With Smith Behind the Plate, Dodgers Head into DC for Showdown with Nationals

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On Thursday, the Dodgers did something that needed to be done, but most fans didn’t think would actually happen – they optioned catcher Austin Barnes to Oklahoma City and recalled rookie Will Smith.  We’ve chronicled many times how Barnes has been very good behind the dish, but terrible at the plate. His slash line of .196/.288/.328/.616 is just abysmal, and hopefully the time in Triple-A will allow him to work on getting his swing back to where he’s not just an assumed out when his turn comes up to bat.

It will interesting to watch what happens with this situation – if Smith makes the most of this promotion, or if Barnes follows in the footsteps of Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, who were both demoted mid-season and came back to help their team stronger than before. Whether Barnes or Smith is the starting postseason catcher with the other as backup, and Russell Martin left completely off the postseason roster, or if it goes back to the duo of Barnes and Martin behind the dish for their World Series run.

The Dodgers also made a trade on a Thursday, acquiring first baseman Tyler White from the Houston Astros in exchange for RHP Andre Scrubbs. That, combined with catching prospect Keibert Ruiz being promoted to Triple-A has some wondering if a bigger trade is in the works. At any rate, Barnes will be working with and sharing time with Ruiz in Oklahoma City for at least the foreseeable future.

The Dodgers are now back on the East Coast, where they are set to start a three game series with the Washington Nationals. Los Angeles last played the Nats in May, when Washington was struggling to get things going. They who came into that series with a 15-22 record, and split a four game series at Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers. The Nats now sit at 55-47, in second place, 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, and tied for first in the wild card with both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nats are lead in pretty much every offensive category by Anthony Rendon, who has a .314 BA and 22 homers. He has only three hits in his last three games, but two of them were home runs. Last year’s rookie phenom Juan Soto has been in a little slump of late, going just 5-for-28 in his last seven games.

The Dodgers will be lucky to miss Max Scherzer on this trip, who will most likely giving Hyun-Jin Ryu the most competition for the Cy Young award. Ryu will start the series off for the Dodgers, facing Anibal Sanchez. He is 6-6 on the season with a 3.80 ERA.  Saturday afternoon’s game will feature Clayton Kershaw and a pitcher yet to be determined for the Nationals. Sunday will see Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg. The big righty for the Nats is 13-4 with a 3.37 ERA and 159 strikeouts.

This series should be a good test for the Dodgers, and a possible precursor to a postseason matchup. Friday’s game is at 4:05, Saturday’s is at 1:05, and Sunday morning at 10:35 PDT.

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55 thoughts on “With Smith Behind the Plate, Dodgers Head into DC for Showdown with Nationals

  1. I think everyone thought Barnes needed to be sent down, but now that it’s happened I feel bad for the guy, I hope he fixes his swing, and gets back to LA.

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    1. I think this is the best thing for him and the team. The stretch drive is still weeks away. He can relax a bit there and work on fixing what is wrong. This is an opportunity for him.

      It’s also an opening for Smith. He will likely be given every opportunity to show his first 29 PA’s were not a fluke. I hope it works out for both of them.

      I’m curious how the staff feels about this.

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    1. Come on people…… you MUST have an opinion on that idea. He’s nuts! Heard it before. He’s a genius! I’ve been known to come up with some good ideas. (Child leashes – that’s mine. Batting cages with video of pitchers you will face – mine. Mall Walls – my design is in Rosedale Mall. Chips for pets – my idea in ‘65. Fishing lure that bleeds. I was 12 when I thought of that) … Savant? Never heard that one, but I like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great idea Scoop. Have no problem with bringing Thor to LA> Giants traded a pitcher today, just not one you thought about. Derek Holland sent to the Cubbies. DC’s pen is worse than ours.

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  2. Freese to the 10 IL with a bad hammy. That clears that up and White activated. Smith is not in the starting lineup tonight. I would honestly trade, Ruiz, Downs, Santana, and Mitchell White for Syndergaard.

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  3. If they threw in Diaz, I would also let them have a couple more lower level prospects. If they wanted an MLB ready player I would substitute Joc for Downs.

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  4. That of course only works if they wanted an outfielder. It would depend a lot on what the Mets feel they need. But you add Thor to Kersh, Buehler, Ryu, and Maeda, that’s a pretty formidable rotation.

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  5. Joel Sherman says the Mets are looking for a MLB ready starter in the Thor deal although that guy doesn’t necessarily have to be the headliner. Then they want high end prospects on top of that. I’m suggesting Maeda or Stripling. I’m not trading Downs. He’s only been pitching for around 3 years and he’s going to be an untouchable if he’s still with us next year. Unfortunately Gonsolin has been so ineffective recently that’s he really lowered his trade value. So here’s my deal: Stripling, Downs, White/Santana, Peters, Estevez. I’m saving Ruiz for the Vazquez deal.

