By Jon Weisman
We expected superb pitching Wednesday by the Dodgers — we just didn’t expect it like this.
While Zack Greinke nursed his sore calf muscle, Carlos Frias and five relievers combined to deliver one of the top pitching performances of the year for Los Angeles, in a 4-1 victory over Arizona that helped lower the National League West magic number to five.
The Dodgers needed 105 pitches to dispatch the Diamondbacks, their fifth-best total for a nine-inning game in 2015. Even more impressively, Dodger pitchers had 28 pitches called for balls in the entire game, their second-best mark in 2015.
You know how you try to avoid three-ball counts? The Dodgers had four innings in which they didn’t throw a total of three balls.
Setting the tone was Carlos Frias. Pitching on two days’ rest, Frias used 43 pitches over his four innings, retiring every batter aside from the obligatory Paul Goldschmidt home run.
“Obviously, they had a few first-pitch swings,” Don Mattingly said this morning, “which you understand with a guy like him, you don’t really want to get deep in the count with that cutter/slider he throws and the way his ball moves.”
But Mattingly said Frias had a “Go get outs” mentality that was just right for Wednesday’s outing.
“When you have to go through (A.J.) Pollock and Goldschmidt and those guys in their order, they’ve got some tough hitters — it tells you he’s got the stuff to make it tough on those guys,” Mattingly said. “Even though Goldschmidt gets him, he made some guys look not that great.
“His stuff’s really good. Can he kind of — I shouldn’t say ‘keep focus,’ because he’s focused — for me a better (question) for him is can he stay settled down enough so that he’s making pitches, not just throwing?”
Assuming Greinke returns for his next scheduled start Monday in San Francisco, Frias has become a darkhorse candidate to play a more prominent role in the Dodger bullpen this year.