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 09

NLDS Post-mortem stories

From The Athletic:

Machado and the Dodgers’ attempts to keep him from pressing.

Freese, seemingly impervious to big-moment pressure.

Madson and the late-season adjustment.

From the LA Times:

Plaschke on Game Four.

Dylan Hernandez on Freese.

Andy McCullough on Machado and more.

Jorge Castillo and Andy McCullough on NLCS Game One starter Kershaw.

Houston Mitchell on the Dodgers’ previous results against the Brewers.

Sep 02

Game 137, 2018

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

The visiting D-Backs send RHP Clay Buchholz (7-2, 2.07 ERA) to the mound to face the Dodgers’ rookie RHP Walker Buehler (6-4, 3.02 ERA). Buchholz signed a minor league contract with Arizona on May 4 and made his first big league appearance since April of 2017 on May 20. He’s been very good indeed, going 2-0 in June, 2-0 in July, and 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA in August, averaging six innings per start. Buehler’s had a trip to the DL this season but has been good in August, going 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA. His last start was a workout, though; he threw 84 pitches in just four innings in 93-degree heat and left the game with a lead, but didn’t go the required five innings for a win.

Freese and Madson said all the right things when joining a new team in September.

On this date in Dodgers history:

  • 1969 Willie Davis, with his sixth-inning double in the team’s 5-4 loss to New York at Dodger Stadium, breaks a 53 year-old franchise record by hitting safely in thirty consecutive games. The LA outfielder surpasses the streak established by Zack Wheat in 1916 when the team played in Brooklyn.
  • 1971 Cesar Cedeno hits an inside-the-park grand slam when Dodger second baseman Jim Lefebvre and right fielder Bill Buckner collide, trying to make the fifth inning catch. The 200-foot dropped bloop contributes to the Astros’ 9-3 victory over LA at the Astrodome.
  • 1972 In his major league debut, Doug Rau throws a three-hitter, beating St. Louis at Busch Stadium, 5-1. In his first big-league at-bat, the 23 year-old Dodger southpaw helps his cause with a RBI-triple in the second inning.
  • 1993 The Rockies, drawing a crowd 47,699 for their 62nd home game, surpass the 1982 Dodgers when the team attracts 3,617,863 fans to Denver’s Mile High Stadium, setting a new National League single-season attendance record. The expansion club will also break the 1992 Blue Jays’ major league mark of 4,028,318 before the season is over.
  • 2002 In the top of the ninth inning, Diamondback first baseman Mark Grace hurls an inning of relief with the team trailing the Dodgers, 18-0. The All-Star infielder retires three of the four batters he faces in the Bank One Ballpark, yielding a two-out home run to David Ross.

Lineup when available.


Sep 01

Game 136, 2018

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: SPNLA, FS-A

The visiting D-Backs send Patrick Corbin (10-5, 3.15 ERA) to the mound today. He’ll face the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, (6-5, 2.39 ERA). Corbin has made five straight quality starts and has gone 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA over that stretch. In three starts against the Dodgers this year he’s 1-0 with a 0.98 ERA; the Dodgers are hitting an anemic .115 in those games. Kershaw has made eight consecutive starts in which he’s given up fewer than three earned runs and has gone seven starts since his last loss. Moreover, he’s only given up three HRs since the All Star break. (Side note: take a look at the picture of Corbin at the link above: his face looks a lot like Greg Maddux to me. He should have such a career!)

The Dodgers acquired David Freese from the Pirates for minor leaguer Jesus Manuel Valdez.

Also, “Solo HRs are Us” should be the Dodgers’ motto this season. Fully 69% of their dingers have come with no one on base.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1890 On Labor Day at Brooklyn’s Washington Park, the Bridegrooms, later to be known as the Dodgers, win all three games against Pittsburgh in the first tripleheader ever played. The home team sweeps the visiting Alleghenys, who will be renamed the Pirates next season, 10-9, 3-2, and 8-4.
  • 1953 The Cardinals tie a major league mark, hitting five homers in a 12-5 loss to Brooklyn at Ebbets Field. The solo shots hit by Stan Musial, Harry Elliot, Rip Repulski, and Steve Bilko (2), all off starter Preacher Roe, aren’t enough to offset the Dodgers’ 17-hit attack, which includes six doubles but no round-trippers.
  • 1969 At Dodger Stadium, Willie Davis ties the franchise record by hitting in 29 consecutive games with his second-inning single in LA’s 10-6 victory over New York. The mark was established by Zack Wheat in 1916.

Today in personal history: in 1973 George Foreman knocked out José “King” Roman at the 2-minute mark of the first round at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo. I was seated in the nosebleed seats, so far away when it ended we didn’t immediately have a clue it was over. I don’t think there were any big screen TVs showing the fight to those of us in the cheap seats at the time; that innovation came later.

Power shift has MLB managers’ pay in free fall, says Bob Nightengale.

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who led their teams to the World Series a year ago, have contracts that expire after this season.

Lineup when available.