In terms of who plays where and when against Milwaukee, Gavin Lux will likely be paired up the middle with rookie infielder Miguel Vargas, who hasn’t been swinging due to a hairline fracture on his pinky finger, but he should play about five innings. David Peralta could be in the lineup as well. Aside from knowing that starter Michael Grove will be the starting pitcher on Saturday, there are still questions brewing, especially with lineup construction.
“I’ve thought about it, you know,” said Roberts, when asked about how much time he’s spent on lineup combinations. “It’s just trying to figure out, you know, Mookie [Betts] at the top, is it best? Where to put J.D., where to put Will Smith, where’s Max [Muncy]? I don’t think there’s a right answer. As we have conversations and let things play out, it’ll show itself a little more.”
How does the up-the-middle defense hold up?
The Dodgers will have a new starting shortstop, second baseman and center fielder. Lux moves to short, Vargas will start at second (not till next week when his hairline-fractured finger is fully healed), and center is still uncertain.
Can Syndergaard turn back the clock?
Can he get his velocity back, and will his command come with it?
Which young pitchers take the next step?
If there are no injuries the rotation on Opening Day will be Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Syndergaard. After them? Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove and Andre Jackson. According to observers, Pepiot has impressed early in camp, and Grove will start the Dodgers’ opener on Saturday.
Top prospects Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller will also be in the mix. Stone is the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year and is the more polished of the two pitchers. Miller, on the other hand, hits triple digits with ease, and scouts fall in love with his ability to spin the baseball.
“It’s going to be important,” Roberts said of the Dodgers’ young pitchers continuing to develop. “They have to take the next step because we expect more from them this year than we did last year.”
Peruvian LHP Jesús Luzardo (3-5, 3.72 ERA) is on the bump for the Marlins and LHP Tyler Anderson (13-2, 2.81 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers. Luzardo has had a poor August, going 1-2 and giving up 6 runs on 12 hits in 17 innings. Anderson’s gone 2-1 in August, giving up 8 runs on 15 hits in 18 innings.
From The Athletic, an explanation of what Muncy’s done to get his groove back (so far):
The Dodgers discussed moving his hands around or changing how Muncy stood in the box. On a whim, he tried a different approach in the cage before a game last month at Coors Field. As the pitch would arrive, he’d take a half step back with his left leg, getting his back hip higher, and better positioning his shoulders. Doing so redistributed his body back down and forward rather than up and under the ball.
It felt good, so Muncy took those mechanics into that night’s game. He recorded a hit in his first at-bat, a ripped single off José Ureña, and he locked it in. Since then, he’s been a top-five hitter in the sport.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1955 For the sixth consecutive season, Robin Roberts is a 20-game winner. The Phillies right-hander, who will finish the season with a 23-14 record, beats Don Newcombe and the first place Dodgers at Connie Mack Stadium, 3-2.
1957 Citing poor attendance as the reason, Giants’ president Horace Stoneham, ignoring baseball’s edict of banning announcements about relocation of franchises until after the World Series, informs the press the club has signed a lease to play its home games in San Francisco next season. The club’s Board of Directors voted 8-1 approving the shift to the West Coast, with the only dissenting vote cast by M. Donald Grant, who will become the chairman of the Mets, an expansion team located in New York to fill the National League void created by the departure of the Giants and Dodgers to California.
2004 Pitching a perfect bottom of the ninth inning, John Smoltz establishes the franchise record with his 142nd save in a Braves uniform. The right-handed reliever surpasses Gene Garber as Atlanta beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles, 6-5.
2008 The Dodgers reacquired Greg Maddux (6-9, 3.99) from the Padres for cash and two minor leaguers to be named or an additional monetary sum. The 42 year-old future Hall of Fame right-hander, obtained to help the club down the stretch run, played in LA for part of the 2006 season, winning six of nine decisions.
LHP Julio Urías (12-6, 2.49 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers at American Family Field in Milwaukee tonight. He’ll face the Brewers’ RHP Freddy Peralta (4-2, 4.37 ERA). Urías is 10-3 in his last fifteen games with a 2.28 ERA. Peralta will make his third start after missing two months with a shoulder injury. He went 8 2/3 innings in the previous two.
The Dodgers lead their division by a gazillion; the Brewers are 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Horrible news surfaced today. Buehler will have to undergo elbow surgery after all, which means he’s done for the year.
On some happy news for the timeline: #Dodgers Dustin May will start on Saturday against the Marlins.
