Dennis Santana wins the May 14 – May 20th Farm Factory Award

I’m not sure any Dodger prospect has had a better AAA debut than Dennis Santana had on May 19th when he struck out eleven with zero walks in his six innings.  I may have to check that out just for fun.

It was a slam dunk to give Dennis Santana the weekly Farm Factory Award which goes to the player I subjectively decided had the best week among the Dodger prospects.  With Walker now a permanent part of the Dodger rotation (assuming he stays healthy) Dennis Santana is probably the best pitching prospect in the system.  I’m hearing the Dodgers don’t really consider Brock Stewart an option for the rotation, so it may very well be possible that Dennis Santana might get some starts for the Dodgers at some point this year.

Other notable weekly players:

Starling Heredia has had a horrible start to his season with the Loons but maybe his bat is waking up as spring starts to make way for summer. Starling played in seven games and got twenty-seven at-bats. He had eight hits, including four home runs. He’s still striking out at a ridiculous clip but at least he’s starting to make things happen when he does make contact.

Jake Peter had a nice week going eight for sixteen with two home runs. Jake started out slow but now has an .880 OPS for May.

Keibert Ruiz has a nine-game hitting streak after hitting in every game last week that he played in. Overall, Keibert went six for nineteen with two home runs. Over his last ten games, Keibert is hitting .333 with only two strikeouts in thirty-nine at-bats.

Alex Verdugo only played in three games last week but did collect a hit in every game.

Jeren Kendall now has fifty-three strikeouts in only one hundred twenty-eight at-bats but he did hit in five of the six games he played in this week.

Connor Wongs’ bat has woken up again after a brief lull. Wong has an eight-game hitting streak including hits in all four games this week. Wong now has ten home runs but relinquished the California League home run lead to Jared Walsh who has hit eight home runs in May for a total of thirteen.

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Bizarro day finds Dodgers only six back

The odds were already stacked against the Dodgers in the second game of a doubleheader having to face the best pitcher in the National League in his park, but they looked even worse after Rich Hill left the game with a torn blister without retiring a single batter.  This meant the bullpen would have to get 27 outs for a win, and in one of the more improbable games of 2018, the bullpen did just that.  For five innings the combined trio of Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, and Yimi Garcia not only shut down the Nationals they didn’t give up a hit.  All that changed in the sixth inning when the Nationals broke through for four runs to give Max Scherzer a two-run lead.  That seemed like more than enough given that the Dodgers would have to face Scherzer in the 7th, the vaunted National bullpen,  and the Dodgers inability to come back late in games.

But it wasn’t enough. Cody Bellinger hit a home run against the left-handed Solis in the 8th, and Matt Kemp came through with a huge two-run game-winning double against Doolittle in the 9th.  The bullpen did their job by shutting down the Nationals in the 7th, 8th, and 9th giving the Dodgers a doubleheader sweep against the hottest team in the National League.

The Dodgers got a sweep because Ross Stripling continues to pitch better and better with each start. I was not a fan of the Dodgers going with Ross Stripling as the newest member of the rotation feeling that Brock Stewart was the better man for the job since he was already stretched out as a starter, but it is clear that Dodger management had their finger on the pulse as Ross Stripling has been dynamite.  Ross in three May starts has now thrown 15 1/3 innings, giving up just fourteen hits, three earned runs, only two walks, and a staggering twenty-one strikeouts.  It was easy for me to poo poo the first two starts given they were against the Padres at Petco and the Reds at home, but this game was against the hottest team in the National League on the road, and he shut them down for six innings.

Other notes from the doubleheader:

  • The latest Dodger acquisition Erik Goeddel made his Dodger debut in the 8th inning of the second game and got the victory when the Dodgers scored twice in the 9th.  I’m not sure who the last Dodger was to get a victory in relief in their first game with the Dodgers. Or even how to find out, but it was cool.
  • Kenley Jansen got two saves in one day, the first time he ever did that.  He is looking more and more like our Jansen.
  • The Dodgers picked up a game and a half on the Diamondbacks who lost again. Even though the Dodgers are only 4 – 6 in their last ten games, the Diamondbacks are 1 – 9 and the Dodgers are actually gaining ground.
  • Scott Alexander rejoined the team on May 9th and has looked fantastic in his four appearances with today being the best.  In four May appearances, Scott has gotten fourteen outs, zero hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. This is the guy the Dodgers traded for.
  • Max Muncy had another big game including a home run off Max Scherzer. Max now has a .968 OPS in May in thirty-seven at-bats.

