Battle of Lefties

Tonight, we’ve got a battle of two left handed pitchers, Alex Wood versus Sean Newcomb.  Wood is arguably the Dodgers’ second best starting pitcher with a record of 12-1 and an ERA of 2.38.  Over his most recent thirteen starts, he has won eleven, lost one, and had one no-decision.  Newcomb, age 24, is in his rookie season with the Braves, having pitched nine starts with a record of 1-5, ERA of 4.50.

 

Meanwhile, carry on with the discussion of Jamie McCourt.  Here’s her house in Napa.

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Rivalry Weekend

John Roseboro and Willie Mays - Aftermath of Marichal Incident

Ah yes, it’s rivalry weekend.  This one is squeezed between the red-hot streak and the trading deadline.  The Dodgers have won 36 of their last 42 games.  The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, July 31st.  Before the deadline, the Giants are in town to re-stoke one of baseball’s oldest rivalries.

The starting pitchers for tonight’s game will be Alex Wood versus Matt Moore.  It should be a good one, so pull up a chair.

Two Aces

 

It’s kinda nice to have two stoppers on the Dodgers.  I’ve got to believe this has been a key to the Dodgers red-hot success this summer.  When you’ve got two stoppers, odds are that one of them will be pitching the day after a loss.  Tonight, the stopper du jour is Alex Wood.

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I hope I’m not jinxing him here, but Wood is 11-0 and lately he seems just plain unbeatable.  Over his last five starts, he has given up just three runs in 33 innings, with never more than one run per start.  Over his last eleven starts, beginning on May 8th, he has given up just six runs over 62 innings.  His walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) is .877 for 2017, just slightly better than that other ace, Clayton Kershaw, whose 2017 WHIP is .890 and career WHIP is the second lowest all-time at .998.

Of those Dodgers who are having a “career year” and helping the Dodger become red-hot, Alex Wood is at the top of that list.  The others who come to mind immediately are Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner.

So, let tonight begin another winning streak for the Dodgers, who have only done the following in their red-hot summer of 2017:

  • Lead the second-place Rockies and Diamondbacks by 10 1/2 games.
  • Lead the Nationals by eight games for home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
  • Lead the Astros by 2 1/2 games for World Series home advantage.
  • 31-5 over the last 36 games.
  • Lost to an NL opponent just twice in the past 36 games.
  • 57-19 since Cody Bellinger joined the club.
  • 41-7 when both Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger start the game.
  • 30-5 since Justin Turner came off the disabled list.
  • Swept twelve series this year.
  • Won eleven of the past twelve games.
  • Won 44 consecutive games for games where they were leading at any time during the game.

Who Woulda Thunk It

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Early this season, in Spring Training and into April, who woulda thunk that the Dodgers would go on a red-hot winning streak through June and July?

  1. Who woulda thunk that Chris Taylor would become our everyday lead off hitter?
  2. Who woulda thunk Scott Kazmir would be on the disabled list for the whole season (and the team is no worse off due to that fact)?
  3. Who woulda thunk the Dodgers could hit against left-handed pitchers?
  4. Who woulda thunk the Dodgers would have seven hitters with double-digit homers on July 19th?
  5. Who woulda thunk we would lose starting left fielder Andrew Toles to injury for the rest of the season, and that would be a catalyst to the red-hot summer?  Toles was hitting .274 with five homers in 96 at-bats when he went down.  The Dodgers are 47-15 after the May 9th game in which Toles sustained his injury.
  6. Who woulda thunk we would lose 20 year old phenom Julio Urias to a season-ending injury, and go on a streak without him?  Urias was put on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder on June 14th.  The Dodgers are 25-4 since then.
  7. Who woulda thunk that wily veterans Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez would both go down with back injuries, and the collective team reaction is a “meh” shrug, along with winning 27 of 31 games since Adrian Gonzalez’s most recent active game with the Dodgers?
  8. Who woulda thunk Alex Wood woulda gone 11-0 to start the season?
  9. Who woulda thunk Kenley Jansen woulda struck out 51 batters before issuing his first base-on-balls of the season?
  10. Who woulda thunk that Rich Hill would be blister free and able to pitch seven innings in a game?
  11. Who woulda thunk that Yasiel Puig, banished to the minor leagues last August, would be second on the team with 18 home runs?
  12. Who woulda thunk that Joc Pederson, who hit only one dinger through May 20th, would now have nine dingers and sport an OPS of .822?
  13. Who woulda thunk Cody “Bombay” Bellinger would be this good?
  14. Who woulda thunk that Dodger4life would have christened Bellinger with the nickname “Bombay” before he hit any of his 26 MLB bombs?
  15. Who woulda thunk the Dodgers would be leading the Giants by 29.5 games in mid-July?

