Adrian Gonzalez
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez celebrates in a game. Gonzalez was named NL Player of the Month for April after a hot start to the season Reuters

Close the chapter on the first month of the MLB season and turn the page to May as the first place Los Angeles Dodgers once again appear to be on the fast track to another NL West title.

Despite a bevy of injuries to key contributors Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon League and Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers still find themselves atop the NL West after the first 21 games of the season.

The Dodgers have been dominant offensively as they rank in the top five in nearly every offensive category in the national league. The team has been flexing their muscles as well as they rank in first place in the NL in home runs (32), slugging percentage (.486), and on base percentage (.345).

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez seized the NL Player of the Month Award for April. The 32-year-old leads the National League in home runs (8), slugging percentage (.790) and OPS (1.222). His .383 batting average ranks third in the league behind only Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu and former teammate Dee Gordon who now plays for the Miami Marlins.

"El Titan" as he is aptly called has been the driving force in the rekindled rivalry between the Dodgers and revamped San Diego Padres. Gonzalez has hit six of his eight homers against his former team with three coming off of Padres starter Andrew Cashner.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick is looking like a great acquisition so far, hitting .314 on the season. In 26 at-bats, utility man Alex Guerrero has five home runs and 13 RBI while hitting .423 as Don Mattingly’s secret weapon. Rookie Joc Pederson is also making Dodger fans quickly forget about the departure of Matt Kemp by hitting .298 with 17 walks and four long balls.

While the brazen bats of the Dodgers have been scorching of late, the team's future problems could be their pitching staff. The royal arms are currently in the top five in the NL in ERA and strikeouts, but early injuries to Jansen, League and Ryu have led to a patchwork pitching rotation and plug and play out of the pen.

To make matters worse, on Monday, the Dodgers announced that free agent acquisition Brandon McCarthy will be out until summer of 2016 with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. McCarthy (3-0) was second in the NL in strikeouts with 29 despite posting an unusually high ERA of 5.87.

In the absence of many of their stars on the mound, the Dodgers will have to rely heavily on 2009 Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke (4-0) who is off to an out-of-this-world start to the season with a 1.93 ERA and 27 strikeouts and reigning Cy Young winner and MVP Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw (1-2) has been slow out of the gate with a 3.73 ERA, but leads the majors in strikeouts with 43.

The bullpen which many expected to be the teams' Achilees heel is off to a fast start as well as the young guns selected by Mattingly at the end of spring training are fourth in the majors in ERA (2.25), first in FIP (2.13), first in xFIP (2.95) and second in strikeouts (79).

The Dodgers enter into the month of May with a 13-8 record and an impressive 10-2 record at Dodger Stadium. Only three of the Dodgers next nine series in May are against teams with a record of .500 or better meaning that the month of May could be the time Los Angeles separates themselves from the pack in the crowded NL West.

Overall Grade: B+

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