Dodgers News and Notes – Andrew Heaney’s Progress, Mookie’s Month of May and More

The Los Angeles Dodgers are two-thirds through their current 10 game road trip. Their record thus far is 4-2, dropping the final game of the series against both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals.

While they’ve scored 33 runs over this time span, they could not get a runner across the plate in Wednesday’s matinee game in D.C. It is the first time the Dodgers have lost a game 1-0 since September of 2019.

Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urías and Tyler Anderson combined to pitch 25.0 innings and only allowing two earned runs combined in their outings. Anderson had a particularly stellar outing on Monday, going 8.0 scoreless innings. The bullpen was when most of the runs were scored by the other teams.

Mookie Betts has been on fire in the month of May. He went from having no home runs through April 19th, to now being tops in the National League with 12. After having a slash line of .171/.277/.220 through the first 10 games of the season, he now sits at .292/.385/.578 and a team leading .957 OPS. He had also scored a run in 12 straight games, tying the Dodgers franchise record.

That streak was ended on Wednesday, a postponed scheduled day off. He was brought in as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning but struck out. Betts had been scheduled to have the day off on Tuesday, but an ailing Cody Bellinger left him in the lineup. He hit two homers in that game. The Dodgers definitely missed his bat in Wednesday’s games.

“Over the last 30 days, it’s as good as anybody on the planet right now,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It’s as good as I’ve seen him — scoring runs at a crazy clip, his on-base, he’s slugging at a ridiculous clip too, and he’s playing Gold Glove defense.”

The Dodgers will now head to Arizona for a four game set against the Diamondbacks. They will once again have to have at least one bullpen type game, as both Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Heaney are on the IL.

Heaney has started throwing bullpens off the mound and as long as he is feeling well on Thursday, he will do a three inning simulation with ups and downs between innings. If all goes well with that, he will start throwing to batters, but the plan for that has not been finalized yet.

Kershaw is still likely a few weeks away from any bullpen sessions.

Probable starters for the Diamondbacks series are Thursday, Mitch White and Humberto Castellanos; Friday, Gonsolin and Madison Bumgarner; Saturday is TBD and Merrill Kelly; and Sunday, Tyler Anderson and TBD for the DBacks.

Dodgers Offense Continues to Gain Momentum

The Dodgers pitching staff still has the lowest ERA in the majors at 2.76 and has held opponents to a .213 batting average. But the Dodger offense is currently sixth best in the majors, just one point out of the top five. Having both the offense and pitching ranked that high has definitely aided to winning success.

On Monday in the opening game of a three game series against the Washington Nationals, the Dodger offense scored ten runs along with eight innings of no-run ball from lefty starter Tyler Anderson.

Having Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman at the top of the lineup seems a bit unfair, especially with them being under team control and at the forefront of the lineup for the next couple of seasons.

Betts had a slow start this season and started to raise a few eyebrows with his struggles at the plate. However, he has now put those concerns to rest. He has recorded a hit in at least six out of the last seven games. Betts now leads the team in homers with ten and is now hitting .280.

Over his last 15 games, Betts has been hitting .317 and he also leads the majors in runs scored at 42.

Freeman has been one of the more consistent hitters all throughout the year, as he leads the team in batting average at .313. He is batting .344 over the last seven games in which the Dodgers only have lost once. He also leads the team in hits and in OBP.

Other key hitters also involve Trea Turner who is on a contract year. Turner leads the Dodgers in RBI with 32, with Justin Turner in second place at 29 RBI.

The Dodgers also may be faced with difficult choices moving forward. Edwin Rios, other than Monday, has looked great in the few at-bats he’s had. Rios has belted five homers, which is tied for second best on the team, with only had 50 at bats on the season. The Dodgers have so much depth that Rios, who would be a starter on nearly every other MLB team, has garnered minimal playing time.

The Dodgers, who are 8-2 in their last ten games, will look to build on Monday night’s win. Currently, the Dodgers have the best winning percentage in the National League, but are only up a half game on the San Diego Padres who are 28-14, while the Giants have lost five straight and fell to six games behind.

