Dan Hudson took the hard road

In a quiet move on April 2nd, the Dodgers signed free agent pitcher Daniel Hudson after  Hudson had been released by Tampa on March 28th.  You might have wondered why the Dodgers would take on a pitcher that a pitching-poor team like Tampa could not find a spot for on their major league roster.

You could have wondered the same thing when the Dodgers signed JT Chargois after the Twins inexplicably took him off their 40 man roster and allowed him to be made available to all of baseball.  We now know the answer to that. The Twins front office was not smart about Chargois and the Dodger front office was. His stuff plays, he may not be great but he certainly is a major league pitcher.

The same can be said of Dan Hudson. He is a long cry from his days before multiple TJ surgeries but he is still a major league pitcher.  The Dodgers ultimately decided they liked what they had in Hudson over Wilmer Font.  Hudson now has to prove he can be more valuable to the team, than Kimi Garcia who is rounding into shape in Oklahoma.

He took a baby step in that direction last night with a flawless inning. Hudson has to manage the walks and last night pitched a clean inning.

Hudson may not last long in the Dodger bullpen, the odds are against it, but considering his road, I’m rooting for him to be a difference maker.

I’ve always been a fan of Dan Hudson. You can never tell why I take a liking to certain players but Dan Hudson was one of them and it is always pleasing when those players end up on the Dodgers. I think Jimmy Wynn was the first of these players, Chase Utley continued the trend, and Dan Hudson is the latest.

I may have to come up with a column on all the players I’ve liked before they were Dodgers.

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Dodger alarm clock fails to go off

On Dodger Alarm Clock giveaway day, the Dodger offense played little heed to the numerous alarms going off throughout the stadium and instead stayed in their “somnambulant” sleep.

The Dodgers are treating the Marlins pitchers as though they are facing Randy Glavine and Frank Viola, two crafty lefthanders who bedeviled hitters for most of their careers.  I’m pretty sure that Garcia and Peters are not that good and that the offense is simply sputtering.

Kiké couldn’t save the offense today and the bullpen gave away the meager runs that they were able to produce.  Kenta did his job for six innings giving up just the solo home run to Realmuto. Daniel Hudson making his Dodger debut pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts. Tony Cingrani, however, did something he hadn’t done all year and gave up a run. You can blame the balk but the run scored. Pedro Baez than gave away the game.  It happens, when you only score two runs a game,  you are working with a thin margin for victory.

At some point, Corey Seager has to start hitting the ball with some authority as he has been a big part of the successful Dodger offense over the past two years. Chris Taylor needs to get on base at a better clip, and Puig needs to start being productive, but the real problem has been 3rd base. It is not surprising given the Dodgers best hitter was our 3rd baseman yet it was expected that Logan Forsythe would produce some offense, and it was realistic to expect the other options to at least have some production but the combination of Forsythe, Muncy, and Farmer have been the worst producers at 3rd base in all of baseball. When a position on your team can only put up a .150 / .225 / .263 triple stat line after twenty-two games you have a huge problem.

Split          PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB GDP
as C           99 .310 .414 .512 .926  43   3
as 1B         100 .253 .310 .418 .728  38   2
as 2B          92 .221 .337 .325 .662  25   1
as 3B          89 .150 .225 .263 .487  21   3
as SS         104 .278 .356 .444 .800  40   2
as LF          93 .244 .323 .402 .725  33   1
as CF         105 .245 .286 .469 .755  46   2
as RF          98 .233 .286 .289 .575  26   2
as P           47 .095 .116 .095 .212   4   0
as PH          50 .326 .420 .442 .862  19   0
as Infield    484 .244 .331 .396 .726 167  11
as Outfield   296 .241 .297 .389 .686 105   5

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/25/2018.

Kiké does it all

The night was supposed to belong to the debut of Walker Buehler but it took Kiké to bring home a Dodger victory.  Walker did his part, getting fifteen outs, looking filthy at times, looking ragged at times (walking the pitcher) but I’m not sure his final line would have looked so inviting if hadn’t had Kiké playing shortstop behind him.

The Kiké game:

Goes to his left makes an outstanding play to take a hit away.

Goes further to his left, makes an outstanding play to take a hit away.

