Dodgers Announce Pitchers for Cactus League Opener

The Dodgers on Thursday announced the pitchers who are scheduled to throw in Saturday’s Cactus League Opener against the White Sox at Glendale.

Taking the hill will be Daniel Corcino, Jaime Schultz, Kevin Quackenbush, Josh Sborz, Stetson Allie, Josh Smoker and Joe Broussard.

First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 PM Pacific time.

Glendale will also be the venue for Sunday’s game as the Dodgers face the Angels.

Scheduled to pitch for Los Angeles on Sunday are Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brock Stewart, Dennis Santana, Adam McCreery, Tony Gonsolin, Mitchell White and Dustin May.

Sunday’s game is slated to begin at 12:07 PM Pacific time.

In other news, the Dodgers announced today that the team will honor the legacy of pitching great Don Newcombe this season with a commemorative uniform No. 36 patch.

Newcombe passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92.

“Don Newcombe played a major role on and off the field for the Dodgers and we want to honor his legacy to our organization and all of baseball by recognizing him throughout the 2019 season,” team president Stan Kasten said on Thirsday.

The patch will be on the Dodger jersey beginning Opening Day.

The Dodgers have previously honored former players Jim Gilliam (1978), Tim Crews (1993), Don Drysdale (1993), Roy Campanella (1993), Pee Wee Reese (1999) and Duke Snider (2011) with commemorative patches.

Newcombe reached the pinnacle of his career in 1956, when he won both the Cy Young and NL Most Valuable Player awards while playing for the Dodgers.  That season, Newcombe went 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA, leading the NL in fewest-hits-and-walks-allowed per nine innings.   He was named the Rookie of the Year in 1949.

The Dodgers will also honor Newcombe in pregame ceremonies on April 27 when they induct him into the Legends of Dodger Baseball and salute him with a commemorative bobblehead.

(Jon Chapper provided some information furnished in this report)

 

 

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Hyun-Jin Ryu Is Developing a Slider, Apparently

Just imagine what it would be like to face Dodgers‘ southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu if he added a slider to his already wicked arsenal of pitches.

The vision may soon be a reality.

Ken Gurnick reported today that Ryu has been tinkering with a slider, according to skipper Dave Roberts.

As we all know, Ryu has a propensity for learning new pitches quickly. As part of his comeback in 2017, he introduced his cutter to the league mainstream, which led him to his most a fantastic campaign in 2018 in terms of ERA and FIP, despite missing a good portion of the year due to a nasty groin strain. More importantly, the emergence of the cutter allowed him to use his four-seam as a setup pitch rather than his out pitch.

And, believe it or not, the 31-year-old lefty introduced a sinker last year, although he used it sparingly. When he did throw the sinker, it often lacked solid command; however, it’s yet another weapon he can pull out of his bag of tricks when he needs to.

Consequently, we all know how deadly his change and curve ball can be. These are the pitches that allow Ryu to bring home a decent MLB paycheck.

Ryu’s curveball now has more vertical drop than it’s ever had in his career—almost four inches more drop than it had during his limited action in 2017 and about four-and-a-half more inches of drop than the typical MLB curveball. So, not only is he controlling it better, it’s also breaking more than ever.

What’s more, Ryu’s changeup has been his most effective strikeout pitch, generating a 23% whiff rate and 55% chase rate in 2018. If he can find decent command with his sinker and slider while continuing to use his 91 MPH four-seam as a key setup offering, his ceiling will be amazingly high—if he’s able to stay healthy.

Last November, he accepted the club’s $17.9 million qualifying offer, which may turn out to be one of the offseason’s biggest bargains—again, if he remains durable.

During the 2018 regular season, Ryu made 15 starts and posted a 9-7 record, leading the entire club with a 1.97 ERA. He was instrumental in holding the staff together for the first few weeks of the season after the rotation suffered numerous injuries. Consequently, he made a brilliant comeback after the groin injury in late April. In the 2018 postseason, Ryu made four starts and threw an even 19 innings. His best start of the playoffs came in the NLDS against the Braves when he tossed seven shutout innings, striking out eight while surrendering just four hits and no walks.

After recording double-digit wins in each of his first two seasons, Ryu had shoulder surgery and missed his entire 2015 campaign, returning late in 2016 only to re-aggravate his shoulder problems. He made 24 starts in 2017, tallying a not-so-impressive 5-9 record with a 3.77 ERA. However, if he performs close to the peripheral numbers he put up in 2018, he could be one of the leaders of an already very talented staff.