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    1. Downs is a SS there Jefe. Gray was the pitcher they got in that deal. Saving Ruiz for Vazquez may be smart, but you cannot trade for someone who is not even on the radar yet. The pundits keep throwing his name out there, but the Pirates keep saying no. So, here is my deal for Thor. Gonsolin, White, Cartaya, Santana the 3rd baseman and Rios. Peters is going to be Joc’s replacement when he gets traded this winter. If they were to throw in Diaz and make it a mega deal, I would also give them 2 lower level prospects and throw in Barnes.

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      1. Thanks for the correction Bear. Yes, I meant Gray not Downs. I would definitely include Downs but I want to hang on to Gray. I don’t think you’re offering nearly enough to tempt the Mets as they will be getting lots of other (better) offers. In fact, I just looked at what I was going to offer and I don’t think that’s enough to get him either.

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  6. I think the Mets would want May, Ruiz, Stripling and change for Thor. Would you do that? For the first time all year we are fielding our best lineup!

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    1. Tempting Rich. My problem with that is Ruiz is my catcher for the next decade.

      Jefe, I think May would lead the ticket. He’s ML ready …. next year. Downs? If he completes the deal I say yes.

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  7. Thor is a pipe dream I’m gonna come down on the “ you’re crazy scoop” side on this one, but I’ve been thinking about Vasquez we could give up whatever it takes then trade him in the off season to recoup most the prospects we lost. Admittedly I’m probably off my rocker as much as scoop is😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep Keith, you are definitely LOONEY TUNES….trade a guy you just got who is under team control for at least 2 more years>>>??????

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  8. And the Mets are dead serious about trading that guy. I am sure he is probably one pitcher the owners would sign off on. They lose 2 of their starters next year if Ryu walks. I doubt the re-sign Hill. Urias is close, but not built up to be a starter yet. Thor, Kersh, Buehler, Urias, Maeda, pretty solid rotation. Then May is right on their heels. To get Thor I would trade both Gonsolin and White. I am not trading Ruiz or Smith, but maybe Cartaya and a few other pieces. There are a lot of ways this can go. Depending on what AF might have to give up for a reliever. But adding Thor actually helps the pen because then Chicken Strip can go down there and in the playoffs, so could Maeda. Urias could with his stuff be a stopper along with Jansen. Kelly keeps improving, and we have a pretty deep pen.

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    1. Yep. It makes sense on a few levels. But you can bet a lot of teams will be in on this. He’s 26 and team controlled until ’22.

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  9. Here is a little side note. Thor wears # 34 with the Mets. Do the Dodgers, if they were to get him, let someone wear Fernando’s # 34 for the first time since he left??????

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      1. I think he would too. It has not been worn by anyone since he left. Kind of strange if you ask me since he is no where near a HOF pitcher. And that is usually the criteria the team uses for retiring numbers, save Gilliam who was a life long Dodger.

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    1. He could ask for Fernando’s number and the Dodgers might give it to him but if I’m Thor I don’t start my career by taking the number of the most popular Dodger pitcher of all time with the exception of Koufax. New beginning, new number. Much better way to start your time in L.A. (not that I think we’ll get him).

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  10. I’d rather trade for some BP help, and go after garret cole in the off season, he wants to come to the SoCal area to play, that leaves us, the angels, and the pads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting idea Keith, but if I’m the Angels I pay Cole whatever he wants to come to Anaheim. That team will never go anywhere until they get some starting pitching. Imagine a lineup with Trout and Ohtani and Jo Adell. They need to commit to getting some starters this winter.

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    2. Cole is going to demand a huge contract of probably 5 years. AF has never given a starter that long of a deal, and with the kids that have in the pipeline and ready to be here in probably 2020 and 2021, I am pretty sure he steers clear of a huge contract, and remember, he is under a mandate to stay under the luxury tax for at least 2 more years.. 2021 rotation, Urias, Buehler, Kershaw in his final year, May and Gonsolin.

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  11. Sorry bear but Mets aren’t gonna give up Thor unless somebody ponies up some top 100 prospects which Gonzo and White are not. You’re gonna have to give up May and Ruiz or May and some change. Are you gonna do that?

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    1. For Thor I would trade Ruiz. but according to reports the Mets want a MLB ready pitcher in return. May is not that guy yet. Gonsolin has already pitched up here. We will see, it is all speculation right now anyway. Good news is that Scherzer most likely misses the Dodgers during this series. By the way Dodgers top 10 has guys like White, Downs in it also. Gonsolin, Peters, Cartaya and Santana…so if that’s what the Mets wanted there are plenty of choices besides the top 4. ,

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  12. There’s no way I’m overpaying for Thor when he really hasn’t even been anything but average the last 1 1/2 seasons. They will want 2 if Ruiz, Lux, May, Smith or Downs plus another 1-2 guys from the tier below the top guys. Not happening when our rotation is just fine as it is. Moving one of our starters won’t solve the bullpen issue, that rarely ever works. I’m not giving up any of our top group above for a reliever so they are better off trying to go get two solid guys like Shane Greene and Jake Diekman than overpay the Giants for Will
    Smith or the Padres for Kirby Yates even though those guys are clearly better.