Comes up with the game tied and the pitcher throwing  a no-hitter and hits a bomb into the left-field pavilion giving the Dodgers a one-run lead

With the game tied and a runner at 2nd, lays down such a great bunt he beats it out giving the Dodgers a runner at 3rd with no outs. Very important he beat the bunt out because if he does not the runner is at 3rd with one out. Corey Seager struck out and thus the fly ball by Bellinger that gave the Dodgers the winning run would not have scored if he had not beaten the bunt out.

Corey Seager made his own web-gem after Kiké had moved to left field. It was quite a defensive game for the Dodgers shortstops.

The Dodgers have now won seven of eight as the schedule allowed them to play the Padres and Marlins with the Nationals sandwiched between. They need to beat these type of teams, and that is what they are doing.

The best part of the game today was Kiké because he needs to create a future for himself, while Walker already seems to have his future well in hand.  It easy to imagine Walker Buehler showing up in Sept as a dominant setup man and carrying that into October. I didn’t think he was ready last year for that role, this year I think he is. That is assuming of course that the rotation stays healthy enough that he’s not needed there except for the spot starts.

 

Ramon Martinez No Hitter sits on top of this leaderboard.

The best game against the Marlins at Dodger Stadium by game score belongs to Ramon Martinez who hurled a no-hitter against the Florida Marlins back on July 14th, 1995. I, however, would pick the Hideo Nomo seventeen strikeout game as my favorite. Curious that of the six game scores that were 80 or more, three of them occurred in 1995/1996.

Not surprising the only active pitcher on this list is Clayton Kershaw.  Nomo is the only pitcher on the list twice.

Player                  Date Opp  Rslt  IP H ER BB SO GSc
Ramon Martinez    1995-07-14 FLA W 7-0 9.0 0  0  1  8  94
Clayton Kershaw   2011-05-29 FLA W 8-0 9.0 2  0  1 10  92
Hideo Nomo        1996-04-13 FLA W 3-1 9.0 3  1  3 17  91
Hideo Nomo        1995-07-15 FLA W 3-1 9.0 3  1  0 10  87
Kevin Brown       2001-05-07 FLA W 1-0 8.0 2  0  2 10  86
Pedro Astacio     1993-09-12 FLA W 1-0 9.0 5  0  2  7  82

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/23/2018.

Ryu and Padres lead Dodgers back to respectability

The Dodgers started the week 5 – 9 and in last place in the NL West. They ended it 10 – 10 winning five of six games, and Hyun-Jin Ryu was a big reason why. Ryu got the Dodger week started on the right foot by winning Tuesday night. That was a win that even Wilmer Font could have produced since the Dodger offense exploded for ten runs. The big win, however, came this Saturday when Ryu outdueled Steve Strasburg pitching the Dodgers to a 4 – 0 victory.  Coming right after Max Scherzer had shut down the Dodger offense and beat Clayton Kershaw the outstanding game by Ryu couldn’t have come at a more critical time. Ryu has made three straight scintillating starts and right now is pitching better than anyone else in the rotation.  For a guy who was supposed to be the weak link in the rotation, Ryu has instead shown why the Dodger rotation is still the best in baseball.

Date    Opp  Rslt   IP  H ER BB SO GSc IR
Apr10   OAK  W4-0  6.0  1  0  1  8     77
Apr16   SDP W10-3  6.0  3  2  0  9     67
Apr21   WSN  W4-0  7.0  2  0  3  8     78
              3-1 22.2 11  5  9 27     65

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2018.

Enough can’t be said about how the Padres helped the Dodgers out. The Padres have some young talent, their minor league system is bubbling with outstanding prospects but none of that talent is currently in the major league rotation and the Dodger offense was able to take advantage scoring thirty runs in just three games against the beleaguered Padre pitching staff.  All this spring I had been hearing about the ultra prospects Fernando Tatis Junior and Luis Urias, but in this series, they showed off two talents in Christian Villanueva and Franchy Cordero who surprised me. It is easy to write off Villaneuva as a fluke but he was very impressive to me and just might be their 3rd baseman of the future right now.  Franchy not only has the best first name in baseball but he also might be the real deal for them,  giving them someone to help setup the table for Hosmer along with Margot.  The rotation, however, is punchable, and the Dodgers knocked them out each game.

