The misfortunes of the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be worsening as the 2021 All-Star break draws near. Despite remaining in divisional contention with one of the best records in the National League, the Dodgers fell to the Diamondbacks at home on Friday night, as Arizona collected just its second win over its last 30 contests on the road.
One of the secondary storylines of the evening revolved around former World Series MVP Cole Hamels and the Dodgers’ need for pitching. According to reports, the 37-year-old lefty will be holding a showcase for teams in Texas next week.
Last year, Hamels latched on with the Braves for a one-year, $18 million deal, but injuries kept him off the field for all but one game. Dealing with shoulder issues during spring training, Hamels eventually began his 2020 campaign on the shelf with a triceps issue. He attempted to return later in the season, but another shoulder problem in mid-September ended up shutting him down for the year.
As explained by Anthony Franco at MLBTR, “Hamels was a paragon of durability before 2020, tossing at least 130 innings in every season between 2006 and 2019. He was also a model of consistency, never posting an ERA higher than 4.32 and allowing fewer than four earned runs per nine innings in eleven of those fourteen campaigns. He was still effective as recently as 2019, when he tossed 141-2/3 innings of 3.81 ERA ball with solid strikeout and walk rates with the Cubs.”
Over the course of his 15-year big-league career, Hamels owns a 163-122 record with a 3.43 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, and a 1.178 WHIP with 2560 strikeouts and 767 walks over an even 2698 innings of work. 422 of his 423 lifetime regular-season appearances have been starts.
Primarily, Hamels uses a four-seam, a cutter, a curve, and a change as part of his repertoire. After his heater sat in the 92-93 mph range in 2020, he topped out at just 89 mph in the 3-1/3 innings he threw for Atlanta last summer.
Darien Nuñez Makes Major League Debut
While the Los Angeles bullpen used a whopping seven pitchers in Friday’s loss, one bright spot was the debut of Darien Nunez, despite the Cuban native surrendering a two-run homer off the bat of Eduardo Escobar in the fifth inning.
Nuñez went two full innings, allowing one hit and no walks while striking out three batters in relief of opener David Price. An error by Justin Turner at third base allowed Nick Ahmed to reach, setting the stage for Escobar.
Nuñez touched as high as 97.3 mph with his four-seam in the fourth inning.
A 28-year-old lefty signed by the Dodgers out of Las Tanas in 2018, Nuñez began his 2021 campaign with Double-A Tulsa before getting promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City in early May. In 16 minor league games this season, he has posted a 2.70 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 15 walks in 30 innings.
Clayton Kershaw Undergoes MRI
MRI results came back on Friday for Clayton Kershaw, revealing somewhat of a positive outlook after he was placed on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation on Wednesday.
“Clayton had an MRI this morning and like we expected, it was just inflammation,” manager Dave Roberts said on Friday. “He’s going to start playing catch again [Saturday] and enjoy the break with his family. We’ll figure out when in the second half we’ll pencil him back in the rotation.”
Kershaw pitched last Saturday against the Nationals, allowing three runs on three hits and one walk with three strikeouts over four innings before the onset of a rain delay.
So far this year, Kersh has gone 9-7 with a 3.38 ERA, an even 3.00 FIP, and a 0.978 WHIP with 127 strikeouts in 106-1/3 innings over 18 starts.