The Dodgers will send Walker Buehler to the mound Tuesday; he has posted a 2.89 ERA and a 5-1 record. Buehler pitched five innings last time against Arizona, allowing two runs. He will face Washington right hander Josiah Gray.

Gray made his Major League debut last year with the Dodgers, and spent several years in the Dodger organization as a top pitching prospect. He only appeared in a Dodger uniform twice before being traded to the Nationals in the deal that brought Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to L.A.

First pitch for Tuesday is scheduled at 4:05 p.m. Pacific.

Thoughts About Max Muncy

He is one of those famous ‘reclamation projects’ that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been famous for in the past few years. Taking a player that may not have been coveted by other teams and turning them into an All-Star.

The Dodgers did just that with Max Muncy, who the Dodgers signed in 2017 and tucked him away in Triple-A Oklahoma City to work on his play. By 2018 he was up with the big team, and providing power in the lineup. He hit 35 home runs in both 2018 and 2019, and in 2021 he had 36 long balls.

Muncy has been a steady on-base machine for the last four plus years. But this season, no matter what he does, Muncy cannot get his bat going.

The utility man is currently sitting with a .156/.331/.279/.610 slash line with three homers. Muncy is still consistently getting walks; but the hits just aren’t coming. Over his last 15 games, Max only has eight hits in 46 at bats.

The culmination of a bad start to the season seemed to be Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, where Muncy struck out with bases loaded in the 10th inning, and then bobbled a ball at second base that would have gotten the third out and allowed the Phillies to score two and win in walk-off fashion.

After the game, a thoroughly dejected Muncy spoke with reporters.

“I go out there everyday, and I at least try to throw something in the bucket, and do whatever I can to help the team win, and whether it’s get a walk, make a play, get on base, unfortunately today I took something out of it. I didn’t add to helping the team win and that’s my own fault and I gotta own up to that”.

When asked whether he should say anything to Muncy after a play like that, manager Dave Roberts said “No, he’s a pro, he’s got to keep going. He’s played good defense for us all year, it’s just something that happens. Right now he’s grinding, he just hasn’t been able to get going yet this season. Working hard at the plate, he’s not giving at bats away, he’s still competing, the last thing he wanted to do was not field that ball.”

Doc was also on High Heat on Monday talking with Alanna Rizzo about Muncy. “It’s tough because Max is such a great ball player…and that play right there, I know he’d like to have that back. But I’m going to keep running him out there…baseballs a tough game, and that scene right there, we all feel for him right now.” Roberts went on to say that he didn’t think that Muncy was taking his offensive woes into the field.

Roberts also said that he thinks that maybe the injury is still hampering Muncy, more in the mental side of things as opposed to the physical side. He said that Muncy will be right back out there in Mondays game and that he feels like Muncy will be seeing the upswing soon.

Most likely, this is the cause. It was a huge blow to Muncy and to the team when his UCL was torn trying to make a play on first base in the last game of the 2021 regular season, and while he may physically be feeling well, the mental part of it may not have caught up with Muncy yet.

As stated, Max is in Monday night’s lineup, batting sixth, about where he’s been most of the season. He will be playing third base while Justin Turner gets a night off.

It remains to be seen how long Roberts and the coaching staff let Muncy go before doing something to change things up for him. A phantom IL stint could be in his future, as a reset of sorts. But Roberts is known to ride out players’ low points until they find themselves again. Luckily Muncy is on a team where they are not solely dependent on his production. But there are games like Sunday’s that do unfortunately bring his issues to the forefront. Let’s hope that this was rock bottom for Muncy, and the upswing beings from here.

Dodgers Fall to Phillies in Series Finale

After winning the first two games of a three-game set against the Phillies to start their current road trip, the Dodgers fell in extras in the finale on Sunday in a game that was very much winnable.

Los Angeles starter Tony Gonsolin was once again solid, as all indications seemed he was cruising to his fifth victory of the season. He went six full innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Gonsolin’s only downfall is that he wasn’t as economical as the team would have liked, causing skipper Dave Roberts to dip into his much-exhausted bullpen in the seventh.