The offensive leader for the week using fangraphs wOBA and wRC+ metrics was surprise.

…………………………………………….Kiké Hernandez…………………………………………..

Name PA wOBA wRC+ HR OBP SLG R RBI AVG
Enrique Hernandez 13 0.571 275 1 0.538 0.818 3 2 0.455
Matt Kemp 14 0.489 220 2 0.357 0.846 3 6 0.385
Yasmani Grandal 29 0.461 201 1 0.448 0.625 5 11 0.333
Corey Seager 30 0.407 164 0 0.433 0.5 5 4 0.333
Joc Pederson 17 0.403 162 1 0.412 0.5 5 2 0.286
Cody Bellinger 28 0.375 142 1 0.357 0.542 7 4 0.25
Chris Taylor 30 0.327 110 0 0.333 0.407 5 0 0.259
Kyle Farmer 10 0.318 104 0 0.4 0.375 0 2 0.25
Chase Utley 16 0.299 91 0 0.375 0.308 2 2 0.231
Austin Barnes 6 0.27 72 0 0.333 0.2 2 0 0.2
Max Muncy 16 0.245 55 1 0.25 0.357 2 2 0.143
Yasiel Puig 23 0.216 35 0 0.261 0.19 1 2 0.19

Yeah, I thought it was going to be Matt Kemp or Yazmani Grandal. Complete shocker. Of course Grandal had twice as many plate appearances so he certainly had more of an impact on the week.  Everyone but Chase Utley, Puig, and Barnes enjoyed an above average week.

Somehow Joc Pederson had more at-bats than Matt Kemp. Joc hit a home run on his birthday and had his best week of the young season. The two-headed leftfielders put up some great numbers for the week.  I can’t say I’m a big fan of how Dave Roberts is currently using Matt and Joc but I also have to admit it is kind of working. For a week anyway.  Joc hitting a home run off of Strasburg was way more impressive than Matt Kemp hitting two home runs against the Padre pitchers. Yeah, it was.

Max Muncy won the bat flip of the week with his first home run as a Dodger. He looked like someone who had been doing this for a while not someone who had just hit his first Dodger league home run and only his sixth major league home run at the age of 27. Muncy also made the surprise defensive play of the week when he backhanded a ball that carried him into foul territory and fired a bullet to nab the runner. I was not expecting him to be that nimble but what I really didn’t expect was the arm.  I doubt Max will be around long but he’s been fun to watch even though he hasn’t done much with the bat since that home run.

If it seems like the bullpen outside of Jansen and Alexander had a fantastic week,  it is because they did. The Dodgers used nine pitchers out of the bullpen this week and six of the nine got thirty-seven outs without giving up any runs. Cingrani and Liberatore led the left-hand crew by recording 16 outs, eight by strikeout, just one walk, and just zero hits. Scott Alexander might be the one heading to AAA instead of Liberatore who looks like the guy from 2016.

Jansen was at his worst last Tuesday blowing another save, but looks to have turned things around this weekend. He’s still not the Jansen we know and love but at least he’s getting outs and stopped walking folk.

It was a good week, and now the Dodgers get the Miami Marlins whose rotation could easily be replaced by the Dodgers AAA rotation.

And I mean that seriously.

 

Connor can do no wrong

The week was filled with fantastic performances by Dodger prospects including Connor Wong but the weekly Farm Factory Award is being rewarded to Dennis Santana for striking out eight consecutive hitters in route to striking out ten of the fifteen hitters he faced.

Dennis is 3rd in the Texas League in strikeouts with 23, and is also 3rd in WHIP at .79.

David Hood did a lengthy scouting report on the game over at truebluela. 

It took a pitching performance like the one Santana provided to keep Connor Wong from winning the weekly Farm Factory Award. Connor went six for twelve with three home runs. He hit two home runs on this Sunday, and two home runs last Sunday.  He’s hit five home runs in his last sixteen at-bats.

As of right now on April 22nd, 2018, Connor Wong leads the California League in RBI, home runs, total bases, Slugg%, and OPS. I put the little chart down below so you can see just how far in front he is OPS. A .300 point OPS lead is crazy even if we are only 50 at-bats into the season.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the strikeouts. Connor has struck out 20 times in only 48 at-bats. So………Connor has seven singles, four doubles, and eight home runs and has struck out 20 times. Which means that 19 times that Connor has made contact he’s turned it into a hit. Probably not sustainable.

