By Jon Weisman
Originally scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Friday, Zack Greinke left the team early this morning to be with his wife for the imminent birth of their first child, for which we send our very best wishes.
At this particular moment in time, it’s unclear who will be the starting pitcher for the Dodgers in each of their next three games in New York after tonight.
Greinke could conceivably (pun not intended but welcomed) return to the Dodgers before their series against the Mets is over.
Brett Anderson worked out today without his walking boot, throwing and doing agility drills, and is almost certain to avoid the disabled list, but whether he pitches Sunday remains undecided — especially if that’s the day Greinke is able to rejoin the team.
(No one asked me, but with Sunday’s game being the end of a cross-country road trip, the sensible thing might just be to let Greinke rest at home with his newborn and take the mound for the next homestand opener Tuesday against Oakland. Of course, these aren’t necessarily sensible times, and I can understand wanting a guy with 43 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings to get out there as soon as possible.)
Anderson said he will throw a bullpen session Friday that will help determine whether he is able to take his turn Sunday on four days’ rest.
Whatever happens with those two, the Dodgers still need a starter at least for Friday. Ian Thomas, called up to be the long man out of the bullpen, might be one candidate. The Dodgers will also add a pitcher Friday, when Greinke is officially on paternity leave (maximum of three days).
Carlos Frias is scheduled for a rehab start for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday, and is not a candidate to start for the Dodgers this weekend. Relief pitcher Chris Hatcher, by the way, will also make a rehab appearance for Rancho on Friday.
This will all sort itself out soon enough, but for now, it’s a whirlwind.
By Jon Weisman
When the weather gets hot, so does Clayton Kershaw.
The big lefty not only brings a 20-inning scoreless streak into tonight’s game against the Mets, but also an awesome recent history of July dominance.
Kershaw has made 15 consecutive quality starts in the month of July, dating back to his last July outing of 2012, and they’ve hardly been cheap. It’s been a day short of three years since Kershaw didn’t go seven innings in a July start, and he has allowed three runs in only two of the 15 games.
He has pitched shutout ball in seven of his past 15 July starts, and overall has an ERA of 0.96 in 122 innings across that set of games. (In his past 10 July starts, his ERA is 0.68 in 82 innings.)
Here’s the score by innings against Kershaw in those 15 games combined:
221 113 201 — 13
With 14 and 13 strikeouts in his past two games, Kershaw has a chance to become the first National League pitcher ever to strike out at least 13 in three games in a row. Pedro Martinez did this twice for the Boston Red Sox in 1999 (May 1-7-12, September 4-10-15).
Kershaw is the first Dodger to strike out at least 13 this two times in a row since Chan Ho Park in 2000, and he is the first MLB player to do this with no walks since Dwight Gooden in 1984. He is already the only pitcher in more than 100 years to strike out at least 13 in a game twice in a row with no walks or runs allowed.
Tonight’s opponent, the Mets, is the last team to score on Kershaw — on Wilmer Flores’ RBI single in the fourth inning July 3, following a John Mayberry double and a wild pitch. That is the only RBI against either Kershaw or Zack Greinke this month.
By Mark Langill
The Dodgers playing the Mets in New York during the weekend of Hall of Fame events nearly 200 miles away in Cooperstown will bring perennial candidate Gil Hodges to the forefront of many fans of each franchise — whether pointing to his 361 home runs in a Dodger uniform or the Indiana native leading the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to the championship in his second season as New York manager.
Hodges, who passed away of a heart attack at age 47 during spring training in 1972, has the most votes of anyone not in the Hall of Fame. During his 15-year window as a candidate from 1969-83, the closest Hodges came to receiving the required 75 percent of the votes was 63.4 percent.
But also forgotten in the Hodges baseball story is his final chapter as a player with the Mets, and the connection that remained with the Dodgers.
By Cary Osborne
Even for the curious, it might have been easy to pay little attention to Futures Game selection and Dodger minor leaguer Juan Gonzalez during All-Star Week.