 

Brother in Arms by Jon Weisman

BrotherInArms

When Jon Weisman announced his new project last year I was excited to see what kind of prose he could put together about the pitchers of my youth and the pitchers I read about in my youth.  His book is called Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition and is now available in both hardcover and kindle versions.

Even though his book had dropped over a month ago, the Kindle version didn’t drop until this past week on May 15th.  I could have bought the hardcover but I’m waiting to buy some of those from Jon himself when he does a book signing at the Brewery on June 3rd.

Book Signing with Jon Weisman – June 3 at Common Space Brewery

Common Space Brewery in Hawthorne, opened up earlier this year by Brent Knapp, is hosting a book signing and Dodger game viewing on June 3. For those of you that enjoy beer and/or the Dodgers, which hopefully is most of you, this should be right up your alley. Jon Weisman will be signing copies of his recently released second book –  Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition. The event starts at 12:10 with the Dodgers first pitch, and around 2 or 3 Jon will read parts of his book and be available to sign copies of the book or chat.

The brewery will have a food truck on-site and also offer non-alcoholic beverages for those that don’t drink beer. Hopefully some of the DTW crew can make it, as it should be a really fun afternoon and good chance to meet and hear from Jon.

Common Space Brewery is located at 3411 W. El Segundo Blvd., Hawthorne. For anymore information feel free to reach out to Brent directly at 310.666.2825.

I was also given an advance copy of the PDF, but I’ve found that I’m quite addicted to reading now on my kindle so I waited for my kindle version.

I liked that Jon started it off with a full chapter devoted to the type of stats he was going to use. Many of us already understand these stats but for those fans who have never touched a sabermetric stat, and don’t get to listen to Joe Davis explain these modern-day statistics because they don’t have the Spectrum option,  it was a good idea to start the book with an explanation of these stats.  To be sure Jon does talk about wins a lot, which might seem foreign to someone who just read Keith Law’s Smart Baseball, but in the context of the era that most of these hurlers pitched in, it made perfect sense to use the antiquated Win stat.

Jon starts us off with the legends of the early Brooklyn pitchers, and while it was interesting, he didn’t really grab my attention until he got to Ralph Branca. The Boys of Summer. I had read all about these hurlers back when I was 10 – 15 and knew every name quite well but a boy of 10 didn’t know jack about innings pitched, and as I read how each of these hurlers were slogged by their respective managers, I will have to admit that admiration and anger were the emotions that played around in my mind. I know now, that all pitchers of that generation were used and discarded at the whim of management, but to see the numbers they put up still staggered me. Jon made a great point to show that for every infamous defeat, you could almost always point to how the pitcher was pitching on guts alone.

Jon hits almost all the pitchers I was interested in reading about. One problem with being a Dodger fan as long as I have, you don’t get surprised but for those fans who are new to baseball, or simply were Dodger fans but not crazy fans, these chapters should enlighten anyone about the arms who build the great Dodger pitching legacy.  As much as I already knew about these pitchers, Jon found new information that was always a pleasant surprise.  It was also cool to see Jon use sources such as Eric Enders who once said something about me that kept me writing when I figured no one was reading.  Heck I expected to see Bob Timmermann used as a source and sure enough, he was mentioned in the acknowledgments.

Even the casual fan knows about Koufax, Drysdale, Sutton, Fernando, Orel, and Kershaw, but if they were just learning about Johnny Podres, Claude Osteen, Bill Singer, Burt Hooton and Jerry Ruess there is no better guide than Jon Weisman.

