NL West Round-up: Week 7

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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.

NL West Round-up: Week 1

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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.

Matt Kemp Is A Padre. Joc Pederson Is Here To Stay. Get Over It!

There was an interesting exchange I witnessed on twitter following last night’s game. Following Matt Kemp’s fifth double in the bottom of the 8th, the question that came to mind was, “Was trading Kemp to San Diego worth it for the Dodgers?” There will be fans that will never get over the trade, and that’s okay. We lament the Piazza Trade every day. Given the feelings some fans have toward the trade, can the numbers between Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp provide some solace?

The theme underlying most analytical blog posts has been small sample size, because we are only 17 games into the season. The two players that will be examined in this post have only had a combined 131 plate appearances this season – Matt Kemp at 74, Joc Pederson at 57. Seeing as how this post was inspired by Kemp’s double, we will begin by looking at their counting stats.

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Player H RBI BB SO
Kemp 25 14 4 12
Pederson 13 7 13 20

Of those 25 hits, five have been doubles for Kemp. Pederson has four doubles in 13 hits. There really is not much to do with these stats other than wonder if Pederson’s numbers would match if he had seventeen more plate appearances. Unfortunately, it’s rather silly to be looking at these kind of numbers, even with more data. With that, let’s take a look at the numbers that matter.

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Player AVG/OBP/SLG wOBA wRC+ BABIP
Kemp .333/.365/.493 .372 144 .379
Kemp (ZiPS) .277/.338/.440 .340 122 .344
Pederson .295/.446/.523 .411 169 .478
Pederson (ZiPS) .242/.335/.426 .337 118 .321

Upon looking at the slash lines, it seems as if Pederson is getting on base and hitting for extra bases at a better rate than Kemp is. However, according to ZiPS ROS (rest of season) projections, it appears as if Matt Kemp will outshine Joc Pederson at every point on the slash line. But you are not the average Dodgers fan. No no! You are an enlightened Dodgers fan, one that is already saying, “This post sucks.” Or instead, you are telling yourself, “Slash lines are nice, but gimme that wOBA dammit.” Currently, Kemp’s wOBA and wRC+ are .372 and 144, respectively, with a .379 BABIP. According to ZiPS ROS, at the end of 162 games, Kemp will regress back to his career normals and will finish the season with a .340 wOBA and 122 wRC+. Pederson is on fire at the moment with a .411 wOBA and 169 (NIIIIICE!) wRC+. Unfortunately for young Joc, his stats are unsustainable as his BABIP is at an absurd .478! ZiPS ROS has Joc finishing the season with a .337 wOBA and 118 wRC+.

Right now, Pederson is definitely on pace with Matt Kemp. In fact, looking at his stats, it appears as though Pederson is outshining Kemp. Of course, it is silly to expect that level of production to continue. As an enlightened baseball fan, we do not like to discuss those nasty intangibles Rick Monday talks about. However, when talking about Joc Pederson, maturity is an intangible that must be taken into consideration. Although ZiPS has Pederson finishing the season at a production level slightly under Kemp, the truth is that ZiPS does not take into account how the Dodgers young center fielder will react to natural regression. In other words, it is possible that a prolonged slump could get into the head of Pederson and put a damper on his rookie season.

Matt Kemp’s value cannot be ignored. When healthy, he is a player that can bolster any lineup. However, Joc Pederson’s upside also could not be denied; he is proving that so far. Seventeen games is far too early to make any conclusion on the trade, but the immediate impact Pederson has had on the Dodgers does provide some value. Despite being unable to factor maturtity, the projections for the rest of the season should provide some comfort for Dodger fans that have questioned the trade. If Pederson is able to maintain a level head when his bat cools down, then Dodger fans have a potential star to root for in center field for years to come.

Game Day Preview: Dodgers @ Padres – Zack Greinke vs. Andrew Cashner


After a disappointing series in San Francisco, the Dodgers look to gain some momentum in San Diego as they square off against the Padres.

We are only 16 games into this young season, so it is hard to extrapolate any conclusion from the limited data available. With that in mind, so far, Greinke is off to a fantastic start. His FIP is at a sexy 2.75, unfortunately his xFIP is at 3.24, most likely due to his absurdly low BABIP. His stats probably won’t fluctuate too much during this series given that Petco Park is a pitcher friendly park. Of course, we learned in San Francisco that baseball doesn’t give a shit what we expect and will find a way to kill our dreams in front of us.

Starting Lineup

Dodgers
SS Rollins
RF Puig
1B Gonzalez
2B Kendrick
C Grandal
LF Crawford
3B Uribe
CF Pederson
P Greinke

The Dodgers return to the classic lineup. I’m going to assume that the front office let Mattingly have his way in San Francisco just to shut him up. I mean, how else do you explain most of the decision making that took place during that series. Okay, okay, I’m done talking about San Francisco. The team is on the right side of California now.

Despite having more wins than the Dodgers, the Padres are second place in the NL West thanks to also having more losses. After his poor start in Los Angeles, Andrew Cashner has been phenomenal. Again, small sample size, but if we remove his atrocious first appearance at the start of the season, his FIP sits at 1.72. Right now, it is at 4.23 while his xFIP is 3.27, so expect some improvement especially since his BABIP is expected to fall considerably as it regresses. Let us hope his improvement happens after tonight’s game.

