots of managers divide seasons into blocks of games and set small -- and usually secret -- goals for each block.

The Dodgers aren't the only team that has recovered from a tough start to play its best baseball of the season. Rather than draw larger conclusions, let's just call it Trending Upward.

Here are five teams doing just that:

Dodgers

What they're doing: 9-2 since May 17.

Key stat: 2.00 ERA, best in the National League during the 9-2 hot stretch.

Who's hot: Matt Kemp .457 BA, 1 HR, 6 2B; .346, BA, 3 HR; 2-0, 0.00 ERA; 2-0, 0.71 ERA; 1-0, 1.29 ERA; 6 saves, 0.00 ERA.

Bottom line: Turner's return gave the whole team a familiar look. Hey, the guy strikes an impressive figure. Beyond that, the Dodgers have been led by Stripling, Kemp and Buehler, which reaffirms president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman's philosophy of focusing on accumulating depth all around the diamond. The Dodgers still need Chris Taylor and to get untracked and may even need to go outside the organization to acquire a hitter. But for the first time this season, they seem on their way to winning a sixth consecutive NL West title.

Brewers

What they're doing: 19-7 since April 30.

Key stat: Bullpen's 2.45 ERA is the best in the Majors during this stretch. Offense has produced 134 runs in this time, most in the NL.

Who's hot: Righty  has 31 strikeouts in 16 innings of this hot streak. Matt Albers (0.77 ERA), (0.00) and Hader (1.13) have been tremendous. First baseman  and third baseman  have eight homers apiece. Outfielders (.387 OBP) and (.391 OBP) have been as good as the Brewers hoped they'd be.

Bottom line: Is there enough starting pitching? That's the question generral manager David Stearns has had to answer about eight dozen times since the start of Spring Training. Right-handers  and have been excellent, and righties Corbin Burnes and are quality depth at Triple-A. To get ace Jimmy Nelson back from shoulder surgery in the second half would be huge.

Mariners

What they're doing: 9-1 since May 18.

Key stat: 0.33 ERA for bullpen during the 9-1 stretch is easily the best in Majors; 7-1 in one-run games.

Who's hot: The relievers have been virtually perfect during this stretch. Closer leads the way with seven shutout innings in seven appearances. , Mike Leake and are stringing together quality starts.

Bottom line: Did we mention that Seattle is gorgeous in October? The Mariners may be offensively challenged, but with this kind of pitching, no one is likely to notice. With second baseman  suspended for 80 games, GM Jerry Dipoto's acquisition of center fielder  and the probable return of second baseman Dee Gordon from the disabled list in the next week or so will help the offense. Will it be enough? Why not?

Nationals

What they're doing: 19-6 since an 11-16 start.

Key stat: 2.48 ERA, best in the Majors during the turnaround.

Who's hot: Left-hander  4-0, 1.43 ERA; right-hander Max Scherzer 3-0, 2.76 ERA; righty  4-1, 2.51; righty  1-0, 0.79 ERA (4 starts); first baseman Matt Adams 9 HR.

Bottom line: This is who we thought they were. Few teams have been hit harder by injuries, but as long as they've got this starting rotation, the Nationals remain solid favorites to win the NL East again. The Braves, Phillies and Mets may be capable of pushing the race into September, but they could help the Nats better prepare for October.

Rays

What they're doing: 22-13 since a 4-13 start.

Key stat: 3.59 ERA, second lowest in the American League East.

Who's hot: Right-hander  4-2, 2.70 ERA; left-hander Jonny Venters 1.04 ERA; designated hitter/first baseman C.J. Cron 9 HR; catcher  .352 BA.

Bottom line: To survive a bad start in one of baseball's toughest divisions while the lineup gets younger and younger speaks well for the Rays to stay in the mix for the long haul. GM Erik Neander's mix-and-match approach to the pitching staff has worked, thanks, in part, to manager Kevin Cash's ability to sell the concept to an occasionally skeptical clubhouse.