I’m not a proper book reviewer as I’m sure those who do this for a living have a certain way of reviewing a book. I consider Jon a friend so even if I didn’t like the book I would never say that, but since Jon is one of the best writers in the world of baseball that was never going to be an issue.  My last several baseball books, I will admit to getting bored and not finishing. Keith Law’s Smart Baseball and Molly Knight’s “The Best Team Money can Buy” both still sit unfinished with the kindle bookmarks ready to start me up again when I feel the urge to jump into it.

Jon had the massive task of trying to fit every notable Dodger hurler into this book and for the most part he succeeded. He did a nice trick called “Moment in the Sun” where if you didn’t make the cut for a full chapter you at least got several notes on why you were part of the Dodger pitching legacy.  I would have liked to have seen a few more hurlers have their moment in the sun such as Joe Moeller, Erv Palica, Jose Lima, and Vincente Padilla and I’m anxious to ask him how he decided who got a Moment and who didn’t. Doug Rau got a moment in the sun, I would have liked a full chapter and I expect he wrote one but it didn’t make the editors cut. Chad Billingsley got his moment in the sun, and again, I would have liked a chapter.

Which is a good thing when you want more and not less.  I’ll be using this book for reference over and over which is where I hope the kindle search function comes in handy.

This is a stat-filled book as Jon uses these stats to show why these pitchers got their own chapter but within each chapter is beautiful writing. Each paragraph that starts a chapter can be savored. Ah, to write such lead-ins.  I’m not going to put any of those in this review. Read the book, find them for yourselves and meet me at the Common Space Brewery on June 3rd where we can talk to Jon and tell him our favorite lines.

Okay, I’ll leave you with one. Jon starts the Bob Welch chapter with this:

Bob Welch is the greatest starting pitcher in Dodger history who is remembered for basically nothing he did as a Dodger starting pitcher. Because he did so much more.

I’m not done with this writing about this book. I have my own thoughts on most of the Dodger pitchers he wrote about, and I hope to put some notes to their names with the memories of having watched them pitch along with the information that Jon provided on them.

There were so many games mentioned in the book that I have actual personal connections with that at times I felt I was reading about my own journey as a Dodger fan.  It started with Don Sutton/Bill Singer and is right now in the throes of Clayton Kershaw and Jon hit all the right notes in this symphony to the Dodger hurlers that have touched all of us.

Baseball gravity pulls sophomore slugging 1st baseman back to earth

Last year witnessed not one, not two, but three first baseman who broke all sorts of home runs records even though none of them started the season in the major leagues.  The first up was Dodger phenom Cody Bellinger who started his first game on April 25th and proceeded to light up the NL and helped turn around the moribund 2017 Dodgers into a contender for the World Championship with his prodigious home run display in his first fifty games. Next up was Matt Olson whose first game was actually April 223rd but it was only for one game. Olson didn’t come up for good until June 4th.  Matt Olson did not get fifty starts in 2017 so I went with his full-season numbers which included quite a few pinch hits. Rhys Hoskins didn’t get started until Aug 10th and finished the season with exactly fifty starts.  As you can tell from the 2017 table below, these slugging first baseman all averaged a home run in 10 plate appearances or less.

This is what they did last year in their first 50 games:

Name 1st Game Games Started PlateAppearances Home Runs HR/PA
Cody Bellinger 4/28/2017 50 188 19 9.89
Matt Olson 04/23/2017 48 208 24 8.67
Rhys Hoskins 8/10/2017 50 170 18 9.44

This is what they are doing this year so far in 2018. They haven’t quite hit the same threshold of fifty starts in 2018 but it is close enough to take a look, and the look isn’t pretty.

Name PlateAppearances Home Runs HR/PA
Cody Bellinger 172 6 28.67
Matt Olson 147 5 29.40
Rhys Hoskins 127 5 25.40

Does any of this mean anything? No, I just wanted to create a table showing how the big three are all struggling to hit home runs at anything close to the historic pace they were on last year.  Pitchers have found weaknesses, it will be curious to see who makes the first adjustments and if any of the three can get back to being the home run machines they were in 2018.  Bellinger was the only one who played what could be called a full season so pitchers were already making adjustments against him as the season wore on. They had a bigger book on Cody than they did on Olson and Hoskins. Right now the pitchers are all on the same page regarding the big three.

