Aug 21

Game 28, 2020

Rockies at Dodgers, 6:40 PM PDT, TV: ATT Sportsnet RM, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

The visiting Rockies send RHP Jon Gray (1-2, 5.74 ERA) to the mound to face the Dodgers’ RHP Walker Buehler (0-0, 5.21 ERA). Gray won his last start, giving up three runs on three hits while striking out seven in seven innings. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts says Buehler is close to his normal self, but his ERA surely doesn’t reflect it yet.

Kershaw passed Don Drysdale in career strikeouts as a Dodger yesterday:

Today in Dodgers’ history, two very different events, one a calamitous bullpen meltdown I witnessed on Friday Night baseball and one hilarious overreaction on the part of a baseball team’s supposedly-professional management:

  • 1975 The Reuschel brothers of the Cubs join forces to blank the Dodgers, 6-0. Rick goes 6.1 innings, and Paul finishes the game for the first shutout thrown by siblings.
  • 1990 The Phillies overcome an eight-run deficit, scoring nine runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Dodgers, 12-11. John Kruk’s pinch-hit three-run homer ties the game, and two batters later, Carmelo Martinez’s double plates Rod Booker with the eventual winning run in the Chavez Ravine contest.

  • 2005 Florida suspends their bat boy for six games after the 11 year-old accepts former Marlin and current Dodger hurler Brad Penny’s $500 dare to drink a gallon of milk in less than an hour without throwing up. The Milk Processor Education Program will promise to pay off the dare and to cover the lost wages resulting from the suspension if the sixth grader, who is able to drink the quantity in the allotted time but cannot keep it down, agrees to drink three glasses every 24 hours.

Lineup:

Apr 21

A grim outlook

This is an extremely pessimistic look at the Dodgers’ prospects this season from SI’s Tom Verducci. It’s hard to argue with much of it.

No team stands to lose more from the loss or truncation of the 2020 Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus than the Dodgers. They may have traded three prospects to Boston for few or no games from Mookie Betts and his $27 million salary. As the team that draws half a million more fans than any other franchise, they are losing the most gate revenue. As the deepest team in baseball, their depth may be less valuable in a shorter season. And as the clear favorites in the National League West, their road to the postseason is more difficult as more games come off the schedule.

If there is a season it’s going to be a short one. With the pitching depth they have they might be best served by going to a six-man rotation, considering the possibility of more doubleheaders (did the Dodgers play even one over the last few years? I don’t remember any). In fact, Verducci says, “The six-man rotation, including a plethora of openers, is likely to be standard procedure for teams in a shorter season with expanded rosters.”

Roberts thinks getting baseball back when the science allows could be therapeutic for hospital patients and health-care workers and for the nation as a whole:

“You know, my father would tell stories of the family being huddled around a radio to listen to a game or around the TV for the one game of the week the family could watch. Lord willing, we can get this season in, and we’re playing and it’s broadcast into our homes to get back that feeling from decades in the past of families huddled around the TV watching America’s pastime.

Sep 25

Game 158, 2019

Dodgers at Padres, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

RHP Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.32 ERA) goes for the visiting Dodgers while RHP Dinelson Lamet (3-5, 3.84 ERA) goes for the Padres at Petco Park. According to Dave Roberts, Stripling will either start this game or go multiple innings in relief. Lamet returned from Tommy John surgery in mid-season and has done well in his last three starts, posting a 2.65 ERA with 25 Ks despite a 1-2 record.

Yes, yes, Muncy hit a grand slam in yesterday’s game, but Rich Hill’s double was even more entertaining:

This day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1941 Combined with a Cardinal defeat, the Dodgers win their first pennant in 21 years when they beat Boston at Braves Field, 6-0. Whitlow Wyatt throws a five-hitter and Pete Reiser hits a homer in the winning cause.
  • 1956 Dodger right-hander Sal Maglie no-hits the Phillies at Ebbets Field, 5-0. The ‘Barber’s’ gem helps second-place Brooklyn to keep pace in the pennant race with Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

  • 1962 After appearing in 60 games over a two-year span, Dodger reliever Ed Roebuck suffers his first loss. The LA right-hander gives up a 10th inning home run to Houston’s Al Spangler, breaking the 2-2 deadlock at Chavez Ravine.
  • 1974 In the first-of-its-kind operation, Dr. Frank Jobe transplants a tendon from Tommy John’s right wrist to the Dodger pitcher’s left elbow. The revolutionary ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, which will become a standard surgical procedure better known as Tommy John surgery, enables the southpaw to win an additional 164 games, more than half of his career total of 288 victories.
  • 1996 Giants slugger Barry Bonds draws an intentional walk which gives him the National League record with 149 bases-on-balls in a season. The free pass is issued in the seventh inning by LA’s Mark Guthrie with two outs and a runner on third base in the team’s 7-5 loss at Dodger Stadium. (Note: Bonds wasn’t done. He now holds down the top three spots in Most Walks, Hitter, Season).
  • 2008 The Diamondbacks, defending division champions, lose to St. Louis, 12-3, allowing the Dodgers to clinch the NL West. Los Angeles first-year skipper Joe Torre’s 13-year postseason streak continues, unlike the Yankees, his former team.