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.
2020 Max Muncy hits the first leadoff sac fly in baseball history when he flies out to deep right field, scoring Chris Taylor, the Dodgers’ ghost runner who stole third base on the second pitch of the tenth inning. Angels’ reliever Keynan Middleton, who throws a perfect 1-2-3 inning, is tagged with the loss when the run proves to be the difference in the team’s 6-5 loss in Anaheim.
RHP Tony Gonsolin (11-0, 1.62 ERA) brings his unblemished record to the hill to face the Cardinals’ long-time ace Adam Wainwright (6-7, 3.15 ERA). In his last start Gonsolin went seven innings, gave up two runs on four hits and saw his ERA go up for his trouble. Wainwright is 40 years old; he and Kershaw each have 191 career wins (Kershaw has 26 fewer losses). In Wainwright’s last start he gave up two runs on five hits, pitched a complete game and lost 2-0.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
2019 The Dodgers got four home runs from Muncy, Turner, Bellinger and Pollock and Ross Stripling got the win as the Dodgers defeated Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox 11-2.
LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 1.78 ERA) goes for the D-Backs and RHP Tony Gonsolin (3-0, 1.33 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers. Bumgarner won his last start going 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits. Gonsolin won his last start going five innings and surrendering no runs on just one hit.
The Dodgers recalled LHP Caleb Ferguson and optioned RHP Michael Grove.
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.
As it stands, Max Scherzer and Corey Seager have left the Dodgers for greener pastures. Kenley Jansen may have found several teams willing to give him a longer term contract than the Dodgers are. They did re-sign Chris Taylor. Trea Turner can slide from second base to shortstop, where he’s played most of his MLB career. They’re hoping Max Muncy returns to full health, but he admitted earlier in the week that he’d torn his UCL in that last game and he wasn’t healing as quickly as he’d like.
They need starting pitching; right now they have Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. They need to re-sign Clayton Kershaw not just for sentimental reasons but because he’s still a very good starter. Their other starters include David Price and Tony Gonsolin and possibly newly-signed Andrew Heaney, whom they believe they can help improve and reduce his tendency to give up home runs.
Heaney has allowed home runs at a higher-than-average clip in three of the past four years, and he was among the game’s most homer-prone arms this past season. The former first-round pick allowed 2.01 HR per nine innings in 2021, a rate eclipsed by just five other hurlers (minimum 100 IP).
On the free agent market, the best starting pitching remaining includes Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Carlos Rodón. Trading for starters is another option, of course. And they’re waiting for Dustin May to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery.
The lockout precludes any activities by teams or players until a new collective bargaining agreement is completed, so we may be in limbo for a while.
throwing about 30 pitches, which is closer to his normal workload. He also threw sliders and curveballs for the first time.
Betts may play at 2B today, and Muncy could start today as well.
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 enabled 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.
Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 PM PDT, TV: Bally Sports San Diego, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA
RHP Trevor Bauer (2-0, 2.70 ERA) takes the hill at Petco Park for the Dodgers in hopes of sweeping the Padres, who send out LHP Blake Snell (0-0, 4.35 ERA), last seen being removed from Game Six of the World Series despite his complete mastery of the Dodgers to that point of the game. He had a terrible outing his last time out, not getting out of the first inning against Pittsburgh. Bauer, meanwhile, has been terrific through six innings in each of his first three starts, giving up no more than two hits and striking out nine during those periods.
The Dodgers made a series of moves today, recalling IF Sheldon Neuse, activating RHP Brusdar Graterol from the injured list, optioning LHP Alex Vesia and placing IF Gavin Lux on the 10-day injured list with right wrist soreness, retroactive to April 16.
1925 At his Waldorf-Astoria apartment, Dodgers’ owner Charles H. Ebbets dies of a heart attack at the age of 65. Later in the day, his team opens the home season in Brooklyn losing to the Giants at Ebbets Field, 7-0.
1939 In Brooklyn, Red Barber calls the action in the first broadcast of a regular-season Dodger game, a 7-3 loss to New York at Ebbets Field. The future Hall of Fame announcer was brought in from Cincinnati by the team’s new president, Larry MacPhail, who had hired the ‘Ol Redhead’ when he was in a similar post with the Reds.
1947 Dodger president Branch Rickey names team scout Burt Shotton to replace Leo Durocher, who was suspended ten days ago by Commissioner Happy Chandler for acts “unbecoming to a major league manager.” Brooklyn’s new 62 year-old skipper reluctantly takes over the team two games into the season and will manage the club for one year in his street clothes along with wearing the team’s hat and jacket.
