The Cycle: Must Read Dodgers News

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We decided to try something new with the blog. Every Friday, we will post a list of articles from different sources that pertain to the Dodgers. Some of the news you may have heard, others may have slipped through the cracks. Whatever the case, this should round out the week of Dodgers news and give you a break from our dumb faces. If you have a source you’d like to see on here, let us know!

Michael Boyle pitches well in Great Lakes loss – (True Blue LA) “Oklahoma City and Great Lakes both lost again on Tuesday. Loons right-hander Michael Boyle matched a season-high seven innings pitched on Tuesday against Bowling Green. Boyle gave up just one run on four hits, two walks, and one strikeout.”

Dodgers survive tough May but still lose ground in standings – (Dodgers Digest) “Chad penned a post back on May 2 that basically said the Dodgers were in for the toughest month they’d have all season (you know, save those pesky September games). They were 12-13 entering the month. Weathered the storm they did. In fact, they fared quite well.”

Dodgers May review: Clayton Kershaw at his best –  (True Blue LA) “The Dodgers in May saw Julio Urias debut, saw Corey Seager tie a franchise record at his position in just his third major league month. The club on offense was led on offense by a pair of rookies, but ultimately May was about Clayton Kershaw, who had arguably the best month of his career.”

Looking at the Dodger bullpen, game by game – (Dodgers Insider) “… a snapshot of how each member of the Dodger bullpen has performed this season. In 173 separate appearances this season so far, the Dodger bullpen had done its job 76.3 percent of the time, with that figure slightly higher in May.”

Dodgers designate Alex Guerrero for assignment – (MLB Daily Dish) “The Dodgers have designated outfielder Alex Guerrero for assignment, as first reported by J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group. The team will now have 10 days to either trade, release or outright Guerrero.”

Corey Seager ties May homer record for shortstops – (Dodgers Insider) “It’s doubtful many people realize the kind of month that Corey Seager just had. The 22-year-old’s three-run homer in the ninth inning of tonight’s 5-0 Dodger victory was his seventh round-tripper of the month, giving Seager a share of a franchise record.”

Andre Ethier’s return to be delayed – (Dodgers Insider) “Andre Ethier’s recovery from has slowed, and his expected June return has been delayed, Dave Roberts told reporters today. Roberts said that there isn’t much new with Ethier, who hasn’t been running at full body weight.”

Kiké Hernandez Scores Lone Run Against Chicago Cubs

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Jun 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kiké Hernandez provided the first run on the second pitch of last night’s game. You could have turned off the TV at that point and called it a day. “Ah, the Dodgers beat the stupid Cubs.” You would say, “The world, it is right.” Instead, you suffered this game with Tio Piazza Parlor.”Mijo, go grab Tio a beer. It kills the pain of watching this team.”

The common complaint against the team has been the pitching. The Dodgers proved in this series that the pitching has kept the team in games. In fact, it is the pitching that keeps them alive in most games. Mike Bolsinger held the Cubs to two hits and struck out six batters over five innings of work. His command was off early on. Bolsinger hit two batters and gave up two walks. Though he only gave up one home run, it was a two-run jack that sealed the Dodgers fate. They were unable to tack another run on the board.

Pitching Keeping The Boys Alive

According to Fangraphs Leaderboards, the Dodgers rotation boasts the second best WAR in the National League. The starters also rank at least in the top four in ERA, FIP, and xFIP.

Team (ranked by xFIP) ERA FIP xFIP
Dodgers 3.41 3.29 3.41
Mets 3.29 3.10 3.46
Phillies 3.88 3.67 3.49
Nationals 3.08 3.54 3.54
Cubs 2.42 3.10 3.54

Sadly, the offense is lagging behind. Through the first few days of June, the Dodgers rank in the bottom five in wRC+. Here are the rankings according to Fangraphs.

