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).

Oct 19

NLCS Game Six, 2018


Dodgers at Brewers, 5:39 PM PDT, TV: FS1

The Dodgers send Game Two starter Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound in Milwaukee to face the Brewers’ Wade Miley. Presumably Miley’s not exhausted from his appearance in Game Five. Ryu went 4 1/3 innings in his start last Saturday and gave up two runs on six hits in a game the Dodgers won 4-3. Miley started that game and pitched 5 2/3 innings of two-hit scoreless baseball.

How have Bellinger’s adjustments helped or hurt him this season?

Are the Dodgers’ stealing the Brewers’ signs? Some Milwaukee players think so.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1981 The first Canadian pennant hopes are dashed when Dodger Rick Monday’s ninth inning two-out dramatic home run beats the Expos, 2-1, in the deciding game of the NLCS. It will be the first and last time in franchise history the team makes it into the postseason until 2012, when the Washington Nationals, the team’s new name and home for the past seven seasons, finishes first in the National League East Division.
  • 1993 The Dodgers trade future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to the Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields, who will hit .241 during his three seasons with Los Angeles. The 21 year-old Dominican right-hander will win 55 of 88 decisions in his four-year tenure with Montreal before being dealt to Boston prior to the 1998 campaign.

Today in Brewers’ history:

  • 1982 The Cardinals crush the Brewers 13-1 in Game Six of the World Series behind home runs from Darrell Porter and Keith Hernandez off Don Sutton and a complete game 4-hitter by John Stuper.

Lineups when available.

Dodgers’ lineup:


Brewers’ lineup:


Sep 28

Game 160, 2018

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, NBC-Bay Area, MLBN (out-of-market only)

I imagine MLB hoped that the Giants and Dodgers would be fighting it out for the NL West title when they scheduled this series. They got it half-right. The Dodgers need to win all three games and hope the Nationals can take two of three from the Rockies if they hope to win the division. Otherwise it’s a cat’s cradle of possibilities with wild card games, tiebreakers to get into wild card games, and who knows what else.

Tonight the Dodgers ask LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3, 2.00 ERA) to keep them in the game until they can either get to LHP Madison Bumgarner (6-6, 3.20 ERA) or knock him out. Both of these pitchers have spent lengthy amounts of time on the disabled list this season, and Ryu has done better since his return than has Bumgarner. Ryu has given up no more than three unearned runs in any of his fourteen starts this year including eight since his recovery. Bumgarner has a 1-1 record with a 5.48 ERA for the month of September.

On this day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1924 Rogers Hornsby finishes the season with a .424 batting average to lead the National League. The Cardinal second baseman easily outdistances Zack Wheat, who finishes second in the race, batting .375 for the Dodgers.
  • 1952 On the last day of the season at Ebbets Field, the Braves’ 77 years of representing Boston is extended by three innings when Eddie Mathews’ ninth-inning, two-out double ties the game. The contest is called due to darkness and ends in the 12th inning in a 5-5 tie with the Dodgers.
  • 1955 In the bottom of the second inning, Elston Howard, in his first World Series at-bat, knots the score at 2-2 when he homers off Dodgers’ right-hander Don Newcombe. The round-tripper to deep left field at Yankee Stadium marks the first time a black batter has hit a home run off a black pitcher in the history of the Fall Classic.
  • 1959 The Braves, who ended the National League regular season in a first-place tie with the Dodgers, lose Game 1 of the three-game series, 3-2, in front of a sparse crowd of 18,297 at County Stadium. Milwaukee will lose tomorrow’s game in L.A., spoiling their chance for a three-peat as NL Champs.
  • 1966 At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Larry Jaster throws a four-hitter, blanking Don Sutton and the Dodgers, 2-0. It’s the southpaw’s fifth shutout against LA this season, equaling a post-1900 major league mark held by the Senators’ Tom Hughes (against the Indians in 1905) and Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Phillies (against the Reds in 1916).
  • 1988 In his last start of the regular season, Dodger Orel Hershiser tosses 10 shutout frames to extend his streak to 59, breaking Don Drysdale’s record of 58 consecutive scoreless innings.
  • 1997 With his 40th home run, catcher Mike Piazza sets a single season Los Angeles Dodger record. Duke Snider holds the franchise record, slugging 43 round-trippers for Brooklyn in 1956.
  • 2003 At Turner Field in Atlanta, Jose Reyes becomes the second Mets player to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in one game. Lee Mazzilli was the first when he went yard twice against the Dodgers in LA on September 3, 1978.
  • 2006 At Coors Field in Colorado, James Loney collects four hits, including two homers, and drives in nine runs in the Dodgers’ 19-11 victory over the Rockies. The rookie first baseman, who had one homer and eight runs batted in in 93 previous at-bats with the team, ties the franchise RBI mark set by Gil Hodges in his 1950 four-homer game for Brooklyn and breaks the Los Angeles club mark held by Ron Cey.

