“It’s a doggy-dog world out there.” I have seen that written on the Internet more times than I care to mention, and it apparently applies to the Dodgers’ starting rotation competition this spring. There are seven proven pitchers trying to fit into the two spots for fourth and fifth starters. Kershaw, Hill and Maeda look to be locks for the first three slots, but after that you’ve got McCarthy, Wood, Kazmir, Ryu, Stripling, Stewart and Urias hunting for work.
“As we look around here today, we have a lot of starting pitching depth, but as we finish spring training, guys like Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, they’re going to have to pitch somewhere,” Roberts said. “So whether it is out of the rotation or potentially out of the pen, I don’t know that answer right now.”
Oh, and once they get the starting pitching set, they can start on their “eight outfielders for three positions” problem.
MLB released its Top 100 Prospectslist and the Dodgers placed five guys on it. Only two are in the top fifty; 1B Bellinger at #13 and RHP Yadier Alvarez at #49. Bellinger is up 19 spots since the last list was released at mid-season last summer, while Alvarez is up 49.
Logan Forsythe is glad to be on a winning team. “I’m happy to just come over to a winning ballclub, organization and help some young guys if I can, jump in with the core guys and try to help these guys anyway I can,” Forsythe said.
And what will the Dodgers do? Here’s one thought from the LA Daily News:
… the Dodgers’ focus this winter seems less about making significant additions to the roster and more about maintaining what they have already built — an uncommonly deep roster with flexibility and a more manageable payroll.
“Yeah, that’s a really, really good team,” Friedman said of a 2017 roster with the same elements intact that produced 91 wins in 2016 and fell two games short of reaching the World Series.
That group would return with the prospects of improved health, Friedman points out – how could it not be better than last year’s? — and added maturity for the young players who made such critical contributions.
But there is a strain of wistfulness in Friedman’s comments. He is aware just how unlikely it is that the Dodgers will be able to put last year’s band back together.
The word is that they’ve reached a deal with Rich Hill for three years and $40 million, so that’s one part of the puzzle, although not the most important one, at least as far as blogger Howard Cole is concerned. To him Justin Turner’s resigning is Job One.
And it starts with the announcement that nine Dodgers are officially free agents. Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen top the list, followed by by starting pitchers Rich Hill and Brett Anderson, relievers Joe Blanton, J.P. Howell and Jesse Chavez, outfielder Josh Reddick and second baseman Chase Utley. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Ruiz could join the list depending on their respective opt-outs.
My personal opinion? Keeping Turner and Jansen should be management’s first priority. After that it’s mixed. I doubt they’ll keep Utley. I think I’d keep Blanton and Howell, I’d try to keep Hill, and I’d watch Reddick and Chavez go.
The Cubs send RHP Jake Arrieta (18-8, 310 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) of the Dodgers. The last time Arrieta faced the Dodgers at this start time was last August; all he did was throw a no-hitter at them. Since then he’s faced them once in May of this season and shut them out for seven innings. He’s not been quite that good in the second half of this season and he hasn’t gotten much help: The Cubs lost all five of his starts in July and four of his last six entering the NLCS start. His ERA is 4.44 in his last 16 starts. Hill, a mid-season acquisition by the Dodgers, hasn’t been able to produce as much as they hoped due to blister issues and an inability to go deep in games. He pitched into the fifth inning in a 5-2 loss at Washington in Game 2 of the NLDS and came out in the third inning of Game 5 when he was working on three days’ rest.
Someone post the lineup when it’s out, please. I’ll be in the air to Honolulu and won’t arrive until about the sixth inning.
After a rainout the NLDS series between the Dodgers and Nationals resumes with the Dodgers up one game to none. The starters will be the same as were scheduled for Saturday’s game before the rains came: LHP Rich Hill for the Dodgers and RHP Tanner Roark for the Nats. See the previous post for further details about their respective seasons.
The Series moves to Fenway Park in Boston for Game Three with the Red Sox down two games to none. The Indians start RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA), who had a horrid August (11.48 ERA) and then filled in admirably as two starters went down with injuries in September, posting a 1.40 ERA in the last month of the season. He’ll face RHP Clay Bucholz, who had a weird year himself. In his first 18 appearances he put up a 5.91 ERA and was temporarily moved to the bullpen. He came back strong in his last six starts, going at least six innings and giving up two runs or fewer in five of them.
