Dodgers Sweep Pirates in Pittsburgh

Two days after I published a column about how the starting pitching was responsible for most of the team’s recent success, the offense of the Dodgers erupted for a whopping 18 runs over the final two games of a weekend set to secure both the series and season sweep against a battered Pirates squad.

For the entire three game series, the Dodgers outscored the Pirates 28 runs to 11.

Corey Seager and Joc Pederson each hit solo home runs in the finale on Sunday while rookie utility-man Matt Beaty slugged a career-high four RBI to highlight the 11-7 Los Angles victory.

With Sunday’s win, the Dodgers have now won 17 of the last 19 games against the Pirates, including the last 10 contests.

The series finale was seemingly messy at times, especially for the Pirates. The Pittsburgh staff walked eight Dodger batters and hit another three. Los Angeles pushed six runners across the plate in a sixth inning that featured back-to-back hit batsmen which resulted in two runs scored.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, catcher Austin Barnes was lifted for veteran backstop Russell Martin after Barnes complained of soreness in his groin. By game’s end, no further reports were provided on the seriousness of the injury.

Sunday’s game took nearly four hours to complete after the middle game on Saturday began 1-3/4 hours late after a lengthy rain delay.

Justin Turner was given a day off on Saturday and responded by going 5-for-5 with five singles and three runs scored in the finale. It was the first five-hit game in Turner’s career. His effort elevated his season average to .304.

Freshly reinstated of the injury list, Kenta Maeda got the start for the Dodgers on Sunday. The righty threw 81 pitches over five full innings, surrendering three earned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out four. He was credited with his sixth win of the year.

Lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson threw the sixth inning, allowing three more earned runs of his own on four hits and a walk.

Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia held the Pirates scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings. Ross Stripling gave up one run in the ninth after allowing an earned run on two hits, one of which was a double to center field off the bat of Gregory Polanco.

With a 35-18 record, Los Angeles far and away has the best mark in the National League. The team returns home on Monday to begin a four-game set against the New York Mets.

 

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Exactly How Good Is the Dodgers’ Starting Rotation?

While many fans of the Dodgers have attributed an extremely potent offense to the team’s success so far this year, the starting pitching has undoubtedly been the backbone of the squad’s consistency.

Because of the starters ability to go much deeper into games compared to the rest of the league, the bullpen has performed better in some situations. Los Angeles starters have averaged an impressive 5.79 innings per start this year, which is far and away the best number in the National League.

After another double-digit run output against the Pirates in the series opener on Friday night, skipper Dave Roberts confirmed in the postgame that in his eyes, the rotation is certainly the team’s strength.

“I think we all know this,” Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “We have a very dynamic, athletic position-player group. But the strength of our team is our starting pitching—the depth and the quality. And it’s showing true right now.”

Plunkett also noted that Los Angeles starters have a 2.09 ERA over the last 25 games.

Through the first 51 games, the Dodgers’ starters have a 2.93 ERA. The next closest team in the National League is the Cubs with a 3.50 mark (no, that is not a typo). What’s even more impressive is that the Los Angeles rotation has a .217 batting average against—the Reds’ rotation is second at .229. Furthermore, Los Angeles starting pitching is first in the NL with a 3.47 FIP, first with a .265 OBP against, first with a .373 SLG against and first with a .638 OPS against.

They even lead the league with a 1.02 WHIP, a number that leads the Cubs by a whopping 0.25 point discrepancy.

All of these numbers were accomplished despite both Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill beginning the season on the injured list. Hyun-Jin Ryu was also on the shelf for 10 days with a groin issue, as was righty Kenta Maeda most recently after fouling a ball off his left leg.

Despite Ryu’s short stint away from the squad, he’s leading the world in almost every statistical category and is the main reason why Los Angeles has been dominating the league’s starting pitching stats. He has a ridiculous 271 ERA+, a 0.74 WHIP and a 1.52 ERA—all numbers which lead the bigs by wide margins. What’s more, he’s amid a 32-game scoreless inning streak. And the fact that he’s walked just 0.67 batters per nine innings gives us some indication as to why he has been so successful.

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In the middle game of the weekend series against the Pirates on Saturday, Ryu gets the start and will oppose righty Joe Musgrove. In five career starts against the Pirates, Ryu has a 5-0 record with a 2.51 ERA over 32-1/3 innings of work.