Team (ranked by wRC+) AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Pirates .288 .362 .445 .349 121
Cardinals .274 .349 .471 .351 121
Cubs .265 .366 .439 .350 118
Giants .268 .344 .415 .328 111
Marlins .283 .342 .431 .333 107
Diamondbacks .271 .336 .452 .338 106
Rockies .285 .342 .483 .353 103
Mets .237 .314 .420 .318 102
Nationals .248 .327 .426 .323 100
Brewers .251 .337 .411 .326 99
Dodgers .245 .320 .387 .309 95
Reds .241 .296 .415 .305 86
Padres .232 .291 .378 .289 82
Phillies .237 .293 .370 .287 76
Braves .236 .304 .325 .278 71

Yikes! Being in the same company as the Reds, Padres, Phillies, and Braves is like sitting in the back of the class with the kids that eat paste.

If there is any silver lining to today’s loss, the Giants also lost. The Dodgers remain a game above .500 and still sit 4.5 games out of first place.

Tomorrow’s notes

Julio Urias will make his second start of the season. This gives Kenta Maeda an additional rest day. Urias’s first start was against the Mets. In that game, the young phenom pitched 2.2 innings but gave up three runs before being pulled. He will face an equally tough Cubs team tomorrow and will need all the run support he can get.

NL West Round-up: Week 7

Screenshot 2016-05-30 at 10.41.10 PM

We are about a third of the way through the season and the NL West is once again the Giants and Dodgers show. The Dodgers sit 4.5 games out of first place, but also boast the highest run differential in the division. In other words, the offense, although frustrating, is not in bad shape. Fortune should favor the Dodgers soon enough. Until then, let us see how the division did this last week.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers opened Week 7 at home against the Reds. The Reds are a poor baseball team. They are a team that anyone in the league should beat. Fortunately, the Dodgers swept them over a three-game series. Following the series, the Dodgers headed to New York to face the Mets. Despite losing the first game, the Dodgers took two of three to win the series against the team that knocked them out of the NLDS last season. Here are the box scores.

H R W/L (Dodgers)
05/23 vs. CIN 5 1 W
05/24 vs. CIN 11 8 W
05/25 vs. CIN 3 3 W
05/27 vs. NYM 8 5 L
05/28 vs. NYM 14 9 W
05/29 vs. NYM 9 4 W

Notable Injuries

Trayce Thompson left the game early on May 28 with lower back soreness. He sat out on May 29. In 116 PA, Thompson is hitting .274/.336/.528 with a .369 wOBA and 135 wRC+. His health is one that needs to be preserved, especially if the NL West becomes a race against a healthy Giants team. Thompson has given the Dodgers much needed depth in the lineup and in the outfield, where they’ve seen their share of injuries with Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Scott Van Slyke. Thompson is expected to return by May 31.

San Francisco Giants

Much like the Dodgers, the Giants made short work of a team anyone in the league should beat – the Padres. Following the sweep, San Francisco headed to Colorado to face the Rockies. Much like the Dodgers, the the Giants dropped the first game to the Rockies but picked up the next two to win the series. Let’s look at the box scores.

H R W/L (Giants)
05/23 vs. SDP 5 1 W
05/24 vs. SDP 9 8 W
05/25 vs. SDP 9 3 W
05/27 vs. COL 7 2 L
05/28 vs. COL 16 10 W
05/29 vs. COL 17 8 W

Notable Injuries

Matt Cain was placed on the 15-day DL on May 28, sidelined with a right hamstring strain. His return is expected in June. Angel Pagan was placed on the 15-day DL on May 24 with a left hamstring strain. His return is expected in June as well. Also notable, but happening after Week 7, Matt Duffy found himself listed day-to-day on the DL with a bruised left wrist suffered after being beaned with a ball on May 30. His return is expected shortly.

Colorado Rockies

I’m always impressed with people that are impressed with the Rockies. They’re like the car that won’t start, ever, yet someone always goes out hoping that, somehow maybe, it will. Out of their last 15 played, including May 30, the Rockies have gone 6-9. Their week started with a loss in Pittsburgh, followed by a three game series in Boston where they lost the series. Despite being able to win the first game of the series against San Francisco, and string together back-to-back wins, Colorado could not get it together and dropped the final two games against the Giants. To the box scores!