NAME AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG AVG OPS
Connor Wong 48 16 19 4 0 8 17 5 20 0.463 0.979 0.396 1.442
Bryson Brigman 53 10 22 4 3 1 7 7 11 0.492 0.66 0.415 1.152
Buddy Reed 63 13 26 6 0 4 13 2 16 0.431 0.698 0.413 1.129

Other outstanding perfermances this week.

Tulsa Driller Yusniel Diaz showed up this week and went seven for thirteen plus two walks in his first games played in 2018.  The last time we saw Yusniel he was tearing up AA in August of 2017. He picked right up where he left off.  The Dodger top outfielders in AAA are both left-handed in Verdugo and Toles. In AA they are both right-handed in Diaz and Peters.

Tulsa Driller Drew Jackson hit in every game last week and now has an eleven game hitting streak.

Oklahoma keystone combo Tim Locastro and Donovan Solano are both hitting .380. Tim Locastro also hit in every game last week but he did it a little more spectacularly with nine hits in twenty-four at-bats along plus four walks. The difference between the two is that Solano is 30 years old and already has over 1,000 at-bats in the major leagues.

Rancho 3rd baseman Rylan Bannan hit three home runs in one game and added another on Sunday to give him four home runs for the week.

Rancho pitcher Dean Kremer struck out eight of his fifteen outs.  In his last three starts Kremer has struck out twenty-two, with only two walks, in fourteen innings

Pitching in relief for the Great Lake Loons, Zach Pop struck out six of the eight hitters he faced.

 

HOF Don Sutton is on top of this LAD leaderboard

The best game ever pitched at Dodger Stadium against the Expo/National baseball franchise using game score as the criteria was performed by HOF Don Sutton back in 1975.  Don had to throw 11 innings to get that game score of 89.

Clayton Kershaw and Derek Lowe are the only two LAD who have produced a game score >= 80 against the Washington Nationals.

There are no unlikely names on this list as every one of these pitchers were all solid pitchers for the Dodgers. Sutton, Messersmith, Fernando, Leary, Reuss, Kershaw, Lowe, Rau, Hooten, and Astacio.

Remember the franchise didn’t come into existence until 1969 so Koufax, Drysdale and company never got a shot to pitch against them.

Player                         Date Opp   Rslt   IP H ER BB SO GSc
Don Sutton               1975-08-24 MON  L 3-5 11.0 4  1  3  9  89
Andy Messersmith         1975-06-09 MON  W 4-0  9.0 4  0  3 12  88
Fernando Valenzuela      1986-05-20 MON  W 4-0  9.0 2  0  1  6  88
Tim Leary                1988-08-21 MON  W 4-0  9.0 6  0  0 12  87
Jerry Reuss              1982-07-20 MON W 10-1  9.0 4  0  0  8  85
Doug Rau                 1979-05-11 MON  W 7-0  9.0 1  0  4  4  85
Clayton Kershaw          2013-05-14 WSN  W 2-0  8.2 5  0  1 11  84
Clayton Kershaw          2015-08-12 WSN  W 3-0  8.0 3  0  0  8  84
Orel Hershiser           1988-08-19 MON  W 2-0  9.0 5  0  1  8  84
Orel Hershiser           1985-09-03 MON  W 4-0  9.0 4  0  1  6  84
Tim Leary                1988-05-19 MON  W 2-0  9.0 7  0  0 10  83
Derek Lowe               2008-07-26 WSN  W 6-0  8.0 1  0  1  4  83
Andy Messersmith         1974-04-26 MON  W 7-1  9.0 3  1  3  7  81
Jerry Reuss           1980-08-31(1) MON  W 2-0  9.0 4  0  1  3  81
Burt Hooton              1978-08-28 MON  W 4-0  9.0 4  0  1  3  81
Pedro Astacio            1994-07-05 MON  W 2-1  8.0 2  1  2  8  80
Don Sutton               1978-06-18 MON  W 5-0  9.0 6  0  1  6  80

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/21/2018.

Is Alex Verdugo breaking down the door?