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  13. Turner to the rescue! Outside of himmour offense has really been in a funk! That was a big out by Kelly. He’s coming around!

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    1. They have to get there first Rich and brother their starting pitching sucks. Paxton got hammered today and the rest of the staff is very suspect. I an pretty sure Andy has a reliever or 10 on his radar. Right now I trust Kelly more than Jansen. Belli is definitely in a slump, and so is the rest of the offense. Believe it or not the at bat of the night was Joc against Sipp. That walk was clutch.

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    2. Turner to the rescue and then Kenley tries to punch a hole in the lifeboat. How in the world does Doc wait that long to get someone up in the bullpen? It was obvious that KJ had no idea where the ball was going when he released it. It’s time to stop worrying about whether you’re offending him. He should have been pulled and not allowed to finish the game.

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  14. New story on MLB trade rumors is that the Reds are willing to listen to offers for Iglesias. He would be an awesome add to the pen.

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    1. I’ve long been a fan of Iglesias but he’s having an off year. A pretty big uptick in walks and homers but the other stats are pretty much decent. I’d love to get him and maybe with the way he’s been pitching the price would be reasonable. He certainly won’t cost as much as Vazquez or Yates would, but probably more than Smith considering that his contract still has 3 years to run. What do you bet that the Reds ask us for Gray and Downs. 🙂

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  15. Looks like Turner will get to 20 dingers again. # 15 tonight. Dodgers back to having best record in the bigs. Yankees have given up 28 runs to Boston in 2 games. Betts hit 3 homers tonight.

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  16. Early game tomorrow, still no starter announced for tomorrows game. Scherzer most likely will miss the series. Game time tomorrow is 1:00 LA time. Turner’s blast was the Dodgers 175th this year. They were tied with the Yankees for second most in the majors. Twins hit their 200th of the year tonight. On pace to smash the Yankees all time total set last year.

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    1. Scherzer will definitely miss the series. Even if his back wasn’t giving him problems, he was last night’s starter. Glad we won’t have to face him.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Jansen – 34 pitches to get 3 outs. Another earned run, his ERA is now 3.67. That would be ok if he was a #3 starter eating up some innings. This is Kenley Jansen, the guy who is paid a sh*t load of money for two more years to be the guy he was for seven years before last year. He’s not that guy. For whatever reason, and it may be a good one, he’s just not that guy.

    He got the save. His save % is 85.7. How many of his 24 saves did he pitch like he did tonight? Last year he had a career high 5 losses and 4 BS. This year he has 4 BS a career low ERA+. He’s still getting the strikeouts, but he is just not the same guy

    What to do about it?

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    1. What to do about it? Here’s a novel idea. Spend what you have to and bring in another guy who can close. Depending upon the situation you can use Kenley and the new guy however it best suits you to win games. Without a first class addition in the next few days we may not survive the NL playoff rounds let alone make it to the WS and win that. The price goes up every time Kenley takes the mound and pitches the way he did last night.

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      1. Here’s Orel’s take on it:

        “After the game, Orel Hershiser suggested that Kenley take the day off tomorrow to reset and from what we can tell on social media, that would be a great idea.”

        What the hell does that mean? He threw 34 pitches so obviously he won’t be pitching tonight. What was said “on social media”? Dave Roberts also states the obvious with his “the wheels came off”.

        Jansen can’t be trusted, but with a 14.5 game lead they will continue to put him out there. I wonder if, after we get our trade done, it would be a good time to IL Kenley.

        Fortunately we won. But the ending could have easily gone the other way.

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      2. I don’t remember ever seeing that kind of post game reaction from Roberts. He was basically despondent. Usually he’ll make excuses for the player or talk about tomorrow being another day, etc. but last night it was like someone had died. Either he was feeling that this was the end of the Kenley era or (Lord help us) he already knows that we aren’t getting anyone else who can take over from Kenley.

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      3. I recall Jansen saying in so many words that the closer job is his, no debate. If the Dodgers brought in a co-closer, he might undergo spontaneous human combustion.

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      4. I’m not on social media anymore. But I can certainly guess what fans are saying. I’m one of them saying it.

        Jansen works for the Dodgers. It’s not his call. If he pouts it means he’s putting his ego before the team. Guys like that should be set straight and if they don’t get in line with team goals they should be eliminated. I think Roberts should handle it. A demotion, should it come to that, is temporary. He’s being paid handsomely for two more years. He will have opportunity to earn his job back. The first thing is to figure out what is wrong. He’s obviously not invincible anymore, perhaps a trip to the couch is in order.

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  18. What will AF do?!!!!!!!! Many analysts say Kersh isn’t our #1 starter any longer. He’s not pouting about it. He’s just out there trying to prove he’s still an elite starter and he is!

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    1. You’d better make a hard copy of that Rich and be sure to mail it to Kenley via registered mail. We need to be sure he gets that. I think someone else sent him a letter telling him he could only close games and that’s probably where the confusion come in. 🙂

      Like

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