H R W/L (Rockies)
05/23 vs. PIT 7 3 L
05/24 vs. BOS 6 3 L
05/25 vs. BOS 10 3 L
05/26 vs. BOS 12 8 W
05/27 vs. SFG 11 5 W
05/28 vs. SFG 9 5 L
05/29 vs. SFG 8 3 L

Notable Injuries

Nick Hundley, who has been on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain, took batting practice on May 26 and caught live batting practice on May 28. He is expected to return today, May 31.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The D’backs are in just as bad of shape as the Rockies, except they have played three more games which have given them three more opportunities to tack an L in the standings. Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller – their ace and number two starter – have thrown a combined 5.65 ERA. To put that in perspective, the National League average for ERA is 4.05. Week 7 for Arizona started off in Pittsburgh. They were swept on the road, came home and added another loss to San Diego – dropping the first game in a three game series. They were able to string together two wins to take the series. Have a gander at the box scores.

H R W/L (Diamondbacks)
05/24 vs. PIT 6 1 L
05/25 vs. PIT 9 4 L
05/26 vs. PIT 13 3 L
05/27 vs. SDP 6 3 L
05/28 vs. SDP 10 8 W
05/29 vs. SDP 9 6 W

Notable Injuries

Rubby De La Rosa was placed on the 15-day DL on May 27 with right elbow inflammation. His return is TBD. Shelby Miller is sidelined with a sprained right index finger and was placed on the 15-day DL on May 27, but retroactive to May 26. His return is TBD. David Peralta has been out with right wrist inflammation. He hit off a tee on May 24 and his return is expected to be late June. A.J. Pollock is still recovering from elbow surgery. His return is possibly in late 2016.

San Diego Padres

We sure are at the bottom of the barrel aren’t we. In any division, a team always has to be at the bottom but the Padres waste no time making their way down there. With a 20-32 record and a -42 run differential, there is no doubt about them being the worst team in the NL West. Their week started with three straight losses in San Francisco, followed by a win in Arizona, then two more losses against a team that is only slightly better by virtue of not being the Padres. To the last of the box scores.

H R W/L (Padres)
05/23 vs. SFG 2  0 L
05/24 vs. SFG 9 2 L
05/25 vs. SFG 9 3 L
05/27 vs. ARI 18 10 W
05/28 vs. ARI 10 7 L
05/29 vs. ARI 5 3 L

Notable Injuries

Tyson Ross has been out with right shoulder inflammation. His injury report was updated May 27 to state that he could began playing catch as of May 30. His return is expected after the All-Star Break. Cory Spandenberg is out with a left quad strain. His return is expected early July. Cesar Vargas is on the 15-day DL with right elbow soreness as of May 29. His return is TBD.

Pedro Baez: The Worst

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
September 28, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is Pedro Baez. He’s the worst.

Imagine you have an ice cream cone. We’ll say chocolate chip cookie dough because you have some cash to burn. Thrifty’s gave you a scoop that is loaded with cookie dough and for a brief moment, the world is right. Your friend, Pedro Baez, stops by and asks to try your ice cream. You feel uneasy. “But why Pedro? You dropped my last ice cream cone.” Reluctantly, and with the “I just drove over a bump too fast” sensation in your stomach, you hand him the ice cream cone. He takes a bite and is handing it back to you. Just as it is about to pass back over to you, Baez drops your ice cream. “I fucking knew better,” you tell yourself. You knew better because Pedro Baez is the fucking worst.

It took two pitches for Baez to muck this up. Look at the location of pitch number 2:

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Now look at Curtis Granderson’s zone profile for the season:

plot_h_profile

I’ll take, “All The Locations You Should Avoid When Pitching To Granderson,” Alex.

One has to wonder why Roberts decided to go with an awfully predictable Baez instead of Jansen. Well, we know why. It was the ol’ “Don’t burn your closer on a road game in a non-save situation” situation, duh! Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to make sense.