Scooter Gennett is not living upto his nickname

Usually, if you have a nickname of Scooter you would think your baseball game is more along the lines of grit instead of grand with speed the biggest asset not power. Scooter Gennett is having none of that. Scooter was just named the NL Player of the Week after destroying the Dodgers over a four games series even though he sat out the last game.

Some fun Scooter facts.

Scooter was released by the Brewers in March 2017 after 1637 plate appearances with all of thirty-five home runs. His triple state line for the Brewers was .279 / .318 / .420. Those nice numbers got him released at the age of 27.

The Brewer second baseman had a combined OPS of .701 in 2017 and are at .642 in 2018.

Scooter was claimed by the Reds (for nothing but his salary) and put up an OPS of .874 in 2017 and is at .888 so far in 2018.

Scooter hit four home runs in one game for the Reds in 2017 which is what he’s famous four but he’s much more than that. Scooter is now the cleanup hitter for the Reds and one of the best hitting second basemen in baseball since joining the Reds in 2017. Balderdash you might say. Nope, it be true

Player            OPS+  PA From   To   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS        Pos
Jose Altuve        154 849 2017 2018 .337 .399 .516 .915      *4/DH
Daniel Murphy      136 593 2017 2017 .322 .384 .543 .928       *4/H
Jed Lowrie         129 820 2017 2018 .291 .367 .477 .844     *4/DH5
Scooter Gennett    128 653 2017 2018 .303 .348 .529 .877  *4/H579D1
Brian Dozier       123 873 2017 2018 .268 .351 .487 .838       *4/H
Jonathan Schoop    119 772 2017 2018 .287 .331 .492 .822       *4/6
Robinson Cano      115 817 2017 2018 .282 .348 .450 .798      *4/HD
Javier Baez        112 659 2017 2018 .275 .317 .511 .828   *4/65H39
Cesar Hernandez    112 752 2017 2018 .287 .375 .415 .790     *4/H6D
Starlin Castro     105 641 2017 2018 .297 .337 .434 .771      *4/HD
Whit Merrifield    105 804 2017 2018 .285 .329 .447 .776 *4/9738HD5
Joe Panik          103 673 2017 2018 .285 .344 .416 .760       *4/H
Josh Harrison      100 606 2017 2018 .271 .338 .424 .761    /*457H9
Kolten Wong        100 526 2017 2018 .264 .358 .388 .746       *4/H

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/14/2018.

The best part of this is that the Reds completely stole Scooter from the Brewers but the Brewers are in 1st place and the Reds are in last place in the NL Central.

Kyle Garlick FFA Weekly winner for May 7th – May 13th

Kyle Garlick was promoted to AAA on April 30th and has already made quite an impact. In seventy-eight plate appearances in AA , Kyle hit five home runs. In only twenty-two at-bats last week, Kyle hit four home runs for OKC in the PCL. For the week Garlick had nine hits in those twenty-two at-bats. Overall, Kyle now has five home runs for OKC which leads the team. Given he didn’t join the team until April 30th that is both an indictment on the lack of power on the OKC team and a hat tip to Garlick for bringing the bomb to OKC.

Earlier this week we noted the performances of Dustin May, Dennis Santana, and Yusniel Diaz.

Drew Jackson was named Texas League Player of the Week off of his big performance.

Jackson started five games in the week and put together monster numbers during that stretch. The infielder went 7-16 with four doubles, a triple and a home run while collecting five RBI and stealing a pair of bases. He also had five walks and struck out only once.

Justin De Fratus was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. Earlier in the year, De Fratus earned the Texas League Player of the Week.

De Fratus tossed a complete game shutout against Memphis on May 11, the first nine-inning shutout in the PCL this season. It only took him 89 pitches to do it, recording 12 groundball outs while allowing four hits and striking out three without allowing a walk.

