As I was watching the game on Wednesday, one of the announcers (I think Orel Hershiser, but my apologies if it wasn’t) made a flip remark about Clayton Kershaw being the stopper, brought in to stop losing streaks. And I thought, “Oh goodness, it’s been three games so far, sure, but no way they’ll need him to stop a five game losing streak.”
Well, I was wrong. The Dodgers have gone from hot to not in a week’s time. They ran into both the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, both teams playing well, and both teams looking to secure a Wild Card spot.
And the Dodgers? Well, I’m not going to say they have nothing to play for. But, they have the division securely in hand. A bunch of players are hurting. Offensive difference maker Cody Bellinger was only back for two of those games. Corey Seager is dealing with a sore elbow, is not starting in the field, and just available to pinch hit. Taking those two out of the lineup makes a huge difference.
The starting pitching, too, picked a good time to look ugly. The three starters against Arizona, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda, combined to go only 10-2/3 innings and allowed 19 earned runs. Now, it’s highly doubtful that Maeda and Ryu would be starters in the playoffs. So maybe you can just not worry about those starts for a bit. Hill going off the rails after his amazing outing in Pittsburgh is a bit concerning, but I’ll allow him an outing like that after losing in such a demoralizing fashion the game before.
I guess for me, I’m not so overly worried at this point, because the team that the Diamondbacks just saw is not the team they will play if they advance to the NLDS. They didn’t see Kershaw, Yu Darvish, or Alex Wood. They didn’t see a fully healthy lineup with Bellinger and Seager. They saw a team in the doldrums of August, not a team ready and determined to finally make it to the World Series.
So. Here we are, on the first of September. Rosters expand today, and the Dodgers are expected to announce that they will be calling up both PCL Pitcher of the Year Wilmer Font and their 2nd highest rated prospect, Alex Verdugo.
Font, a 27-year-old native of Venezuela, went 10-8 with Triple-A Oklahoma City, with a team record-breaking 178 strikeouts, a 3.42 ERA, .222 average against and 1.11 WHIP. He averaged 11.93 strikeouts per nine innings, and had five games with at least 10 strikeouts.
Verdugo is a 21-year-old left-handed outfielder who was the Dodgers’ second round draft pick in 2014. This season with Oklahoma City, he has hit .314/.389/.436 with 27 doubles, four triples and six home runs. He plays all three outfield positions.
Along with those two joining the big league roster, Kershaw returns from his DL stint today, and it is also rumored that Andre Ethier will be reinstated, even though he is still dealing with a “neck issue.” This would be Ethier’s first time on the big league roster this season, as he has been dealing with a myriad of issues. Brock Stewart will also be brought back up to start game one of a double header on Saturday. Stewart last pitched for L.A. August 22 in Pittsburgh, when he allowed five runs in a two-inning start.
The best thing about today, though, is that Kershaw is finally back and starting a game. And if there’s anything to light a fire under a team and start a new winning streak, it’s seeing their ace back on the mound. Happy Kershaw Day, everyone!
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)