We can continue to lament over Baez, because it’s fun and easy. Or we can continue to scratch our heads over Roberts’s in-game management, but we won’t get far. Either way, both options neglect to focus on the maddeningly weak offense. Scoring four runs in the ninth to tie the game is a way to win a game, but it probably is not the best way to do it.

The Dodgers had multiple opportunities to take control of this game. In the top of the 3rd, with bases loaded and one out, Seager hit into an inning-ending double play.With men on the corners and one out in the top of the 4th, Pederson struck out swinging and Puig hit into a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat. The next inning, with two on and two out, Turner hit into a fielder’s choice.


The Dodgers remain 4.5 games behind the Giants. Kenta Maeda will toe the rubber against Noah Syndergaard. The last time Maeda faced Thor he gave up two dingers to the son of Asgard. Game time is at 4:15 PST.

Run Differential Says Things Aren’t So Bad

Screenshot 2016-05-25 at 10.20.45 AM

Following last night’s game, the Dodgers are coming off of a three-game winning streak. Despite this success (let’s celebrate the small stuff,) you will not be shocked when I say that this team is underperforming. The offense is impotent and the bullpen is a mishmash of wet noodles for arms and Kenley Jansen. The rotation –  not complete garbage as others may make it seem – is having struggles of its own. Without Clayton Kershaw, the rotation is the not-so-proud-owners of a 4.34 ERA. Throw Kershaw back into the rotation and the pitching staff’s ERA drops to 3.55. When all of this is combined, we end up watching a Dodgers team playing to the tune of a 24-23 record, 4.5 games out of first place.

A section of the Dodgers Twitterverse will have you believe that if the Dodgers are not in first place, all is doom and gloom. Of course, this same group of Twitter will also have you believe the worst is just around the corner even when the Dodgers are in first place. The point of this post is not to convince you the team is free of its flaws; that is far from true. Instead, I am going to talk about run differential and how the NL West should  look according to runs scored and runs allowed. Hopefully, that will alleviate some stress felt when looking at the standings.

A Primer on Run Differential

Simply put, run differential is the difference between runs scored and runs allowed. Theoretically, a run neutral team – one that scores exactly as many runs as it allows – is a team with a .500 record. If we take a 162-game season, a team that scores the same number of runs it allows should finish the season with 81 wins and 81 losses. If a team scores more runs than it allows, it should also have more wins than losses. In fact, every ten more runs scored in relation to runs allowed translates to one extra win. This is not an exact science. Rather, run differential is an indication of whether a team is underperforming or overperforming. Naturally we want to see the Dodgers outperform its run differential. In fact, we have seen this happen the last three years.

Season Runs Scored Runs Allowed Run Diff Actual W/L Pythagorean W/L
2013 649 582 +67 92-70 88-74
2014 718 617 +101 94-68 91-71
2015 667 595 +72 92-70 88-74

Looking at the table, you can see that the Dodgers outperformed their expected win-loss record the last three seasons. Were the Dodgers of years past bad teams? Definitely not. Think of it this way, if you expected to get a B in statistics but instead got an A, you were never a terrible student to begin with. Instead, you simply did better probably for a variety of reasons.

What Run Differential Says About 2016

Now let us look at the standings so far. The Dodgers are 4.5 games out of first place. Is that the expected outcome? Looking only at run differential, the expected outcome has the Dodgers in first place.

Team (Current Standings) Run Differential Acutal W/L Pythagorean W/L (Expected Standings)
Giants +13 29-19 25-23 (2nd)
Dodgers +22 24-23 26-21 (1st)
Rockies -11 21-26 23-24 (3rd)
Diamondbacks -15 21-26 22-25 (4th)
Padres -38 19-28 20-27 (5th)

Granted, what is expected does not change what has already happened but it should provide some hope for a season that has been frustrating, to say the least. Yes, the Giants are a team that should be feared, after all, they won the World Series after gaining the second Wild Card spot with only 88 wins. If the Giants continue to outperform their Pythagorean expectations, it will likely be because they dabble in devil magic and Hunter Pence is Lucifer incarnate. And I guess because they do have a solid team. Should the winning streak end and the Dodgers hit another skid, it will be difficult to regain ground lost against San Francisco. But the Dodgers will get back on course. Though it has been tough to watch them, they are not playing as bad as the rest of the NL West. Those teams are playing below expectations with a negative run differential. That’s like losing a footrace because you’re slow and you have no legs. At least for the Dodgers, they have legs, they’ve just tripped over several hurdles.

