Dodgers Bullpen Shines in Houston, Plus Arizona Series Preview

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“My head was, we need to get off this two game snide (sic) and win a game against a good ball club at their place. My heart was saying ‘I wanna beat the crap out of this team and win two games.’”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts uttered these words on the Off the Air with Joe and Orel podcast. The Dodgers did not beat the tar out of the Houston Astros, but they did win two games, and that is most important.

The long-awaited series between the Dodgers and the Astros came with some surprises (the utter lack of offense on both sides), and some not-so-surprising things, such as tensions and close pitches.

Joe Kelly took it upon himself, some presume, to send a message to the Astros. He said he just didn’t have good control. Either way, the Astros didn’t like it, and came out of their dugout to complain. Dennis wrote about Kelly’s suspension in yesterday’s column.

I’ve written many a thing about the Astros, 2017, and the league’s handling of it, so I won’t dive deep here. But the hypocrisy of how the Astros players were dealt with, and how now anyone, especially the team that was wronged by them, is punished, is laughable. Players from around the league and all of sports have Kelly’s back in all of this, and MLB continues to show its mishandling of any big crisis.

But enough about that. Let’s focus on the real star of the Astros series—the Dodgers’ bullpen. The two starters for the series, Walker Buehler and Dustin May, both pitched relatively well but couldn’t go deep into games. It then fell to the bullpen to keep the Dodgers in the game, especially when the offense still isn’t quite firing on all cylinders.

And what a job they did. The bullpen was responsible for 15 innings of relief and only allowed the inherited runner in the 11th inning to score, against a team of really good hitters. And it wasn’t just one pitcher, 10 relief pitchers were used over those 15 innings, and all of them delivered.

Overall in six games, the Dodger bullpen has worked 31.2 innings, and has an ERA of 1.14, a WHIP of 0.87, and a 32-12 strikeout to walk ratio. One would suspect that they may not keep this up the whole season, but with the season being so short, who knows? A few might be whittled out as the teams have to drop players, but that will only leave the best options and a very, very good relief corps.

And in a little bit of fun….karma, perhaps, the Dodgers pitching staff as a whole held George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman to 0-for-21 over two games.

So now the Dodgers head into Arizona for a four game series against the Diamondbacks. They arrived early Thursday morning, but hopefully being in one place for four games will give them time to settle in, if only for a bit.

After all of those innings the bullpen just worked, it is a perfect night for Ross Stripling to take the mound. Strip went seven complete innings of one run ball in his debut last Friday and looks to do so again. He will face off against Robbie Ray. The DBacks lefty lost his first game where he only pitched 3.2 innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits with seven strikeouts.

Overall, the Diamondbacks are 2-4, having played the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers. The Dodgers did just play against the DBacks in two exhibition games before the season officially started.

Friday’s starter for the Dodgers is still yet to be determined. If all goes well in a final bullpen session today, Clayton Kershaw may be able to join the starting rotation ranks. If he’s still dealing with back issues, it will probably be a pieced together outing by the bullpen. Kershaw would be sliding into Alex Wood’s slot while Wood is dealing with shoulder inflammation.

Whoever the Dodgers’ starter is on Friday, he will be going up against right hander Zac Gallen, who went four innings in his first outing, giving up one earned run with six strikeouts. Saturday’s matchup will be Julio Urías and right hander Luke Weaver, who gave up six earned runs in 3.1 innings in his first start.

Sunday’s starter for the Dodgers is also yet to be determined against Merrill Kelly for the DBacks. He seems to be their best pitcher in this early season, going 7.2 innings in his first start allowing only three hits and one earned run. The Dodgers will not see Madison Bumgarner this series.

The offense still has been slow to load after the first two games where they were very hot. I expect to see them finally get into the swing of things in Arizona, after the stress of facing Houston is over. Maybe they’ll become a bit more relaxed and more like the offensive juggernaut we all know.

