By Jon Weisman
While the Dodgers were taking an early lead Monday against the Brewers, I was researching a couple of facts about the Dodgers’ odd 2015 start: 13-2 at home, 3-6 on the road.
After surrendering that lead, the Dodgers are now 3-7 on the road, making them something like 3 percent more odd.
Anyway, the trivia still makes for good conversation starters:
- This is the first Dodger team since 1941 to amass 13 home wins in team’s first 24 overall games.
- The 2015 Dodgers have three road wins entering tonight. The 1939 Dodgers won their third road game on May 30, beginning their season 2-12-2 on road.
- Here are the biggest home-road disparities in Los Angeles Dodger history:
Considering that no Dodger team has ever played more than .600 ball at home while remaining below .400 on the road, expect at least some moderation in the Dodgers’ home-road divergence.
In other notes …
- Joc Pederson, the first batter Monday after Yasmani Grandal’s walkoff homer Sunday, also homered. That gave the Dodgers their first walkoff/leadoff back-to-back homer combo since Nomar Garciaparra ended the September 18, 2006 4+1 game with a homer and Rafael Furcal homered the next day. (Note from the Elias Sports Bureau via the Dodger PR department.)
- Pederson is 6 for 26 with six walks since his last single on April 25. He has a double and five homers.
- Dodger rookies Pederson and Alex Guerrero have combined for 12 homers in 25 games this season. Last year, the Dodgers got two homers from rookies in 162 games: one each from Miguel Rojas and Carlos Triunfel.
- Don Mattingly’s ejection Monday was the Dodgers’ first of 2015.
- Sixty years ago today, Tommy Lasorda made his first and only start for the Dodgers — and was injured in the first inning. Houston Mitchell of the Times has more.
- The Dodger bullpen’s 26-inning scoreless streak, which ended Monday, was the team’s longest in 17 years (via Dodger PR).
- Adrian Gonzalez on Monday became the first Dodger ever with zero at-bats, three walks and an HBP in a game.
- Yasmani Grandal is 7 for 9 with two doubles, a homer and a walk in his past three games, raising his OPS to .792.
- The first four batters for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday — Darnell Sweeney, Austin Barnes, Buck Britton and Chris Heisey — were all hit by pitches by New Orleans’ Pat Misch. That, to say the least, set a record. Corey Seager followed the HB4P with a two-run single, and Oklahoma City went on to a 5-2 victory.
By Jon Weisman
Someday, it will happen. Someday, age will catch up with talent, and like every pitcher before him, Clayton Kershaw will become ordinary.
That day has not yet arrived.
This is what Kershaw has done over his past four starts: 26 1/3 innings, 2.73 ERA, 12 singles, three doubles, two triples, four homers, two walks, 37 strikeouts.
That’s not an ordinary pitcher. That’s an All-Star.
Even including his singular worst start of 2015, when he allowed five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings April 11 at Arizona, Kershaw leads the Major Leagues in xFIP (1.88) and is 14th in FIP, according to Fangraphs.
David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot took a look at Kershaw’s season, focusing mainly on his home runs allowed, and other than some stumbles in location, discerned the following:
… Batters are having more success early in the count against Kershaw, hitting .407 and slugging .852 when putting the first pitch in play, compared to .291 and .464 a year ago. Of the 27 balls in play against Kershaw on a 0-0 count, 24 have been fastballs. That’s similar to last season, when 105 of the 114 first pitches in play against Kershaw came against his fastball, so that doesn’t necessarily suggest batters have been more aggressive against the fastball. They just haven’t been missing.
When Kershaw gets to two strikes, he’s still been dominant, although not quite as dominant:
The home run to Blackmon was the first he’d allowed to a lefty with two strikes since 2012.
Overall, Kershaw should be fine. He’s made some mistakes and got a little unlucky with some of the fly balls leaving the park. After Monday’s game in Milwaukee, he told reporters, “I don’t feel like answering questions right now. I don’t want to analyze it right now. Thanks.” He did apparently apologize for his terse response but it speaks to his frustration level.
Kershaw has raised expectations so high for himself that anything short of start-to-finish dominance is jarring, and anything that evokes the late-inning struggles from last year’s playoffs can make you queasy. But there is no crisis here.
It has been 50 weeks since Kershaw allowed three triples in a seven-run third inning at Arizona, and alarm bells rang from here to Phoenix, ignoring the possibility that sometimes a bad inning is just a bad inning. After that game, Kershaw had a 4.43 ERA. From that point on, his ERA was 1.43.
It’s not that the same thing is guaranteed to happen this year. It’s that it doesn’t really make sense to assume the worst, especially when he’s still nearly as dominant as any pitcher in the game.