Even if you look at this and say, “Dude, this is shit,” you cannot change the fact that there is a ton of baseball to play – over 100 games still! Being 4.5 games back in May is different than being 4.5 games back at the end of September. The Dodgers have the ability and the time to make up the difference in the standings. Whether they do so remains to be answered.

NL West Round-up: Week 1

Screenshot 2016-04-11 at 8.03.44 PM

After six long months without baseball, we are officially through the first week of the season. For the last few seasons, the NL West has been the Dodgers and Giants show. Let’s take a look at how the NL West is shaping in 2016 so far.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Our Boys in Blue started the season off on the road. They swept San Diego and kept them scoreless in all three games. The team traveled North and faced the Giants – a team they went 8-11 against last season. Things did not go well for the Dodgers. Take a look at the box scores from last week.

H R W/L (Dodgers)
4/04 LAD v. SDP 17 15 W
4/05 LAD v. SDP 6 3 W
4/06 LAD v. SDP 11 7 W
4/07 LAD v. SFG 13 6 L
4/08 LAD v. SFG 9 2 L
4/09 LAD v. SFG 10 3 W
4/10 LAD v. SFG 10 6 L

Notable Injuries:
Carl Crawford is on the 15-day DL with lower back pain. Chris Hatcher suffered a twisted left knee but is day-to-day. Scott Van Slyke is suffering from lower back stiffness but is day-to-day.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants opened their season against the Milwaukee Brewers – a team that is in rebuild mode in 2016. Madison Bumgarner was not on his usual game in the season opener as he allowed five hits over five innings pitched. He gave up two home runs and walked five batters but still walked away with the win because pitcher wins. While they did not sweep the Brewers nor the Dodgers, they have found themselves in sole possession of first place by a game. Here are there box scores for the week.

H R W/L (Giants)
4/04 SFG v. MIL 15 12 W
4/05 SFG v. MIL 7 2 W
4/06 SFG v. MIL 6 3 L
4/07 LAD v. SFG 17 12 W
4/08 LAD v. SFG 2 3 W
4/09 LAD v. SFG 5 2 L
4/10 LAD v. SFG 12 9 W

Notable Injuries:
According to MLB.com, the Giants do not have anyone on the DL. We should all be scared.

Colorado Rockies

Can you believe that the Rockies got fifteen hits and scored ten runs outside of Coors Field?! On the season opener in Arizona, the Rockies trounced the Diamondbacks in amazing fashion. Of course, the story (EH? EH?!) this week within Colorado’s organization is Trevor Story. The rookie shortstop hit seven dingers in his first six games! That put him on pace to hit 189 home runs this season, which is definitely certainly likely to happen. Sadly, as is always the case with the Rockies, they are meandering in the middle of the standings because they are the Rockies. Whether or not the Rockies can take their success at Coors on the road remains to be seen this season. Take a look at last week’s box scores.

H R W/L (Rockies)
4/04 COL v. ARI 15 10 W
4/05 COL v. ARI 9 6 L
4/06 COL v. ARI 8 4 W
4/08 SDP v. COL 2 6 L
4/09 SDP v. COL 8 3 L
4/10 SDP v. COL 9 6 W

Notable Injuries:
Daniel Descalso is expected back sometime early this season. However, with Trevor Story crushing it, one has to wonder how the infield will adjust.

