By Jon Weisman
He’s done it. Clayton Kershaw has become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 to strike out at least 300 batters in a season. Kershaw fanned Melvin Upton, Jr. in the top of the third inning to reach the milestone.
It took Kershaw 37 pitches to get the six strikeouts he needed today. He has the most strikeouts by a Dodger pitcher since Sandy Koufax had 317 in 1966. Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the Dodgers’ first 300-200 strikeout duo since Koufax and Don Drysdale in 1965.
With the first out of the fourth inning, Kershaw also won the 2015 MLB innings pitched title.
Kershaw wrapped up his day once he reached his 60-pitch limit in the fourth inning, finishing with seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of two-hit, no-walk ball. He has 301 for the season, 1,746 for his career, and needs 254 next year to become the fourth pitcher in MLB history to strike out 2,000 batters before turning 29, after Sam McDowell, Walter Johnson and Bert Blyleven.
As a pitching staff, the 2015 Dodgers have the fourth-highest strikeout total in National League history. The Chicago Cubs broke the NL record earlier this week.
By Jon Weisman
Jimmy Rollins will be the guest manager for today’s regular-season finale, and Kenley Jansen will be the guest pitching coach, Don Mattingly told reporters today. The opportunity arose when the Dodgers clinched home-field advantage for the National League Division series, which will now begin Friday at Dodger Stadium (game times to be announced).
Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw roughly 50-60 pitches in his final start. Kershaw needs six strikeouts to become the first pitcher since 2002 with 300, and needs 3 1/3 innings to lead the Majors in innings (which he probably cares more about).
Kershaw lost one milestone Saturday, when Max Scherzer surpassed him with most strikeouts (17) ever in a no-hit, no-walk MLB game.
The Dodgers have not set their NLDS rotation yet, Don Mattingly told reporters today, and will wait until after this week’s workouts to finalize their NLDS roster — including the number of pitchers vs. position players that they will include. Rosters aren’t due until the morning of the first game.
By Jon Weisman
It’s the feel-good story of the year, literally.
In their final regular-season game before the National League Division Series begins, the Dodgers are about the healthiest they’ve been all year.
When Yasiel Puig returned to active duty Saturday, that meant the Dodgers didn’t have a position player on the disabled list for the first time since April 25.
Los Angeles’ disabled list is down to four pitchers, and that includes Bronson Arroyo, who was for this season at least simply ballast in the July deadline trade that brought Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Jose Peraza from Atlanta.
Another disabled pitcher, Josh Ravin, was a big-league Dodger for nine games this year, leaving Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy as the only Dodgers on the DL who were expected to play a significant role.
It’s true that the medical charts for the position players aren’t entirely clean. Peraza, who was a playoff 25th man candidate before injuring a hamstring in early September, would have been on the DL in any other month. Puig is said to be under no restrictions, but his return Saturday hasn’t cleared up his availability for the NLDS. Scott Van Slyke’s inflamed right wrist makes him a question mark as well.
But other key players who have had recent injuries, such as Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kiké Hernandez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins and Justin Turner, are all about as good shape as could be expected after the February-to-October grind,
Carl Erskine isn’t planning an elaborate celebration for Sunday’s 60th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers winning their first and only championship. “I try not to schedule too many things on a Sunday,” he said. “We’ll go to church like we do every week and then eat a family dinner. In the afternoon, we’ll watch the NFL, mostly the Colts, and relax.”
It’s hard to imagine Erskine reclining in an easy chair, even at age 88 as one of seven surviving members of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers along with Don Newcombe, Tommy Lasorda, Ed Roebuck, Roger Craig, Bob Borkowski and Sandy Koufax. Erskine’s life of perpetual motion ran full circle decades ago, the former pitcher returning to his hometown of Anderson, Indiana after his Dodger days to become a college coach and banking executive.
By Cary Osborne
Zack Greinke wasn’t about to discuss history or campaign for a Cy Young Award after a performance at Dodger Stadium against San Diego on Saturday that was, well, Greinkesque.