The Dodgers carried a 2-1 lead at Gonsolin’s exit, thanks to a pair of solo home runs from Mookie Betts and Edwin Rios. Betts was a one-man offensive machine in Saturday’s contest, going 3-for 4 with a double, a homer and three RBI.

After having an average as low as .171 on April 19, Betts is currently hitting .273 and leads the team with 10 long balls and 38 runs scored. Mookie’s 145 OPS+ is second on the club to only Freddie Freeman.

Maintaining the narrow lead, the Dodgers were in a position to seal the win in the ninth. With limited relief options and Craig Kimbrel having pitched the previous two games, Roberts decided to stick with righty Yency Almonte to close. Almonte struck out Alec Bohm and retired Bryce Harper on a ground out, but he allowed the tying run to score after surrendering a double to Nick Castellanos and a single to Jean Segura.

The Dodgers cashed in during the tenth when Betts scored on a Trea Turner single to right field, putting themselves back in the lead and in a position for the sweep. However, Roberts opted to use righty Evan Roberts in the 10th.

J.T. Realmuto started the tenth inning on second base for the Phillies and unsuccessfully tried to score on a Garret Stubbs grounder to short. Phillips struck out Johan Camargo next, but he surrendered a single to Roman Quinn, who advanced to second on the throw to nail Stubbs at third base.

The Phillies went on top when both Stubbs and Quinn scored on a Bohm ground ball to second base that Max Muncy couldn’t handle. The Dodgers challenged that Quinn was out at home, but the call was upheld.

Despite the wasted opportunity, stealing two wins in Philadelphia can be considered a victory. Still, with Blake Treinen on the shelf until after the All-Star break and Tommy Kahnle out with forearm inflammation, the immediate future of the Los Angeles bullpen doesn’t seem bright.

The Dodgers now move onto D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals. Tyler Anderson gets the ball in the opener on Monday.

Dodgers Start 10-Game Road Trip in Philadelphia

Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped a series to both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies, posting a 2-5 record over that span. Since then, they swept a four-game series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a sweep of a doubleheader. The team will now begin a 10-game road trip riding a five-game winning streak.

The Dodgers will attempt to get a little bit of revenge against the Phillies this upcoming weekend. The Phillies took three out of four games at Dodger Stadium last weekend, and nearly swept the series if it wasn’t for a two-RBI walk-off double from Gavin Lux in the finale.

Philadelphia enjoyed great success off of Dodger pitching, as they scored an average of nearly eight runs throughout the series, scoring 33 runs in the four games, including more than eight or more runs in the first three contests. It appeared that Dodger pitching had imploded last weekend, but credit to the Phillies’ offense for putting it on the Dodgers.

Currently, the Dodgers stand at 25-12 in first place in the N.L. West while the Phillies stand at 18-20 in the N.L. East in second place. Julio Urias will start the first game of the weekend series and will face fellow left-hander Ranger Suarez. The pitching matchup is a rematch of last Saturday, when the Phillies beat the Dodgers by a score of 8-3.

Urias allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings. Suarez allowed three runs on five hits throughout seven frames.

The Dodgers will also face right-hander Aaron Nola on Saturday, who pitched in the previous series allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings. The Dodger starter for Saturday’s game is still to be determined.

For the finale on Sunday, the Dodgers will start Tony Gonsolin, who was the only starter not to face the Phillies. He will face Philadelphia right-hander Zach Eflin.

After the series in Philadelphia, the Dodgers will face the Nationals in a three-game set, followed by another four-game series against the Diamondbacks.

The team also made a minor transaction yesterday, signing right-handed reliever Pedro Baez to a minor league contract. And yes, it is old friend Pedro Baez from several years back.

Baez signed with the Astros after winning the World Series with the Dodgers in 2020 but never really solidified himself in Houston and struggled with a lot of injuries. The 34-year-old Baez was released by the Astros earlier this season.

So the Dodgers hope things will be different this time around Philadelphia. First pitch for Friday’s opener is scheduled at 4:05 p.m. Pacific.