Lineup when available.


No Bellinger? No Puig?

Sep 10

Game 144, 2018

Dodgers at Reds, 3:40 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FS-O

Lefty Alex Wood (8-6, 3.37 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers at Great American Ball Park today. He and Rich Hill’s starts were flipped because Dave Roberts felt Wood’s “stuff” is better suited for this stadium than Hill’s. He’ll face the Reds’ Cody Reed (0-2, 4.81 ERA), who gave up six runs in five innings against the Pirates in his last start. The Reds have a dismal record when he starts: they’re 0-14. Reed himself is 1-10 in the 35 games he’s been in the big leagues.

Bellinger’s versatility is a plus, says Pedro Moura at The Athletic.

Houston Mitchell of the LA Times guesses the fate of Dave Roberts after this season.

I think, and this is only a guess, that if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, he is gone. They have a team option on his contract, and the fact they haven’t picked it up yet speaks volumes.

The Dodgers called up LHP Julio Urias from AAA Oklahoma City today, and Kenley Jansen’s cardiologist confirmed another surgery will be performed shortly after the season’s end.

On this day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1992 Cardinals vice chairman Fred Kuhlman tells reporters that a “security check” had revealed serious issues involving the two out-of-state investors, Vince Piazza and Vincent N. Tirendi, part of the six-man group trying to buy the Giants and move the franchise to Florida. The candid reply to the press will cost baseball more than $6 million to settle a suit that includes a letter of apology from acting Commissioner Bud Selig to Vince Piazza, whose son Mike started his major league career with the Dodgers nine days before his father’s rejection by the MLB owners.
  • 1974 Lou Brock ties and then breaks Maury Wills’s 12 year-old single season stolen base record with his 104th and 105th swipes. The Cardinal left fielder’s thievery against the Phillies doesn’t help when the Redbirds drop the Busch Stadium contest, 8-2.

Lineup:


Aug 04

Game 112, 2018

Astros at Dodgers, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, ATT SportsNet-SW

RHP Lance McCullers (10-6, 4.06 ERA) tries to snap a personal three-game losing streak in which he’s got a 9.22 ERA over 13 2/3 innings. He’ll face the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.48 ERA), who was 2-1 for July but whose loss came in his last start of the month, when he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Brewers.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1908 In Brooklyn, the last-place Cardinals blank the Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers), 3-0. The entire Washington Park contest is played with just one ball.
  • 1941 Mickey Owens becomes the first catcher to handle three foul pop ups in one frame. The Brooklyn backstop’s third inning defense contributes to the Dodgers’ 11-6 victory over New York at Ebbets Field.
  • 1942 In a military relief game at the Polo Grounds, which will be the last war-time twilight game played, Pee Wee Reese’s grand slam in the top of the ninth, which puts the Dodgers up 5-1, doesn’t count, because of the 9:10 pm government curfew. The game ends up as a 1-1 tie with the Giants.
  • 1948 Ernie Harwell, filling in for Red Barber, who is recovering from a bleeding ulcer, calls his first major league game as the Dodgers beat the Cubs at Ebbets Field, 5-4. To obtain the future Hall of Fame broadcaster, Brooklyn general manager Branch Rickey trades minor league catcher Cliff Daper to the Atlanta Crackers.