San Diego Padres

Remember last year when the Padres went all-in on offense last year. Yeah, that did not work for them. To remedy that, they brought in John Jay who represents a nice upgrade in the outfield. They also got Alexei Ramirez for $4M with a $1M buyout, who was a much-needed improvement at shortstop at a relatively low cost. The issue with Jay and Ramirez, however, is now the Padres have sacrificed some offensive power for strictly defensive upgrades. How has it worked out for San Diego thus far? To the box scores!

H R W/L (Padres)
4/04 LAD v. SDP 4  0 L
4/05 LAD v. SDP 2  0 L
4/06 LAD v. SDP 5  0 L
4/08 SDP v. COL 18 13 W
4/09 SDP v. COL 19 16 W
4/10 SDP v. COL 8 3 L
4/11 SDP v. PHI 6 4 L

Notable Injuries:
Tyson Ross has landed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. He is expected back in the rotation late April.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Speaking of teams that went all-in. The Diamondbacks inked a TV deal during the offseason and quickly signed Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to outrageous deals. Even more concerning, if you’re a D-Backs fan, is that the team traded one of their top prospects to get Miller. How has that worked out for them? Combined, Greinke and Miller have made two starts and have posted a 6.00 ERA to start the season. I probably don’t need to tell you that is not what you want from your Number 1 and Number 2 starters. Let’s examine the box scores to see how they became the cellar dwellers in Week 1.

H R W/L (Padres)
4/04 COL v. ARI 12 5 L
4/05 COL v. ARI 15 11 W
4/06 COL v. ARI 8 3 L
4/07 CHC v. ARI 8 6 L
4/08 CHC v. ARI 8 3 W
4/09 CHC v. ARI 4 2 L
4/10 CHC v. ARI 8 3 L

Notable Injuries:
Josh Collmenter is on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. He is expected to return in mid-to-late April. A.J. Pollock is out for the season as he is recovering from elbow surgery.

Dodgers 2, Giants 3: Baseball is a dumb sport and we’re all dumb for watching it.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Apr 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA;  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is a game of anticipation. Players eagerly watch pitchers move across the mound as they run through their pitch sequence in their heads. As the pitcher takes the mound and places his toe on the rubber, the batter runs through the possible pitches he might see, having already expertly studied his opponents repertoire. The catcher and other seven position players’ muscles twitch as the ball is released from the hurler’s hands and glides towards one of two destinations: the catcher’s glove or the batter’s bat. Meanwhile, the fans, merely observers of the sport, are left on edge wondering what the outcome of each subsequent pitch will be. On nights like tonight, as each inning’s end tacks on another zero in the hit column, the fans’ anticipation builds into anxiety.

Every baseball fan is superstitious. It is around the fifth inning when we really start to notice opponents getting blanked across the board, yet we remain silent. We never want to be the one to say, “Hey guys, Stripling has a no-hitter heading into the sixth.” And if we do say it, we brush it off as “Jinxes are fucking stupid.” I mean, jinxes really are hokie stupid crap, but again, baseball fans are superstitious. Come the seventh, we can feel the stakes of a singular, non-postseason, beginning-of-the-season, game get higher and higher. Everyone starts thinking about history. We already start thinking how our stories will start, “I was at home doing….” The sentence will end with, “when so-and-so got the no-hitter.”

But baseball, as beautiful as she is, she is not easy. She will make you work for your exhilaration. On a night like tonight, if baseball were a hussy, she would have given Stripling his no-hitter, in his major league debut, on the road, against the Dodgers historic rivals. If baseball were easy, though, every young pitcher would have that and it would mean nothing. Instead, we will forever be left with, “Why?” after a down-by-one, extra-inning loss, in rainy San Francisco.

Despite the loss, there is still hope, should you choose to continue this terrible relationship with baseball. Ross Stripling looked amazing against a healthy Giants lineup. While the offense only scored two runs, it was able to muster nine hits against Matt Cain and the Giants bullpen.

***

Even better news, Clayton Kershaw will toe the rubber against Madison Bumgarner in the penultimate game of the series tomorrow. In his last start, Kershaw fanned nine batters and gave up only one hit over seven innings of work against the Padres. In his last start against the Giants, he struckout thirteen batters, gave up one hit – Oh yeah, the Dodgers also clinched the division.

