On Monday, we discussed whether or not the Dodgers are finally turning the corner. They are 7-3 over the last 10 games, but it feels like every game is a struggle, and losing a series to the Miami Marlins isn’t great in the least.
The bats still do not look like what we know them to be capable of producing. The Dodgers managed to only muster 20 total hits and 10 runs against the Marlins. Coming into the series, those Marlins were third in hits allowed. A high powered offense should be able to do more damage. There is still a lot of looking at fast balls right down the middle, jumping on first pitches when the pitcher has thrown a lot of balls to the previous batter. Basically, they need to get back to their cumulative, patient approach to batting. I know Chris Taylor loves to jump on that first pitch fast ball, but so far, that hasn’t been working for him.
And then there was Kershaw. CK has been looking human lately, and it’s really starting to worry me. He threw too many pitches, and seemingly had touch and go command. After striking out the side in the first inning, he worked himself in and out of trouble until finally in the fifth inning it caught up with him. After two walks, with two out, he gave up a three-run home run to former teammate Miguel Rojas. He left the game having thrown 105 pitches after 4.2 innings. It was his first six walk game in eight seasons, and four of those came after two outs.
Kershaw is now 1-4 on the season with a 2.84 ERA. He had four losses total in each of the last two seasons. His velocity has been down. As you all know, I’m not the panicking type. But I am beginning to worry about our beloved ace. Whether he’s hiding an injury, back, elbow or otherwise, or if something else is going on, he needs to figure it out quickly.
If you look at past Aprils, you will find that in each of the last five years, the Dodgers have started off just like this. It takes them until about the end of April to get to and over the .500 mark for good. So I guess it behooves us all to be patient and things will work themselves out.
I am still of the belief, however, that some sort of catalyst is needed. A spark plug, more veteran leadership, whatever it is that you want to say, or how you want to say it. April business as usual is not cutting it for this team I think a shake up as needed. I know that things will be begged when the lineup is back to 100% healthy, but that won’t be until June. In the meantime, I think Joc Pederson needs to be sent down to Triple-A to work on his batting, and Alex Verdugo should be brought up. Andrew Toles will still be out with a hamstring injury for while, and Verdugo can match the defense of Pederson. I suppose it’s difficult with so many players all seeing playing time, but I’d like to see a more consistent lineup. And while again I know that it’s early, I’d like to see a little urgency from someone, anyone, to get this team on track.
There’s quite the road trip coming up, through San Francisco, Arizona, and against the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. The Dodgers have struggled mightily against two of the three teams that they are going to face on this road trip. You can’t just keep waiting to beat up on the Padres. There was a team meeting last Saturday, and it might be time for another one. A reminder of last year, when they went into every game expecting to win, no matter what the score was at any given time. Anything to get them playing like they should be.
7 thoughts on “A Little Urgency, Please — Dodgers Heading into Defining Road Trip”
you contradict yourself early in the article. i have been frustrated watching them take pitches down the middle too. you want the best of both worlds…don’t watch fastballs down the middle and be patient and work counts???? complacency has completely set in and it’s hard to watch.
I should clarify, you’re right. They are ending too many at bats watching fastballs right down the middle. That’s not the same as working counts.
The idea of working a count is to get to a fastball down the middle. All Major League hitters, even the Mendoza’s, can hit .300 or better on fastballs down the middle. If you’re caught looking at one for strike 3 you have your head up your ass.
What is the common thread for all the great hitters in baseball? They don’t chase pitches out of the strike zone and they don’t swing and miss pitches they look for. You ever read Ted Willams book? He knew what his average would be on every single pitch within the strike zone. Google it. “Ted Williams Strike Zone Picture”. A strike on the low outside corner? .230. A strike high and inside? .300. A strike down the middle? .400. A pitch out of the strike zone? Perish the thought. It would be below .200.
The first rule of hitting has been the same since Abner was a minnow – get a good pitch to hit. When you get it, hit it. You look at strike 3 down the middle you’re an idiot. Take a seat meat.
Ted Williams had an uncanny ability to recognize what a pitch was going to do right when it left the pitcher’s hand. I think the biggest problem with a few of the regulars in the Los Angeles lineup is that they guess, as they’re locked in on one particular pitch even before the pitcher goes into their windup.
They do guess Dennis. That’s why you see them looking at a fastball down the middle for strike 3.
Something I was made aware of after reading a book on Babe Ruth. He had 20/10 vision in both eyes. Very rare. He could read the numbers of car license plates before anyone else in the car could tell what state the plate was from (color). Babe was also right eye dominant, which as a left handed hitter was to his advantage Williams was a pilot so no doubt he had great vision. Though I can’t say for certain it wouldn’t surprise me if he too was right eye dominant.
My grandpa, a pitcher in the old Texas League, taught me early about spin. You’ve heard the term “see the ball, hit the ball”? That’s what it means, see the spin out of the pitchers hand early and you recognize the pitch right away. Not everyone can do this. (I had 20/10 right, 20/20 left. I could do it) Always look fastball, adjust to the curve. Even if it’s a cutter you have a couple of feet to work with. (Every mph is roughly a foot) If you are guessing breaking ball and it’s heat you are cooked. To guess curveball with two strikes is, in my opinion, a really stupid thing to do. Obviously you have it in the back of your mind, or you can guess breaking ball early in the count if you want, but with two strikes you must be prepared for the fastball. I might add that at the ML level every hitter can pick up spin quickly. You don’t make it to that level if you can’t. I would venture a guess most of them have 20/10 in their dominant eye. The lucky ones have 20/10 in the eye that faces the pitcher.
I was never blessed with that kind of vision. I always guessed, but I suppose that’s why I never made it past college ball.
Dennis, did any ever explain how to recognize spin? There is a science behind it. I never heard it from any coaches I had growing up. I was taught at age 11 by a very gifted old athlete, my grandfather. Great vision is a must, but you also need intense focus. It all happens very quickly, especially the higher you go in the game. If you played college ball, you saw it well enough to make contact successfully.