Lineup when available.


Kiké at first? Bellinger off? What is Roberts thinking?

Aug 02

Game 110, 2018

Brewers at Dodgers, 6:00 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FSWI, Dish455

The Brewers send ace RHP Jhoulys Chacín (10-3, 3.45 ERA) to the hill to face the Dodgers’ ace LHP Clayton Kershaw (4-5, 2.52 ERA). Had Kershaw not been on the DL for nearly a month this season I suspect his W-L record would be as scintillating as his ERA is. Chacín has gone 18 innings in his last three starts and given up just three earned runs over that stretch. People are fussing about Kershaw’s lower velocity so far this year, but he’s still getting people out and his strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio of 9.17 is only one below what he averaged from 2014-2017.

On this date in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1938 Bright yellow baseballs designed by Frederick Rah, who believes the visibility of the dandelion-hue sphere will help players avoid getting hit by a pitch, are used in the first game of a doubleheader. The one-game experiment draws mixed reactions and the Dodgers complete their sweep of the twin bill from the Cardinals, 6-2 and 9-3, using the traditional white ball in the nightcap.
  • 1982 During a ceremony held in Cooperstown, NY, the United States Postal Service unveils a 20-cent stamp commemorating baseball great Jackie Robinson as part of its annual Black Heritage series. The Dodger infielder becomes the first individual baseball player to be depicted on a U.S postage stamp.

  • 2002 Reds general manager Jim Bowden is fined by commissioner Bud Selig for the comments he made to reporters prior to yesterday’s game against the Dodgers comparing a baseball strike with the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Quickly realizing the use of such analogy was inappropriate and insensitive, the Cincinnati GM issues an immediate apology after the game.
  • 2008 In the first game after the Manny Ramirez trade to the Dodgers, the Fenway Faithful enthusiastically welcome Jason Bay, the player replacing the Boston icon. The former Pirates outfielder doesn’t disappoint, tripling and scoring the winning run in the 12th inning of the Red Sox’s 2-1 victory over the A’s.
  • 2017 The Dodgers lost to the Braves, ending their nine-game winning streak. Had they won it would have been the third time that season they’d have won ten straight. The bullpen gave up the go-ahead runs in the eighth inning at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.

Lineup when available.


Turner’s back from the DL, which moves Machado back to SS. Muncy’s back after a day off and Bellinger moves to CF. That means Kemp and Taylor get the night off unless they’re need for pinch-hitting duties.

Jul 26

Game 103, 2018

Dodgers at Braves, 4:35 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FSSE, MLBN (out-of-market only)

LHP Rich Hill (3-4, 4.26 ERA) goes for the Dodgers while the Braves send RHP Aníbal Sánchez (5-2, 2.76 ERA) to the hill. Hill went six innings in his last start against Milwaukee, giving up five hits and one run while striking out nine. Sánchez has a 2.92 ERA for the month of July and is having his best year since 2013 when he went 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA for the Tigers.

On this date in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1900 In Brooklyn, a sheriff seizes the St. Louis share of gate receipts to reimburse Gus Weyhing, recently released by the Cardinals after posting a 3-4 record in eight starts with the team, who claims to have been cheated out of ten days of pay. Next week, the right-hander, known as Cannonball by his teammates, will sign with the Superbas as a free agent.
  • 1948 Former Dodger skipper Leo Durocher, who left the team ten days ago, makes his first appearance at Ebbets Field since taking over the Giants. The return of ‘the Lip’ is less-than-triumphant when his new team drops a 13-4 decision to Brooklyn.
  • 1951 In a 9-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Jim Russell becomes the first player in major league history to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a game in two different games. The Dodger outfielder’s accomplishment will be surpassed in 1956 when Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle goes deep both right and left-handed in the same game for a third time.
  • 1960 The Phillies end their scoreless streak of thirty-eight consecutive innings when Johnny Callison plates Tony Gonzalez with a sixth-inning single in the team’s 4-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Philadelphia’s drought began when the team failed to score in the last six frames of a 3-0 win against the Giants, and continued when they were shut out in three straight games ( 2-0, 2-0, and 9-0) by the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
  • 1991 Mark Gardner no-hits the Dodgers for nine innings, but Los Angeles wins the game in the bottom of the tenth on two singles off the Expos’ starter and Darryl Strawberry’s RBI single off reliever Jeff Fassero. It’s the first time the Dodgers had been held hitless at home for nine innings since Johnny Vander Meer’s second straight no-hitter in 1938.

