Numbers from another planet

By Jon Weisman

Some jottings before turning out the lights on the weekend, a most successful one for the Dodgers.

  • If someone had offered you a 9-4 start in a season that began with a cross-globe trip to Australia and was soon followed by injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson, I’m guessing you’d take that, right? Only surprising Milwaukee, winners of nine games in a row en route to a 10-2 record, has a better record in the Majors than the Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers’ offense roared this weekend in their three game sweep of Arizona, climaxing in today’s 8-6 victory (recapped here by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com), but it’s not that much of a surprise that the team would have an easier time scoring at Chase Field than Petco Park or even Dodger Stadium.
  • Similarly, Phoenix is going to be a tougher place to hold a lead, so don’t get too angry at the Dodger bullpen.
  • Not that I’m looking to take anything away from Adrian Gonzalez, who has an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games, one shy of a team record. Tied for the MLB lead in home runs at five until Mark Trumbo launched No. 6 today off Jamey Wright, Gonzalez is slugging .680 in 2014. Last year, Gonzalez hit his fifth home run in his 42nd start, May 25.
  • Tonight’s random trivia: The Dodgers have scored eight runs in two consecutive games. Only two seasons ago, they tallied exactly eight runs in three consecutive games.
  • Meet your MLB stolen base leader, Dee Gordon, with nine steals in 11 games. What a display he put on today. And in addition to his four steals, he also walked twice, raising his on-base percentage to .457, eighth in the Majors.
  • Also, this, from Jon SooHoo:
    LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
  • Meet your MLB co-leader in doubles, Juan Uribe, who has a .547 slugging percentage and a .358 OBP despite going the entire season to date without a walk. Yeah, I know — but don’t worry about it now.
  • You want to use a .154 batting average to judge Matt Kemp, be my guest. I’ll take the .829 OPS. After 31 plate appearances, Kemp has 14 total bases but has yet to hit a single.
  • Making his debut for Albuquerque today, Alex Guerrero had a three-run homer, double and single in four at-bats, as Christopher Jackson notes at Examiner.com.
  • One more note from the minors: Joc Pederson has a .511 on-base percentage and .714 slugging this season for the Isotopes. He has 13 hits, six of them for extra bases. But he has yet to drive in another runner. He has three RBI, each coming on a solo home run.
  • The Dodgers struck out 16 times today, tied for third-most in team history (the record of 20, you should recall, was set last year before Yasiel Puig hit his walkoff home run to beat Cincinnati, 1-0). Never before had the Dodgers struck out 16 times in a nine-inning game and won.
  • The Dodgers have now struck out 123 times in 13 games, or 9.46 times per game. a pace that would give them 1,533 strikeouts in their 162-game season. That would break the franchise record of 1,190 by more than 300. I guess I should be more worried about this, but I’m going to assume that it will taper off, unless you’re also willing to grant that all the superb offensive numbers will also stick.

April 13 pregame: Some progress on the health front

LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

Carl Crawford has tightness in his right side, reports Bill Plunkett of the Register, helping to make him one of the reserve outfielders today against Arizona.

But there’s also some progress to report from the medical side of things:

  • This update on Clayton Kershaw comes from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

    Proof of improvement in Clayton Kershaw was visible Saturday, when the disabled Dodgers ace threw off the bullpen mound for the first time since being injured.

    Kershaw, disabled with a strained teres major muscle in his back after winning his Opening Night start in Australia, was not throwing full speed, but wasn’t lobbing either.

    Manager Don Mattingly said Kershaw remains under orders to hold back on velocity and is monitored by trainers using an app that calculates pitch speed.

  • Brian Wilson can return to active duty Tuesday, and it isn’t expected to take much longer, Gurnick writes.
  • Alex Guerrero has been activated from the disabled list by Triple-A Albuquerque, which released Brendan Harris to make room, reports Gurnick.
  • Gurnick added that Erisbel Arruebarrena “is still at extended spring training in Arizona but will likely be assigned to Double-A Chattanooga within the week to play shortstop alongside prospect Darnell Sweeney.”
  • And, looking ahead …

Putting Kenley Jansen’s usage in perspective

LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

By Jon Weisman

Kenley Jansen’s sudden appearance Saturday in a game the Dodgers led 8-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth (the score was 8-5 when he entered, and when he finished four pitches later) added to concerns that Jansen is being overworked early. The Dodger closer leads Major League pitchers with eight appearances.

