Apr 03

Game Six, 2018

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 PM PDT, TV: FS-A, SPNLA

This is Clayton Kershaw’s second start of the season. He actually lost the first, the first loss the lefty has ever sustained in his eight Opening Day outings. He wasn’t exactly lit up, however, giving up only a Joe Panik home run in his six innings of work. He’s 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA. His opponent will be RHP Zack Godley, who’s making his first start of the year.

Here are some observations about Kershaw’s first outing from ESPN’s Buster Olney:

Kershaw threw inside at a higher rate than any pitcher in baseball in 2017, in keeping with a career-long habit of bullying hitters. But on Opening Day, his average fastball was down to a career-low 90.7 mph, and he attacked the outer half of the strike zone in his final few innings, often with off-speed pitches, and kept the Giants’ hitters off-balance, allowing one run in six innings. Some evaluators believe Kershaw would benefit from making the same transition CC Sabathia has made during his career; by consistently using both sides of the plate, he can be less predictable and more difficult for hitters to diagnose.

From ESPN Stats & Information research, no pitcher threw inside at a higher rate last season than Kershaw. He threw 40.2 percent of his pitches inside, a full 3 percent higher than any other player.

Another interesting note about Kershaw’s pitch locations: He threw 70.1 percent of his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone last season, more than 10 percent higher than he has thrown in any other season in the past 10.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1968 The Tigers trade left-hander Hank Aguirre to the Dodgers for a player to be named later, minor leaguer Fred Moulder. The All-Star southpaw, better known for being the worst hitter in major league history, will compile a .085 batting average during his 16-year major league career, striking out in an astounding 61% of his 388 at-bats.
  • 1974 The Indians trade Pedro Guerrero to Dodgers for pitcher Bruce Ellingsen. The 17 year-old infielder/outfielder will compile a .309 batting average and will be named to the All-Star team five times during his 11 seasons with the team.
  • 2008 Twenty minutes before their game, the Dodgers announce reliever Hong-Chih Kuo will start in place of Chad Billingsley, who in turn will be in the bullpen. The unusual move, made due to the threat of rain at the start of the contest, is also employed by the Giants with Merkin Valdez beginning the game on the mound and the announced starter, and eventual winner Tim Lincecum entering the game in the fourth inning.

Lineup when available.


May 14

Game 38, 2017

Dodgers at Rockies, 12:10 PM PT, TV: SPNLA, ROOTRM, MLBN free game of the day

LHP Julio Urias (0-0, 1.06 ERA), the Dodgers’ youngster, goes to the mound to try to beat the Rockies’ RHP Antonio Senzatela (5-1, 2.86 ERA) and move the Dodgers past the Rockies into sole possession of first place in the NL West.

Urias has made three starts since his April 27 callup and hasn’t allowed more than a run in a start this year, posting a 1.06 ERA and pitching at least five innings each time out. He hasn’t gotten a decision yet. Senzatela was NL Rookie of the Month in April, he’s tied for second best in the league in wins with five (Kershaw leads with six), and his 2.86 ERA is eighth best. He’s gone at least six innings for his last six starts in a row.

Today in Dodgers history:

  • 1981 With a 3-2 win over Montreal in front of the largest Dodger Stadium crowd in seven years, rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela improves his record to 8-0. The 20 year-old southpaw, who has started the season with five shutouts and a miniscule ERA of 0.50, gets the victory when right fielder Pedro Guerrero hits a lead-off game-ending home run off Steve Ratzer in the bottom of the ninth inning at Chavez Ravine.
  • 2011 For the first time since 1914, the Dodgers are defeated after allowing just one hit, losing to the visiting Diamondbacks,1-0. Chad Billingsley, the hard-luck loser, gives up a leadoff double in the second to Stephen Drew, who scores the game’s only run when shortstop Jamey Carroll fails to cover the bag in an attempted pick-off play.

Lineup when available.

Jul 07

Game 85, 2015

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA

Chad Billingsley continues his comeback after nearly two years spent recovering from elbow surgeries. He’s pitched in four games so far this season for the Phillies, compiling an 0-2 record with a 7.71 ERA over 21 innings. He’ll face Brett Anderson, who’s on a bit of a roll. He’s given up only one run in each of his last three starts and won all of them. At 5-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 starts and 96 innings, this has been the most work Anderson’s been able to do in a season since 2010.