1950 Vin Scully calls the first game of his illustrious 67-year career with the Dodgers, detailing Brooklyn’s 9-1 defeat to the Phillies on Opening Day at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. The 22-year old broadcaster, who will be awarded the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award by Bud Selig in 2014, will become the team’s primary announcer just three seasons later.
1950 The Phillies play their first game with name official changed back from Blue Jays, routing the Dodgers at Shibe Park, 9-1. The team wears red pinstriped uniforms designed by manager Eddie Sawyer that are reminiscent of club’s look in the early 1900s.
1952 On Opening Day in Brooklyn, Willie Mays is knocked unconscious when he smashes into the Ebbets Field wall after chasing pinch hitter Bob Morgan’s seventh-inning, two-out base-loaded line drive into the gap in left field. All three Dodgers base runners cross the plate but do not score when the motionless Giants center fielder comes to his feet and jogs into the dugout, apparently unhurt, having held onto the ball after making a fantastic catch for the third out to end the inning.
1958 At the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of a National League record crowd of 78,672, the Dodgers play their first game in the City of Angels. Carl Erskine gets the win, besting Al Worthington and the Giants, 6-5.
1959 Branch Rickey, former general manager of the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Pirates, is appointed the president of the Continental League. The third potential major league never materializes, but helps to accelerate the expansion of the existing leagues, including putting a National League team in New York to fill the void created by the Giants’ and the Dodgers’ departure to the west coast in 1958.
1964 L.A. southpaw Sandy Koufax throws the second of his two career immaculate innings when he strikes out the side on nine pitches. Although Leo Cardenas, Johnny Edwards, and Jim Maloney all strike out quickly in the top of the third inning, Cincinnati will score all of the game’s runs in the next frame, thanks to a three-run homer hit by Deron Johnson, to beat the Dodgers in the Chavez Ravine contest, 3-0.
1966 Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills singles to center off future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, becoming the first batter to hit on artificial turf in a major league game. The Astrodome’s new playing surface, called Chemgrass initially by its manufacturer, the Monsanto Company, couldn’t be made quickly enough, so the season begins with the artificial material only on the infield with the outfield remaining painted dirt until July.
2008 The Dodgers announce Joe Beimel has been selected by fans, in an online poll during Spring Training, as the player whose likeness will now be used in an August 12 bobblehead promotion. The 30 year-old southpaw reliever, considered a long shot for the honor, gets the nod due to a strong internet campaign orchestrated by his parents, Ron and Marge.
He reported late to the Dodgers’ summer camp due to an unexplained absence, but he did reveal that he did not take part in baseball activities for two weeks. He began the season at the team’s alternate site at USC, and when he finally did get called up to the Dodgers, he looked like a mess. In 19 games, Lux had an OPS of .596. He made throwing errors that made it look like he had the yips. He was left off the postseason roster as the Dodgers went on to win the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988.
This year, the Dodgers can make do with some combination of Chris Taylor, Zach McKinstry and Max Muncy at second base in the event that Lux can’t immediately rebound from his disappointing 2020. But he is only 23 years old and can be forgiven for experiencing a lost season during the pandemic.
Cubs star Javier Báez said earlier this week that he simply was not mentally prepared for last season, and here’s betting Lux wasn’t, either. It’s not fair to judge anyone on how well they performed amid COVID-19. And that is why I’m excited to see if Lux can put last year behind him, secure the second base job and rake his way back into the hearts of Dodgers fans.
Today’s lineup, including one Trevor Bauer making his first start in Dodger Blue:
Adam Weinrib of Fansided doesn’t think so. He has the usual suspects in the usual places, although handing left field to A.J. Pollock and leaving Chris Taylor on the bench might be premature.
I agree with Lux at second assuming the season is close to a normal length, which it just might be if the vaccines for COVID-19 really do pan out as effectively as the trials seem to have shown. Lux needs more time to show whether his prospect status was warranted; his 2020 season was horrible (19 Games Played, .175 BA, 3 HR, 8 RBI). He was late reporting to the second training camp before the abbreviated season began and never rounded into the form he’d shown as a September callup in 2019.
This assumes that Turner is awarded a new contract, that Kiké Hernández finds a new home where he can play regularly, and that Taylor and Pederson don’t object to a lot of bench time.