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

Dodgers 6, Giants 12: Well that was fun until it wasn’t.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Apr 7, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers streak of holding opposing teams scoreless ended at thirty-one innings. This team sucks, pack it up. The season is over.

In all seriousness, despite losing, the team has never looked better. In the last four games, the Dodgers have scored thirty-one runs and boast a +19 run differential (small sample size be damned.) The team is only four games deep into a very long season, if you are having trouble tempering your expectations, then let us use the positives of today’s game to help.

A lot of Dodgers fans are not sold on Alex Wood, understandably so. He has always been a young pitcher – still in his formative pitching years – with a lot of upside. Most of his issues have stemmed from his command. Looking at today, he appeared to be locked in until the fifth inning.

125pv2

My apologies for the potato quality of the gif. What is important to note is that throughout the game, Wood’s release point was somewhat controlled. There were some moments when the release point on his two-seamer deviated about six inches further right of home plate, relative to where he had been throwing the pitch most of the game. That slight change in location led to three fastballs that sat in the middle of the zone. If he is able to develop a more consistent release point with his fastball – preferably one that is a foot-and-a-half off of home plate – then the season holds a lot of promise for Wood.

Speaking of promise, the offense rallied! Can you believe it! Down 7-4, the Dodgers got within one run of the Giants’ surge. Granted, the game still resulted in a loss (courtesy of a Pedro Baez hanging slider that Hunter Pence walloped for a grand slam) the bats remained hot in spite of that. The Dodgers smacked thirteen hits against Peavy and company. Everyone but Wood and the bench garnered, at least, one hit a piece.

***

The Dodgers continue their road series against the Giants tomorrow. Ross Stripling makes his MLB debut against Matt Cain. Game time tomorrow is at 7:15 PM.

Dodgers 15, Padres 0: Baseball is good. It is really, really good

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres
Apr 4, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day is finally here! Well, for the Dodgers at least. For the Padres, Opening Day is likely tomorrow, or whenever they decide to show up to Petco Park.

Clayton Kershaw made his sixth consecutive Opening Day start and boy what a start. Over seven innings, Kersh was masterful, allowing one hit and fanning nine batters. No really, look at this gem against Alexei Ramirez:

040416_lad_kershaw_ksequence_medres_xzk3ii4m

The only time the Padres showed a threat with the bat was in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings. Of course, this was after the Dodgers had scored fifteen runs and Kershaw was off the mound.

The spectacle, though, came from the batters’ box. Fifteen runs over seventeen hits will seal the fate of most teams, especially when more than half of those hits and runs come from the middle of the order.

Player H R
Justin Turner 2 2
Adrian Gonzalez 3 2
Yasiel Puig 2 3
Carl Crawford 1 1
Joc Pederson 2 1

With so much baseball left to play, there will undoubtedly be some less than stellar performances from this lineup. But with a showing like this, the Boys in Blue have given Dodgers fans much to look forward to.

***

Tomorrow, Scott Kazmir makes his Dodgers debut against James Shields. Game time is at 7:10 PM.

How Many Games Over .500?

Major League Baseball Standings - Google
Major League Baseball Standings – Google

A week ago, Brandon McCarthy posted a tweet that sent Twitter into a frenzy.


Many people believed that McCarthy was incorrect. After all, they reasoned, all the media outlets report games over .500 this way. How could all of them possibly be wrong?

Let’s do some math. For the sake of simplicity, we will say that the Dodgers have played one more game than their record indicates so that we have a nice even number. They are currently 80-59. We will add that extra game to the win column, thereby making their hypothetical record 81-59. With that record, how many games have they played in the season? To figure that out, we add the number of wins they have to their losses.

Wins + Losses = Games played so far
81 + 59 = 140

Now, we want to find what the .500 mark is at this point in the season. The way we do that is to divide the number of games played so far by 2. Why by 2? Because that is how you calculate half of a number.

Games played so far / 2 = .500 mark
140/2 = 70

So if a team’s record is .500 at 140 games played, then they have an equal number of wins and losses. Thus, a .500 team has a record of 70-70 at 140 games played.

