Sep 29

AL Wild Card Series Game One, 2020

Astros at Twins, 11:08 AM PDT, TV: ABC (ABC? Really? When’s the last time ABC broadcast baseball? The network is going to draft some broadcasters from its sister cable network ESPN)

Two old friends start against one another: RHP Zack Greinke for the Astros meets RHP Kenta Maeda of the Twins. Greinke’s first five starts netted him a 1-0 record with a 1.84 ERA. He then fell off a cliff, going 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last seven outings. Maeda will make his first postseason start since 2016 (he made 21 postseason relief appearances for the Dodgers from 2017-2019), and he earned it. He was 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA for the season.

White Sox at Athletics, 12:08 PM PDT, TV: ESPN

The White Sox hand the ball to RHP Lucas Giolito; he’ll make his 85th career start but first ever in Oakland. He was 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA this season. He’ll face LHP Jésus Luzardo, who was 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA and 59 Ks (second among AL rookies) for the year.

Blue Jays at Rays, 2:07 PM PDT, TV: TBS

RHP Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA) is a surprise starter for the Jays, one who’s not expected to go deep into the game. He’ll face the Rays’ LHP Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA). Shoemaker was held out of his last regularly scheduled start to keep him fresh for this game. Snell faced the Blue Jays twice this year and surrendered just two runs to them over 7 2/3 innings.

Yankees at Indians, 4:08 PM PDT, TV: ESPN

The Yankees signed RHP Gerrit Cole last offseason for just this event: Game One of a postseason series. Cole did his part, leading the team in wins, starts, complete games, innings and strikeouts. He wound up 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA. He’s gone 6-4 with a 2.60 ERA in his postseason career. The Indians counter with RHP Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA). He came close to postseason experience in 2018: he was scheduled to start Game Four of the Division Series that season but the Indians were swept in three games by the Astros.

Aug 04

Game 12, 2020

Dodgers at Padres, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

RHP Dustin May (0-0, 2.35 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers. He’ll face the Padres’ RHP Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 1.80 ERA). The Dodgers are hoping May will reduce the number of baserunners he allows; he’s got a 1.565 WHIP over his first two starts. Lamet supposedly has control problems, but when you throw 98-99 mph that mitigates some of them.

Here’s Beaty making a nifty catch in yesterday’s game:

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 Draper to the Atlanta Crackers.

Lineup when available.

Jul 18

Opening day roster speculation

Who’s gonna be on it?

Pitchers: Pedro Báez, Walker Buehler, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, Ross Stripling, Blake Treinen, Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Brusdar Graterol and Dustin May

Starting depth could be an issue. After losing Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill (68 starts combined last year) over the offseason, the only veteran starters the Dodgers added were Price and Jimmy Nelson, but both are out for the season. That leaves Urías, Wood and youngsters May, Gonzalez and White to pick up those 68 starts.

Will Smith and Austin Barnes are the catchers. Infielders are Enrique Hernández, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios. Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Joc Pederson, A. J. Pollack and Chris Taylor are the outfielders.

Subject to change at any moment, of course.

Feb 09

Betts deal finally done

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

Catching prospect Connor Wong is headed to the Boston Red Sox alongside outfielder Alex Verdugo and shortstop Jeter Downs in the trade that will send outfielder Mookie Betts, starter David Price and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources tell ESPN. Players have been notified.

Notice the Twins were left out of that deal. However, Passan also says

The trade that will send right-hander Kenta Maeda and cash to the Minnesota Twins for right-hander Brusdar Graterol and the 67th pick in the draft — which has around a $1 million slot value — has been agreed upon, source confirms to ESPN. @Ken_Rosenthal was first with the deal.

Here’s an interesting perspective:

The Dodgers turned Kyle Farmer, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Yasiel Puig into Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs

Jeter Downs just got them Mookie Betts, they kept Josiah Gray and they also brought back Alex Wood

Nov 16

Broadway comes to Chavez Ravine

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, “What do you do with a problem like Maeda?”

The Athletic tells us today that Maeda doesn’t want to relieve, partly because his contract is built around him being a starter but (probably) more because he’s been a starter his entire life and doesn’t think of himself as anything else. The Dodgers don’t bluntly say “pitch better, then” but you get the sense that’s what they feel. As we’ve seen the last couple of years, he starts most of the year and then is moved to the bullpen in September and October.

The strategy has proved effective for the Dodgers. But the approach vexes Maeda. It damages his pride and trims his paycheck. He has vocalized his frustration to Dodgers officials. After an unsuccessful attempt last winter to renegotiate his incentive-laden contract, which lasts another four years, Maeda remains steadfast in his desire to start. His agent, Joel Wolfe, reiterated that during a meeting with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman this week.

“Kenta wants to make 30 starts, 32 starts during the season,” Wolfe said. “He would prefer not to be constantly shuttled to the bullpen and back. He doesn’t like it.”

