Oct 30

Gather ’round the stove, y’all

We go into the offseason earlier than we hoped and without the ultimate prize, so who’s coming back to ensure we get back to the Series for the third consecutive year?

…the Dodgers retain their nucleus. Hill will return for the final year of a three-year deal he signed after 2016. Justin Turner and Jansen will be back. Max Muncy, this year’s breakout star, will be back and cost-controlled. Seager is expected to be healthy. A young nucleus of position players that includes Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson will also come back, with Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo perhaps ready to take on bigger roles.

Kershaw or not, the rotation could post a combination of Buehler and Julio Urías that is currently a combined 45 years old.

Besides Kershaw, other free agents include Machado, Freese, Dozier, and Grandal. Despite the current dissatisfaction with Grandal,

…only J.T. Realmuto was a more valuable catcher by Baseball Prospectus’ WARP metric, and he is coming off the best offensive season of his career. He will be paid, and handsomely, as the Dodgers will look to find a catching partner to join the light-hitting Austin Barnes.

Beyond Kershaw’s decision, which must be made this week, the biggest question is whether Dave Roberts will manage the team next year. You’d think three consecutive playoff appearances and two trips to the World Series would make that question ludicrous, but baseball owners have done screwier things*.

To win the World Series, the Dodgers would have had to play better than they had for any seven-game stretch all season. Roberts would have had to nail every single decision, which he did not. Puig would have had to throw to the cutoff man, which he did not. Their pitchers would have had to pitch to their strengths, which they did not. Their hitters would have had to, well, hit.

“You have to realize that we are a really good team to get to go to the World Series two years in a row,” Kershaw said. “It might not be a personnel thing. It might just be a ‘play better’ thing.”

So, what’s next? Here are selected events from Major League Baseball’s calendar:

  • Nov. 2, 2018 Deadline for teams to extend qualifying offer to own free agents, 5 p.m. ET
  • Nov. 8-15, 2018 Japan All-Star Tour (including CT3)
  • Nov. 12, 2018 Deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offer, 5 p.m. ET
  • Nov. 30, 2018 Non-tender deadline
  • Dec. 9-13, 2018 Winter Meetings in Las Vegas
  • Dec. 13, 2018 Rule 5 Draft

*Back in 1964 the Cardinals’ owner Gussie Busch fired the team’s entire senior management in August, leaving field manager Johnny Keane as sole survivor for the time. Shortly after the Cardinals won the World Series, Keane surprised management by resigning (and then being hired by the Yankees, who’d just lost to Keane’s former team).

Jul 09

Game 90, 2018

Dodgers at Padres, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FSSD, MLBN (out-of-market only)

The Dodgers have beaten the Padres in six of nine meetings so far this season. Today they’ll send LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-4, 2.86 ERA) to the mound in hopes he’ll continue to recover from his two stints on the disabled list. He’ll face the Padres’ RHP Luis Perdomo (1-2, 6.86 ERA), who has made one start since coming back from a two-month stay in AAA El Paso with the Chihuahuas.


The Dodgers and Yankees are promoting Muncy and Giancarlo Stanton as candidates for the ASG Final Vote.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1956 The BBWAA, by a narrow margin of 14-12, votes to establish the Cy Young Award to honor the major leagues’ most outstanding pitcher. Commissioner Ford Frick initiated the idea because he felt hurlers were not recognized in the MVP voting, but ironically the first recipient of the Cy Young Award, Dodger Don Newcombe, also won the Most Valuable Player Award.
  • 1996 Mike Piazza, who will be named the All-Star Game’s MVP, hits a moon shot into the upper-deck at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. The Dodger backstop also strokes an RBI double, helping the National League to beat the AL, 6-0.

Lineup when available.

As expected, Puig (probably) to DL. Toles in CF, Kemp in RF, Joc in LF.


Jul 06

Game 87, 2018

Dodgers at Angels, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FS-W

The Dodgers take the 40-mile drive southeast to Angels Stadium for Game One of the Freeway Series. They’ll send RHP Kenta Maeda (5-5, 3.36 ERA) to the mound for his third career start against the Halos. He pitched well enough to win in his last start against the Rockies, but German Marquez was better, holding the Dodgers to two hits and one run over eight innings. The Angels counter with Felix Peña (1-0, 3.71 ERA), who will be making just his fourth big league start tonight. He got his first win as a starter a week ago when he pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Orioles while giving up just five hits. He’s still learning: he’s only pitched 60 1/3 innings in the major leagues since his debut in 2016.

