Ross Stripling blooms in the spring

Just like your favorite flowers that bloom every April and May, Ross Stripling has that fragrant spring smell when he takes the mound as a starter in the spring.  Ross has made forty-two major league starts and has a game score of 69 or greater in seven of them. Of those dominant seven starts, six of them came either in April or May.

Date            Opp  Rslt AppDec  IP H ER BB SO GSc
2016-04-08      SFG L 2-3   GS-8 7.1 0  1  4  4  74
2016-05-08      TOR W 4-2   GS-6 6.0 1  1  0  6  72
2018-05-30      PHI W 8-2 GS-7 W 7.0 4  1  2  9  72
2019-04-14      MIL W 7-1 GS-8 W 8.0 4  1  1  3  72
2018-05-25      SDP W 4-1 GS-7 W 6.2 6  0  0 10  70
2018-05-19(1)   WSN W 4-1 GS-6 W 6.0 4  1  0  9  69
2018-07-07      LAA W 3-1 GS-6 W 6.0 3  1  0  7  69

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2019.

With Ryu coming off the DL to pitch today, with Rich Hill on the horizon, and with Clayton Kershaw already back, it is possible that Ross Stripling just made his last start for the Dodgers until the next starter goes on the disabled list. That may not take long given the fragility of the three pitchers given their DL history over the past three years but it may not happen until at least June and we won’t be seeing any May starts for Stripling.

But what a bullpen. Dodgers will now have three weapons in Ross Stripling, Caleb Ferguson, and Julio Urias that can go multiple productive innings.

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Kiké was the star, but this was a team victory from the manager to the bullpen.

The big hero last night was Kiké and his improbable three-run home against the fireball Josh Hader.  As Ken Gurnick noted last night it was the first time that Kiké had ever homered on an 0 – 2 count and it was the first home run ever given up by Hader on an 0 – 2 count. 

Here is the math for the home run. I bet you didn’t expect a paragraph like this ten years ago when explaining a home run.

According to Statcast, the 95.5-mph pitch had a spin rate of 2327 RPM and a pitch height of 3.04 feet, and Hader had an extension of 7.1 feet. It exited at 106.1 mph and traveled an estimated 399 feet with a launch angle of 20 degrees and a hang time of 4.3 second.

As big as the home run was, Friday Night was a microcosm of how to win tough games. Ross Stripling gave up two runs in the first but you can’t be upset when someone gives up a home run to Christian Yelich. It is the in thing to do right now in the NL.  Down 2 – 0 after one is never a good look, but Ross buckled down and did what he’s done in every April he’s been in a rotation.  Ross and the bullpen allowed only one more run giving the Dodger offense plenty of time to come back.

The Pitching Breakdown – Ross for 14 outs, two earned in 1st, comes out after intelligently walking Yelich. Alexander comes in and gets Mike Moustakas to ground out to end the fifth.  Alexander starts the 6th, gives up a single, then gets his specialty, the ground ball double play.  With two outs, Alexander gives up two straight singles, putting two on with two out. Dylan Floro comes in and does what Dylan Floro does, a pop up out to end the threat in the 6th.  The key moves here is that when Floro replaced Alexander, it became a double switch and Hernandez came into to play 2nd, Muncy moved to 1st, and Bellinger to RF.  This doesn’t happen in the AL. Nothing happens in the AL.   Floro gets the first batter in the 7th but then hits Cain, bringing up Yelich. Dave Roberts counters with Pedro Baez and it works out with Yelich just missing it, and hitting a long fly ball for an out. Moustakas gives Pedro all he has for eight pitches but Baez strikes him out on the 9th pitch.  Joe Kelly comes in to protect the three-run lead that Hernandez gave the Dodgers with his home run in the top of the eighth.  Joe has struggled all season but with each appearance, he seems to be finding his groove. Joe strikes out the first two Brewers and just as you think he’s coming around, Marcus Thames crushes a solo home run to cut the lead to 5 -3.  Joe finishes the innings with another strikeout and struck out the side around the solo home run. Kenley Jansen comes in for the save and needs to get three straight outs so the Yelich will not come up representing the tying run. Jansen is up to the task and sets down the Brewers in order in what I think was his best appearance to date.