Well, it’s all true.  Today the Dodgers start a ten game home stand by hosting the Atlanta Braves in a four game series.  Brandon McCarthy will start things off against Mike Foltynewicz (R).   Signs of the Dodgers success:

  • Dodgers are now three games above the Astros for World Series home advantage.
  • Lead the second-place Rockies by eleven games.
  • 31-4 over the last 35 games.  The last time that happened in the MLB was in 1977 with the Kansas City Royals.
  • Lost to an NL opponent just once in the past 35 games.
  • 57-18 since Cody Bellinger joined the club.
  • 41-6 when both Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger start the game.
  • 30-4 since Justin Turner came off the disabled list.
  • Swept twelve series this year, including the last four straight.
  • Won eleven straight games going into tonight’s game.
  • Won 44 consecutive games for games where they were leading at any time during the game.

 

Marlins Game 2

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Just when we thought the Dodgers winning streak would end with two runners left on base, Puig extended the streak with a big bang.  Will the offense surprise us again today?  Or will Alex Wood continue his own personal winning streak, and lead the Dodgers to victory by keeping the Marlins offense quiet?

Gametime:  4:10 pm PDT / 5:10 MDT / 6:10 CDT / 7:10 EDT

Lineup:

1. Chris Taylor (R) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 2B
6. Joc Pederson (L) CF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
9. Alex Wood (R) P

Trade Talks

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The trade deadline is coming up in 2 1/2 weeks.  What are the Dodgers greatest needs?  Who is available?  Who should be “untouchable”?

The Dodgers had a great first half of the regular season.  They are seen as a shoo-in to make the playoffs.  But what moves should they make to ensure the greatest possible success throughout the playoffs and in the World Series?

First, who are the young players they could use as trade pieces?  My opinion is that Walker Buehler is the only “untouchable”.  He’s got a 99 mph fastball and a wicked curve ball.  He won’t help the Dodgers this season, but will likely come up sometime in 2018.  Alex Verdugo is a potential trade chip.  He has hit well in AAA, so he could come to the Dodgers and replace Joc Pederson or Yasiel Puig.  But Verdugo has not shown the power nor speed that would make him a regular in the Dodgers lineup.  Willie Calhoun has the power and the hitting, but doesn’t have the glove to stick at second base.  He will be a left-fielder or designated hitter for someone.

Now let’s get into the Dodgers’ needs for the playoffs.  We’ll split this up by starting pitching, relief pitching, and position players.

The Dodgers are all set for the playoffs with their starting pitchers, starting with Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood.  What’s that?  You can’t have a two man rotation in the playoffs?  Oh, okay.  The next two that could be in a four man rotation are Rich Hill and Brandon McCarthy.  The problem with Rich Hill is that he had an awful start to 2017 and only recently has shown he can pitch well – just in his last two to three starts.  The problem with McCarthy is that he is subject to the yips, meaning that sometimes he just pitches about 10 feet wide of home plate.

Who could be added as a starting pitcher through a trade?  Looking at potential sellers at the trade deadline has led the rumor mill to Sonny Gray of the A’s and Justin Verlander of the Tigers.  I would trade for Sonny Gray, who could help us this year and many years beyond.

Looking at the current bullpen, it is scary to think that Luis Avilan is our best left-handed reliever.  We cannot go into the playoffs without an effective left-handed reliever.  We may or may not like to also add another effective right-handed reliever.  Left-handed relievers who are “available” include Sean Doolittle of the A’s, Justin Wilson of the Tigers, and Zach Britton of the Orioles.

As far as position players go, the weakest area looks to be the outfield.  Chris Taylor is doing a good job filling in at left field.  But Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig are not offensive powerhouses.  It would be great to add a high-impact bat in the outfield.  That person could be JD Martinez of the Tigers.  The other possibility would be to trade for a first baseman, and move Cody Bellinger back to the outfield.

What are your thoughts regarding potential trades between now and July 31st?

Starting Rotation?

Who is in the starting rotation?  Who is out?  Are the Dodgers still using the 10 day disabled list to manage six or seven pitchers into a five man rotation?

Obviously, Clayton Kershaw is the #1 Ace Stopper in the rotation.  But he doesn’t pitch every five days.  This season, he’s been alternating four days rest and then five days rest between each start.  When you have the best starting pitcher in baseball, he should start once every five days, not sometimes every five days and sometimes every six days.  Is the front office and Dave Roberts going easy on him because of the back issue that flared up last season?

Alex Wood is definitely the second best starting pitcher this year.  So stop all the nonsense talk about him going back into the bullpen.  He is the #2 starting pitcher.

Kenta Maeda is a serviceable #3 pitcher, but sometimes pitches like a #5.  Keep him in the starting rotation, and stop making up injuries for him to go on the 10 day disabled list.

Brandon McCarthy has pitched quite well this year.  Maybe he’s the #3 and Maeda is the #4.

We have no legitimate #5 starting pitcher.  Julio Urias could be that guy.  Unfortunately, he had a bad start last time out and was sent down to AAA.  Meanwhile, the front office wants to manage the number of his innings pitched.

Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu have not shown that they should be on the Dodgers team.  Rich Hill is not often enough healthy to be on a full-time starting rotation.  Hyun-Jin Ryu just doesn’t have it anymore.  He gives up too many hits and home runs.