Down on the farm: Verdugo and Toles are hot at OKC, AAA All-Stars include four OKC players and two Dodger prospects lead their respective leagues (Texas and California) in home runs.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1938 At Crosley Field, Yankees’ hurler Lefty Gomez is defeated for the first time in four All-Star starts as the NL wins the All-Star game 4-1. National League shortstop Leo Durocher becomes the first Dodger to start in an All-Star Game and gets a ‘bunt’ home run.
  • 1953 In his first major league start, 24 year-old right-hander Al Worthington throws a two-hitter, blanking the Pirates, 6-0. The Giants’ rookie, known as ‘Red’, will become the first National League freshman to throw consecutive shutouts at the start of a career, when he repeats the feat in his next outing, also blanking the Dodgers, 6-0.
  • 2000 Vin Scully, 72, is voted the No. 1 sportscaster of the 20th century by members of the American Sportscasters Association. The Dodger veteran broadcaster’s 51-year career has included play-by-play of 25 Fall Classics and a dozen All-Star Games.

Lineup when available.


Mar 15

Getting closer to Opening Day!

Have a nice story complimenting the Dodger Stadium architects and the owners who have kept it up.

Okay, it’s an ad for Kingsford charcoal, it’s still kinda cute.

Cory Seager’s elbow shows no ill-effects from throwing in a game Wednesday and Kiké Hernandez says “Hey, I can hit right-handers too!” Alex Wood went five innings and struck out six White Sox “A” leaguers while giving up just one hit, and Matt Kemp went 1-4 as a starter in left field. Andrew Toles came off the bench and was 0-for-1. Alex Verdugo came off the bench and was 1-for-1 with a double. Trayce Thompson came off the bench and was 1-for-1 with a bloop double. Other news here.

Feb 27

One week into spring (training)

So far this spring the Dodgers have a 2-3 record. I like this deal,though:

Dodgers @ Padres
Peoria Stadium – Wed 2/28
358 tickets as low as $4

As we all expected, the Dodgers have a bunch of outfielders all trying to win a job in left field (Yasiel Puig’s a fixture in right and Chris Taylor’s the same in center). Andrew Toles is coming back from a torn ACL in his right knee, Joc Pederson’s trying to regain his form of 2016, Alex Verdugo might be their best non-pitching prospect, and oh yeah, Matt Kemp is back. He’s 40 pounds lighter than he was last season, which should certainly help his fairly awful defense of the last few years, and he can still hit. I think it’s even money he and his $43M contract get traded, possibly before the season begins, but the Dodgers have supposedly been trying to do that since they reacquired him in the offseason. The left field situation featured in a Dodgers.com story about Maeda’s two-inning stint on Tuesday:

In the ongoing competition for left field, Matt Kemp started in left Tuesday and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Joc Pederson started in center and was 0-for-2 with a walk, caught-stealing and strikeout, and he threw out former Dodger Willie Calhoun at the plate; and Alex Verdugo started in right and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Off the bench, Andrew Toles was 0-for-1 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout.

I just subscribed to the new sportswriting website The Athletic. If you subscribe by clicking that link you get 25% off the $59.99 annual subscription price and I get $10 in credit at Amazon. It looks like a slightly pricey deal for a lot of extraordinary sportswriters, including people laid off by ESPN like Jayson Stark. Ken Rosenthal of Fox is there, as is Peter Gammons. It’s covering the NFL, the NHL, the NBA and MLS in addition to MLB. Take a look at it.

May 26

Game 49, 2017

Cubs at Dodgers, 7:10 PM PT, TV: SPNLA, ABC 7, MLBN (out-of-market only)

The Cubbies come to LA for the only time this season. Tonight’s opener of the three-game series features the Cubs’ RHP Jake Arrieta (5-3, 4.80 ERA) returning to the scene of his first no-hitter in August of 2015. He’ll face the Dodgers’ LHP Alex Wood (5-0, 1.88 ERA), who’s been far better than anyone thought he’d be going into the season.

Arrieta is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers, but in his last 16 innings he’s shut them out. Wood started against the Cubs in April, giving up two runs in 3 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers claimed infielder Mike Freeman and RHP Chris Heston from the Mariners and transferred Andrew Toles & Scott Kazmir to the 60-day DL.