Game time tomorrow is at 1:05 PM

Game One-Hundred Twenty Recap: Dodgers 2, Athletics 5

What Went Right

Jimmy Rollins hit a home run in yesterday’s game! No, I’m not joking. Rollins’ dinger gave the Dodgers their only two runs of the game. There is something incredibly wrong with the offense when one of the worst run-producing players on the roster is generating the only runs of the game.

Player (250 Min AB) wOBA wRC+
Justin Turner .393 156
Yasmani Grandal .377 145
Adrian Gonzalez .375 144
Andre Ethier .365 137
Joc Pederson .350 127
Howie Kendrick .331 114
Yasiel Puig .327 111
Jimmy Rollins .282 80

Alex Wood managed to go 5.2 innings before giving way to Chris Hatcher. Hatcher, and later Jim Johnson, kept the Dodgers within one run as they pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth inning, respectively.

What Went Wrong

A better question, and likely a shorter list, is what is not going wrong. After being swept in Oakland, the Dodgers are on an 2-8 skid in their last ten games played. In yesterday’s game, the Dodgers mustered two hits. TWO HITS! While the A’s are not exactly the worst when it comes to keeping hitters off the bases, they are not the best either. When looking at K-BB%, Oakland ranks 13th with 13.2%.

Even though Johnson had pitched a scoreless eighth, he did load the bases before being pulled. Luis Avilan got Stephen Vogt to fly out to right, but that brought one run across the plate. Pedro Baez entered with men on the corners and gave up a double to left field. These hits, in and of themselves, are not concerning. With no one on, Vogt’s sacrifice gets the Dodgers to the inning’s end. Of course, these hits do not occur in a vacuum and as a relief pitcher, your job is to get through the inning unscathed. Sometimes, baseball does not want to work that way.

What To Look For

Enrique Hernandez provided the only other hit for the Dodgers, besides Rollins’ home run. Hernandez has been a great boon for this lineup. On the season, he is hitting .304/.353/.513 with a .370 wOBA and 141 wRC+. Even more encouraging is that there has been a steady improvement from month to month since May.

Month Avg/OBP/SLG wOBA wRC+ BABIP
05/15 .206/.250/.382 .275 75 .261
06/15 .260/.309/.769 .329 112 .256
07/15 .379/.406/.552 .405 164 .579
08/15 .366/.435/.634 .456 200 .400

His unsustainable BABIP is concerning. His true production level is somewhat of a mystery as he has only made 304 major-league plate appearances.

What Is Next

The Blue Crew enjoys the day off today before they face Houston tomorrow. Chase Utley will join the team in Houston on Friday and fulfill every Dodgers fan wet dream from 2008. First pitch tomorrow is at 5:10 PM PST.

Game One-Hundred Nineteen Recap: Dodgers 4, Athletics 5

I have been doing a lot of writing for places other than this barren wasteland I call a blog. Don’t worry, Tio Piazza Parlor is here to stay. Now on to the game recap.

What Went Right

Demigod, Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings and tallied seven K’s while holding the Oakland A’s to one-run ball. He did give up five hits – I mean, I guess you can call tonight a struggle. The lone run that came across the plate was the result of Oakland small-balling the crap out of the second inning.

The Dodgers managed to score in the fifth after some small-ball of their own. A.J. Ellis started the inning off with a walk. Joc Pederson followed with a walk of his own. One wild pitch and Jimmy Rollins single later, the Dodgers scored, tying it up 1-1. The scoring continued in the top of the eighth when Ellis crushed a three-run dinger, giving the Dodgers the lead, 4-1.