[snip]

[Friedman] suggested if Maeda could improve against left-handed hitters he could solidify his place in the rotation.

“We think there’s actually more room for him to be even better, which we’re going to work with him on trying to tap into,” Friedman said. “And if he’s able to take that next step, not only do I see him in the rotation, I can see him potentially starting playoff games, if we’re fortunate enough to make it into October. He has been really good. And we think there’s another gear in there.”

I don’t blame the guy for wanting his role defined and set in stone; in my experience most people prefer that. And while Maeda has gotten some of the pay from the incentives in his contract, he’s certainly not maxing them out.

Maeda received a $25 million guarantee across eight years, with $10 million per season available in incentives.

The problem for Maeda is that those incentives were related to milestones achieved by starters, like starts made and innings pitched, and the Dodgers have chosen to use him as a reliever in September for the past three years. In 2016, when Maeda was a full-time starter, he earned $7.25 million in incentives, according to Spotrac. That number fell to $4.25 million in 2017 and then $3 million in 2018, before rebounding to $5.4 million this year.

Maeda was lights-out against right-handers in 2019; only Max Scherzer was better among ERA qualifiers in weighted on-base average. Against lefties, however, he was 36th of 88 pitchers in that ranking.

The problem doesn’t seem intractable, but it’s not a small one either. It will be interesting to see how the two sides resolve it.

Aug 28

Game 135, 2019

Dodgers at Padres, 6:10 PM PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

RHP Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.13 ERA) goes for the Dodgers while San Diego uses its bullpen, starting with RHP Trey Wingenter (1-3, 4.60 ERA). Maeda has been prone to the gopher ball this season, but if he attacks the strike zone rather than nibbling around the edges he’s successful. This is Wingenter’s first big league start.

Given the score at the time (8-0), this was not a game-changer, but I imagine Bellinger was annoyed by Margot’s robbery:

This day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1945 A moment in American history takes place in Brooklyn as Branch Rickey meets with Jackie Robinson to share his plans to integrate the major leagues. During the three hour meeting, the Dodgers’ president will shout racial epithets to ‘test’ the 26 year-old ballplayer’s mettle to withstand the abuse which will come with being the first player to cross the color line this century.
  • 1951 The Giants’ 16-game winning streak comes to end when Howie Pollet six-hits the team in the Pirates’ 2-0 victory at the Polo Grounds. The consecutive victories enable Leo Durocher and his club to narrow the Dodgers’ lead from 13.5 to six games.
  • 1967 Giants hurler Gaylord Perry begins the longest consecutive inning scoreless streak in franchise history when he shuts out the Dodgers at Candlestick Park, 7-0. The right-hander will not give up another run over a span of 40 innings, a feat the son of a tenant farmer from North Carolina will repeat three seasons later.
  • 1977 Steve Garvey collects five extra-base hits in one game when he bashes three doubles and two homers, including a grand slam, in the Dodgers’ 11-0 rout over St. Louis at Chavez Ravine. The LA first baseman becomes just the fourth major leaguer to accomplish the feat, joining Lou Boudreau (1946 Indians – HR, four 2B), Joe Adcock (1954 Braves – four HR, 2B), and Willie Stargell (1970 Pirates – two HR, three 2B).
  • 2003 Eric Gagne earns his 44th straight save in the Dodgers’ 6-3 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. The Los Angeles reliever’s effort establishes a new major league record, surpassing Tom Gordon, who had saved 43 in a row to begin a season with the Red Sox in 1998.
  • 2008 In the 11-2 victory over the Dodgers, Cristian Guzman becomes the second player in Nationals history to hit for the cycle, joining Brad Wilkerson, who accomplished the feat in 2005, the team’s first year in Washington, D.C. The 30 year-old shortstop completes his cycle with an eighth inning triple.
  • 2015 “Vin will be back for one more year (at least). God bless us, everyone” – JIMMY KIMMEL’s cue card message to the crowd.

    Team executive Magic Johnson, appearing on the Dodger Stadium video board, introduces Jimmy Kimmel to report “big, breaking news.” The ABC late-night television host, who waves to the fans without saying a word, displays a succession of cue cards, informing the Chavez Ravine crowd the 87 year-old Vin Scully will be returning to broadcast Dodgers games in 2016 for his 67th season.

Lineup when available.

Aug 22

Game 129, 2019

Blue Jays at Dodgers, 7:10 PM PDT, TV: SNET, SPNLA

RHP Jacob Waguespack (4-1, 4.20 ERA) takes the mound for the Jays while RHP Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.18 ERA) goes for the Dodgers. Waguespack has had a good run recently: only six earned runs allowed over four outings (21 innings). Maeda’s last start was strange: he gave up three runs in 1 2/3 innings, then seemed to right the ship (including a stretch of seven consecutive strikeouts) and then couldn’t get out of the fifth inning.