Which Pitching Prospect Will Emerge First for Dodgers?

So far this season, we have already seen 25 different pitchers appear for the Los Angeles Dodgers in some capacity — 26 if you count Hanser Alberto’s outing on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. Last year, there were 39 pitchers to throw for the Dodgers, indicating that fans could be in store for even more new faces as the 2022 season progresses.

Without question, this year’s trade deadline will bring its usual hype as the summer months draw near. However, there’s been a lot of attention given to several prospects on the farm lately, as some of the organization’s top pitching prospects have already made their MLB debuts.

Over the last few years, we have seen arms like Mitch White, Andre Jackson and the departed Edwin Uceta given their chances without any overwhelming success. Sure, White and Jackson have shown signs of quality stuff — and there’s still time for them to emerge — but much of the franchise’s focus has shifted on some of the organization’s blue chippers on the farm.

So which prospect will emerge first? Specifically, which youngster will secure a rotation spot and cement himself as a member of the starting five for the foreseeable future?

Ryan Pepiot

Currently sitting at No. 6 in the organization’s top prospects list is 24-year-old righty Ryan Pepiot. So far, he has been given two starts and outside of a few minor bright spots, hasn’t wowed the Los Angeles fan base. It’s easy to see that Pepiot has the talent to succeed, but until he harnesses his command, he might not be the best available option.

Over his two MLB starts, Pepiot has thrown seven full innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits. That doesn’t sound bad, but his eight walks are intolerable.

Michael Grove

Like Pepiot, Michael Grove had his own case of control problems, or the jitters if you will, when he walked three batters in his MLB debut against the Phillies last week. Also like Pepiot, Grove was able to crank his fastball past the 95 mph mark. If it wasn’t for an untimely infielding error by Gavin Lux, Grove’s debut might have “felt” much better than the scoreboard indicated, even though he wasn’t charged with any earned runs.

I’m speaking subjectively, of course, but it seemed to me that Grove was just a tad more polished in his delivery than Pepiot. Coincidentally, Grove is ranked way down at No. 23 on the club’s prospect list.

Bobby Miller

Currently sitting at the No. 2 prospect ranking is 23-year-old righty Bobby Miller. Although he isn’t anywhere near the major league roster, Miller captured the hearts of many when he was clocked at triple digits multiple times in the 2022 Cactus League Freeway Series — on his birthday, no less.

After a slow start to the year, Miller is finally coming around at Double-A Tulsa. He has been able to shrink an ERA that was once above 6.00 close to 4.00. In his last start against Frisco last weekend, he threw five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five.

Miller’s nowhere near the 40-man roster at this point, but stranger things have happened in the past.

With Andrew Heaney still weeks away and Clayton Kershaw still not on a clear timetable, we could see Pepiot and Grove be given at least another look, unless the team has interest in seeing Jackson throw first.

Amid Four Game Sweep of Diamondbacks, Dodgers Make Flurry of Pitching Moves

What a difference a day/team/series makes. After barely pulling out one win in four against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Los Angeles Dodgers have gone on to sweep a four game series from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Let’s Talk About Tony Gonsolin

For the past couple of years, Tony Gonsolin has embraced many different roles, including starting and pitching out of the bullpen throughout the regular season and the postseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also pitched in some big spots during the 2020 World Series run.

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Thoughts on the Dodgers Past Week and a Look Ahead at the Diamondbacks Series

Well that was a week of baseball worth forgetting about.

The Los Angeles Dodgers finished their week at 2-5, and nearly were swept in a four game series by the Philadelphia Phillies. They had already lost two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Dodgers were thoroughly owned by teams from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Michael Grove

As the pitching carousel continues to turn for the Los Angeles Dodgers, another generation of players are getting their chances on the big-league stage.

Last week, fans had the chance to see 24-year-old righty Ryan Pepiot throw in the majors for the first time. On Sunday in the series finale against the Phillies, they’ll be able to see 25-year-old right-hander Michael Grove.

Continue reading “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Michael Grove”