Hill vs. Mountain

rockymtns

Tonight Rich Hill will pitch his fourth career game at Coors Field.  The first three didn’t go so well.  Batters hit .305 against him with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, eleven walks, and just nine strikeouts.  The big question is:  Will Rich Hill’s curve ball curve at one mile above sea level?  The problem with Coors Field is not just reduced air resistance against balls flying out of the park, it’s also reduced air resistance against pitches being thrown.  This causes breaking balls to not break.

Kids and Veterans

adrian

The Dodgers are using an interesting mix of youth and veterans to win in 2016.  Corey Seager is the most obvious example of the successful youth brigade.  Yesterday, Vin Scully said that Seager is playing like a ten year veteran.  For the offense, add successful sophomore slugger Joc Pederson, 27 year old Yasmani Grandal, and the latest bench players 24 year old Andrew Toles and 27 year old rookie Rob Segedin.  That’s the youth brigade that has injected energy into the Dodgers offense.

Veteran position players Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Howie Kendrick had a slow start in 2016, but have kicked into gear and are providing the punch necessary to win.  Chase Utley, the grizzled 37 year old, was successful early, tailed off in the middle, but now is back and contributing more than ever at the lead off spot.

Julio Urias leads the youth in starting pitching and is joined by Ross Stripling and yesterday’s hero Brock Stewart.  Kenta Maeda is a blend of youth and veteran-ness, bringing the experience of the Japanese League into his rookie year with the MLB.  Veteran pitchers have had a tough time staying healthy, but even still are contributing.  Rich Hill may be a season saver.  We are still looking forward to Clayton Kershaw’s return.

The bullpen isn’t so much youth and veterans, but more like older inexperienced pitchers and veteran pitchers.  Right now the bullpen is being led by Kenley Jansen (obviously), veteran Joe Blanton, Adam Liberatore, and Grant Dayton.  Pedro Baez would be added to that list if he could just figure out how to keep the ball in the park and be more consistent.

Today, the Dodgers travel to Coors Field, where they begin a three game series, with starting pitcher Kenta Maeda facing Jon Gray.

Cubs Finale

letsplaytwo

It’s the last game of the season against the Chicago Cubs.  Let’s make it a good contest and let’s make it a Dodgers win.  We may meet again in the post season this year.

Today’s game features Jon Lester versus Brock Stewart.

One Game Lead

cubsdodgers

Well, that game sucked.  The boys need to bring their hitting sticks today, and that includes Sluggo Reddick.  Sluggo has just one hit over the past week, and I for one am damn tired of it.  Somebody needs to sit that guy down and tell him to get with the program.  If not, well, there’s a right fielder in Oklahoma City who knows how to hit a baseball.  There’s a left-handed right fielder who will be coming off the disabled list who knows how to  hit a baseball.

Chicago Cubs

banks

The 2016 version of the Chicago Cubs are in town this weekend.  This is not your father’s Chicago Cubs, the Cubbies who could not win pennants not to speak of championships, despite having great players like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Ferguson Jenkins.  This could be the version that breaks the curse, the curse of the goat that has kept the Cubs from winning the pennant since 1945 and kept them from winning the World Series since 1908.

This weekend’s series could be a preliminary look at what the 2016 National League Championship Series (NLCS) will be – a matchup of the Cubs and the Dodgers.  Tonight’s game features starting pitchers Bud Norris and Mike Montgomery, a 26 year old lefty who was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on July 20th.  Given that Montgomery is a lefty, we will also likely see Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz playing for the first time in a Dodgers uniform.  Hopefully, he will be the bat that strengthens the Dodgers ability to hit against lefty pitchers.  Obviously, that was an issue again last night against Matt Moore.

Rich Hill for the Win

rich_hill

We finally have the answer to the question:  was the trade with the A’s worthwhile?  We could not answer this question until Rich Hill pitched for the Dodgers.  He finally did last night after a three week wait.  His performance last night was one of the best non-Kershaw starts in quite some time.  Hill has a sweeping 9:00 to 3:00 curve ball that can freeze a left-hander in place,  while against righties it keeps them guessing whether it will be a ball or a strike.

For now, I would re-state the rotation as follows:

#1 place-holder waiting for Clayton Kershaw
#2A  Rich Hill
#2B  Julio Urias
#4 Kenta Maeda
#5 Ross Stripling
#6 Bud Norris

Notice how easily Bud falls out of the rotation once Kershaw returns.

Butter & Egg Man is Back

ButterEggMan

The Butter & Egg Man, Adrian Gonzalez, is back and has returned with a vengeance.  During his first three full seasons with the Dodgers (2013-2015), Gonzalez could be counted on to deliver big hits and RBI’s.  He delivered RBI totals of 100, 116, and 90; the 2014 RBI total of 116 lead the National League.  His OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) was consistent at .803, .817, and .830.  He hit 22, 27, and 28 home runs.  His hitting with RISP (runners in scoring position) was consistently above average at .323, .333, and .296.

Then something happened in the first half of 2016.  Maybe it was his bad back, maybe it was bad luck, maybe the chickens couldn’t lay eggs and the butter melted.  Whatever it was, his power seemed to be missing as hit only seven home runs through the first 81 games of the season.  Moreover, in June he stunk:  one home run, eight RBI’s, a quadruple slash line of ..223/.295/.395/.614 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS).

His back must be better or he forgot about any ailment he ever had.  His July numbers improved with an OPS of .864 along with 16 RBI’s.  Then August happened:  slash line of .385/.417/.705/1.122 with 6 HR’s and 22 RBI’s.  Oh, yeah, we’ve still got a week of August left.

The butter and egg man had a special delivery for us over the most recent two games.  On Monday against the Reds, he fired off three rocket homers and eight RBI’s.  Last night against the hated Giants, with the score tied 3-3 and bases loaded, he hit a no-doubter single into center field that scored two runs.  His other RBI happened in the third inning when, with the score tied 2-2, Adrian hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Corey Seager to score.

The Butter & Egg Man is back.

But the big worry for today is what kind of pitcher will Rich Hill be coming off the disabled list?  Hill goes up against Johnny Cueto in tonight’s contest.