Lineup when available.


One wonders why Muncy is starting at second base and why Bellinger is at first, and why Hernandez is not starting at all.

Jul 15

Game 96, 2018

Angels at Dodgers, 1:10 PM PDT (? My paper has it at that time; MLB has it at 7:10 PM PDT), TV: SPNLA, FS-W

The Angels ask RHP Deck McGuire (0-1, 6.10 ERA) to win the rubber match. All he has to do is hold the Dodgers in check while his team scores against LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-4, 2.61 ERA). Easy-peasy! McGuire has been used as a spot starters this season; he last started on July 7, also against the Dodgers. He pitched three scoreless innings in that game and didn’t figure in the decision. Kershaw didn’t pitch in last weekend’s series in Anaheim; his last start was on Monday against the Padres. He pitched six scoreless innings, gave up two hits and got the win.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1960 Home plate umpire Frank Dascoli stops play for 24 minutes when Willie McCovey hits a pitch into shallow left field that no one can see because of the dense fog. The Giants first baseman’s second inning ‘invisible triple’ doesn’t deter the Dodgers when they go on to win the Candlestick Park contest, 5-3.
  • 2003 At the All-Star Game played in Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Angels outfielder Garret Anderson goes 3-for-4, including a two-run homer and a double, helping the American League to beat the NL, 7-6. Pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock hits a go-ahead two-run homer off the usually untouchable reliever of the Dodgers, Eric Gagne.
  • 2004 Eric Gagne surpasses Jeff Shaw for the most career saves in franchise history, collecting his 130th save in a Dodger uniform. The 28 year-old right-handed closer pitches a perfect ninth, striking out the side, in the team’s 5-2 victory over Arizona at Bank One Ballpark.
  • 2017 Cody Bellinger becomes the first Dodger rookie to hit for the cycle when he collects a seventh-inning triple in the team’s 7-1 victory over the Marlins in Miami. The 22-year old freshman goes 4-for-5, driving in three runs en route to his historic accomplishment.

Also: in 1939 National League president Ford Frick orders two-foot screens affixed inside all foul poles after Billy Jurges of the Giants and umpire George Magerkurth spit at each other after a foul ball call down the left field line is disputed at the Polo Grounds. The American League will soon follow the Senior Circuit lead and will also install foul ball screens.

And: in 1994 after being confiscated in the first inning of the Indians-White Sox contest at Comiskey Park, Albert Belle’s bat, suspected of being corked, is placed in umpire Dave Phillips’ locker for further examination. The attempt to take and replace the suspected bat by a bungling burglar, who gains access to the umpire’s room by squirming through the stadium’s overhead crawl space, a thievery Jason Grimsley will confess to five-years later, is immediately uncovered with the discovery of pieces of broken ceiling tile on the floor, and a new name on the ‘clean’ bat which now reads, Paul Sorrento.

