A pretty funny back and forth bantering took place on twitter today between the NY MTA and LA Metro accounts. In my opinion LA Metro won the exchange hands down with hilarious wit and low blow videos. Hey, all is fair in love and twitter wars.
The Dodgers have been a team under a watchful eye for a couple of years now. They’re a team that over the last few years have changed owners, GMs, and players. Last season the bullpen had come under scrutiny and the starting pitching was let down by them all of the 2014 regular season. This caused the Dodgers to do a major overhaul on the bullpen this last offseason.
Turn to the 2015 season and it seems the team has flipped over. Now I know three weeks into the season that you can’t take stats too seriously but certain things do have to be a concern. It seems that roles have been reversed and things you wouldn’t expect of the team have come to fruition. This early in the season it has been the bullpen and hitting that have led the Dodgers into first place and not the starting pitching, which has served the team well in the past.
In fact if you look at the Dodgers’ starting pitching there are two surprising stats that stand out above all others. The first is that every Dodger’s starter, with the exception of Zack Greinke, has an ERA over 4.00. The second is that, combined, Dodgers starters have a MLB worst HR/FB ratio of 14.5%. The reason the HR/FB ratio is so surprising is that of all of the games the Dodgers have played so far have been in PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Chase Field, and of course Dodger Stadium. None of which are known as home run friendly ballparks to say the least.
The bullpen this season has turned a page and instead of letting the starting pitching down, they have actually picked them up. While they may have struggled in the three game series against the Giants, the Dodgers bullpen has been steady for the most part. In fact they lead MLB with a combined WAR of 1.6 and a combined K/9 of 11.44. Yimi Garcia has been amazing as a new comer to the team ranking sixth for K/9 with 15.19 K/9 rating.
On the other side of the field, the hitting has been spectacular, ranking second in the MLB with 6.0 WAR, First place ranking .363 wOBA, and 136 wRC+. Add a tenth-best 5.7 defensive rating and you have a team poised to run the NL into the ground. If the starting pitching that can match the rest of the team’s production, you could finally have a team poised to win the World Series.
The Cubs traded second baseman Darwin Barney and cash considerations to the Dodgers on Monday for a player to be named later. The Cubs had previously designated the 28-year-old Barney, who is known for his outstanding glove work and horrendous hitting, for assignment on July 22nd.
Barney won the Gold Glove in 2012 after tying a Major League single-season record with 141 consecutive errorless games, but batted .254 in the same year. This season he’s batting .230 with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 72 games. Barney has hit .244 with 88 doubles, 18 home runs and 146 RBIs in his career.
Since he’s not very handy with the bat I can’t see Barney getting to many starts. His role with the team will most likely be coming off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games, while getting the occasional start to give Dee Gordon a day off. Barney is not an inspirational acquisition, but a safe one. With Alex Guerrero far from ready to come up from the minors this year, it’s a smart move. The Dodgers get a really solid backup glove in the middle infield at relatively no cost, as “the player to be named later” will most likely be a low-level, non prospect, minor league player.
With the 22nd overall pick in the MLB draft the Dodgers picked Grant Holmes. Holmes is a right-handed pitcher from Conway High School in South Carolina. Instead of pretending I know anything about him, like you’ll see a lot of other bloggers do, I’ll give you the best first hand acount of someone who’s seen him live. Clint Longenecker wrote about seeing Holmes in April for Baseball America. In it he said,
“After running his fastball up to 97 in recent starts, Holmes touched 94 mph and 95 mph in the first inning, sitting 90-92 over extended innings, touching 93. Holmes pitched off his fastball, as 76 percent of his pitches were heaters. He worked from the third-base side of the rubber and the ball jumped out of his hand.
He has a heavy fastball with arm-side run and sink when on top. Monday he showed greater ability to pitch to his glove side after pitching more to his arm side on the showcase circuit. Holmes, who turned 18 the last week in March, had an impressive second inning, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches and eight straight strikes.
His 78-81 mph power breaking ball with considerable depth and abrupt tilt was a swing-and-missing offering on the day, and he commanded the pitch. Three-quarters of his 16 breaking balls went for strikes, garnering five swings and misses.
“He has the power to his curveball and he can shape it,” a National League scout said. “When it is on, look out. He doesn’t abuse or overuse, but it was on last night. It is a plus breaking ball. It is an out pitch.”
The Florida commit also showed feel for his 84-86 mph changeup that showed at least above-average potential, flashing plus. Holmes had a standout sequence and showed his feel for the offering to end the fifth inning as he faced the leadoff hitter, who had a hard, line-drive single to left field in his first plate appearance and a hard out to left in his second.“
A lot of other people seem to think that although he doesn’t have the projection of other pitchers in the Draft he does have “now’ type stuff with his pitches. Jason Parks from Baseball Prospectus tweeted that it was, “Huge value for Dodgers getting Grant Holmes at #22. I love this pick.” From Jason to others that I’ve heard and read, it seems like a solid pick by the Dodgers, who always seem to do very well in selecting good pitching in the first round more times than not.
On Thursday, the Dodgers wrapped up their three game series with the Giants with a much-needed win after dropping the first two games of the series. This was one of the most disappointing series so far this season, mainly because well, it’s the Giants. Dodger fans alike take losing a series to the Giants harder than losing to any other team. The series was weird in a way because it was definitely a tale of two sides of the Dodgers that was not to be expected. In fact if I would have told you what would happen before the series began, I don’t think to many people would have thought I was being serious.
Everyone knew that game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu would pitch well during his start. Now if someone would have said both Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm would only give up a run combined during their two starts, I would have laughed at them in humorous disbelief. To my amazement they did, though it wasn’t smooth waters by any means. Combined Ryu, Beckett, and Maholm stat line was 18 IP, 9 SO, 1 ER and a 0.50 ERA. The bullpen was a little shaky but decent. In their defense they pitched a lot this series going a combined for 12 2/3 IP, 5 SO, 4 ER, and a 2.84 ERA. With that kind of pitching you would expect to win the series right? Wrong.