Hitting Breakdown – down two runs the Dodgers answer right back on an infield single by Cody Bellinger and a big two-out full count double by Alex Verdugo.  In the 3rd the Dodgers tie the game on a long sacrifice fly to Left Field by Bellinger. They had loaded the bases on two walks and a single. The key play was the walk to Ross Stripling. You won’t see that in the NL.  With the score tied and Josh Hader pitching his second inning the Dodgers went to work. Pollock worked a full count walk. David Freese worked a 3 – 1 walk.  On his 34th pitch, Hernandez drilled the back-breaking three-run home run. Overall the Dodgers earned nine walks last night and that patient approach is what ultimately gave them the opportunities to win this game.

Managing – Dave Roberts made all the right calls in this game. He used the right relief pitchers at the right time. He made the huge double switch that put Hernandez into the game.

That is how you win a tough 5 – 3 game against one of the best teams in baseball.

Dodgers have reeled off four straight games scores > 64, can Julio Urias make it five?

The last time a Dodger starter was hammered was when Julio Urias took the mound on April 12th. Since that point, Caleb was an opener, but Ross, Clayton, Kenta, and Walker have all fired excellent games giving up just four runs in twenty-eight innings. Urias gave up five runs in five innings all by himself in his last start.

When Julio threw five dominant innings in his first start of 2019 I had hoped that he was going to take the gift of the Rich Hill injury and run with it making a case to stay in the rotation.  His second start didn’t go as well and his 3rd start was horrible.  With Kershaw back, with Rich Hill on the horizon, and with Ross Stripling pitching as well as anyone in the rotation, this could very well be the last start that Urias makes until the next Dodger hurler suffers an injury.  Given that three-fifths of the rotation has already been on the DL he may not have to wait very long.

It would help his case to pitch a good game after two bad ones.  I don’t expect middling games from Julio Urias, I have great expectations for him and he’ll be facing the hottest hitter in baseball in 2018 MVP Yelich and one of the best hitters against lefties in Lorenzo Cain.   Urias needs to cool them down if the Dodgers are going to remind them why the Dodgers were the 2018 NL Champions.

He can do it

 

The Miraculous Monday

Monday started with a bang and ended with one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports.

It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball and some key NBA postseason games were going to take place. ESPN was broadcasting the Dodger game because of the Dodger history with Jackie Robinson so all eyes in Los Angeles were going to be on the Dodgers because the Dodger / Red matchup had about as much intrigue as any game could have in April.

You had five ex-Dodgers starting against the Dodgers including the whole outfield. You had Clayton Kershaw making his first start of 2019. You had two of the most polarizing ex-Dodgers batting back to back.

What kind of reaction would Puig get?

What kind of reaction would Kemp get?

Can the 2019 version of Clayton Kershaw help the beleaguered rotation or will he simply add wood to the rotation fire?

Who would step up in the bullpen?

Along with the Dodger game, the Clippers were playing at Oracle Arena and the only question of that game was by how much the Warriors would win. No one except a few hardy Clipper fans and NBA junkies would be paying attention.

Clayton started the game with an out but quickly gave up a hard hit single. Up stepped Puig and he got a nice ovation, not a great one. He tipped his cap and the ovation picked up but was hardly worthy of the Wild Horse. Whatever, he’s a Red now and he looked good in red. Two strikes down, Puig teed off on Clayton slugging a home run over the head of the guy who has basically replaced his bat in the lineup. Dodgers down 2 – 0 and it didn’t look good for Clayton. Velocity was around 90 – 91 but as the game continued, Clayton showed he can still be a force on the mound. Once Puig touched home, Clayton gave up just three singles the rest of the way and left the game having garnered twenty-one outs with the Dodgers tied at 2 – 2.

As Clayton left the game if you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed they were losing 94 – 63 and weren’t surprised. 

Pedro Baez had an easy eighth inning but so did Robert Stephenson and the game went to the 9th tied at 2. Kenley Jansen came in and quickly gave up a long double to Curt Casali. Jansen seemed to get his nasty going and struck out the dangerous Suarez.  It was Puig again, but this time his one-time teammate got the best of him on a deep fly to Verdugo.  Matt Kemp came up and looked hopeless on the first two wicked strikes. With the  0 – 2 Jansen was supposed to hit the target high but he missed the target and Kemp lofted a weak fly-drive toward 2nd base but there was no second baseman there and it landed giving the Reds a 3 – 2 lead.