What Went Wrong

Pedro Baez, J.P. Howell, and Yimi Garcia could not close it down. Baez was given the nod in the eighth and promptly put men on base. Danny Valencia singled to center, Josh Phegley doubled to left, and Mark Canha doubled to right. It took just seven pitches for this game to go from good to, “Jesus fucking christ!” For funsies, let’s see if you can find where that is on this Fangraphs chart. http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=1120062&type=wins&num=0&h=450&w=800&date=2015-08-18&team=Athletics&dh=0
Source: FanGraphs

Mattingly pulled Baez for Howell and the 32-year old southpaw wasted no time in giving up the tying run. In fact, it only took the A’s three pitches to tie the game. Garcia came in to pitch the ninth and the tenth. Despite retiring the side in the bottom of the ninth, Garcia earned the loss after giving up back-to-back doubles to Canha and Billy Butler.

What To Look For

Andre Ethier went 1-2 as the designated hitter tonight. So far, though, he is having a renaissance season. Thus far, he is hitting .291/.369/.487 with a .369 wOBA and 140 wRC+. Interestingly, in his last 100 AB (arbitrary endpoint), he is hitting .350. His platoon splits are still atrocious as he can’t hit left-handed pitching worth a damn, but even more concerning are his home/away splits.

Home vs. Away Avg/OBP/SLG wOBA wRC+
Home .336/.422/.587 .431 186
Away .252/.320/.399 .311 96
Home (vs. RHP) .350/.444/.634 .459 202
Home (vs. LHP) .250/.273/.300 .249 57
Away (vs. RHP) .264/.337/.419 .326 110
Away (vs. LHP) .133/.133/.200 .143 -16

Ethier’s issues with lefties is no surprise, but his platoon splits on the road are troublesome. Really, -16 wRC+, how is that even possible! You have to be running the basepaths backwards.

What Is Next

Alex Wood will face off against Jesse Chavez. Dave Cameron wrote an interesting piece on Wood’s increasing strike rate since coming to the Dodgers. The Athletics are not a team that strikes out a lot. In fact, their offense ranks 28th in the league in K%. If the Dodgers are looking to capitalize on Wood’s increasing K-rate, it will likely happen after their series in Oakland.

First pitch is at 7:10 PM PST.

Zack Greinke Gets Fifth Win But Gives No Fucks

There is something to be said about a team that has the ability to have arguably the best pitcher in baseball and Zack Greinke. Usually, a team’s rotation consists of an ace and four other guys that are not the ace. Kershaw is the Dodgers ace, because duh. Greinke is not the ace only because he pitches second in the rotation. The reality is that the Dodgers have two aces pitching back-to-back most days. The benefit, if you are not following, is that if our first ace has a rough outing, we have the pleasure of watching a gem from our second ace. It is rare to see Kershaw and Greinke have tough nights one after the other.

Tonight’s game in Milwaukee followed an un-Kershaw like start. Last night’s game looked like vintage Kershaw until the seventh inning when the wheels fell off. Tonight, however, Zack Greinke looked sharp through 7.2 innings pitched. For the night, Greinke allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out seven. The only run the Brewers managed to score while Greinke was on the mound was courtesy of an odd error by Joc Pederson in the second inning. With the run being unearned, Greinke’s ERA drops to 1.57.

For a while, it seemed that the Dodgers offense would sloth its way into another loss. Then in the top of the sixth, Justin Turner hit his fourth home run of the season, pulling the Dodgers ahead 3-1. The Dodgers put more runs on the board in the top of the seventh. After a fly out by Guerrero, Greinke hit a double and bat flipped the crap out of it.(Courtesy of Dodgers Digest)

Zack Greinke obviously does not give a shit about silly baseball conventions. I really hope this is the beginning of a trend with the Dodgers. If Yasiel Puig does not want to bat flip, then the rest of the lineup should. After homers by Jimmy Rollins and Adrian Gonzalez, plus several more hits by the rest of the lineup, the Dodgers had a commanding lead, 8-1. The Brewers did score another run off of Daniel Coloumbe, but it be all they could muster against the newest addition to the bullpen.

With that, Greinke earned his fifth win and his tenth win in a row. Here are his thoughts on that:

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The Dodgers continue their four game series against the Brewers tomorrow with Joe Weiland on the hill tomorrow.