First of all, it wasn’t the brand name of Seager or Urias or the up-and-comers like De Leon and Holmes representing the Dodgers. And the fact that Gonzalez is a 25-years-old reliever in his ninth minor league season might have made it easy to overlook him.
But Gonzalez keeps doing things this season that can’t be disregarded. Between Double-A Tulsa, where he began the season, and Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he currently is stationed, the Venezuelan right-hander has allowed three earned runs and 19 hits in 33 2/3 innings (0.80 ERA).
Consider this: On May 12, he allowed two earned runs in an appearance in which he didn’t get an out. So his ERA minus that game is 0.27.
Since June 12, (13 games/13 1/3 innings), he hasn’t given up a run. Of the 19 hits he has surrendered this season, two have been for extra bases, and he hasn’t given up a home run. Right-handers are hitting .123/.149/.169 against him this season.
Gonzalez began his pro career in 2007 as a 17-year-old in the Rockies organization. He was a starter until 2013 and has been used exclusively as a reliever since signing with the Dodger organization in 2014.
Between 2007 and 2013, a span in which 83 percent of his appearances were as a starter, he had a 5.00 ERA. Since 2013, his ERA is 2.82.
He’s got our attention.
So do these guys:
By Robert Tagorda
When Adrian Gonzalez made the All-Star team earlier this month, it capped a prodigious first half in which he batted .283/.355/.520 with 18 home runs. But it also recognized a longer trend of elite production — one that reflected a return of his power.
Over the past calendar year, Gonzalez has amassed a .395 weighted on-base average, following the likes of Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Jose Bautista in the Major League top eight. He has created 58 percent more runs than the average hitter. If we adjust for park and league factors, we can say that he’s been the fifth-most productive batter over his last 640 plate appearances.
Throughout this timeframe, Gonzalez has done well in many aspects of the hitting game, but his power numbers have really stood out. While his .369 on-base percentage has ranked 19th among qualified hitters, his 34 home runs have placed him in the top 10, and his .559 slugging percentage has cracked the top five. In the National League, only Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper have exceeded his .255 isolated power.
So it’s evident that, since last year’s Midsummer Classic, Gonzalez has slugged with the best of them. But is it just a temporary surge? Or does it represent a more enduring reemergence of his power?
For many kids, summer time means baseball. Many of our own Dodgers remember the importance of playing ball while growing up. Clayton Kershaw and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford grew up playing baseball and other sports in Texas.
“Remember that great movie ‘The Sandlot,’ ” Kershaw reminisced in a book written with his wife Ellen, “about the neighborhood group of boys playing summer baseball together? That’s how my life felt growing up.”
This past weekend, more than 200 kids, from five western MLB RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) leagues, made their own “Sandlot” memories.
Hey, it’s not a five-year or 10-year anniversary, but with a free afternoon, why not celebrate the sixth anniversary of Manny Ramirez’s bobbleslam? It was good enough to key the Boxscore of the Month for Dodger Insider magazine in July.
By the way, that last sentence in the blurb below about starting pitchers not batting eighth since 2009? That was true until this month, when Yimi Garcia did so July 6.
— Jon Weisman
By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers wished upon their non-star, and Mike Bolsinger came through.
Beginning with his nine-pitch first inning, the undersung Bolsinger was at the top of his game for seven innings and 98 pitches, allowing only three hits and an unearned run in the Dodgers’ 3-1 daytime victory at Atlanta.
Thirty-six years after first entering the U.S., 34 years since Fernandomania began and 25 years after his unforgettable no-hitter at Dodger Stadium, Fernando Valenzuela has added another benchmark to his American dream.
Today, Valenzuela became a U.S. citizen.
The Dodgers’ legendary lefty raised his right hand and took the Oath of Allegiance at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony to become a U.S. citizen this morning in downtown Los Angeles. While a private and smaller ceremony could have been an option, Valenzuela chose to join nearly 8,000 Angelenos hailing from more than 130 countries in taking this big step.