Jesus Vargas is a name I’ve never written about but he is one of the few bright spots for the Great Lake Loons. Vargas is a 19-year-old Venezuelan who has made six starts, gone 27 innings, only 17 hits, five earned runs, eight walks, and twenty-four strikeouts.

 

Before you panic, remember we went 5 – 20 last season during a 25 game stretch

It is easy to panic when the record is 16 – 24 to start a season but every season will have hot and cold streaks. I’m sure no one has forgotten the Dodgers went 5 – 20 from Aug 26th to Sept 20th in 2017 on the way to 104 wins. If the 2017 team had started out 5 – 20  everyone would have been making October vacation plans.

The question we have to ask ourselves doesn’t relate to the record of 16 – 24, the question we have to ask ourselves is “Can a team who won 104 games the previous year and made very few changes to the team really become this bad a team?” There is a reason the season is 162 games long but with 25% of the season already in the tank, the Dodgers have to play the rest of the year like a postseason contender team.

The good news for the Dodgers is that the Diamondbacks did not run away and hide as they also had a horrible week. They didn’t lose four to the Reds at home but they did lose four games at home to the Nationals and now carry a five-game losing streak into the upcoming week.  The Dodgers lost a huge opportunity to make up big ground on the Diamondbacks but at least they still have skin in the game.

The better news for the Dodgers is that Justin Turner is returning to the lineup on Tuesday. They have clearly missed everything about Justin Turner, from his bat, his glove, to his leadership. When Kyle Farmer and Matt Muncy are the replacements you have a right to question those of us who claimed the Dodgers were deep everywhere. Evidently, the Dodgers weren’t.  One of the arguments for the depth comments was Logan Forsythe. Logan was supposed to be able to play 3rd base at an above average replacement level, but instead was below replacement level when he took his predictable injuries back to the DL.  While JustinTurner is going to help the team, I’m not sure how much Logan Forsythe is.  I’m going to assume that Logan will not get the full-time gig at 2nd as imagined at the start of the year and will be in a strict platoon with Chase Utley. We can only hope that Logan remembers how to crush left-hand pitching and somehow along the way starts to hit RHP so that Chase can rest more as the season goes on. All this while staying healthy.  That is probably a false hope. I’m starting to feel that Logan will only hit well when completely healthy but the times where he is completely healthy will only be for a few weeks.

When I started writing this column my goal was to show that even in our 104 win season we had a stretch of horrible baseball that lasted for 25 games and that all is not lost in 2018 because of the 16 – 24 record on May 14th.

But…………………..the more I wrote the more I have to admit that this team just doesn’t feel like the past five teams.  Headed into the season the Dodgers had four legitimate top ten MVP candidates. Of those four:

  • Seager is gone for the year
  • Justin Turner has yet to play a game, and while he returns on Tuesday we have to expect he’ll take a while to get his game upto the level we have seen the past three years.
  • Clayton Kershaw is already on the DL. The issue is hopefully minor and he’ll come back in a week or two and be ready to take his place as the ace of the rotation.
  • Cody Bellinger is really starting to struggle with ten strikeouts in his last twenty-one plate appearances. He still has a decent OPS+ for the season, but he is clearly not a top ten MVP candidate which might be what the Dodgers need with Corey Seager out for the year.

With none of the MVP candidates performing at anything close to MVP level and one already gone for the year the rest of the team needs to step up and that simply isn’t happening beyond Walker Buehler, Yazmani Grandal, and Matt Kemp.

None of these comments below are unique to Dodger fans.