If you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed that the one time 31 point Warrior lead had been cut to 14 by the end of the 3rd quarter. If you were a Clipper fan you nodded your head because all year they had come back from huge leads. Even if they were destined to lose, at least they had erased the embarrassing 31 point deficit. You turned back to the Dodger game.

All the runs driven in by the Reds had been driven in by Puig and Kemp. Meanwhile, AJ Pollock who was signed to replace the offense of Kemp and defense of Puig was struggling once again to drive in runs. In the first Pollock had struck out in the first with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Any contact would have driven in the tying run. He couldn’t make contact. In the 3rd he struck out again with a runner on first. In the fifth, Pollock finally made his mark by walking with the bases loaded to tie the game at two. Pollock was not needed in the 9th.

David Freese led off with a walk against Raisel Iglesias. Joc Pederson got his first walk-off hit and he did it only the way that Joc Pederson could do it. He gave a mighty swing and blasted the ball to RCF, he dropped the bat, he pointed to his teammates, he finally started to jog, but while he was jogging the CF had not given up and even though Joc thought he’d hit a no-doubter, in the end, the ball barely cleared the fence.  The Dodgers had won. Clayton had been brilliant. Puig had hit a home run. Kemp had a key single. It was about a good a game a conflicted Dodger fan could have asked for.

Meanwhile, the Clipper fan peaked at the score and holy shit, the Clippers were now tied with the Warriors. And just as you realize that the game is tied and that they had erased a 31 point lead Steph Curry hits a three-pointer. You can do nothing but shrug because you expect Steph to hit that shot. Except, for this night the script is flipped. The Warriors would miss the rest of their shots. The Clippers would not. Rookie Landsey Shamet would hit his own three-pointer. Montrezl Harrell would sink two free throws with five seconds to go and give the Clippers an insurmountable four-point lead.

The Clippers didn’t just beat the World Champion Warriors, they beat them at home, they came back from a 31 point deficit, they beat them with Pat Beverly fouled out, they beat them with two rookies playing in the backcourt.

It turned out to be the greatest comeback in Clipper History. It also turned out to be the greatest comeback in NBA postseason history.  Los Angeles may not have noticed but basketball fans did. All over the world.

 

 

Ryu looks to extend his walkless streak

Ryu has yet to walk a batter in 2019. He went 15 spring training innings without a walk and has followed that up with 13 innings to start the season without a walk.

At thirteen innings, Ryu has the fifth-best mark to in LAD history for starters to start a season without a walk. Just last year, Alex Wood started the season with three starts and seventeen innings of zero walk pitching.  He’s now playing for the Reds. In 2001 Luke Prokopec started the season with 20 innings of zero walk pitching. The next year he was pitching in Toronto and was out of baseball the year after that.  Mike Morgan has the longest streak to start a season at 23 2/3 innings. He did it in 1990 and was pitching for the Cubs by 1992.

Name              Strk Start        End Games GS   IP  H ER BB SO  ERA
Mike Morgan       1990-04-13 1990-04-24     3  3 23.2 19  3  0 12 1.14
Luke Prokopec     2001-04-06 2001-04-27     3  3 20.2 16  6  0 17 2.61
Orel Hershiser    1990-04-09 1990-04-19     3  3 19.0 20  7  0 13 3.32
Alex Wood         2018-03-30 2018-04-11     3  3 17.2 14 10  0 15 5.09
Hyun-Jin Ryu      2019-03-28 2019-04-02     2  2 13.0 10  3  0 13 2.08
Clayton Kershaw   2017-04-03 2017-04-08     2  2 13.0 10  5  0 14 3.46
Ted Lilly         2010-08-03 2010-08-08     2  2 13.0  7  4  0 11 2.77
Chan Ho Park      1997-04-05 1997-04-09     2  2 13.0  9  4  0  9 2.77
Alan Foster       1969-04-26 1969-05-03     2  2 12.0 14  5  0  1 3.75
Odalis Perez      2002-04-04 2002-04-10     2  2 11.2  8  4  0  9 3.09
Terry Adams       2001-06-05 2001-06-10     2  2 10.2 10  4  0 14 3.38
Bob Welch         1978-06-30 1978-07-08     2  2 10.2 13  5  0  6 4.22
Tim Leary         1988-04-08 1988-04-13     2  2 10.0  9  5  0  9 4.50
Clem Labine       1958-05-15 1958-05-15     1  1 10.0  7  1  0  4 0.90

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2019.