 

Dodgers Name Clayton Kershaw Opening Day Starter

Halfway through winter, there wasn’t much debate as to which pitchers would make up the quintet of the Dodgers starting rotation, so long as everyone stayed healthy. Furthermore, there wasn’t any doubt at all who would take the hill on Opening Day against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.

Once again, the 2019 honors go to Clayton Kershaw.

Skipper Dave Roberts announced the decision to the media on Tuesday.

The starting nod will be Kersh’s ninth career Opening Day start, extending his own team record.

“It’s very cool,” Kershaw told reporters not long after the announcement. “Opening Day symbolizes a lot of things. I’m excited about it. Being on the same team that long, a team with a long list of great starting pitchers, to be associated with them is kind of special.”

Los Angeles won all of Kershaw’s first seven Opening Day starts, as he compiled a 5-0 record with a 0.99 ERA during that span. However, his win streak was broken in 2018 when the Dodgers were blanked by the Giants, 1-0.

The three-year, $93 million contract extension that Kershaw signed over the winter was seemingly swept under the rug, mainly because management took care of all the loose ends before the MLB Hot Stove was able to gain any momentum. Kerhsaw could have opted out of his previous pact with the Dodgers, but he ultimately agreed to the deal without many complications, easing the collective conscience of the fan base.

Kershaw was the team’s first pick in the 2006 draft, joining the big league squad in 2008. The Dodgers have gone to the playoffs in almost every year he has been in the rotation, including winning six straight division titles from 2013-2018, three straight NLCS appearances, and back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017-18.  Kershaw won the NL Cy Young in 2013, 2104, and 2106.  He also was the NL MVP for the 2014 season.

Nevertheless, Kershaw was on the disabled list twice last season with shoulder and back issues. He went 9-5, but his 2.73 ERA would have still placed him fourth in the National League had he reached the qualifying innings amount. Overall, he pitched a total of 191-1/3 innings, including the postseason. He went the first six years of his Major League career without being on the disabled list at all, but has been placed on the shelf five times in the last five seasons.

Moreover, there has been a lot of chatter about the ace’s decreasing velocity, especially during last season. Over the winter break, front office boss Andrew Friedman downplayed the overall need for Kersh to increase his velocity, adding that better execution would be enough for improved success. However, Roberts noted that an uptick would increase Kershaw’s margin for error, while giving him more confidence to throw fastballs glove side and also playing up his slider.

“There’s so much data now, body movements and things, and how you can be out of whack with your mechanics that you can kind of work on and work through, that it’s in there,” Roberts explained. “And the No. 1 thing for me — his work ethic, his desire, and he’s healthy.”

Regardless of his velocity and his 2018 statistics, Kersh remains one of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball—for now.

 

Despite Fan Pessimism, Andrew Friedman Says Dodgers Are ‘Elite’

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I came across a very well-written story a few days ago reflecting a somewhat pessimistic opinion about the Dodgers organization by some fans.

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Dodgers Bullpen: The Time Could Be Now for Stetson Allie

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(Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman)

As the Dodgers have invited 21 non-roster players to the big league side of spring camp this year, most of them are prospects who have plenty of years ahead of them in terms of maturing and development.

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Dodgers Roster: Does Russell Martin Have One More Productive Season Left?

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According to some of the media outlets reporting out of Camelback Ranch, the Opening Day catching duties for the Dodgers are up for grabs, as it “remains to be seen how the playing time will break down.”

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Let’s Talk About Platooning

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It’s funny how a few quotes from the first day of spring camp can stir up an abundance of reactions from the Dodgers‘ fan base.

And there’s nobody more guilty than me.

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Dodgers 2019 Opening Day Roster Projections: Second Edition

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When news surrounding the Dodgers was quite slow early in the winter, we ended up taking a preliminary glance at what the club’s 25-man roster may look like. As there have been a few changes since that time, we thought it might be a good idea to roll out another set of projections ahead of the first spring workout for pitchers and catchers, which begins on Wednesday.

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Dodgers Bullpen: Joe Broussard Prepares for Tight Relief Competition

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If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you’ll know that we’ve been talking about reliever Joe Broussard from his early days at Double-A Tulsa. In effect, so much time has passed that the 28-year-old righty is beyond his days as a prospect; yet, he still hasn’t risen to the call of pitching at the big league level.

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The Obligatory Bryce Harper Post

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(Getty Images photo)

There are exactly three days remaining before pitchers and catchers begin filing into the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch. Still, outfielder Bryce Harper remains unsigned.

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