Dodgers Look for Consistency Against NL Central Squads

While the feelings of the Dodgers are certainly good as they embark on a road trip to the Midwest, the club will have the challenge of tackling the Brewers again, the same squad who stole two of three contests from Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium just last weekend.

The early season narrative of the Dodgers portrays them as a team which is beating up on the weaker squads and not delivering against the quality clubs. It’s certainly too early in the year to make any concrete suppositions, but based on the way things are shaking out early, it’s tough to find a team in the NL West who will give Los Angeles a run for its money regarding a division title.

The NL Central is a different story, though. At the tail-end of their first road trip of the season, the Dodgers ran into the Cardinals, who promptly swept Los Angeles. At the time, the Dodgers were 8-2, and many pundits believed they could have been 10-0 if it was not for some untimely ineffectiveness by the relief corps.

However, the Los Angeles bats cooled, and the pitching fizzled out. Whether or not the pitching woes were caused by the makeshift rotation or by the fact that the Cardinals were a much better offensive squad than the Diamondbacks, Giants or Rockies is speculative. Regardless, when the smoke cleared on the St. Louis series, the Cardinals outscored the Dodgers 26 runs to 12. And, by the time the first two games of the Brewers’ series were finished, Los Angeles found itself amid a six-game losing skid.

Beginning Thursday, the Dodgers have the chance to change that narrative as the club starts a four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park.

One of the differences this time around is that the Brewers will need to face Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw, who delivered a very impressive performance against the Reds on Tuesday.

The tentative Los Angeles rotation for the weekend will consist of Julio Urias on Thursday, Ross Stripling on Friday, Kershaw on Saturday and Kenta Maeda on Sunday.

Coincidentally, Stripling is coming off his best outing of the year. In the final game against the Brewers at home last Sunday, Strip was fantastic, throwing eight solid innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk with three punchouts—a performance the Dodgers desperately needed at the time.

Milwaukee will counter with righty Zach Davies on Friday and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin on Saturday, but haven’t committed to any starters beyond those games. From the looks of things, the Brewers may run out righty Freddy Peralta on Saturday and righty Brandon Woodruff. Seemingly, the lineup of Milwaukee’s the all-right handed quartet bodes well for the Dodgers.

Of course, Los Angeles will need to contend with the bat of Christian Yelich, who is hitting .356/.448/.781 with nine homers and 26 RBI. Furthermore, former Dodger Yasmani Grandal is leading the Brew Crew in average, slashing .375/.429/679 over 56 AB.

The Dodgers have a power-punch of their own with Cody Bellinger, who leads the NL in hitting with a whopping .429 average and is tied with Yelich for the NL lead in long balls. Joc Pederson is second on the senior circuit with eight home runs.

The first two games of the series game will begin at 5:10 PM Los Angeles time. Saturday’s contest will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 and is slated for 4:10 PM. First pitch on Sunday is set for 11:10 AM.

 

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Dodgers End Homestand with Sweep of Cincinnati

Fighting off a small early-season slump, outfielder A.J. Pollock provided all the firepower the Dodgers needed on Wednesday afternoon, as Los Angeles cruised to a 3-2 victory over the Reds and swept the three-game series in the process.

The Dodgers now find themselves in the middle of a four-game winning streak.

Pollock’s two-run shot to center came off of Cincinnati starter Sonny Gray in the bottom of the sixth inning. Scoring on the play were Austin Barnes and Cody Bellinger, who both reached base on walks by Gray.

Pollock’s blast also allowed the Dodgers match a MLB record—32 consecutive home games with a home run.

In his fourth start of the year, righty Walker Buehler looked sharp, allowing just one run on three hits and one walk while striking out eight. Buehler threw 92 pitches over 6-1/3 innings.

Scott Alexander and Pedro Baez combined to finish off the seventh without any damage. Baez also threw the entire eighth inning, but ran into a bit of trouble after hitting former teammate Kyle Farmer.

Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth to record his fifth save of the season. Jansen encountered a problem when second baseman Enrique Hernandez apparently lost a Yasiel Puig pop-out in the sun. Puig later advanced to third on an errant throw by Barnes and scored on a Matt Kemp sacrifice fly to left field.

Gray took the loss after going an even six innings. The right-hander allowed all three Los Angeles runs on two hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Aside from Pollocks homer, Bellinger and Alex Verdugo added singles for Los Angeles. The Dodgers were limited to a total of three hits on the afternoon.

Puig, Kemp and Jose Iglesias had the only hits for the Reds. Yasiel scored his first run of the game when Eugenio Suarez grounded into a fielders choice to shortstop Chris Taylor in the top of the seventh frame.

Immediately following the game, the Dodgers packed their bags and set off for Milwaukee, where they will begin a four-game set against the Brewers on Thursday. Milwaukee stole two of three from Los Angeles last weekend at Dodger Stadium.

Stay tuned on Friday morning as we plan on putting together a concise preview of the Milwaukee series.

 

5 Key Takeaways from Dodgers’ Series Opener Against Reds

Many fans of the Dodgers have been anticipating the Reds’ arrival to Dodger Stadium since the teams orchestrated one of the biggest trades of the 2018-19 offseason. Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer and and injured Alex Wood all made their return to Los Angeles, alongside a few other former Dodger prospects in Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza.