 

Dodger Minor League Update – 04/08/19

AAA – OKC

Josh Sborz is thriving in a bullpen role for AAA, as he has struck out nine of the twelve hitters he’s faced so far with only one hit and one walk.

The Dodgers made no noise when they signed veteran major league pitcher Zach McAllister to a minor league contract but he is an arm that just might help them in 2019.  He was a solid bullpen piece for the Indians in 2017 and had a tough season in 2018 thus leaving him pitching in the minors to start 2019.  We all know that bullpen seasons are erratic, and maybe the Dodgers can get him back on track to be helpful in 2019.  So far in AAA he has faced six hitters and struck out five of them.

Jake Peter, Will Smith, and Daniel Castro are hitting well for OKC while Rios and Beatty have struggled the first week.

AA – Tulsa

Omar Estevez carried over his impressive spring to lead Tulsa in hitting by going nine for seventeen, with only one strikeout.  The middle infielder is finally playing in advanced minor league ball and looks ready for it.

Keibert Ruiz and DJ Peters have yet to get untracked but they will.

Dustin May showed why he’s the top pitching prospect in the Dodger system by hurling five innings of two-hit ball with one walk and nine strikeouts.

Mitchell White had a promising first start but he only lasted three innings. Yadier Alvarez did not.

 

 

Why is anyone surprised?

With ten games in the book, the Dodgers are tied with the Brewers for the best record in the NL and everyone in baseball is like “who are these guys” as though they hadn’t been to the World Series two years in a row.

The Dodgers are 8 – 2 and if they had signed Adam Ottavino instead of Joe Kelly they might be 10 – 0.   In five of their eight wins, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 40 runs.

Even at 8 – 2 there is room for improvement. Outside of Ryu, the rotation hasn’t been great, the bullpen has blown two wins, and hasn’t looked steady with Kelly, Garcia, and Stewart all being ineffective. On the hitting side, Seager is still getting untracked, JT has yet to hit a home run, and Chris Taylor is not thriving in his utility role. A.J. Pollock hasn’t exactly set the world on fire either but he has looked great in CF, and had some key hits.

With four against the Cardinals and three against the Brewers, we shall see if the Dodgers can keep the hot start going as they take on two of the tougher teams in the NL Central.

The Dodgers called up Dennis Santana yesterday to help the bullpen but since he threw almost three innings I wonder if he’ll get sent back to AAA for a fresh arm for this week.

Looking forward, Clayton Kershaw makes a rehab start on Tuesday and should be in line to make the Sunday start against the Brewers which would put Urias back in the bullpen.  Eventually, Rich Hill will show up and move Ross into the bullpen at which point Yimi and Santana should be back in AAA with Brock Stewart.  That is when the Dodger bullpen should be formidable. Joe Kelly looked better yesterday, and should only get better.

 

The Rubber-Band man is stretching his limits

On the Sunday Night ESPN MLB telecast last night, baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza said that Cody Bellinger was like a rubber-band. It was meant as a compliment as everyone was gaga over how Cody could generate so much power with his swing and follow through.  Last night Cody did it all as he hit a home run, threw out a runner at 3rd, and showed off his elite speed.

Cody Bellinger is the talk of baseball with his major league-leading everything but it is not like we haven’t seen this Cody before. If you listen to the games, it is like he just burst upon the scene and wasn’t the guy who broke the National League single-season home run record for a rookie just eighteen months ago.

Dodger fans haven’t forgotten that when Cody burst onto the scene in 2017 he terrorized pitching and kind of did it for most of the season. We had a Cody Bellinger home run watch for a reason. 

In his first ten games ever, Cody had 41 Plate Appearances, six extra-base hits, including four home runs and put up an OPS of 1.127.

From his 41st game to this 50th game Coday had 45 Plate Appearances, 10 extra-base hits, including seven home runs and put up an OPS of 1.278.

His ten game start to 2019, 47 plate appearances 10 extra-base hits, including seven home runs, and has put up an OPS of 1.512.

So yeah, Cody Bellinger is awesome, but he’s been kind of awesome ever since he showed up even if he wasn’t the stud in 2018 that he was in 2017. 