Lineup:


May 16

Game 42, 2018

Dodgers at Marlins, 4:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FS-F

The Dodgers send young righty Walker Buehler (2-1, 1.64 ERA) out to face the Marlins’ RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 3.00 ERA). This will be Hernandez’s first MLB start; he’s given up one run on six hits in three relief innings this year. Buehler was the starter in the combined no-hitter the Dodgers’ pitchers threw against the Padres in his next-to-last start. In his last one he gave up two runs on five hits in six innings and took the loss against the Reds.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1913 Alfredo Cabrera, born in the Canary Islands, becomes the first person from Spain to appear in the majors. The 32 year-old Cardinals shortstop will go 0-for-2 in the only big league game he will play, a 6-5 loss to the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
  • 1967 Reliever Phil Regan loses his first game in 77 appearances. The ‘Vulture’ gets pinned with his first defeat in over a year when Astros’ third baseman Bob Aspromonte hits a two-run triple in the tenth to beat the Dodgers, 5-3.
  • 1970 During a game against the Giants at Dodger Stadium, Alan Fish, sitting with friends from the Poinsettia Playground in the second row seats along the first base line, is struck in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Manny Mota. The 14 year-old boy will die four days later to become the first fatality as a result of a batted ball in major league history.
  • 1983 In an 11-4 rout of the Pirates, rookie right fielder Darryl Strawberry hit his first major league home run, a two-run round-tripper off Pittsburgh’s Lee Tunnell at Three Rivers Stadium. The troubled Mets outfielder, the eventual franchise leader with 252 homers, will hit a total of 335 during his turbulent 17-year career with the Mets, Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees.
  • 2000 After a fan steals Los Angeles’ catcher Chad Kreuter’s hat and hits him in the back of the head, many Dodgers, including coaches John Shelby and Rick Dempsey, go into the stands and start fighting with the Wrigley Field faithful. When the melee ends, several fans are arrested as the game is delayed nearly ten minutes, and there is litter all over the field.

Lineup when available.


Muncy at 1st Base, Bellinger in CF. That’s new.

Sep 11

Game 144, 2017

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 PM PT, TV: SPNLA, NBCS BA

RHP Kenta Maeda (12-6, 4.02 ERA) takes the mound against RHP Chris Stratton (2-3, 4.10 ERA) in San Francisco.

Maeda allowed one unearned run over five innings on Wednesday against the D-backs. He’s 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA in four career starts against the Giants. Stratton has both started and relieved this season; he’s been much better as a starter. He’s got an 8.59 ERA in relief. As a starter he’s made five starts and has gone 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA since the All Star break.

A sad note: former Dodger (and nine other teams’) scout Mel Didier died Sunday night at home in Phoenix. He was 90 years old. His most memorable find was probably his analysis which showed that the Athletics’ Dennis Eckersley liked to throw backdoor sliders when the count was full and first base was open. He told the Dodgers’ hitters that before Game One of the 1988 World Series. What was the count to Kirk Gibson when he hit that game-winning home run? 3-2. What was the pitch? A backdoor slider.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1959 The Dodgers end Elroy Face’s consecutive win streak at 22 with a 5-4 victory over the Pirates. The reliever, who will end the season with an 18-1 record, is beaten by Chuck Churn, the winner of only three major league career victories.
  • 1966 In his first major league at-bat, John Miller homers off Lee Stange in the second inning of the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. The 22 year-old left fielder, whose total of 10 hits in his 32-game career will include just two round-trippers, will become the only player to hit home runs in his first and last major league plate appearance when he goes deep as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in his final turn at bat in 1966.
  • 1998 Kevin Malone is named as the Dodgers’ general manager, replacing Tommy Lasorda, who is promoted to Senior Vice President of the team. The “new sheriff in town” tenure in Los Angeles will be marked by the signing of high profile players to huge contracts, including Kevin Brown’s seven-year deal making the right-hander the first $100 million man in baseball.

Historical note of more than passing interest to Cody Bellinger fans: today in 1956 Frank Robinson ties Wally Berger’s 1930 National League record for home runs by a rookie for home runs with his 38th in the Reds’ 11-5 victory over the Giants at Polo Grounds. A’s first baseman Mark McGwire established the major league mark for freshman homers with 49 round-trippers in 1989. Bellinger has 36 with 18 games to go in the season.

Lineup when available.

Granderson again? Why not Ethier in LF? And since A-Gon had to have an epidural shot four days ago, why not Cody at 1B?

Roberts, I’m beginning to question your judgment.