This Series moves to Rogers Center (formerly Skydome) in Toronto with the home team up two games to none. The Rangers send RHP Colby Lewis (6-5, 3.71 ERA) to the hill to face the Jays’ RHP Aaron Sanchez (15-2, 3.00 ERA). Lewis has made nine postseason appearances, eight of them starts, and put up a 2.38 ERA in those games while going 4-1. He didn’t do well in the last half of the season, though: he lost three months with a strained right lat muscle and went 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts after rejoining the rotation on Sept. 11. This was Sanchez’s first year as a starter and it was spectacular. He finished strongly, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his last three outings. He made nine relief appearances in last year’s playoffs and didn’t allow an earned run in 7 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers ask mid-season acquisition LHP Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) to win Game Two. He’ll face RHP Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA). Hill made six starts for the Dodgers and had a 1.83 ERA to show for them, even with his finger blisters. Roark was a good starter for the Nats in 2014, his first season in the big leagues, finishing 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA. In 2015 he was forced into the long man/spot starter role when the Nationals acquired starter Matt Scherzer from the Tigers. This season Jordan Zimmerman was gone from the rotation due to free agency, so Roark reclaimed his role as a full-time starter.
The Giants ask RHP Jeff Samardzija (12-11, 3.81 ERA) to stop the Cubs from taking a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA). Samardzija spent the first nine years of his MLB life in the Cubs’ organization until he was traded to the As in 2014. Oddly, Hendricks essentially replaced Samardzija in the Cubs rotation that season, as he made his first start for them five days after Samardzija was traded away.
When the schedulers at MLB HQ in New York set this weekend’s games up they were surely hoping that the two long-time rivals would be neck-and-neck in the NL West division, and even up to two or three weeks ago that seemed like a wish that might come true. But the Giants’ bullpen continued its season-long collapse and it hasn’t been able to hold a lead to save its life. Somehow it has managed to blow 32 save opportunities this season. Thirty-two! Not all the blame rests with the pen, though; the Giants have been shut out 13 times this season, and nine of those games have been after the All-Star break.
Somehow, despite that, the Giants have a magic number of three to clinch a Wild Card spot. If they end up tied with the Cardinals those two teams would have to play a preliminary game just to determine who gets to play the other Wild Card winner in the one-game playoff, the winner of which gets the Cubs. The Mets are in this too, so it’s complicated.
Tonight it will be the Dodgers’ Rich Hill (12-5, 2.05 ERA) against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 2.71 ERA). Bumgarner was last seen by the Dodgers as he yelled at Yasiel Puig in the vicinity of first base on September 19 at Dodger Stadium. At the time he had a 1-0 lead through seven innings; he was pulled from the game at that point and the bullpen (there it is again) gave up three singles to tie the game and a game-winning double by Adrian González to win it for the Dodgers.
Hill hasn’t started a game since September 20, presumably in hopes his blistering fingers will fully heal. He’s expected to start Game Two of the NLDS and he needs to stay sharp. He may have a short leash this evening.
Lineup when available.
Tonight's Dodger lineup: Kendrick LF Turner 3B Seager SS Puig RF Ruiz C Segedin 1B Hernández CF Culberson 2B Hill P
They’ll put RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-2, 3.63 ERA) on the hill to face LHP Tyler Anderson (5-6, 3.58 ERA). This has been a year of mixed results for McCarthy; on the one hand he came back from the Tommy John surgery he had in 2015 and had five pretty good starts for the team beginning in July. Then he suffered stiffness in his right hip which caused him to lose control of his fastball and issue walks by the bucketload in his next four starts. He gave up 17 walks in just 11 2/3 innings in that period. The Dodgers hope he’s recovered. He’s taking the place of Rich Hill, who was to start this game but is being given more time off in hopes his blister troubles will go away before the playoffs begin.
Anderson is finishing up an excellent rookie season in which he’s struck out 98 in 108 innings and achieved an ERA+ (park adjusted) of 137, meaning 37 percent better than league average.
Lineup when available.
Today's Dodger lineup: Kendrick LF Turner 3B Seager SS Puig RF González 1B Ruiz C Hernández CF Culberson 2B McCarthy P