Cody Bellinger has always checked all the boxes.

  • He’s got insane power
  • He’s got elite speed
  • He’s a gold glove caliber 1st baseman
  • He can play a solid Center Fielder
  • He can now play a solid possibly Gold Glove caliber Right Field

 

Carlos Santana turns 33 today

and has accumulated 26 bWAR since starting his career in 2010. For perspective, there is not a single Dodger position player who has accumulated at least 25 bWAR since 2010.  Only 46 MLB players have accumulated as much as 25 bWAR since 2010, and nine of them were 1st baseman.

Here is the list of Dodgers by bWAR since Carlos Santana started his career in 2010.

Player              WAR/pos From   To   Age   PA         Pos
Carlos Santana      26.0    2010 2019 24-33 5496   *32D/5H97
Justin Turner          23.3 2014 2019 29-34 2399    *5/H463D
Yasiel Puig            18.6 2013 2018 22-27 2765     *9/8H7D
Corey Seager           13.7 2015 2019 21-25 1572      *6/H5D
Adrian Gonzalez        13.3 2012 2017 30-35 2986       *3/HD
Matt Kemp              12.6 2010 2018 25-33 3201     *879/HD
Andre Ethier           12.5 2010 2017 28-35 3196    *98H/7D3
Hanley Ramirez          9.7 2012 2014 28-30 1120      *6/H5D
Yasmani Grandal         9.6 2015 2018 26-29 1883       *2/H3
Chris Taylor            8.8 2016 2019 25-28 1263     6/87H45
Cody Bellinger          8.3 2017 2019 21-23 1227    *3/87H9D
A.J. Ellis              8.1 2010 2016 29-35 1909        *2/H
Joc Pederson            7.5 2014 2019 22-27 1901      *87/H9
Juan Uribe              7.5 2011 2015 32-36 1391     *5/H463
Enrique Hernandez       6.0 2015 2019 23-27 1304 H87/46953D1
Mark Ellis              5.6 2012 2013 35-36  944       *4/H5

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2019.

Not on the list above. Casey Blake.

Imagine a Dodger team that didn’t trade Carlos Santana, that instead had him as a 1st Baseman in 2013 and never had to make the trade for Adrian Gonzalez and take on the salaries of Adrian/Crawford/Beckett and could have spent that 70 Million on something the team needed? Carlos was the equal of Adrian during the Adrian run and is still ticking while Adrian stopped being productive two years ago.

Dodgers hitters blast off in March

With at least ten plate appearances, eleven players have an OPS+ > 300 as we enter April and three of them are Los Angeles Dodgers. 2018 MVP Christian Yelich continues to destroy the NL,  but right behind him is Austin Barnes and Joc Pederson. Two guys the Dodgers tried to replace this winter with Realmuto and Harper.

Cody Bellinger is currently tied with Yelich for the NL home run and RBI lead with four and eight respectively.  In a normal week, Joc or Bellinger would be vying for NL Player of the Week, but Yelich had an even better week so I expect the reigning MVP to get the nod.

Player             OPS+ PA  Tm HR RBI BB   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS  Pos
Christian Yelich    445 18 MIL  4   8  6 .500 .667 1.583 2.250  /*9
Austin Barnes       418 10 LAD  2   3  2 .625 .700 1.375 2.075 /*2H
Joc Pederson        339 21 LAD  3   5  4 .467 .619 1.133 1.752 /*7H
Tim Beckham         327 27 SEA  3   6  4 .435 .519  .913 1.432  /*6
Asdrubal Cabrera    323 13 TEX  2   5  1 .455 .462 1.091 1.552  /*5
Kolten Wong         322 15 STL  2   4  1 .571 .600 1.071 1.671  /*4
Maikel Franco       317 12 PHI  2   7  3 .444 .583 1.111 1.694  /*5
Rhys Hoskins        316 12 PHI  1   5  5 .333 .667 1.000 1.667  /*3
Bryce Harper        303 13 PHI  2   2  4 .333 .538 1.111 1.650  /*9
Cody Bellinger      303 21 LAD  4   8  1 .500 .524 1.100 1.624 /*93
Jose Abreu          301 13 CHW  2   4  2 .364 .462  .909 1.371 /*3D

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2019.

Early season numbers are always fun, but you can’t deny the approach by Joc has simply been outstanding.