Lineup when available.

Nov 01

Hot Stove League Talk

The Dodgers bought out Chad Billingsley’s contract for $3M, making him a free agent.

The 30-year-old Billingsley, a former All-Star, is trying to return from two arm operations. He didn’t pitch in 2014 and made only two starts in 2013 before needing Tommy John surgery. While rehabbing this year, he required surgery to repair a partially torn flexor tendon.

A first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Billingsley went 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA for the Dodgers. He won a career-high 16 games in 2008 and was an All-Star in ’09.

Billingsley becomes the seventh Dodger free agent. In addition to him, Hanley Ramirez, Paul Maholm, Chris Perez, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright are also free to negotiate for new deals with any team.

Ramirez’s contract is possibly the biggest decision new boss Andrew Friedman will have to make. Do the Dodgers make him a $15.3M qualifying offer, which ensures they get something in return (a supplemental draft pick between the first and second rounds) if he rejects it and goes elsewhere? He might be worth more than that, especially if he’s willing to move to third base for a new team. The Dodgers have Uribe signed through 2015, so that’s not an option they could easily fulfill. My guess is they make the qualifying offer just to guarantee themselves a player in return when he signs with the Yankees to replace Derek Jeter.

Dan Haren picked up his $10M option to stay with the Dodgers, and Brian Wilson is expected to pick up his for the same amount. Maholm is recovering from knee surgery, Perez was lightly used down the stretch, Hernandez was mostly adequate, Correia wasn’t much help, and Jamey Wright is 40 years old with who knows how much left in his arm.

The team still has more outfielders than it knows what to do with, and it’s also got Joc Pederson pounding on the door to get in, although his cup of coffee at the end of September wasn’t very successful. Ethier and Crawford could be trade bait, but both have very large contracts. Ethier is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018; the balance of the contract is $53.5M through 2017. Crawford is still under terms of the contract he signed with the Red Sox, which has a balance of $62.5M through 2017.

It should be an interesting off-season.

Oct 07

Who might go?

In end-of-the-season news, Josh Beckett announced his retirement after the game. He did better for the team than most of us anticipated he would, I think: 6-6 with a 2.88 ERA and a no-hitter before going down for the year with a torn labrum in his hip.

The Dodgers have a passel of free agents led by Hanley Ramirez. The team has until five days after the World Series to extend what’s called a Qualifying Offer of $15.3M (a number set by the Basic Agreement as the average of the 125 highest contracts by average annual value). That ensures that the Dodgers would get a compensating draft pick if Ramirez rejects the offer and goes elsewhere. On the other hand, he could accept it. If so, he and the Dodgers would be committed to one another for next year.

Other free agents: Chad Billingsley (team option of $14M or a $3M buyout — after two surgeries the Dodgers may elect to buy him out); Paul Maholm, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright. Dan Haren has earned a $10M player option but even after Tuesday’s game said he remained undecided whether to play or retire. Brian Wilson has a $10M option he’s expected to accept.

Sep 05

How many innings can one arm throw?

According to Dodgers.com Beckett is thinking about retirement.

Beckett needs surgery to repair a torn labrum and a lesion in his left hip, whether he pitches again or not.

[snip]

He’s a high-mileage 34-year-old, having thrown 2,051 innings in 13 big league seasons.

I don’t doubt Beckett might decline a four-month rehab, as the article suggests is needed. He hurts, he’s made more than $116M in his career and has a couple of small kids, so why not retire? Other than the no-hitter this year I suspect he hasn’t had much fun this season. He even says “It takes four hours of [therapy] work to do two hours on the field.”