The battle for first place will begin at 7:10 tonight. You can watch the game on Sportsnet LA. If you are not a TWC customer, you can listen on AM570.

Dodgers Demolish Padres, 7-4: Adrian Gonzalez Is God

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That’s really all this post should need. Gonzalez single-handedly destroyed Cashner today. In what looked like a private batting practice session, Adrian Gonzalez went 4-4 tonight. Three of his hits were for dingers, and his fourth was a RBI single, because no one likes a show-off.

Tonight’s game started with the Padres drawing first blood. Brandon McCarthy was the Dodgers starting pitcher. After striking out Wil Myers, Kemp singled and Justin Upton brought him home with a two-run homer. The game immediately had Dodger fans recalling last night’s frustrating loss. Of course, baseball is a fickle beast and in the second inning the Dodgers would get on the board after two singles, a walk, followed by a bases-loaded walk to McCarthy. Still in the second, Yasiel Puig would drive in Joc Pederson, and Jimmy Rollins would bring Puig home to take the score to 4-2.

After belting his first homer in the first inning to put the Dodgers on the board, Gonzalez felt it was necessary to plant another one int he right field pavilion. With his fourth homer in three games, Gonzalez put himself on pace to hit 216 home runs this season (April stats are fun.) Sensing that his teammates were going to do Dodger things, in the fight inning, Gonzalez crushed his third homer of the night to take the lead to 6-2.

In the sixth, the Padres managed to piece together a rally with a home run by Will Middlebrooks, a double by Yonder Alonso, and a double by Yangervis Solarte. With McCarthy finished, Paco Rodriguez and Pedro Baez were called in to end the inning. Not done being a god, Gonzalez drove in a RBI single to pad the lead to 7-4.

Baez, Howell, and Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth inning, respectively. I’m glad the Dodgers have a bullpen they can rely on, but for fucks sake, Donnie, don’t go bullpen happy. Mattingly has managed to go to the pen in all three games. While the relief corps have not pitched a ton of innings individually, over the course of a 162-game season, those innings and pitch counts do add up.

The Dodgers have taken the first series against the Padres and have won their first series of the season. Gonzalez is unbelievable and has quickly reminded Dodger fans that their were more bats beyond Kemp. The Boys in Blue get a break tomorrow and will face Arizona on Friday.

Dodgers Fight Back To Beat Padres 6-3!

Um. Wow. I think our homie, Sarah Wexler, said it best.

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This game was good, and then it was nerve-racking, and then it was amazing. Clayton Kershaw took the mound and was not as sharp as we are used to seeing. Because the guy is a bum and already cashed out, or is the narrative that he is a choke artist. I forget. Please keep fooling yourself that you would not want Kershaw in the middle of October. For not being in midseason form, Clayton Kershaw struck out nine while giving up six hits over six innings. He’s a bum I tell ya!

Oh yeah, Matt Kemp is still good. Kemp drove in three runs and went 2-4. I’m so glad we traded that loser. /sarcasm In all seriousness, it was great seeing Kemp producing. It’s amazing what a healthy player can do.

Speaking of what healthy players can do:

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Showing that he still has pop, Adrian Gonzalez tied the game in the bottom of the 4th inning with a solo bomb that reminded me so much of this moment.

http://streamable.com/e/ua6h

After Gonzalez’s solo home run, Kemp continued to flaunt his swagger by driving in two more runs. And for a while, it seemed that Opening Day would end on a somber note. That is until Jimmy Rollins’s bat decided to show up. Rollins pimped the crap out of this shot.

http://streamable.com/e/6rfa

That is all the Dodgers would need to keep the Padres at bay. The relief corps called on Yimi Garcia, Joel Peralta, and Chris Hatcher to pitch a scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth inning, respectively. Which, my goodness, it’s nice what a working bullpen can do.

By the time you read this post, it will be Opening Day + 1. Baseball is back and it feels good.

Opening Day Is Here!

According to most of the world, Spring began on March twenty-who gives a damn. For Dodger fans, Spring begins today! With Winter behind us, we can now look forward to 170-plus days of glorious baseball.

The 2014 season did not end how we would have liked, with a World Series championship. Instead, we were met with complete disappointment and then utter disgust as the San Francisco Giants claimed the title. Whatever. Despite last year’s abysmal playoff run, the 2015 season holds promise. The shiny, new Dodgers front office strengthened the pitching rotation and the middle infield while simultaneously bolstering the lineup.

Of course, all of that came at a cost. We saw the departure of beloved players: Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, and fan favorite, Dee Gordon. This season, our faith will be tested. It is already on thin ice, considering 2015 will be second season that begins with 70% of fans blacked-out from televised games thanks to the Time Warner debacle. Despite the drawn out TV situation, we will still be able to listen to the soothing croon of Vin Scully on the radio: A Los Angeles version of fireside chats, given these dark times.

2015 hold promise my fellow Dodger fans. We at Piazza Parlor are excited. You should definitely be excited. Baseball is back!

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound today against a now intimidating San Diego Padres at 1:10 PM. If you are not a TWC customer, you can listen to the game on AM570.