  • The bullpen has to pitch better but I’m not sure the arms the Dodgers have accumulated in this bullpen are up to the task.  They might need to dig deeper and look at some prospects to help in the bullpen.  What Koehler can bring when he’s finally healthy is still a huge question mark. Alexander may have gotten it together. Venditte is a great story but has never had any sustained major league success. It is doubtful that will change in 2018.  Baez is………..Baez. Cingrani was brilliant, then wasn’t and is now hurt. Anyway, five-inning starters are a big deal when the bullpen is not a lockdown bullpen but a sieve of runs.
  • Ryu is gone until Aug which is only a big deal because he was the best pitcher in the rotation when he got hurt.
  • Kenta and Hill are 2/5 of the rotation and neither has pitched consistent enough to lay claim to a rotation spot on a contending team.
  • Roberts is making questionable in-game moves game after game.  He’d be a great seven-inning game manager but it seems his moves are made without regard to how his roster would play out in the 9th when he has emptied the bench. Maybe that was why he let Ross Stripling hit the other day in a key situation.
  • Walker Buehler is pitching great, but that means he is also eating up his precious innings in May.
  • Jansen was allowed to do whatever he wanted this spring and wasn’t ready for the season. He is now getting outs, but he still isn’t Kenley Jansen.
  • The second best hitter in May so far has been Matt Muncy………..
  • The defense seems less with Taylor at SS and Kiké/Joc manning CF instead of Kiké at SS and Taylor manning CF but that could simply be perception.

Is this team good enough to make a run from the depths they are currently sitting at? Probably. Are they good enough to make the postseason without a trade to upgrade the rotation, bullpen, or infield? Probably not.

Right now the Dodgers just need to accomplish some baby steps.

  • The first step is to win a series. The last series they won was against the Nationals back on April 22nd.
  • The second step would be to win a week
  • The third step is to get back to .500
  • The fourth step is winning enough to put their hat back into the wild card ring
  • The fourth step if they can accomplish the first four baby steps is to get back in the Nl West Divison race.

I would bet on the team having the legs for the first three steps, I’m not betting on steps four and five unless different legs are added to the team.

Schebler and Joc, a starting path with similar forks

Joc Pederson and Scott Schebler were both drafted by the Dodgers in 2010, they were both left-handed outfielders, and neither were high draft picks. Joc was drafted in the 10th round, and Scott Schebler way back in the 26th round.  They both had high strikeout rates headed into 2018 and they have both dropped their strike out rates from the over 20% range down to 14-15%.  I found this last tidbit a little fascinating given that the overall trend in baseball is more strikeouts.

As they moved up the Dodger system, Joc stuck out and was always ranked higher in the prospect sheets than Scott. Scott had one strange claim to fame in the minors, he had sixty-two minor league triples but was not considered someone with above average speed.  Scott has also hit exactly 100 minor league home runs.

With two players who are this similar usually one has to go and it was Scott Schebler who was traded in a three-team deal that has  paid off for the Reds. The Dodgers got Trayce Thompson and Frankie Montas. Thompson had a few good weeks for the Dodgers in his three-year trial and was released a few weeks ago. He’s barely hanging onto a major league job. Frankie Montas came over and was expected to be a back-end starter or a high leverage relief pitcher. Instead, Frankie had a rib removed and never pitched an inning for the Dodgers before being included as part of the price for Rich Hill. Frankie pitched in 23 games last year for Oakland and was horrible. He is now back in AAA, trying to become a starter again.  His last start was the best game he’s pitched in years.  The Reds got Schebler and Jose Peraza. Peraza is now their starting shortstop whose best skill is his stolen base speed.  Schebler has been a semi-fulltime outfielder who has had more success than many expected from him.

Joc was starting for the Dodgers in 2015 and for a few months looked like the best defensive center-fielder they had, had in a long while.  He slugged alot of home runs early and was in the 2015 All-Star home run challenge. At the all-star break in 2015, Joc had a triple stat line of .230 / .364 / .487 with twenty home runs in only 366 plate appearances.  The rest of the year Joc slugged .300 and went into 2016 as a huge question mark.  Joc answered that question mark with a much better overall season in 2016 posting a sterling OPS+ of 126 but questions about his defensive skills in center field were now being asked.  2017 was much like 2015, Joc started out well but struggled once again in the second half. This time though the Dodgers replaced him in CF with Chris Taylor and Joc became a bench piece in Aug/Sept. Not a good bench piece, his offensive numbers were horrible.  The only real success that Joc enjoyed in 2017 after the all-star break came during the 2017 World Series where he led the team in hitting . You could almost say he was the only Dodger to hit in the 2017 World Series.