With eight innings pitched, four hits (including a fifth-inning home run by Austin Hedges) and a walk allowed with eight strikeouts, Greinke ended his 2015 regular season with a 1.66 (1.657 for more detail) ERA, a 0.844 WHIP and exactly 200 strikeouts. With all that, he is now undeniably historic and has left Cy Young Award voters with a final strong impression.
He won the ERA crown with the lowest number since Greg Maddux’s 1.63 in 1995. His WHIP is fourth all-time (since 1920). His ERA was never above 2.00 after any start. He’s the Los Angeles Dodgers single-season ERA leader, beating Sandy Koufax’s 1.73 in 1966. Saturday marked the 21st time this season he surrendered one run or less in a game.
On top of that history, he was superb in a game that absolutely had something on the line in the Dodgers’ minds. Greinke’s effort, combined with Max Scherzer’s 17-strikeout no-hitter against New York on Saturday, helped the Dodgers grab home-field advantage in the National League Division Series and they will host Game 1 on Friday.
And yet with all of that laid out on Saturday, all that mattered to Greinke was that he pitched well enough for the Dodgers to win 2-1 on Saturday.
“I really haven’t thought about any of that stuff,” he said of history and Cy Young Award arguments. “I’m just trying to make good pitches and stay focused.”
It wasn’t all Greinke, though, on Saturday.
Justin Turner hit his 16th home run of the season with a first-inning shot to center field. From 2009-14, he hit 15 home runs total.
Yasiel Puig returned after missing 34 games with a right-hamstring strain. He went 1 for 3 in the game, singling in the third inning. He chased a foul ball late in the game and slid into the short wall in right field. He bounced up afterward and jogged without a limp back to his position.
Don Mattingly said before and after the game that Puig would not start in Sunday’s regular season finale. However, he could be seen in a double-switch situation.
Back on the mound, Greinke’s only mistake was the Hedges home run and his only trouble was the fifth inning when he allowed two singles. But he got out of the jam by striking out Jedd Gyorko and Brett Wallace in succession.
Credit Greinke for moving quickly, so quickly that the game last two hours and 10 minutes.
He threw 108 pitches, 77 of which were strikes.
You’ve heard this broken record this season:
“Typical Zack,” Mattingly said.
If Greinke showed anything this year, typical Zack was atypical.
By Cary Osborne
As late as the middle of this week, Dodger manager Don Mattingly was saying it was unlikely that Yasiel Puig would be playing at Dodger Stadium the final weekend of the regular season.
That posture began to alter before Thursday’s final game in San Francisco, and on Friday, Mattingly allowed (without many specifics) that Puig could be back in Los Angeles this weekend.
Now it’s Saturday, and the Dodger right fielder has come off the disabled list, finding himself in the starting lineup in right field and batting sixth against San Diego. Puig missed the last 34 games with a right hamstring strain.
“I think this is really a couple of days to see what he can do,” Mattingly said.
Puig has been limited to just 77 games this year due to two DL stints, both caused by a hamstring injury. He last played August 27, and actually has an active 10-game hitting streak with a .390 on-base percentage and .526 slugging percentage in his past 41 plate appearances.
Sunday, Puig is not scheduled to be in the lineup, but Mattingly said he could be used in a double-switch situation. He expects Puig to play the full game today after playing seven innings of Instructional League ball in Arizona on Friday.
Mattingly wouldn’t speculate on what Puig’s status is for the postseason roster. He said Puig’s status change from midweek isn’t because Scott Van Slyke is unavailable due to a right wrist injury. Van Slyke is wearing a removable brace that Mattingly said he will retain for the next couple of days. After the regular season ends Sunday, he’ll be re-evaluated.
Puig’s return coincides with Zack Greinke’s final start of the regular season and the right-hander’s opportunity to win the ERA title. He enters the game at 1.68 with Cubs’ ace Jake Arrieta’s season done at 1.77.