 

11 thoughts on “Dodgers Bullpen Shines in Houston, Plus Arizona Series Preview

  1. Santana was very impressive as was Ferguson. Alexander had a nice inning. May gave up a run he should not have. Had he broken to cover first they should have got the runner. But he is a kid, he will learn. Offense stinks right now. They face Ray tonight who was hit hard in his debut, but always pitches the Dodgers tough. Expect Mookie back in the leadoff spot with the lefty going. Personally, I put him there and leave him. Move Seager up to second spot, with Belli third and Turner 4th. I drop Muncy to 6th.

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  2. Ferguson is quickly becoming the best reliever on the team. His fastball is hard and heavy and he attacks with it and he’s learned to to control that breaking ball and hit the corners with it. One at bat he set the hitter up with 2 high 96-97 fastballs and then ripped off a beautiful 86mph slider that wrapped around and painted the outside corner for the strikeout. It was a thing of beauty. Now if we could get Urias to trust his stuff like Ferguson does we would be in business!

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  3. Gore DFA’d. Gonzalez called up. Gore was a wasted roster spot in my book. I cannot believe AF did not take a run at Mike Foltynewicz when the Braves had him on waivers. He would have been the perfect rehabilitation project, and 2 years ago, he was a decent starter. Hunter Strickland DFA’d by the Mets. He got lit up in his one appearance. Giants activated Belt and Longoria.

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    1. Folty was on a 6+ million (Covid adjusted to 2.3 mil) contract this year. That’s a lot to gamble on a guy who threw horribly in Summer Camp and so far this season. Just as with Wood, it seems like he’s hurt. If the Braves release him, he’ll have a few takers because the Braves would pay his salary. If they hang on to him no one will be willing to absorb that salary in trade.
      Gonsolin starts tomorrow and I think that will necessitate dropping someone from the 30-man. Logical guess would be Sborz.

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  4. There would be no point taking Folty on this season especially at $2.3 million. He was throwing 88 to start this year and he dropped 20 pounds on an already extremely thin guy so there’s no real chance of him improving fast enough to help. He’s going to have to gain that weight back if he hopes to find a thing more on his fastball. Really excited to see if Gonsulin can keep his impressive start to his career going. He was better than May actually last year although that won’t stay the same. At best we have a solid #3 with Gonsulin but I think May is about to take off into star status. We are going to have about the best young ace duo in baseball for the next few years.

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  5. Nice win last night. Seager, Muncy and Pollock go deep. Betts had a double. And did some pretty nifty base running to get to second on a single. But Belli is still in a huge funk, Taylor and Kike have cooled off and they continue to get little to no offense out of the catching corps. What they are getting from the catchers is excellent defense. RH the rest of the way for the dirtbags, so Joc should be back in the lineup, but as hot as Pollock is, I might rethink that.

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    1. Easy enough to get Joc and Pollock in the lineup at the same time by using one of them as the DH. I could also see Rios getting a start at third with JT at DH or getting a rest day for one game. And there is also the option of using Muncy at second and giving Rios or Beaty a start at first for a game or two.

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      1. I’m not sure they want to have Muncy at 2B and Rios at first or third at the same time, especially 3rd. Rios doesn’t seem like a gold glove type and Muncy is much better at 1B than 2B defensively. I do want to see Rios gets some AB’s though. I’d play Joc in LF against righties and use Rios as the DH. I’m hoping the rotation eventually settles on Kershaw, Buehler, May, Stripling and Urias unless Gonsulin is just throwing too well to keep from starting.

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      2. I never want to see Max at third and I much prefer him at first to second but I can live with it if he spends a little time at second. Normally playing Joc and Rios against righties would probably be the way to go, but Pollock is arguably our hottest hitter right now so they might not want to sit him since he has been known to hit righties.

        I used to think Rios would never have a future here because he could only DH. Well, now we have the DH but I also think he’s improved his fielding at third. Is he a gold glover out there? Absolutely not, but he’s getting better and I wouldn’t mind seeing him start a few games if JT needs to sit for a day.

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      3. I think with the way Kike is hitting right now, I do that tonight. Gonsolin activated, Sborz sent down. Poor Josh, he must feel like a bouncing ball. He got called up a few times last year and never saw the mound either.

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  6. Actually, Muncy is a pretty good second baseman. He has a higher fielding percentage at first. But a lot of that comes with have to range further to get to balls at second base, and Max himself prefers second to first.

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