The first game of the three game set did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the consequences may even play big down the road. Here are five of the key takeaways from the opening affair:

Bellinger InjuryCody Bellinger was struck on the knee by a Luis Castillo heater in the bottom of the third inning, and although initially it looked like he could have continued, the slugger exited the game when the pain became too much to bear. X-Rays were negative. After he was examined, the diagnosis came back as a bruise, but it still remains to be seen if the 23-year-old will miss any extended action.

“It hit me in a good spot to get hit,” Bellinger told J.P. Hoornstra of the OC Register after the game. “It still definitely hurts, but nothing serious. Wake up (Tuesday), see how I feel.”

Fans will be waiting eagerly for news when the players report to the stadium for Tuesday’s contest.

The Return of Kershaw—Aside from the home run off the bat of Puig in the first inning and the fact he wasn’t able to record the win, Clayton Kershaw‘s return to the club on Monday was definitely a productive one.

“I wish I could’ve done anything but give up a homer to Puig in the first at-bat,” Kershaw said after the game. “He put a good swing on it. I’ve seen him do that a lot.”

Kersh threw 84 pitches over seven full innings, allowing two earned runs with six punchouts and no walks. His four-seam sat in the 89-91 range, and despite his hard stuff being not especially effective, his curve ball turned out to be one of his primary weapons. Like Bellinger, fans will be awaiting news on how Kershaw feels on Tuesday afternoon. As of right now, things look good for the lefty, and his return couldn’t have come at a better time.

Barnes Needs a Break—Hoornstra also pointed out the recent workload of catcher Austin Barnes, pointing out that the backstop has been struggling with the lumber after beginning the season at a red-hot pace.

Barnes began the season by going 8-for-19 with a double, two long balls and five RBI, but has gone just 2-for-14 over his last four starts.

“This pace that he’s on, I don’t see us trying to push him to that,” skipper Dave Roberts told Hoornstra in the press conference.

Look for Rocky Gale to Garner a start on Tuesday. Russell Martin, so long as his back stiffness has fully subsided, could be eligible to return from the injured list by the end of the weekend.

Pederson Delivers in the Clutch—Regardless of all his offensive heroics over the years—especially in the postseason—Monday night’s walkoff homer was Joc Pederson‘s first career game-winner.  Despite his torrid start to begin the season, Pederson later cooled off drastically. However, if Monday night is any indication, another hot streak could be just around the corner. Joc already has seven bombs, and his 1.073 OPS certainly isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Yasiel Being Yasiel—When Puig stepped up to the plate in the first inning of the opener, the fans gave him a bit of a mixed ovation, as some showed their appreciation for the superstar while others shared their disdain by booing in light of recent stories in the news. Hours earlier, Puig was late for his pre-game presser, nor did he show up for the presentation of his NLCS Championship ring.

Nevertheless, his bomb to center in his first AB reminded fans of all the potential he brought to the plate. At the end of the day, maybe all of Puig’s negitive attributes are balanced out by his tremendous skills and tools that he brings to the game. The jury’s still out on whether or not the deal with Cincinnati was a profitable one, but whatever the outcome may be, it appears right now as if the Dodgers will be just fine without him.

If Monday was a prelude to the excitement of what remains in the series, fans best strap themselves in for a thrilling ride. Kenta Maeda is set to face-off against fellow righty Tyler Mahle in the second game on Tuesday.

First pitch is slated for 7:10 PM Los Angeles time.

 

Dodgers Promote Josh Sborz to Majors

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(Mandatory Credit: Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers)

The Dodgers on Sunday morning recalled right-handed pitcher Josh Sborz from Triple-A Oklahoma City after optioning righty swing man Dennis Santana back to OKC.

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Can Clayton Kershaw Help Rescue an Under-Performing Starting Rotation?

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(Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

As the Dodgers try to fight themselves out of their current five-game losing streak, it’s hard to say exactly what it might take to get back in the winning column. It could be an offensive explosion, or it may be a stellar start from a member of their starting rotation. Or, it might even take a flawless multi-inning effort from a highly-criticized bullpen.

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Dodgers Swept by Cardinals on Final Leg of Road Trip

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Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

To say that the Dodgers‘ first road trip of the season was a bit of a roller coaster ride would be an understatement.

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Dodgers Place Russell Martin on Injured List, Recall Rocky Gale

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(Getty Images photo)

In a surprising turn of events on Wednesday, the Dodgers recalled catcher Rocky Gale from Triple-A Oklahoma City after placing Russell Martin on the injured list.

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Who Will Be the Next Pitcher to Join the Dodgers’ Rotation?

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(Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

There was quite a bit of news coming out of the Dodgers‘ camp on Tuesday, specifically developments regarding the status of the team’s starting rotation.

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Preliminary Fallout from the Hyun-Jin Ryu Injury

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When fans of the Dodgers learned that Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s early exit from Monday’s opener against the Cardinals was due to a groin injury, many of them flashed back to last spring when the lefty missed more than three months of the season.

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Dodgers Recall Dennis Santana, Option Brock Stewart to Oklahoma City

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It took 10 games into the regular season, but the Dodgers finally made their first official roster transaction of the year, recalling right-handed fireballer Dennis Santana and optioning righty swing man Brock Stewart to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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