Given that Kershaw has made three consecutive starts looking for his 100th win and the Dodgers have lost each game by one run, I’m most reminded of his arrival in the big leagues. It took the future three-time Cy Young Award winner no fewer than 10 tries to get his first victory in the big leagues. Nine games and two months into his MLB career, Kershaw was 0-3 with a 5.18 ERA. We know what happened next.
Keep counting out Clayton Kershaw, and one day you’ll be right. But you’ll be wrong many, many times before then.
By Jon Weisman
Not only has Adrian Gonzalez has been named National League Player of the Month, but Alex Guerrero was named NL Rookie of the Month.
Gonzalez had a .432 on-base percentage and NL-best eight homers and .790 slugging percentage in April, while Guerrero led NL rookies in home runs with five (remember, Joc Pederson’s fifth and sixth homers came in May), slugged 1.077 and OPSed 1.505.
For photos from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
The transaction-happy Dodgers actually went the entire series against Arizona without making a move. But in the aftermath of their 13-inning walkoff shutout victory Sunday over the Diamondbacks, there has been some shuffling.
Most relevant in the short term is that the Dodgers have called up lefty reliever Daniel Coulombe from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Coulombe has 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this season, allowing nine baserunners while striking out 16. In fact, the 25-year-old has retired 23 of the last 25 batters he’s faced, striking out 14 without allowing a hit.
Coulombe will take starting pitcher Scott Baker’s spot on the 25-man roster. Baker, who has one of the four seven-inning starts by a Dodger pitcher this season but was hit hard Saturday, was designated for assignment Sunday when the Dodgers acquired first baseman Andy Wilkins from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations.
Wilkins, 26 years old and born the day of Ramon Martinez’s only career Major League hold, had 30 homers and an .896 OPS in Triple-A last year. He went 6 for 43 with two walks in his MLB debut last fall.
But wait — that’s not all. Today, the Dodgers acquired right-handed reliever Matt West from Toronto, also in exchange for cash considerations. West, 26, has pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings for Double-A New Hampshire this season with 17 strikeouts against 14 baserunners. A converted third baseman, West allowed seven baserunners in four innings while making his Major League debut for the Rangers in 2014, striking out three.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been moved to the 60-day disabled list. He remains eligible to come off the DL before the end of May.
- Tonight’s opponents, the Brewers (7-18) and the Dodgers (16-8), are already 11 1/2 games apart in the standings.
- The Dodgers released new Brewers manager Craig Counsell (who is replacing another old friend, Ron Roenicke, at the Milwaukee helm) on March 15, 2000 at age 29, after he OPSed .626 in 1999. Counsell played 11 seasons and amassed 1,037 hits after that.
- Though the Dodger bullpen pitched seven innings Sunday (extending its scoreless streak to 26), no reliever threw more than 15 pitches, and only Juan Nicasio and Yimi Garcia have worked consecutive days. With the addition of Coulombe, that leaves seven reasonably rested relievers behind Clayton Kershaw today.
- Yasmani Grandal’s home run in the bottom of the 13th Sunday gave the Dodgers their longest walkoff shutout victory ending on a home run in team history, surpassing Carl Furillo’s 12th-inning homer for a 2-0 victory 60 years and one day earlier, during the 1955 championship season.
- Sunday’s 13th-inning tag by J.P. Howell still amazes me — and frankly, the dish to the dish by Grandal is a thing of beauty as well.
By Cary Osborne
In celebration of the 100th year of the governing body for prep sports in the state, the California Interscholastic Federation revealed its Spring All-Century Team.
Ten athletes who were Dodgers at some point in their career, including current Dodgers Jimmy Rollins and J.P. Howell, were part of a team that included baseball immortals, Olympic champions and other superstar athletes.
Howell is the most recent high school graduate to make the list. The 2001 Carmichael Jesuit (Sacramento) grad was a USA Today First-Team All-American and state player of the year as a senior. Howell surrendered one earned run in 71 innings with 137 strikeouts as a senior.
Rollins led his Encinal teams to back-to-back CIF titles and set 10 school records, including career batting average (.484) and stolen bases (99).
The other Dodgers on the list were:
(1937) Jackie Robinson — Pasadena John Muir
(1953) Frank Robinson — Oakland McClymonds
(1954) Don Drysdale — Van Nuys
(1964) Willie Crawford — Los Angeles Fremont
(1967) Bill Buckner — Napa
(1967) Johnnie “Dusty” Baker — Del Campo
(1976) Rickey Henderson — Oakland Technical
(1980) Darryl Strawberry — Los Angeles Crenshaw
Other great athletes on the list include: Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Walter Johnson, Tony Gwynn, Willie Stargell, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Janet Evans, Rafer Johnson, Mary Decker, Marion Jones, Allyson Felix and Bobby Riggs.