Several patches of heavy thunderstorms are in the forecast for the game, but hopefully none of them will prevent the contest from being played in its entirety. I’ll be on hand at PNC Park for the affair, so stay tuned to our Twitter feed for the latest updates on the weather and other game notes.

First pitch is set for 4:15 PM Los Angeles time.

 

Series Preview: Dodgers Finish Road Trip with Stop in Pittsburgh

After a distinctly unimpressive showing by the offense and bullpen in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, the Dodgers head north to the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to begin a weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Dodgers have already played the Pirates this season, sweeping them at home at the end of April. Pittsburgh currently sits at 25-22, 3.5 games out of first in the NL Central. They crushed four homers Thursday in their 14-6 win over the Colorado Rockies.

One of those home runs was off the bat of Josh Bell, who is having himself an incredible May. He’s currently tied for third with Pete Alonso of the New York Mets with 16 bombs, is batting .339 and has a whopping 1.125 OPS. He’s OPSing 1.339 in the month of May alone, good for third best in team history. The switch-hitting first baseman was NL Player of the Week ending May 19. He’s also second in batted ball exit velocity, higher than Cody Bellinger who comes in at number four.

He is the Dodgers’ version of Cody Bellinger, leading every offensive category for the Pirates except for triples, which is just tied for first. Over 20 games, he has a .410 BA with 10 homers and 26 RBI for May.

The first Dodger pitcher charged with quieting his bat will be Walker Buehler. The Dodgers’ flamethrower is coming off his first loss of the season at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds. He will be hoping that the Dodger offense gives him some support this time around, as they failed to score any runs that game. The Pirates’ pitcher for Friday night has yet to be announced and will most likely be a bullpen game.

Saturday evening’s matchup with see Hyun-Jin Ryu seeking to continue his scoreless streak, which currently sits at 31 innings. The Pirates will counter with righty Joe Musgrove, who now sits at 3-4 with a 3.67 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 54.0 innings pitched.

Sunday’s matinee will see the return of Kenta Maeda from the IL after taking a foul ball to the thigh in his last outing on May 15, an outing in which he was dominant. He struck out 12 while driving in the Dodgers’ only two runs of the game. He will square off against Chris Archer, whom the Dodgers smacked around on April 26, scoring six runs in four innings including a Bellinger home run.

Today in Dodgers transactional news, Joe Kelly was placed on the bereavement list, where he will be from anywhere from three to seven games. Kyle Garlick was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City for his second stint with the Dodgers. He had one at-bat with a flyout to center in his first time with the big club. He may only be in Pittsburgh for a couple days, as he might be replaced on the roster when Maeda is officially reinstated.

 

Hyun-Jin Ryu: NL Cy Young Candidate?

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Hyun-Jin Ryu is on a very impressive run as of late, coming off of his 31st consecutive scoreless inning last Sunday at Cincinnati. Not only is Ryu the hottest starter in the Dodgers‘ rotation at the moment, he’s also one of the most effective starting pitchers in baseball. Ryu has been consistently putting together good outings all year, and one can only imagine his numbers at the end of the season if he’s able to stay healthy.

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Dodgers Prospects: A Conversation with Righty Pitcher Braydon Fisher

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(Photo Credit: Phrake Photography)

With the 2019 MLB draft now less than two weeks away, one can’t help but look back to last year’s event and recall the trio of pitchers the Dodgers selected over the first several rounds.

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Julio Urías Reinstated

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Lefty pitcher Julio Urias returned to the Dodgers‘ active roster on Tuesday afternoon, eight days after he was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery at a Los Angeles shopping center.

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Dodgers Continue East Coast Road Trip with Quick Stop in Tampa Bay

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The Dodgers started their eight game road trip off well, taking two of three games from the Reds in Cincinnati. Cody Bellinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu continued their dominance with their bat and their pitching, respectively. The team hit some homers, and the bullpen was still a little shaky. Pretty much par for the course of what this season has been so far.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Zach Reks Rising Quickly

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As there has been quite a bit of movement in recent days on the Dodgers‘ big league roster, there has been an equal amount of movement along the upper levels of the farm, allowing several prospects to emerge into the Triple-A spotlight.

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Dodgers Roster: Garlick, Beaty Added Ahead of East Coast Road Trip

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(Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers)

As the Dodgers head into their eight game east coast road trip, they will be taking a new face along for the ride. On Friday, the Dodgers added Kyle Garlick to the active roster along with Matt Beaty while placing Kenta Maeda on the 10-day IL.

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