It is no secret that Joc Pederson is struggling with the Dodgers. The part-time outfielder is getting plenty of playing time subbing in for Matt Kemp not long after the national anthem is finished playing but he isn’t doing much to combat the argument that he might be better off playing every day in AAA to work on his swing.

Meanwhile, top position prospect Alex Verdugo is doing everything he can to make the Dodgers take notice of him. Just like Joc, Alex is a left hand hitting outfielder who can play centerfield and the corners.  You don’t want to bring up Alex Verdugo to simply sit on the bench but given that the backup outfielder on the Dodgers will play every game as a defensive sub for Matt Kemp as well as starting once in a while for Kemp/Taylor/Puig he would get plenty of burn.  The question is, should he?

I don’t know. What I do know is that Joc is struggling and Verdugo is on friggin fire. For the season Alex is doing this:

AVG OBP SLG OPS AB 2B HR
0.34 0.353 0.58 0.933 50 3 3

but in his last five games, he is nine for eighteen with three home runs.  If Alex isn’t knocking down the door he is at least putting some serious cracks in it. Joc still has time to show he’s the best option to be the Kemp caddy but how much time do the Dodgers have?

Meanwhile, Henry Ramos is lighting up AAA.  Ramos has an OPS of 1.082 and has driven in at least three runs in four of his last eight starts. If he hadn’t gone 0 – 5 last night I might have devoted a whole column to him instead of a paragraph.

Brock or Walker?

With Max Muncy joining the team on Tuesday night, and Adam Liberatore on Wednesday Night, which other Dodger minor leaguers are at the cusp of getting a call?

Rich Hill has hit the 10 Day disabled list so the Dodgers have a need for a starting pitcher for at least one game sometime next week.  At that time I guess Adam Liberatore will be sent back to AAA but who will come back up in his place?

Everyone wants to see the minor league crown jewel Walker Buehler but it probably makes more sense for Brock Stewart to get the call. Brock pitched on 4/18/18 (last night) and would be ready to take the call on Monday or Tuesday against the Marlins depending if they want to give Kenta an extra day of rest. Brock has made three starts so far for Oklahoma and acquitted himself very well.

DATE ERA IP H ER BB SO
4/7/2018 0 5.2 2 0 2 6
4/13/2018 2.38 5.2 5 3 1 8
4/18/2018 2.65 5.2 3 2 1 3
TOTALS 2.65 17 10 5 4 17

Walker Buehler has been a tad better but do they want to play yo-yo with this arm? Brock has gotten at least seventeen outs in each start while Walker has gotten at least fifteen outs only once.

DATE ERA IP H ER BB SO
4/5/2018 2.25 4 3 1 1 5
4/11/2018 2 5 4 1 1 6
4/16/2018 2.08 4 3 1 2 5
TOTALS 2.08 13 10 3 4 16

Manny Banuelos has also pitched well so far but I don’t think he’s an option yet even though he is the only one of the three to get at least eighteen outs in a start so far.

DATE ERA IP H ER BB SO
4/5/2018 2.25 4 3 1 1 3
4/12/2018 1.8 6 2 1 1 4
4/17/2018 1.69 6 6 1 1 7
TOTALS 1.69 16 11 3 3 14

Compare those three options to the Diamondbacks who have to give their open rotation spot to Matt Koch who probably isn’t a full season answer now that Walker is gone for the season.

 

Max Muncy continues a Dodger tradition of sterling Dodger 24 hour debuts

Last night Max Muncy made his first start for the Dodgers and did about as well as you could do blasting a home run in his second at-bat and making a highlight reel play at 3rd base when he crossed over foul territory and fired a rocket to nail the runner at 1st base. The home run was not a surprise as Max Muncy is a hulking looking baseball player but the play at 3rd did surprise because Max Muncy is a hulking looking baseball player.
Max Muncy didn’t just hit his first home run as a Dodger, he pimped the hell out of it reminiscence of the bat flip home by Hong-Chih Kuo.

Just in case you never saw or forgot about the Kuo bat flip here you go. Hard to believe it was eleven years ago.

Even though Max Muncy is a non-pedigreed player making his Dodger debut it should not have surprised you that he was successful.

Heck, just in the past two years we have seen:

Kyle Farmer show up and deliver a game-winning hit in his Dodger debut

Chris Taylor showed up after a minor trade with the Mariners and slammed a triple