Keep in mind, however, that Jansen’s totals are skewed by the Dodgers’ Australia start and numerous off days so far. Below is a small chart of Jansen’s appearances, how many days off before each appearance and how many pitches thrown.

Date Days Pitches
3/22 * 15
3/23 0 5
4/1 8 18
4/5 3 22
4/6 0 17
4/8 1 19
4/9 0 19
4/12 2 4
*Opening Day

In only two games this year has Jansen thrown more than five pitches without resting the day before, and he didn’t surpass 20 pitches in either of those games. The second game of the Detroit series on April 9 without a day off was a high-stress outing for April, but essentially that was his only such outing of the year.

While the 77 pitches he threw in five days last week is noteworthy, it’s also an anomaly.

Last year, Jansen pitched 27 games on zero days rest and was pretty amazingly effective, as you’ll see from this Baseball-Reference.com snippet:

KJ rest

This is not to suggest that Jansen should be used recklessly. Just offering some context.

April 12 pregame: The four outfielders are five outfielders

LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 5:10 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Justin Turner, 2B
Drew Butera, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Jamey Wright starts in Part II of Jon SooHoo's series, "Relief Pitchers Batting." See Part I here.

Jamey Wright starts in Part II of Jon SooHoo’s series, “Relief Pitchers Batting.” See Part I here.
See SooHoo’s Friday photo gallery here.

For the second consecutive time against a left-handed starting pitcher, both Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier will be on the bench, as Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke start in support of pitcher Zack Greinke (above).

Call me crazy (and perhaps temporary), but I see this flexibility as a positive.

Fans of history repeating itself will particularly enjoy Van Slyke’s appearance in the lineup. Thanks in no small part to his double and homer on Opening Day in Sydney, Van Slyke has a 1.111 slugging percentage and 1.511 OPS in the small sample of 10 plate appearances against tonight’s starter for Arizona, Wade Miley. Ethier is 4 for 16 against Miley, with no extra-base hits or walks. Crawford hasn’t faced him.

Dodger batting vs. LHP in 2014

Screen shot 2014-04-12 at 2.08.57 PM

No road rage for Ryu, Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Well, that was a nice wire-to-wire victory for the Dodgers tonight.

As Los Angeles stomped the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-0 in 141 minutes, allowing only two singles and two walks, these noteworthy feats emerged.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Ryu allowed six earned runs in two innings at the Dodgers’ home opener a week ago. Here’s how far back you have to go to find more than six earned runs allowed by Ryu on the road:

  • Tonight at Arizona: seven innings, zero runs
  • March 30 at San Diego: seven innings, zero runs
  • March 23 at Arizona (in Sydney): five innings, zero runs
  • Sept. 24 at San Francisco: seven innings, one earned run
  • Sept. 16 at Arizona: eight innings, two earned runs
  • Aug. 19 at Miami: 7 1/3 innings, three earned runs
  • Aug. 8 at St. Louis: seven innings, one unearned run
  • Aug. 2 at Chicago Cubs: 5 1/3 innings, two earned runs

Ryu has pitched 21 consecutive shutout innings on the road and has a road ERA of 0.27 in his last 33 road innings.

Adrian Gonzalez

Gonzalez had five RBI tonight — four by the top of the third inning — to give him the 24th game of at least four RBI in his career and third game of at least five RBI. His career high of six RBI came against the Dodgers on May 19, 2010.

Hanley Ramirez

The Dodger shortstop had two doubles tonight, tying him for the MLB lead with six this season. One of three Dodgers to play all 100 innings his season, Ramirez has combined his new-found durability with a .383 on-base percentage and a .595 slugging percentage.