Joc started 2018 so poorly that many including myself wondered if he wouldn’t be better served regaining his stroke in AAA and letting Alex Verdugo give his spot a shot. Luckily for Joc, but not for the Dodgers, Corey Seager suffered a season-ending surgery and Chris Taylor was slotted in as the everyday shortstop. So for now, Joc is back as a strong side platoon partner in CF with Kiké.  This is not the same Joc we are used to and I have to say I’m not as enamored with this Joc as others might be. Joc’s strong suit was power. Right now he’s making contact and getting on base but has hit one home run in almost 100 plate appearances.  If the power comes back with these newly found contact skills, they could have quite a player, but if the cost of the power was these new found contact skills, I’m not sure what they have.

Here is a snippet from Todd Zola a fantasy baseball guru who dives into numbers and what to expect from a hitter. 

Joc Pederson (Current 80.5 percent, Projected 69.9 percent)

….Pederson’s contact continues to improve, making him an exception. He’s swinging at even fewer pitches than past seasons, though the actual contact rate is down a speck from last season.

The problem is, despite fanning fewer times, Pederson isn’t taking advantage, either with more power or running more when he’s on. Further, he continues to be a platoon player, limiting his plate appearances. His hard-hit rate, while still above average, is falling. Pederson’s fly ball rate has dropped precipitously, further capping his power.

As discussed, playing time matters, but until Pederson starts doing more with his, he’s only relevant in NL-only formats, even with a career-high batting average.

Either way, Alex Verdugo impressed in his brief stint up, and Joc once again has several players much like himself trying to take his job in Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles. The last time this happened they traded Scott Schebler. This time, I think they trade Joc.

This is what Joc has done in the major leagues. One thing that stands out for Joc is that he has gone from 585 to 476 to 323 plate appearances. That trend would have continued this year if not for the injury to Corey Seager.

Year    Age   PA 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  TB
2014     22   38  0  0  0   0   9  11 .143 .351 .143 .494   48   4
2015     23  585 19  1 26  54  92 170 .210 .346 .417 .763  113 200
2016     24  476 26  0 25  68  63 130 .246 .352 .495 .847  126 201
2017     25  323 20  0 11  35  39  68 .212 .331 .407 .738   95 111
2018     26   97  4  2  1  13  16  15 .253 .381 .392 .774  117  31
5 Yr   5 Yr 1519 69  3 63 170 219 394 .224 .347 .432 .779  112 547
162     162  558 25  1 23  62  80 145 .224 .347 .432 .779  112 201

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2018.

Scott Schebler has not been shabby for the Reds. He hasn’t had the high note that Joc had in 2016 but he has been consistent with an OPS+ between 101 -109 in each of his major league season.  The Dodgers made the right choice in trading Schebler because he was a corner outfielder and could not play center field but I’m I’ve been pleased to note that Scott has already had a successful major league career.

The reason I that I wrote this article is because I was reading the Todd Zola article I referenced above and Todd wrote about both Joc and Scott which got me to thinking about the paths their careers have taken given they were both drafted in 2010 as left hand hitting outfielders.

This is what Todd had to say about Scott:

Scott Schebler (Current 84.5 percent, Projected 75.5 percent)

Keeping in mind we’re at the bottom portion of the list, the relative difference between current and expected is dwindling, but still worth discussing. Schebler missed time and faces mainly right-handers, so his sample is the smallest analyzed.

The reason I opted to include him is that like Baez, Schebler’s improvement is due to better contact when chasing pitches. Admittedly, some hitters are capable of crushing non-strikes as the zone, while not arbitrary, may not represent the sweet spot for all batters. However, big picture, it’s better to offer at a strike than a ball. Perhaps Schebler is an exception, but maintaining a high and productive O-swing% seems like dangerous approach.

Schebler’s power will climb with the mercury. Just be careful, his contact is likely to slip, dragging average with it.