I think baseball may have seen the last of Josh Beckett as a player. But that bit about his innings pitched raised a question for me — is 2,051 IP high-mileage? Over 13 years he’s averaged 209 IP over a 162-game period. He was a full-time starter when he was 22 years old. Among Dodger starters:

  • Dan Haren is 33 and has thrown 2,202 innings in 12 MLB seasons for a 162-game average of 215 IP.
  • Kevin Correia is 34 but has thrown only 1,397 MLB innings for a 162-game average of 168 IP in 12 seasons.
  • Roberto Hernandez is 34 with 1,248 MLB innings for a 162-game average of 190 IP over 9 seasons.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu is 27, has 7 years of Korean League experience and 1,269 innings there in addition to the 336 he’s got in the big leagues, averaging roughly 178 IP (the Korean Leagues throw off the 162-game calculation).
  • Chad Billingsley is 30 and has 1,175 MLB innings for a 162-game average of 195 IP over 7 seasons (and 12 innings).
  • Kershaw, believe it or not, is 27 but has 1,349 MLB innings himself and has averaged 223 IP over a 162-game period in 7 seasons.

Of the three guys who are the same age as Beckett, Haren’s the closest in hard use. He’s always been a starter. Correia pitched his first five years in relief and as a spot starter. Hernandez was a full-time starter in his second year in the bigs.

If Beckett is high-mileage, then Haren, averaging 215 IP, and Kershaw, averaging 223 IP, are the two guys who could also be classified as such. We can only hope Kershaw doesn’t injure himself throwing that many innings every year.

Jun 17

Game 73, 2014

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA

It’s the Rockies’ Jhoulys Chacin (1-4, 4.53 ERA) against the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke (8-3, 2.65 ERA). They faced one another on June 7 and neither got the decision, as the game went into extra innings and Brandon Barnes hit a walk-off triple in the 10th.

Chad Billingsley is going to have a second surgery, this one to repair his flexor tendon. “The flexor tendon runs alongside the ulnar collateral ligament that tore and was transplanted last year in a Tommy John procedure. If the flexor tendon tears further after an injection and rehab, it could compromise the repaired ligament,” so he decided on surgery rather than stem-cell injection and therapy. He should be ready for spring training next season.

Jun 14

Game 70, 2014

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, MLBN, SNLA Spanish

Dan Haren takes his record of 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA to the hill for the Dodgers. He’ll be facing Josh Collmenter, who is 4-3 with a 3.65 ERA.

If they had Uribear back this would almost be the season’s starting lineup. Juan is running curves (?) on the field and may be ready for a rehab assignment soon.

In other injury news, Chad Billingsley tore his flexor tendon on his way toward rehab outings in Albuquerque and will talk to reporters about his options today.

Feb 08

Bits and pieces

When the team hasn’t announced a deal but the player has a locker at the Spring Training clubhouse in Arizona, does he have a deal? That’s what we know about Paul Maholm, who’ll be in his tenth year and has a lousy W-L record to show for it. On the other hand, if you’d pitched for the Pirates for seven years between 2005 and 2011, you’d have been hard-pressed to do much better.

Billingsley thinks his Tommy John surgery has given him an entirely new arm. He’s throwing 80mph off a mound and won’t try curveballs till the end of February.

Mattingly says Kemp probably won’t play in Australia; he hasn’t yet run outside.

Dee Gordon has been practicing at second base and in the outfield.

Update: From Camelback Ranch today:

Jan 22

Spurned!

Now that Tanaka-san decided to try his luck with the Yankees, what do the Dodgers do? Do they really need another starter?

Yes, yes: “You can never have too much pitching.” And it’s true that after Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu the Dodgers have questions. Will Haren return to his earlier form, or is he now a .500 pitcher? Will Beckett and Billingsley recover fully from their respective injuries? Who knows?

Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo, among others, remain unsigned. Santana and Jimenez received qualifying offers, which means that landing them would cost the Dodgers a draft pick. That seems unlikely, given the team’s imperative to rebuild the farm system gutted by Frank McCourt. Neither Garza nor Arroyo received qualifying offers, which could put them in play.

I dunno. I think they need to get Hanley Ramirez’s contract extended before offering more money to any of those guys.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN both Tweet that the Dodgers have signed ex-Angel Chone Figgins to a minor league contract and invited him to camp as a non-roster guy. If he’s got anything at all left (he sat out last year and is 36 years old) he could be one of the utility guys the Dodgers desperately need.