Dee Gordon

Two more hits for Gordon, whose OBP is now .439 while slugging .541. He also stole his fifth base, tying him for second in the Majors. Still, expect him to start Saturday’s game on the bench when the Dodgers face Arizona lefty Wade Miley.

April 11 pregame: Puig returns

DETROIT TIGERS AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig makes his first start since Saturday for the Dodgers tonight. From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

Puig took early batting practice Friday at Chase Field and did outfield drills, appearing tentative catching line drives in particular.

“We’ll see what it looks like tonight,” said manager Don Mattingly.

Elsewhere …

  • In addition to leading the Majors in stolen bases, the Dodgers are tops in doubles.
  • Brandon McCarthy is the ninth righthanded starting pitcher the Dodgers have faced in 11 games. The Dodgers have a .777 OPS against righties this year, .579 against lefties.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe have started every game this season and have played all 91 of the Dodgers’ innings in 2014.
  • Uribe has 27 assists without an error, yet to record a putout. He had 62 putouts last year.
  • The long and winding road for Seth Rosin has brought him back to where he was last season, in the Phillies organization.

Men of steals

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V DETROIT TIGERS

By Cary Osborne

It’s early. We know it. But after 10 games, the Dodgers have a Major League-leading 12 stolen bases and 16 stolen base attempts — and that’s with Matt Kemp not running much after ankle surgery and Yasiel Puig, as aggressive as he is on the basepaths, having only attempted one swipe thus far.

The bulk of those stolen bases belong to Carl Crawford and Dee Gordon, who both have four stolen bases each. Hanley Ramirez has two stolen bases thus far and is just a season removed from stealing 21.

The Dodgers haven’t finished in MLB’s top five in stolen bases since 2007, when they finished fifth (credit Juan Pierre’s 64 stolen bases that year).

If this Dodger team keeps up the pace (again, we know it’s early), it would be the first Dodger team to lead the Majors in stolen bases since 1970. Los Angeles also led the Majors in stolen bases in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 — thanks in large part to Maury Wills and Willie Davis, who in those five seasons stole 62 percent of the Dodgers’ bases.

The Dodgers won World Series titles in 1963 and 1965, but didn’t make the playoffs in the other seasons they led baseball in stolen bases. Leading the Majors in stolen bases doesn’t necessarily translate to success. Since 1970, teams who have led the Majors in stolen bases have gone to the postseason 13 times (30.2 percent of the time).  Five of those teams went to the World Series. Only one team won the World Series — the 2003 Florida Marlins.

Photo:  Juan Ocampo, Los Angeles Dodgers

 

So, blow up a chair …

2014 Inflatable Chair
The Dodger inflatable chair, presented by Coca-Cola, is scheduled to be given away to the first 40,000 fans at the May 8 game against the Giants.

– Jon Weisman

Gordon building foundation at second base

Dee Gordon has appeared only at second base thus far in 2014. Photo: Juan Ocampo, Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

Coming into this season, there was a lot of talk about the new versatile Dee Gordon. He already was a shortstop. He was learning second base, and he even played some center field in the Dominican Republic in the winter.

But from one versatile player to a new versatile player, utilityman Chone Figgins’ advice to Gordon has been focus on second base.

“Right now he’s too young too worry about that stuff. He has the opportunity to be the starting second baseman every day,” Figgins said. (more…)

Duke Snider’s secret

snider signed photosBy Mark Langill

On this date in 1962, the Dodgers played the first game in their new ballpark, losing to the Cincinnati Reds, 6-3. Kay O’Malley, wife of Dodger team president Walter O’Malley, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Johnny Podres, hero of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1955 World Series title, received the starting assignment from manager Walter Alston.

The most intriguing part of the Dodger Stadium afternoon was the presence of Duke Snider in the lineup. Snider was the first Dodger to get a hit, a second-inning single to center off righthander Bob Purkey.

Snider suffered a freak injury the day before on his way to the ballpark for a civic ceremony. While driving, he stopped his car after hearing a strange noise. The tailpipe had fallen off and Snider naturally picked up the part in the middle of the street. Problem was the metal was hot and Snider burned his fingers. (more…)

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