Today in Dodgers’ history: Nothing unusual happened. In the pennant-winning year of 1974 the Dodgers beat the Giants 9-5 behind Doug Rau, with Mike Marshall going 3 1/3 innings to get his sixth save of the year. Elsewhere:

  • 1959 Pirates’ hurler Harvey Haddix pitches 12 perfect innings, but loses 1-0 to the Braves in the 13th inning. The heart-breaking winning run scores on a Don Hoak error, a sacrifice, a walk, and a two-bagger by Joe Adcock. A subsequent rules change stupidly removes this game from baseball’s list of no-hitters (Ed.).
  • 1993 Carlos Martinez hits a fly ball to Jose Canseco that caroms off the Ranger outfielder’s head over the fence for a home run. The fourth inning solo homer will prove to be the difference when the Indians edge Texas at Cleveland Stadium, 7-6. (Video)

Lineup when available.

May 10

Game 34, 2017

Pirates at Dodgers, 7:10 PM PT, TV: SPNLA, ROOTPIT

The visitors send RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 5.54 ERA) out to face the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda (2-2, 5.81 ERA). Kuhl managed to beat the Dodgers twice last year despite posting a 4.09 ERA while doing so. Maeda’s last two starts were his best of the season (12 innings, three earned runs, 16 Ks).

Here’s a scheduling quirk: today’s game will be the third of 35 consecutive games the Pirates will play outside of the National League Central.

Today in Dodgers history:

  • 1953 With a double and home run, Roy Campanella drives in all the runs in the Dodgers’ 5-0 victory over the Phillies at Ebbets Field. Campy’s total of 40+ RBIs in the first 30 games will not be matched until Tino Martinez accomplishes the feat in 1997 with the Yankees.
  • 1955 Dodger right-hander Don Newcombe faces only 27 batters when he one-hits Chicago at Wrigley Field, 3-0. Newk’s bid for perfection is ruined by a fourth-inning single hit by Gene Baker, who will be thrown out trying to steal second base.

Injury update:

Lineup:

We see the immediate impact of Toles’s injury, as Bellinger moves to left field and Utley plays 1B.

Apr 26

Game 22, 2017

In case you missed it, here’s the most amazing play of the year thus far:

Dodgers at Giants, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, NBC-Bay Area, MLBN (out-of-market only)

Lefty Alex Wood (1-0, 3.29 ERA) faces Johnny Cueto (3-1, 5.25 ERA) in Game Three of the four-game set. It might be Wood’s last start for a while, because of this news:

followed by this remark: “Roberts said Urias is up to stay.”

Lineup when available.

Roberts keeps switching batting orders around for reasons I don’t understand. Bellinger’s leading off? Toles was leading off and now he’s hitting eighth? Utley’s hitting 0-for April and yet he’s at second base?

Apr 23

Game 19, 2017

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 1:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FS-A

RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 2.12 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers and RHP Shelby Miller (2-1, 3.50 ERA) does so for the D-Backs. Both pitchers had forgettable 2016 seasons — McCarthy with Tommy John surgery and Miller with poor performances all round (3-12, 6.15 ERA for the year with no wins at Chase Field).

McCarthy, 33, has bounced around the big leagues — the Dodgers are his sixth team. He’s never had a brilliant season but has been serviceable when healthy. His career record is 59-68 with a 4.13 ERA in 1069 innings.

Miller, 26, was a 15-game winner in 2013 and 2014 with the Cardinals before going to the Braves in exchange for outfielder Jason Heyward. He had a horrible W-L record (6-17) but a good ERA (3.02) in 2015 with the Braves. He was traded to the D-Backs following that season. For his career he’s 37-48 with a 3.68 ERA in 694 innings.

The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Andrew Toles and Yasiel Puig are a combined 16-for-33 (.485) against Miller. On the other hand, before Saturday’s game Goldschmidt was a career .313 hitter (121-for-386) with 24 homers and 80 RBIs vs. the Dodgers.

Lineup when available.

Apr 22

Game 18, 2017

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 5:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FS-A

Kenta Maeda (1-1, 7.07 ERA) goes for the Dodgers, YALHP Robbie Ray (1-0, 1.96 ERA) for the D-Backs. If you’re counting, Ray is the 10th lefty to start against the Dodgers in 18 games.

Maeda pitched against the Diamondbacks Saturday night, giving up four runs on four hits in four innings. He has yet to settle in this season; the Dodgers are hoping extra bullpen and two extrad days of rest will get him on the right track. Ray faced the Dodgers Monday night, went six innings, gave up two runs, walked four, struck out ten and got no decision for his trouble.

Lineup when available.

So apparently Joc’s deemed not likely to succeed as well against the lefty Ray as he did leading off against the righty Walker last night. No Toles, no Utley, no Seager: I don’t quite understand Dave Roberts’ reasoning here.