Now if we have a team that is 81-59, that team is NOT 22 games over .500. Many people are claiming that in order to reach a .500 record, a team at 81-59 has to lose 22 games but what happens when we do that? If we add 22 losses to our 81-59 Dodgers, their new record becomes 81-81. How many games played is that? Going back to our formula, it is 162 games played. But we are not concerned with 162 games played. We are concerned with only the 140 that have been played thus far. So what do we do? Well, we look at the current record of 81-59 and the .500 mark of 70-70. We subtract the number of wins at the .500 mark from the number of wins a team has and that will give us how many games over or under .500 a given team is. For example, our 81-59 Dodgers are 11 games over .500 because

81 – 70 = 11

Now the confusion lies in this comment.


A team with a .500 record is the midway point. And any record over or under .500 is also how many games ahead or back other teams are. In other words, a team that is 11 games over .500 is also 11 games ahead of a .500 team. OR, a .500 team that is eleven games back in the standings also means that the first place team is eleven games over .500.

Math is not an easy subject. I get that. But for the love of god, just because everyone else is spewing incorrect information does not mean that it is right. And really, there is nothing wrong with being wrong. Math is math and the most basic of math is practically indisputable.

Your regularly scheduled Piazza Parlor content will continue tomorrow. The Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Alex Wood will face Robbie Ray. Game time is at 6:40 PM.

Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight Recap: Dodgers 6, Angels 4

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Winning is nice. My god, it is so nice. The Dodgers have won their last five games and are 13-2 in their last fifteen games played. SO NICE! The Angels’ loss puts the Halos at 69-69, N-I-C-E! At 80-58, the Dodgers’ magic number for a playoff berth is 16.

Clayton Kershaw was absolutely masterful tonight. Going seven innings, he only gave up four hits while striking out eight of the Angels’ batters. If there was ever a sign of Kershaw being less than stellar, well, it’s gone. Truth be told, nothing has ever indicated that Kershaw was struggling.

Month IP ERA FIP
04/15 31.1 3.73 2.83
05/15 34.0 3.97 2.44
06/15 41.2 2.16 2.69
07/15 33.0 0.27 0.69
08/15 45.0 1.40 1.92
09/15 16.0 1.13 1.64

Yeah, his ERA was far from sexy in April and May. But as it has been said all season, his peripherals were telling of what was actually going on: batters were far luckier earlier in the season. As we head towards the end of the 2015 season, Kershaw is now in the conversation for the NL Cy Young, because duh.

Even more impressive than our magnificent ace is the resurgent offense. The Dodgers have won their last five games and are 13-2 through their last fifteen games played. With seven hits tonight, the Dodgers were able to put six runs on the board. Between tonight and last night’s outing, the Dodgers have scored thirteen runs on twenty-three hits. Arbitrary end points be damned, that is the kind of offense Dodger fans have been hoping to see at some point in this final stretch.

Corey Seager has been nothing short of amazing. Since being called up, Seager has played six games and has gotten at least one hit in all but one game, including the two he got against Andrew Heaney tonight. His composition at the plate is spectacular and his raw ability in the infield is smoother than butter. Here’s a highlight from last night’s game in case you’re in doubt.


The future is now!

The Dodgers finish the Freeway Series tomorrow. Mat Latos will take the mound against Garrett Richards. The game, should you choose to watch Latos shit all over the mound, will be on Sportsnet LA and Fox Sports West. First pitch is at 7:05 PM.

Fare Thee Well, #KingUribe

It is a day in which we all knew would come, but it has come far too soon. Juan Uribe, Papi, El Rey del  Mundo, the glorious #KINGURIBE, has played his last game in Dodger blue. He was traded earlier today to the Barves. The trade makes zero sense in itself for the Dodgers, but it has recently come to light that it is a trade that our King wanted, or at least, hinted at. And the King gets what he wants. No questions asked.

This is the post I never wanted to write. It’s the post I dreaded writing. Yet, here we are. I could go on for hours about why we loved Juan Uribe so much. Instead, though, I will direct you to a post I wrote in October 2013, just before Uribe transformed from folk hero to legend with one fateful swing.

In remembrance of his time in Blue, we’ve strung together a quick tribute to our fallen King, as well as the relationship with his number one BFF. Full screen and Kleenex recommended for viewing.
Fare thee well #KingUribe. Long live #KingUribe.