Valenzuela also shared this special day with his wife Linda, who became a U.S. citizen a few months ago and with whom he’s shared every major moment of his life and career, and his family.
Valenzuela, a native of Etchohuaquila in Sonora, Mexico and a living example of the American dream, now has the rights and privileges that come with U.S. citizenship. Valenzuela first moved to the U.S. in 1979 shortly after signing with the Dodgers on July 6 that same year. His career in MLB, both as a player and broadcaster, spans more than three decades.
The Dodgers extend their congratulations today to one of the most iconic Dodgers of all time. Valenzuela’s cultural impact on Los Angeles and on baseball is immeasurable. What we do know is that our stadium is always filled with faces he directly inspired, fans whose parents or grandparents proudly noted that someone who looked like them and who came from Mexico was a Dodger and was selling out the stadium each of his starts. Regardless of background, however, today we are all proud Americans just like Valenzuela.
To learn more on naturalization and the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, please visit the USCIS website. If you’d like to read the Oath of Allegiance that Valenzuela took this morning, you can view that here.
By Jon Weisman
Brett Anderson has avoided the disabled list for now and has an outside shot at taking his next turn in the Dodger starting rotation Sunday after leaving Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Atlanta in the third inning with irritation in the left Achilles’ tendon area.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly told reporters before today’s early game against Atlanta that Anderson is getting tests, but that he showed up to work today in better condition than Dodger vice president of medical services Stan Conte expected he would be. So an expected move to the disabled list for Anderson is on hold.
Anderson initially felt discomfort in the first inning during a grounder by Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons, then decided enough was enough after attempting to field a Jonny Gomes swinging bunt, according to Carlos Collazo of MLB.com:
“(It) just kind of kept getting tired and more sore,” Anderson told Collazo. “I wasn’t able to push off the rubber like I normally was, and it was affecting my command. … Even with all the other (injuries), I’ve never taken myself out, but it was one of those things where I felt like if it got worse then it would make it worse in the long run.”
However, a bullpen that has thrown 11 1/3 innings in the past 40 hours does need some backup, so the Dodgers have optioned Adam Liberatore to Triple-A Oklahoma City and called up Ian Thomas.
Liberatore took a 1.29 ERA and .363 opponents’ OPS into June. Since then, however, those numbers have gone to 7.50 and .917. In July, nine of 19 batters have reached base against Liberatore, with no strikeouts.
This is Thomas’ fourth callup by the Dodgers this season, moving him within one of Daniel Coulombe’s team-leading five. In his most recent appearance, Thomas pitched two shutout innings July 7 against the Phillies, walking one and striking out two.
With Oklahoma City, Thomas had lowered his ERA to 3.16 on June 17, then allowed 10 runs in eight innings across two games (June 27-July 2). In his last two Triple-A appearances, he has pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings.
After Mike Bolsinger pitches today, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will take the Dodgers’ Thursday-Friday starts against the Mets. The Dodgers haven’t announced who will take Saturday’s start in place of Brandon Beachy, and a potential replacement if Anderson can’t go Sunday is also undecided.
Eric Stults, Zach Lee and Joe Wieland are the listed Friday-Saturday-Sunday starting pitchers for Oklahoma City. Trevor Cahill is today’s Triple-A starter.
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles wrote about the Dodger front office’s pursuit of pitching.
“I don’t know that we could ratchet up our search for starting pitching any more than we already are,” general manager Farhan Zaidi told Saxon.
On the bright side for the Dodgers, Yasmani Grandal is back in the lineup for the first time since taking a hard foul ball off the jaw Sunday, and Carl Crawford (who pinch-ran Tuesday) is making his first start since April 27. Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner have scheduled days off.
Turner, who hit his first homer of July on Tuesday and is 12 for 22 since July 12, but the Dodgers believe that he needs rest every few days to avoid wearing down.