Lineup:

Aug 15

Game 123, 2019

Dodgers at Marlins, 12:05 PM PDT, TV: FS-F, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

RHP Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.08 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers against the Marlins’ LHP Caleb Smith (7-6, 3.71 ERA). Buehler was annoyed with himself after his last start; he went six scoreless innings and struck out eight but “didn’t throw enough first-pitch strikes.” Smith has struggled since the All Star break. He had a 3.50 ERA before that and has had a 4.15 ERA since. He averaged 2.63 BB/9 and 11 K/9 before the break and 3.89 BB/9 and 10.13 K/9 after it.

Senor Rios had a big night: his first two home runs.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1914 Brooklyn’s Jake Daubert sets a National League record with four sacrifices in one game. The first baseman’s efforts aren’t enough when the Dodgers drop an 8-7 decision to Philadelphia at Ebbets Field.
  • 1926 When Babe Herman doubles with the bases loaded, three Dodgers wind up on third base. The runner on second rounds third but decides to go back as the runner from first reaches the same base, and a few seconds later Herman slides in to join his two teammates.
  • 1951 With one out in the top of the eighth inning and a runner on third base in a 1-1 tied game, Willie Mays, running at full speed, makes an incredible catch of Carl Furillo’s drive to deep centerfield. After grabbing the ball, the rookie outfielder turns counterclockwise and throws a perfect strike to home to nail a surprised Billy Cox at home to complete the double play. Some believe the catch, in the Giants’ eventual 3-1 Polo Grounds victory over the Dodgers, is the impetus for the beginning of the team’s incredible comeback from an 11.5 game deficit to win the National League pennant.
  • 2006 The Dodgers, with their 4-0 blanking of the Marlins, win their sixth consecutive game and 17th in the last 18 contests. The stretch is the team’s best run since the Brooklyn Superbas went 20-1 in 1899.

Lineup when available.

Jul 06

Game 91, 2019

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

The visiting Padres send RHP Chris Paddack (5-4, 3.05 ERA) to the (hopefully stable) mound at Dodger Stadium tonight. He’ll face the Dodgers’ RHP Kenta Maeda (7-4, 3.78 ERA). Paddack’s a rookie whose May-June was rocky but whose last start was good: he threw six innings of two-hit ball against the Cardinals and got the win. Maeda threw four scoreless innings at Coors Field his last time out but gave up two runs in the fifth and didn’t figure in the Dodgers’ eventual 12-6 win.

Thoughts during an earthquake:

In the Dodgers’ dugout, manager Dave Roberts hoped for a Hernández home run “to add to the commotion.”

Across the way, Padres manager Andy Green thought, too, of a long drive. He leaned over to bench coach Rod Barajas with a thought.“I’d love Kiké Hernández to hit a ball down the line where the foul pole sways in,” Green said, “and the ball swings just foul based on that.”

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.


May 17

Game 46, 2019

Dodgers at Reds, 4:10 PM PDT, TV: FS-O, SPNLA

LHP Rich Hill (0-1, 4.20 ERA) was pushed back from the Padres’ series in order to face the lefty-dominant Reds for this reason: lefties are hitting .445 OPS against him while righties are at 1.069 OPS. The Reds give the ball to RHP Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 4.17 ERA), whose first two outings in May were strong but whose last start was short (4 innings) and unpleasant (eight hits, four runs).

The Dodgers’ management and catchers seem to be frustrated by Kenley Jansen’s insistence on throwing a cutter which isn’t as effective as it once was while his slider has been very effective indeed.

Jansen, 31, has already surrendered as many runs this season as he did in 2017, when he used his signature cutter 85 percent of the time to great success. He is using it just as often in 2019, but the pitch is no longer as dominant.

[snip]

This season, hitters have slugged better than .500 against it, more than two hundred points greater than in 2017. Yet after Tuesday’s save, he had thrown the cutter roughly 300 times this season, and he had thrown the slider only 22 times. Hitters had swung at it 13 times and missed it six times. They had not registered a hit against it.

[snip]

“Kenley obviously knows what he wants to do,” Roberts said. “He can be stubborn at times. He can be convicted at times. We’ve gotta work things out, as far as what we’re trying to do to get Kenley and the catchers on the same page.”

That page, Roberts allowed, covers how best to attack hitters.

“I think that, right now, he can do some different things,” Roberts said.