For more photos from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
As he ventures into his first start of May, Brett Anderson will be looking to pump some life back into his strikeout and groundball rates, and in turn pitch deeper into games.
Anderson hasn’t gotten more than 15 outs in a start since the first week of the season. The 27-year-old lefty is typically as one of the Majors’ top pitchers at keeping the ball down, but according to Baseball-Reference.com, his ratio of groundouts to air outs through four starts in 2015 is 1.09, the lowest of his career and less than half the ratio between 2011-14 (2.33).
In addition, Anderson has struck out 12.8 percent of the batters he has faced (5.0 per nine innings), also the lowest of his career.
Two starts ago, on April 21 against the Giants, Anderson was snakebit in San Francisco. He allowed only six balls hit in the air, but San Francisco still cajoled nine hits off of him, striking out once.
In a rematch April 27 at Dodger Stadium, Anderson shut out the Giants over the first four innings despite being out of whack, inducing three groundouts in the process compared with five balls caught by outfielders (including Joc Pederson’s first-inning catch near the wall in center that started a double play). Anderson then got two groundouts to start the fifth inning, but a walk to No. 8 hitter Brandon Crawford preceded two groundball singles, then an RBI double to deep right.
It’s encouraging merely to see Anderson take his regular turn on the mound week after week — the next step is for him to deliver a dominating performance. We’ll see if that comes today.
By Jon Weisman
Tonight, Rubby De La Rosa faces the Dodgers for the first time, outside of batting practice or bullpen sessions before he was traded away in 2012.
Once a bigtime prospect for the Dodgers, De La Rosa technically left on October 4, 2012 with Jerry Sands as players to be named later in the August 25 deal that brought Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto from Boston to Los Angeles. James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Allen Webster had already departed Los Angeles that August.
Now 26, De La Rosa has a 4.57 ERA with 105 strikeouts and a 1.45 WHIP in 138 innings since leaving the Dodgers. His ERA is at 4.68 in 25 innings this season, though he does have 25 strikeouts against five walks and was fairly brilliant in his last outing, holding Pittsburgh to one run on four hits and no walks over seven innings while striking out eight.
It cost a bit of money, but so far, the Dodgers have come out ahead in that trade with the Red Sox — no matter what happens in tonight’s game. Here are the Wins Above Replacement totals since the trade for the players, according to Baseball Reference:
Lost: 1.7 WAR
0.2 De La Rosa
-0.3 De Jesus
Gained: 17.9 WAR
These numbers differ a bit on Fangraphs, but the gist is still the same. Webster in particular has struggled, with a 6.25 ERA and 5.9 K/9 in 89 1/3 Major League innings. Now in the Arizona organization with De La Rosa, Webster has a 19.29 ERA with Triple-A Reno through two starts, having allowed 15 runs and 22 baserunners in seven innings before hitting the disabled list.
What’s remarkable is that even if the Dodgers had only received Punto, who had a .335 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage in 378 plate appearances from late 2012 through the end of 2013, they still would have arguably won the trade to date. I wouldn’t make that argument necessarily, but still …
By Cary Osborne
Dodger No. 1 prospect Corey Seager has been officially promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
In 20 games with Double-A Tulsa this year, the 21-year-old shortstop batted .375/.407/.675 in 80 at-bats with five home runs, seven doubles and 15 RBI. Seager hit a solo home run in the third inning on Thursday in his final game for the Drillers against the Angels’ Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers. He also started at third base (his fourth start at the position this year), but was lifted in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Seager was promoted to Double-A during the All-Star Break last July. In 58 games at that level, he slashed .355/.395/.583 with 23 doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 42 RBI.
By Jon Weisman
It’s the third edition of our new Dodger Insider feature — also appearing in the print magazine — in which you get to play manager each month and pick the move to make in a hypothetical situation.
The setup: It’s the top of the eighth inning, with the Dodgers leading the Cardinals, 3-2. Right-hander Yimi Garcia is on the mound in relief. He strikes out Jason Heyward but gives up a one-out double to Matt Holliday. Left-handed hitting Matt Adams is up, with righty Jhonny Peralta on deck. Lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez and righty Pedro Baez are warm in the bullpen.
The question: Do you …
A) have Garcia pitch to Adams
B) have Garcia intentionally walk Adams, then pitch to Peralta
C) have Garcia intentionally walk Adams, then bring in Baez to pitch to Peralta
D) bring in Rodriguez to face Adams
Last month: With Zack Greinke having thrown 110 pitches and allowing no hits but walking the first batter in the top of the ninth of his 2015 debut, readers gave a slight edge to leaving him in rather than putting in Kenley Jansen. A sample: