News and Notes Ahead Of Marlins Series

The Dodgers have returned from their eventful East Coast road trip. It featured rain delays, almost fighting with the Phillies closer, a lot of home runs, and a 4-3 record for the two series.

Enrique Hernandez, Matt Beaty and A.J. Pollock had really good offensive showings. Kiké, who had been in a horrid slump, seems to have broken out of it in a big way. Since the All-Star break, he is has a slash line of .455/.571/.773 with two homers and eight RBI. Good timing with Chris Taylor now on the IL indefinitely.

Beaty was recalled from Triple-A on Monday because of Taylor’s injury, and has continued right where he left off before he was demoted. In his last seven games, spanning before and after his most recent trip to Oklahoma City, he’s batting .447/.500/1.000 with two home runs. Most impressive is that he has only struck out once.

And Pollock for his part has hit steadily since his return from the IL. He is batting .308 with three home runs, right in line with what his average offensive production should be for the season.

The bullpen is mostly what failed the Dodgers on that trip, right in line with what is their main issue throughout the season. On that front, the Dodgers are rumored to be interested in Shane Greene, the current closer for the Detroit Tigers. The Dodgers have “shown interest” in him before, as well as his teammate Nick Castellanos.

Greene has a 1.06 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 35 strikeouts and has converted 22 of his 24 save opportunities this season. The hiccup is that he is a righty, and the Dodgers really need another lefty arm in the bullpen. Just one more rumor to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches.

The Dodgers now welcome the beleaguered Miami Marlins to Chavez Ravine. Last place in the NL East, the Marlins sit at 36-58 for the season. Their run differential is -84, while the Dodgers is +151. They have as many wins on the road as they do at home.

Pitching matchups will start with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zac Gallen. The Marlin’s righty has only appeared in four games this season, is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Saturday’s game will be a battle of #22’s as Clayton Kershaw will face off against Sandy Alcantara. Another right hander, Alcantara is 4-9 with a 3.94 ERA and 76 strikeouts.

And for Sunday’s matinee game, Walker Buehler will take the mound to go against Jordan Yamamoto. The third righty of the series, Yamamoto just made his major league debut on June 12th of this season. He has made his presence known, so far amassing a 4-0 record, 1.59 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 34 innings.

The Marlins offense is 23rd in batting average, last in homers and next to last in runs scored. The Dodgers should have an easy time with them with their top three pitchers going. Friday’s game is at 7:10, Saturday’s at 6:10, and Sunday’s at 1:10 PDT.

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Dodgers Split Series with Phillies on Final Leg of Roadtrip

Enrique Hernandez went 4-for-4 with two homers and three RBI while Matt Beaty went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer of his own, but it still wasn’t enough to propel the Dodgers past the Phillies in the series finale in Philadelphia on Thursday.

In spite of the loss, the Dodgers went 4-3 on the roadtrip, which may be considered satisfactory in the eyes of many, especially when noting the types of difficult environments at Fenway and Citizens Bank Park.

As far as the season series went, though, the Dodgers took five games to the Phillies’ two, as Los Angeles swept Philadelphia in three games at Dodger Stadium back on May 31 through June 2.

Swing man Ross Stripling got the start for the Dodgers and was decent in Thursday afternoon’s finale. The righty surrendered two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts over an even five innings of work.

However, the Los Angeles bullpen was once again victimized in the later innings of another tight contest. Three Dodgers relievers couldn’t hold the Philllies at bay in the seventh frame. The trio allowed four runs as Philadelphia came from behind to win 7-6, securing the series split.

Caleb Ferguson, freshly recalled to the roster on Thursday morning, hit the first batter he faced with a pitch, then walked Roman Quinn in the subsequent AB. After the seventh innings was all said and done, Ferguson was charged with two earned runs while Dylan Floro and Joe Kelly were each tagged with one.

“We have a lot of belief and trust in Caleb,” skipper Dave Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “In that situation, you can’t hit the lefty with a breaking ball and you can’t walk Quinn. That’s just the bottom line.”

Facing Floro after the Ferguson disaster, Bryce Harper tied the game with an RBI single, then Rhys Hoskins followed with a single of his own, driving in two more and giving Philadelphia the lead.

Even a cursory assessment of the Los Angeles relief crew reveals that the club is in dire need of bullpen help, particularly if the club hopes to head into the 2019 postseason with a full head of steam.

Alex Verdugo slugged his 12th home run of the year to bring the Dodgers within one run in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Ranger Suarez was credited with the win, his second of the year. Despite allowing the home run to Verdugo, Hector Neris notched his 18th save of the season.

Floro was credited with the loss.

Immediately after the game, the Dodgers hopped a flight Westbound. The team will begin a three-game series against the Marlins at home beginning on Friday.

 

Some Thoughts on the Dodgers’ Bullpen Woes

Kenley Jansen got hit literally and figuratively in last night’s game, and ended up blowing the save. The Dodgers, down 6-1 at one point, had battled back to make it an 8-6 game going into the ninth inning. Jansen was hit with a comebacker, and ended up giving up a walk-off hit to Bryce Harper.

After the game, Jansen said that he should have been taken out of the game, but his pride and ego didn’t allow that. He described his night like this to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group –
“It definitely felt numb. It didn’t feel great,” Jansen said later after limping to his locker. “Then the second pitch to (Cesar) Hernandez I couldn’t push no more. It was just pain.

“If I look back, I probably would have come out of the game. But I’m not going to take myself out of the game. It didn’t help us. I couldn’t even push anymore. I couldn’t even go (toward) home. It was all arm.

“I just told him ‘It hurts but I’m good. Let’s go,’” Jansen said of the visit from Roberts. “Listen … I’m not a quitter. Even if it hurts, I’m still going to go out there and compete. But I should have been a little smarter myself and be honest with myself and come out of the game. I take the blame on myself.

I’m not an excuse guy. But I shouldn’t keep pitching. … I should have come out of the game.”

In June, I wrote a column saying the Dodgers should sign a second closer to go along with Kenley. I’m not going to go so far as to say that Jansen isn’t elite anymore, because he’s third in the National League in saves, and no one seems to be elite lately with the uptick in homers. Even Josh Hader gets hit around every now and then. Kenley is definitely a victim of his own success, as he was downright dominant before.

But he, and the front office, need to recognize this before the trade deadline, and the playoffs. Kenley himself needs to do a better job of recognizing when he doesn’t have it. That’s a huge ask, I understand. But after losing the last two World Series, what is best for the team is what has to happen. I stand by the thought that the Dodgers need to go all in, and get that second, dominating arm. No one seemingly has a great bullpen staff, but to win it all, the Dodgers should have the best of those who make the playoffs.

There has been rumblings of Julio Urias filling that role of lefty arm towards the end of the game. The Dodgers do hate to part with prospects, so an in-house option seems like a good idea. But Urias is a starter, and I’m always wary of using an arm like that, even if he’s been being used as a long reliever all season.

The Dodgers need a bullpen arm, and that’s it. You can argue all day about what players are playing which positions, and whether some are suited better for one position or another. I have a feeling that that will work itself out by October. But to borrow the adage of the NFL that ‘Defense Wins Championships’, bullpens win championships for the MLB. Let’s get it done, Friedman and Co.

Should Dodgers Be Shopping for Anything But Relief Pitching?

As 2019 has seen the abandonment of waiver trades through the end of August, many teams around the MLB will be provided with limited opportunities to deal ahead of the July 31 deadline.

Seemingly, it’s more difficult because there are a multitude of clubs who may consider themselves in contention and aren’t quite sure whether or not they’re buyers or sellers with two full weeks remaining.

Conceivably, a team who is five or more games behind in a prospective Wild Card race could end up being ten games out by the time the deadline rolls around—or vice-versa.

It’s tough to fathom who the Dodgers are talking with about any prospective trades, as front office boss Andrew Friedman typically does a fine job at not showing his hand. Nevertheless, we can almost be assured that the club is looking for a much-needed upgrade(s) to an otherwise mediocre bullpen.

Some sort of move on the relief pitching front, whether or not it proves to be a beneficial in the end, is virtually guaranteed.

However, when I recently read a few stories about Los Angeles possibly being interested in arm for the starting rotation, I began to scratch my head.

According to a report out of Detroit, Friedman and his troops have been talking to the Tigers about southpaw starter Matthew Boyd.

Slugger Nick Castellanos garnered quite a few conversations about a conceivable trade during the winter months, and recently, we discussed how lefty reliever Shane Greene would fit into the Los Angeles bullpen nicely.

But another starter?

Even with veteran lefty Rich Hill on the shelf, the Dodgers appear to be fine down the stretch in the rotation. Ross Stripling has filled in admirably, and Julio Urias is always a possibility. There’s some logic in stating that by adding someone like Boyd, the Dodgers would be able to float Stripling along with somebody like Kenta Maeda back to the bullpen, but Stripling and Maeda are not overwhelmingly huge upgrades on the existing relief corps.

So far this season, Boyd has posted a 6-7 record with a 3.95 ERA and a 3.47 FIP over an even 114 innings of work alongside 152 punchouts. Besides the promising strikeout rate, these numbers certainly are not anything to write home about, as many folks who have been following the rumors feel that the Dodgers would be much better off using their resources on a prospective deal for a bonafide, high-quality relief arm.

Our good friend Connor Byrne at MLBTR pointed out that Boyd could be a wise investment for Los Angeles being that he’s under control for the next several seasons, coupled with the possibility that it’s conceivable that Hill and lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu might not be with the squad next season.

Still, many pundits believe that the 2019 Dodgers are the best squad the organization has fielded in recent seasons and that they have the best chance of bringing home a World Championship, something the city has been waiting on for more than 30 years. Consequently, the stretch run of the 2019 season could be viewed as more critical than a theoretical starting rotation in 2021.

There may not be many rumblings or rumors at this exact moment in time, but there will definitely be some kind of action in the L.A. camp before the deadline lands on July 31.

Whether Friedman decides to make another huge splash in the 2019 trade market or not remains to be seen.

 

Dodgers Take Two of Three in Boston, Set Sights on Phillies

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The Dodgers had an eventful start to their East Coast road trip, managing to take two of three from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. After the first game where the offense could barely muster a run, they exploded to score 11 runs in the second game, and then took 12 innings to finally get the win on Sunday evening.

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A Few Thoughts on the Daily Batting Order Fluctuation

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Daily batting orders always seem to be quite the volatile topic among fans of the Dodgers everywhere. Overall, I would probably say there are more fans who express criticism than those who do not. Despite all the grumbling, the Dodgers, as a team, find themselves atop most of the offensive categories in the National League.

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Bullpen Woes Continue as Trade Deadline Approaches

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In the hours before Friday’s contest against American League rival Boston, skipper Dave Roberts of the Dodgers emphasized to reporters how the arrival of A.J. Pollock, Corey Seager and David Freese felt almost like a series of huge acquisitions at the trade deadline.

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Dodgers Begin Second Half in Boston, Ready to Avenge World Series Loss

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The second half of the season begins today, with the Dodgers starting with an East Coast swing that includes three games with the Boston Red Sox and four in Philadelphia against the Phillies.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for Edwin Rios?

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(Getty Images photo)

With the 2019 MLB trade deadline just a few, short weeks away, fans of the Dodgers shouldn’t be surprised when one or more of the team’s valued prospects is moved in a deal, most likely to upgrade a bullpen that’s been heavily criticized for most of the season.

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An In-Depth Interview with Rick Krajewski, Dodgers Stats Man

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Stats have been steadily taking over the game of baseball, from launch angle to exit velocity to wOBA and everything in between. The Dodgers organization is on the cutting edge of using all stats to their advantage in regards to both pitching and batting.

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