More than Greinke’s ERA, Mattingly is focused on getting a win tonight, with home-field advantage against the Mets in the National League Division Series on the line. New York lost the first part of a doubleheader 3-1 to Washington this afternoon and began Game 2 at 4:10 p.m.
The Dodgers’ magic number for home-field advantage is down to two, meaning they could clinch as soon as tonight with a victory over San Diego and another Mets loss to the Nationals.
Greinke, after missing a start on September 23 due to soreness in his calf, returned Monday against San Francisco and is expected to pitch a full game against the Padres.
As for the regular season finale, a game in which Mattingly traditionally hands over the reins as manager to a player for the day, he said if the Dodgers are still playing for home-field advantage, he will still be in charge. If the Dodgers clinch tonight, he has a decision to make.
“Then I’ll have a little fun with it,” he said.
Consider it Sabado Gigante!
Saturday’s 18th annual La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers event will be huge. There will be on-stage interviews, chances for autographs and photos and musical performances.
La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers is the culmination of the season-long series of family-friendly events celebrating Latino culture in Los Angeles and the legacy of Latino Dodgers past and present. It will go from 2-6 p.m. at the historic 76 station and is free for fans holding a ticket to Saturday’s 6:10 p.m. game against San Diego.
Tickets can be purchased by calling (866) DODGERS or by visiting dodgers.com/tickets.
Dodger players scheduled to participate in the Viva party include Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal, Alex Guerrero, Kiké Hernandez, Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta and Ronald Torreyes. La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers will also feature live music presented by Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, Sonsoles, Los 5 and Sinverguenza.
The celebration will also include participation by the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcast teams: Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrín, Jorge Jarrín, Manny Mota, Pepe Yñiguez and Fernando Valenzuela. Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday will also be on hand for autographs. Dodger alums Ron Cey and Al Ferrara will participate along with Dodger scout Mike Brito.
WBC and Ring Magazine middleweight champion Miguel Cotto will also make a special appearance. Cotto is the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world championships in four weight divisions. On Saturday, November 21, he defends his titles against Mexico’s two-time World Champion Canelo Alvarez at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Cotto will also throw tomorrow’s ceremonial first pitch and Kiké Hernandez will catch for Cotto. Also as part of Viva Los Dodgers, Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez will perform on the field pregame at 5:35 p.m. and will also perform the national anthem.
By Jon Weisman
Alex Wood has turned his new house into a home.
Wood pitched six shutout innings tonight against the Padres before getting touched for two runs in the seventh, giving him a 2.21 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 40 2/3 innings at Dodger Stadium this year.
In his first 2015 appearance at Chavez Ravine, the 24-year-old lefty allowed one run in seven innings for the Braves on May 27, which matched his totals in his first career start here on July 30, 2014. Since becoming a Dodger at the July 31 trade deadline, Wood’s home ERA is 2.41.
Wood is a candidate to start against the Mets in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, along with Brett Anderson, who has a better ERA on the road (4.29) this year than at home (3.07). Anderson does have nearly identical WHIPs on the road (1.37) vs. at home (1.30).
By Jon Weisman
Jake Arrieta pitched six more shutout innings tonight for the Cubs, lowering his ERA this season to 1.77. Zack Greinke is still in the driver’s seat to lock up the Major League ERA title when he starts Saturday for the Dodgers, but there is suspense.
If Greinke …
- … allows no more than two earned runs, he will win the ERA title no matter how many innings he pitches. You could add two earned runs to Greinke’s total right now, and his ERA would be 1.76.
- … allows a third earned run, he will win the ERA title if he pitches at least 4 1/3 innings.
- … allows a fourth earned run, you can hand the ERA title to Arrieta. Greinke would need to pitch at least 9 1/3 innings to finish with a lower ERA. Even a complete game by Greinke would leave him with a 1.770 ERA, compared to 1.769 for Arrieta.