Which team’s uniforms are the best? MLB polled 85 players and got a tie at the top: the Dodgers and Yankees each received 10 votes.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1947 At Forbes Field, Hank Greenberg asks Jackie Robinson if the Dodger infielder was hurt in a collision with him at first base earlier in the game and then tells the embattled Brooklyn rookie, “Stick in there. You’re doing fine. Keep your chin up.” Jackie will remark to the writers a few days later that his “diamond hero” is Hank Greenberg, knowing that the Pirates’ first baseman, who due to the bigotry endured as a Jew, can appreciate his difficulty of facing racial injustice every day as the first black player in the major leagues this century.
  • 1978 Pinch-hitting for Davey Lopes in the Los Angeles 10-1 rout of the Pirates, Lee Lacy goes deep in the bottom of the eighth inning off Will McEnaney at Dodger Stadium. The utility player becomes the first player in major league history to homer in three consecutive at-bats as a pinch hitter.
  • 1992 Using only 21 dates, the Blue Jays reach the one-million mark in attendance sooner than any team in major league history. The 1991 Blue Jays and the 1981 Dodgers shared the previous record.

Lineup when available.


May 03

Game 34, 2019

Dodgers at Padres, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

The Dodgers send LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 2.25 ERA) out to face the Padres’ LHP Eric Lauer (2-3, 4.41 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series. While Kershaw’s velocity is down some, his sliders are sharp and he’s been able to vary their speeds. Lauer has been bitten by the “one bad inning” bug, which has precluded him going longer than six innings in any game this season.

Bellinger has evolved into a complete hitter, Matt Kelly of MLB.com says.

Pollock will be out for several months. He’s having surgery to remove hardware left from previous operations from his elbow.

Manager Dave Roberts would not provide an estimated time frame for Pollock’s return, but said it should be this season. Typical hardware removals require one to two months of recovery before a player can return to competition to assure the holes in the bone where the screws were removed are fully healed. Hardware is sometimes left on the bone for added protection, and because removal can be more trouble than it’s worth.

This will be the third operation on Pollock’s right elbow since 2010. The previous two required five-month recoveries, but Roberts said that isn’t expected to be the case this time.

The dilemma that is Urias’s youthful arm and how to protect it while at the same time getting its benefit.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1947 In a controversial move, Branch Rickey trades five Dodgers, including southerner Kirby Higbe, to the Pirates for five-foot, six-inch left-hand-hitting outfielder Al Gionfriddo and $100,000. Some believe ‘the Mahatma’ made the deal to send a message to the team about his commitment to breaking the color barrier and his support of Jackie Robinson, the first black to play in the major leagues this century. It’s a darned good move, considering that Gionfriddo made a game-saving catch of a DiMaggio fly ball in Game 6 of that fall’s World Series.

  • 2004 Similar to last season, the aging outfielder Rickey Henderson re-signs with the Atlantic League’s Bears, hoping for a shot of returning to the big leagues. The 45 year-old future Hall of Famer batted .339, hit eight home runs, drove in 33 runs, scored 52 runs, and stole nine bases for the Newark team last season before joining the Dodgers in July.
  • 2009 Defeating San Diego 2-1 in 10 innings, the Dodgers tie a franchise record, winning their ninth consecutive decision at home from the start of the season. The 1946 club also reeled off nine straight victories at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field at the beginning of the post-war campaign.

Lineup when available.


Mar 07

Three weeks from Opening Day

Kershaw has thrown six of the last seven days, but Roberts and Honeycutt haven’t yet decided what Plan B is if, as seems likely, he’s unavailable for Opening Day.

Tweets of note:




Dec 14

Roberts on rosters

Newly-inked manager Dave Roberts used his media availability requirement at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday of this week to answer a few questions:

On the position player side, Roberts said he expects Cody Bellinger to be an everyday player in 2019.

“Just the way he can defend and how he can affect a game and impact a game with his legs, with the bat, the goal is to have him out there and handle lefties and righties,” Roberts said.

“I think for Cody, it was a tough year,” Roberts said. “It was a grind for him with a slow start. But if you look at the surface line, it wasn’t bad. Now you kind of introduce the defense and the versatility, for a second-year player, still pretty good.”

But if you have Bellinger in the lineup every day, what position will he play? CF or 1B? “Reply hazy, try again.”

Well, what about Muncy? Kiké? CT3?

Roberts said Muncy, Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández will all be options at second base, with Muncy also getting at-bats at first.

On the pitching side, Roberts said he sees Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood, who transitioned to bullpen roles by the end of 2018, as starters in 2019. Roberts said Ross Stripling will also compete for a starting job after an All-Star 2018 season.

I think Roberts was in a good mood, as shown by this:

On former Diamondbacks All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt going to the Cardinals:

“Goldy, he can stay in the (National League) Central as long as he wants. I’m trying to work on getting him to the American League next. But Goldy, one of my favorite players to watch. To get him out of our division is great. Hope he’s happy. I’ve got to send him flowers.”

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).