Year    Age  PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  TB
2015     24  40  0  0  3   4  3  13 .250 .325 .500 .825  127  18
2016     25 282 12  2  9  40 19  59 .265 .330 .432 .762  101 111
2017     26 531 25  2 30  67 39 125 .233 .307 .484 .791  103 229
2018     27  83  4  0  3  12  5  12 .267 .325 .440 .765  109  33
4 Yr   4 Yr 936 41  4 45 123 66 209 .246 .316 .465 .781  104 391
162     162 572 25  2 28  75 40 128 .246 .316 .465 .781  104 239

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2018.

Dodger prospect notes for May 10th

Dustin May, Dennis Santana, and Yusniel Diaz have done enough this week to already garner some notes for this Thursday.

Dustin May made his 2018 debut last week and pitched okay, but last night in his second start he showed why he just might be the highest ceiling prospect left in the Dodger minor leagues. May gave up zero earned runs in five innings of six hit ball. He walked only one, and struck out nine of the fifteen outs.

Dennis Santana struck out eleven of his eighteen outs, with zero walks, one earned run, and six hits.  

Yusniel Diaz – a few days ago Yunsiel was added to the Baseball America top 100 prospects which they update periodacially during the summer as players get promoted and lose their rookie eligibility.  Diaz has also been noticed in the fantasy world with this little note from Rotowire.

Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD – ….. Diaz is hitting .340/.444/.604 through 14 games. He has eight extra-base hits over that span, including two home runs. He has also swiped four bases already. Diaz may be on the verge of a breakout year for the Dodgers, as he has collected more walks (10) than strikeouts (9) through the early part of his season. With double-digit potential in home runs and steals, along with a year more of an adjustment to baseball in the United States, Diaz is worth keeping on the prospect radar.

Jansen and Dodgers winding into shape

Kenley Jansen still isn’t striking out anyone, but he is getting weak contact and is no longer walking anyone which bodes well for future Dodger fortunes.

Date   Inngs              Dec   IP  H ER BB SO HR
May1                  8-GF(8)  1.0  1  0  1  1  0
May2    9-GF             S(4)  1.0  1  1  1  0  0
May3    9-GF             S(5)  1.0  0  0  0  0  0
May8                     9-10  2.0  1  0  0  1  0
May9    9-GF             S(6)  1.0  0  0  0  0  0
             

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/10/2018.

Also boding well for the Dodgers was the return of Yasiel Puig who quickly made an impact with two of his three hits being key to keeping a rally going. Scott Alexander was another key part of the cavalry getting four key outs to bridge the gap for an ineffective J.T. Chargois to Kenley Jansen.  For the first time this year, Scott Alexander looked like the guy the Dodgers traded for this past winter.

Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe should both be joining the team next week along with Clayton Kershaw.  Seager is never coming back and Ryu won’t be available until after the all-star break so unless the Dodgers make a deal, this is the team that will be tasked with hunting down the League leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

With all that due to happen soon, the potent three Dodger catcher offense will take a seat, hopefully never to be seen again. They had their highlight of the season in the bottom of the six with the score tied at 1. Starting catcher Yasmani Grandal starting the inning off with a single.  After Bellinger struck out, back up catcher playing second base Austin Barnes plopped a single into left-center field. Puig followed with a single to left putting the go-ahead run on 3rd base with one out and the third-string catcher playing 3rd base Kyle Farmer up. All the Dodgers needed was a fly ball, and Farmer delivered just that driving in Grandal. The Dodgers had their first lead since May 5th.

With eight games back the Dodgers are in a world of hurt. They will have to have a hot streak at some point this year. I don’t expect the Diamondbacks to fold, as they have stayed the National League’s best team even though they have suffered many key injuries and their best hitter has been in a season-long slump.  In a few days, they will get back their all-star 3rd baseman. They just got back their starting right fielder. Their best pitcher should be rejoining them soon.

In a week the Dodgers will have no more excuses, and the road to the postseason in 2018 will be tougher than any road they have had in the Dave Roberts era. The ride will be bumpy, but it could be worth it if they can pull this off.