What people would not have believed is that he Dodgers hitting would be just ridiculously bad. Unfortunately that’s exactly what it was. It definitely didn’t look like a championship lineup out there this week. As a team they hit for a .255 BA (25-98) but the real problem was they couldn’t hit when they had chances to score runs. There were a few time this week when the dodgers had the bases loaded and couldn’t push across a single run. In fact the Dodgers bats hit .192 (5-26) with runners in scoring position and left 24 runners on base. I don’t care how good you think you are, you will not win many series posting those kind of numbers. Not to mention Hanley Ramirez getting plunked on the hand by a pitch, adding injury to insult, and was out of the lineup for the last game.
Leaving runners on base and in scoring position is something the Dodgers struggled with last season too. According to www.teamrankings.com, the Dodgers had an average of 3.62 runners left in scoring position and of 7.17 runners left on base per game. This season hasn’t fared any better in the early going for the Dodgers. So far in 2014 the Dodgers have an average of 4.06 runners left in scoring position and of 7.00 runners left on base per game. This is a lineup built to score but at times they seem to struggle with stringing hits together. If the Dodgers have hopes of going to the World Series anytime soon, this is a trend that must stop.
The Rangers claimed Rule 5 righty Seth Rosin, and the White Sox claimed reliever Javy Guerra from the Dodgers on Wednesday. While Guerra seemed to be a lost cause for the Dodgers, Rosin on the other hand was coming out of a very good spring training and was one player I really wanted to see make it.
Rosin would have been a good addition to the bullpen and a great weapon to have in your back pocket. Being a former starter for the Phillies double A club last year means he could go out for more than an inning of work. While he may not have been headed to being a top of the rotation starter, he was defiantly on his way to being an above average reliever, with Rosin dropping his below average changeup, and sticking to a really good fastball-slider combination instead. Look at how Chris Withrow has gone from starting to relieving for example.
With the Dodgers pitching coaches with him, and the fact the Rosin is only 25 years old, I feel that the Dodgers could be missing out on a really good piece in the pen for a years to come. The Dodgers also paid the Mets $50 thousand dollars to pick Rosin in the Rule 5 Draft. I know money doesn’t matter to the Dodgers, but I just thought I’d throw it out there that they are literally throwing that money in the trash, but I guess that’s nothing new.
Two factors kept Rosin from making the Dodgers. One happens to be that the Dodgers have a really good bullpen already. It’s hard to find room for a spot when you have proven pitchers like Rodriguez, Howell, Withrow, Perez, Wilson and Jansen. So I can see, from the Dodgers front office point of view, why a pitcher like Rosin is expendable. To them it doesn’t really matter that they spent $50 thousand dollars on a player to pitch four spring training games just to give him away to the Rangers. After all the Dodgers have wasted a lot more money than that on below average players.
Speaking of wasting money on below average players, that brings me to reason number two, Brandon League. Instead of having a pitcher that could be useful like Rosin in the pen, the Dodgers are burning $7.5 million dollars a year, for two more agonizing years, for a pitcher that even they don’t really want to use. Now, who’s to say for certain that Rosin would still be a Dodger even if League wasn’t on the team, but League is using up a roster spot that could definitely go to someone more deserving of it. Instead of having a spot for a young player hungry for a chance in the Majors, the spot is wasting away on a player who’s walking the shores of Southern California looking for his career because it’s washed up.
predicted this would happen back in his February article for the LA Times. At the end he made a great point of another pitcher who had a good spring and didn’t make the team.
“Now, the Dodgers will tell you these things have a way of working themselves out, though certainly not always. Last year Kevin Gregg was terrific in the spring and Manager Don Mattingly wanted to keep him. Instead, he was let go. He went on to sign with the Cubs and became their closer, saving 33 games.”
While the Dodgers can’t change the past, and unfortunately had to let Rosin go, I wish him good luck with the Rangers. I’ll be looking for his name in the box scores.
The Dodgers are looking for a mini two game sweep of the D-Back tonight, as game two of the series down under resumes at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia. The Dodgers took the first game last night by a score of 3-1.
Hyun-Jin “And Juice” Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers tonight and try to follow-up a very succesful rookie season where he went 14-8 with 3.00 ERA. Ryu will try to shake those dreaded sophomore blues that tend to strike some second year players. He’ll have to be carefull of Paul “Fools”Goldschmidt tonight. In 14 at bats Goldschmidt is hitting .500 with a homer and 5 RBI’s off of Ryu last season. Ryu is 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA against the D-Backs. Ryu doesn’t have the most dominant stuff, but is more of a pitcher than a thrower so if his command is good tonight watch out.
Facing Ryu for the D-Back will be Trever “Can’t Get It Together” Cahill. Cahill had a very disappointing season last year when he went 8-10 with a 3.99 ERA. He could do it against the Dodgers tonight, as he is 6-0 with 2.01 ERA lifetime against the boys in blue. He’ll have to be carefull for Adrian Gonzalez who has hit .450 with a homer and 3 RBI off of him.
Scott Van “Dam” Slyke, who had a great game one, will be replaced by Mike Baxter in left field, while we’ll see Dee “I like Big Bunts And I Can Not Lie” Gordon playing second base tonight.
The Dodgers and D-backs released their lineups for tonight’s game in Sydney.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Mike Baxter, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P
A.J. Pollock, CF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Martin Prado, 3B
Miguel Montero, C
Mark Trumbo, LF
Gerardo Parra, RF
Didi Gregorius, SS
Trevor Cahill, P