Here’s Muncy’s walkoff HR last night:

By the way, that was the fifth consecutive game in which he’s hit a home run.

On this day in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1917 In a 22-inning contest against the Dodgers, Pirates’ outfielder Carson Bigbee sets a major-league record with 11 at-bats. The game was also the fourth straight extra-inning game played by Pittsburgh (total of 59 innings), which sets a National League record.
  • 1965 Juan Marichal thinks Johnny Roseboro throws too close to his head returning the ball to Sandy Koufax and attacks the Dodger catcher with his bat. The Los Angeles backstop suffers cuts on the head during the 14-minute brawl.
  • 2000 Hitting a solo blast and a three-run round-tripper during a nine-run sixth inning of a 14-6 victory over the Expos, Dodger first baseman Eric Karros becomes the first player in the 111-year franchise history to hit two homers in an inning.

In 1886 Louisville’s Chicken Wolf hits a game-winning inside-the-park home run, thanks to a stray dog impeding Abner Powell from fielding the ball. The canine, who had been sleeping by the fence, refuses to let go of the pant leg of the Reds center fielder, who watches in dismay as the Colonel batter races around the bases in the team’s 5-4 loss at Eclipse Park.

Lineup when available.

Aug 16

Game 124, 2019

Dodgers at Braves, 4:20 PM PDT, TV: FSSO, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

The Dodgers’ RHP Kenta Maeda (8-8, 4.12 ERA) takes the mound at Sun Trust Park against RHP Mike Soroka (10-2, 2.32 ERA). Maeda’s last start was arguably his best of the year: he pitched seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the D-Backs, striking out six and walking none. Soroka is a rookie with the second-best ERA in MLB behind the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu and this is the first time I’ve heard or read his name. He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts and four of his last six.

Yesterday’s game was mostly forgettable, but here’s Cody Bellinger’s 40th HR of the season. It’s a career high for him.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1950 At the Polo Grounds, Hank Thompson’s two inside-the-park home runs off Don Bankhead and Carl Erskine contribute to the Giants’ 16-7 drubbing of the Dodgers. The 24 year-old third baseman will hit 129 round-trippers in his 9-year career, three of which will be of the IPHR variety.
  • 1964 St. Louis outfielder Curt Flood collects eight consecutive hits during a doubleheader against Dodgers pitching. The Cardinals split the twin bill in Los Angeles, losing the opener to Sandy Koufax, 3-0, but take the nightcap when Curt Simmons tosses a six hitter to give the Redbirds a 4-0 victory.

Babe Ruth died in New York City on this day in 1948.

Lineup:

I wonder if Bellinger has a bonus clause in his contract for winning a Gold Glove award and that’s why they’ve started playing him in positions other than right field.

Aug 10

Game 119, 2019

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

The visiting D-Backs send LHP Alex Young (4-1, 2.60 ERA) to the mound to face the Dodgers’ RHP Kenta Maeda (7-8, 4.37 ERA). Young gave up two runs on three hits in six innings against the Nats and took the loss in his last start. Maeda had his worst start of the year in his last game, going just 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits but escaping the loss when Max Muncy hit a walk-off double in the ninth inning in the Dodgers’ 11-10 win.

Don’t run on the Dodgers’ first-baseman/rightfielder:

This date in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1979 Dodger hurler Don Sutton sets a franchise record with his 50th shutout, blanking San Francisco at Candlestick Park, 9-0. The 34 year-old right-hander had previously shared the mark with Don Drysdale. (Ed. note: 50! In his twelfth year Clayton Kershaw has a career total of 15!)
  • 1995 The first forfeit in the majors in sixteen years occurs when the fans for the third time during the night throw promotional souvenir baseballs onto the Dodger Stadium field. At the time of the decision to halt the game, Los Angeles is trailing the Cardinals, 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

August 10 is a good day for pitchers: in 1971 at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, Juan Marichal records his 50th career shutout as the Giants blank the Expos, 1-0. The Dominican hurler’s ninth inning double helps to build the winning run.

Lineup:

Aug 04

Game 114, 2019

Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 PDT, TV: FSSD, SPNLA

RHP Chris Paddack (7-5, 2.78 ERA) takes the hill for the Padres while RHP Kenta Maeda (7-8, 4.07 ERA) goes for the Dodgers. Paddack has made two starts in LA this season; in May the rookie gave up six runs and lost, going just 4 2/3 innings, then in July he went 5 2/3 innings without giving up a run. Maeda has only gotten into the 7th inning twice since May, whether because the Dodgers feel the third time through the opponent’s lineup is a step too far or because he’s gotten touched up before then.

Here’s a clip of Buehler’s performance Saturday:

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 Draper to the Atlanta Crackers.

Lineup: