Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Month: July 2016 (Page 3 of 5)

Dodger hitting update: Guys are hitting

28 days

By Jon Weisman

You can almost hear those kids in the back of the Dodger van: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

From a batting standpoint, they might be.

Over the past four weeks, the Dodgers have starters at 6 1/2 positions OPSing above .800. Los Angeles is 16-7 (.696) in that time, which is tied with the Giants for the best record in the National League.

Read More

How the revitalized bullpen keyed Dodgers’ surge

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In the Dodgers’ final inning before the All-Star Break, the best closer in the National League, Kenley Jansen, entered the game to protect a one-run lead against the fourth-place team in the National League West.

At that moment, the Dodger bullpen was several weeks into an extended resurgence that was forcing fans and media alike to unlearn everything it thought it knew about the team’s relievers. It progressed in stages, as if reversing the five stages of grief.

  • Hooray — they actually held a lead for once.
  • All right, I’ve stopped throwing things every time a reliever comes in.
  • I know this won’t last, but thank you for at least being adequate.
  • Hmm. Some of these guys are actually pretty good.
  • I don’t want to jinx this. But … wow.

Dodger bullpen failures have been branded into the collective memory of recent years, the scar tissue making it nearly impossible for most to feel the moments when the relievers were doing well — which, of course, was more often than the distraught and cynical could concede.

But by the time Jansen took the mound Sunday, the bullpen’s growing success was no longer possible to ignore.

Dodger relievers lead the Major Leagues with a 2.83 ERA. They lead the Major Leagues with a 1.02 WHIP.

In fact, as Dodger broadcaster Joe Davis pointed out, the Dodger bullpen’s opponents batting average of .192 is currently the lowest in modern baseball history. The team’s WHIP is the lowest in NL history.

That’s extraordinary. And that’s not wishcasting. That’s something that has been happening. The Dodger bullpen has become the opposite of an albatross. It’s a primary reason that, despite the “I Love Lucy” chocolate conveyor belt of injuries, that Los Angeles (51-40) is on a 91-win pace and once again a team to be reckoned with.

In terms of inherited runners stranded, the Dodgers were seventh among MLB teams at 72 percent — in the upper echelon but with room for improvement. The good news — the great news — is that the improvement is already underway.

Read More

Thinking out loud: If MLB games were seven innings

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Every now and then, your brain takes you to some weird places.

Most of the time, mine thinks about baseball … which can also lead you to some weird places.

For a few years now, I’ve nursed this feeling that sometime in the distant future, Major League Baseball games would be reduced from nine to seven innings. I don’t really think this will ever happen, but there’s a logic to it.

It’s in part because pace-of-play rule changes are fighting an uphill battle against baseball’s evolutionary elongation. (MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday compared the challenge of eliminating the issue to “dandelions in your front lawn.”)

A double inning-ectomy would lop a good 40 minutes or so off the average game, taking them back into the sub-2:30 range that seems to have been the sport’s sweet spot. This would be particularly handy in the postseason, helping more fans see a fantastic finish before midnight.

To be sure, not everyone’s in a hurry to leave the ballpark — certainly not my friendly colleagues here at Dodger Stadium trying to sell food, drink and merchandise — which is probably reason enough to end this conversation.

But the best reason for the seven-inning game is that it’s just getting harder and harder to cobble together the pitching to get 27 outs or more each game.

Read More

Pitching history for Dodger All-Stars

My beautiful picture

By Jon Weisman

Six years have passed since a Dodger closer pitched in the All-Star Game. Kenley Jansen gets to end that streak tonight.

Jansen, overdue for his first All-Star Game, might not get to pitch the final inning, so it’s more likely than not that Jonathan Broxton’s save in 2010 remains the most recent in the Midsummer Classic by a Dodger. Nevertheless, Jansen should get a chance to etch his name among the team’s 76 previous All-Star appearances.

Of course, Jansen could also become the first Dodger pitcher credited with an All-Star victory since Jerry Reuss in front of the 1980 hometown crowd in Los Angeles. Since then, three Dodgers have been the losing All-Star pitcher: Chan Ho Park (2001), Eric Gagne (2003) and Clayton Kershaw (2015). Dodger pitchers have a 6-6 record in 12 All-Star decisions.

Certainly, it was nowhere to go but up for the franchise after its ignominious All-Star debut via Van Lingle Mungo, who allowed four runs plus two inherited runs in a six-run fifth inning by the American League in 1934. Not that Mungo had it easy: He entered the game with Babe Ruth on second base, Lou Gehrig on first and Jimmie Foxx at the plate. Two walks, three singles and a double later, the AL had gone from trailing 4-2 to leading 8-4.

The most famous Dodger All-Star pitching performance belongs to Fernando Valenzuela, who from the fourth through sixth innings in 1986 faced 10 batters, retired nine and struck out the first five — Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera — all in a row. Kirby Puckett’s groundout was the first ball in play against Valenzuela, whose outing was marred only by a pop-fly Wade Boggs single in the sixth.

Read More

Hitting history for Dodger All-Stars

Andre Ethier is introduced before the 2011 All-Star Game. ()Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Andre Ethier before the 2011 All-Star Game. (Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

No Dodger has had a hit in an All-Star Game in five years, and so it’s up to Corey Seager to change that tonight — unless you’re looking for Kenley Jansen to grab a bat and come through.

Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez have combined to go 0 for 8 since Ethier’s pinch-hit, RBI single in fifth inning of the July 12, 2011 All-Star Game. Gordon did come around to score as a pinch-runner in the 2014 contest.

The greatest single All-Star batting performances by a Dodger belong to Duke Snider (two singles, a double and a walk in 1954) and Mike Piazza (double and home run in 1996).

Here are some firsts and lasts among all Dodger All-Star batters since 1933, when Tony Cuccinello became the franchise’s first All-Star hitter — striking out to end the 1933 All-Star Game …

Read More

Kenta Maeda strikes out 13 in seven innings

Maeda pic

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

no seventhBy Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda took a hammer to the Dodgers’ streak of 18 straight games without a starting pitcher reaching the seventh inning, striking out a career-high 13 in seven innings before leaving with a 3-1 lead.

Maeda fanned two batters in each of the first three innings, one in the fourth and then six batters in a row from the fifth into the seventh. His previous big-league high of nine strikeouts came June 8 against Colorado.

No Dodger starter had retired a batter in the seventh inning since Clayton Kershaw on June 20. None had even reached the sixth inning since Scott Kazmir on July 2.

Kershaw has the Dodgers’ season high in strikeouts with 14. Those also came on a Sunday afternoon against the Padres, on May 1.

Read More

Kershaw to throw first bullpen session since injury

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw won’t come off the disabled list Friday for the Dodgers’ first game after the All-Star Break, but he continues to progress. Dave Roberts told reporters today that Kershaw would throw a light bullpen session today of approximately 20 pitches.

So far, the Dodgers have held it together in Kershaw’s absence, going 9-4 since his last start, with only today’s game to go before they take four days off.

The Dodgers return to action with three games at Arizona. Bud Norris, Brandon McCarthy and Kenta Maeda are scheduled to start. After a travel day July 18, they play at Washington, with Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu taking the first two games against the Nationals.

Read More

In case you missed it: A moment of reflection

Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Trayce Thompson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

I didn’t want to let the weekend go by without passing along the words Vin Scully recited to the Dodger Stadium crowd before Friday’s game, near the end of an incredibly difficult week in this country.

Ladies and gentlemen. At this time, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the tragic events that have occurred across our country over the past few days. As a community and a nation, we mourn the tragic loss of lives and injuries, and our deepest sympathies go out to all who have been directly impacted by those events and to their families and friends. As United States attorney general Loretta Lynch said today, “This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreaking loss, but as she also reminded us, “Today and every day we are one nation, we are one people and we stand together.

Therefore, we commend the heroic actions and courage of our first responders, volunteers, citizens and government officials, and we gratefully acknowledge the sacrifice that so many have made on behalf of those people. And as the organization that took a historic stance against racism, the Los Angeles Dodgers will continue to stand firm against all forms of hatred, violence and discrimination. At this time, we ask that you please stand silently for a moment of reflection and respect.

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

A few other items from recent days …

Read More

Adam Liberatore sets Dodger record in victory


Adam Liberatore has become a key face in the Dodger bullpen. (Not pictured: Adam Liberatore)

By Jon Weisman

On Pups in the Park Day at Dodger Stadium, Adam Liberatore struck out both batters he faced to set a Dodger record with his 24th consecutive scoreless appearance, helping preserve a 4-3 Dodger victory over San Diego.

The 29-year-old Liberatore has thrown 18 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings during the streak, retiring 54 of 66 batters, 23 of them on strikeouts. Two of 14 baserunners he has inherited have scored, both harmlessly enough in Dodger victories.

Read More

Three homers? Yes, many for Yasmani

[mlbvideo id=”910896983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”911374283″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”912231183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman

There was no grand slam, but three slams that were grand for Yasmani Grandal.

Grandal became the third Dodger catcher ever to hit three homers in a game, joining Roy Campanella (1950) and Mike Piazza (1996), in the Dodgers’ 10-6 victory tonight over San Diego.

Grandal added a bunt single and a line-drive single, finishing the night with five hits and six RBI, becoming the third catcher in MLB history to have at least five hits in a game with three homers. The previous two: Walker Cooper of the Reds in 1940 and Victor Martinez of the Indians in 2004.

For good measure, Grandal also had a great throw to nail Wil Myers attempting to steal second base.

[mlbvideo id=”911484483″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

All this despite taking a foul ball to the jaw midway through the game.

Read More

Ticket discount tied to Seager and Home Run Derby

Seager promo

A ticket promotion for the Dodgers’ August 14 game against the Pirates has been linked to Corey Seager’s entry into Monday’s Home Run Derby.

Fans will be offered a $10 discount toward ticket purchases for the August 14 game — which also features a Magic Johnson Gnome giveaway (presented by Bank of America) for the first 40,000 fans — plus an additional $5 off for every round Seager advances (for a maximum of $25 off).

The ticket offer will launch at 8 p.m. Monday, after the Home Run Derby, and run through 5 p.m. Wednesday, while supplies last. You can find it at

— Jon Weisman

Dodgers bring up Andrew Toles, option Carlos Frias

[milbvideo id=”897202583″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Toles 592808By Jon Weisman

Carlos Frias did his job with four innings of shutout relief, but with the All-Star Break coming in three days, his presence on the Dodgers’ active roster is not required.

So Frias has been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, and replaced on the big-league roster by outfielder Andrew Toles.

In addition, Los Angeles acquired 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Alec Grosser as the player to be named later to complete the Bud Norris trade.

The Dodgers designated Cole Figueroa for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Toles, a 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter.

Toles, 24, was signed to a minor-league contract in September, after he missed the 2015 season, as Barry Lewis of the Tulsa World notes. A third-round draft pick in 2012 by Tampa Bay (when Andrew Friedman was running the show there), he has played at three levels for the Dodgers this year, most recently posting a .333 on-base percentage and .485 slugging percentage in 36 plate appearances for Oklahoma City.

Read More

Six Dodgers in Baseball America Top 100 update

Cody Bellinger (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Despite this year’s promotions of Corey Seager and Julio Urias and the debut of American rookie Kenta Maeda, Baseball America included six Dodgers in its Midseason Top 100 Prospects update.

Cody Bellinger (24), Jose De Leon (25), Alex Verdugo (44), Grant Holmes (60), Frankie Montas (82) and Willie Calhoun (98) were the Dodgers listed.

By comparison, the season-opening 2016 Baseball America 100 had Seager (1), Urías (4), De Leon (23), Maeda (50), Bellinger (54), Holmes (72) and Verdugo (100).

The new list does not include anyone taken in the 2016 draft or signed internationally this month.


Ryu feels no pain after start, looks to increase velocity

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Hyun-Jin Ryu said after tonight’s big-league comeback start that he felt no problems physically with his surgically repaired shoulder, and is focusing on improving the results.

“Overall, I felt really great, (though) I gave up the runs,” Ryu said. “My shoulder felt great. I didn’t see any issues.”

“As I threw more, I was feeling better mentally,” he added. “I don’t think there were any uncomfortable pitches. I was pretty much happy with my control. … I just have to get better. ”

Ryu conceded that he is hoping his fastball speed will increase as he gets more work in.

“Compared to when I was healthy, of course my velocity is a little down,” he said. “Again, as I play more games, I think (I’ll improve).”

Seeing Ryu take a Major League mound again “was a victory in itself,” Dave Roberts said.

Read More

Hyun-Jin Ryu struggles in return


By Jon Weisman

The question with Hyun-Jin Ryu tonight, or at least one of the big ones after he spent more than a year recovering from shoulder surgery, was about the effectiveness of his fastball.

The San Diego Padres didn’t have much trouble answering it, knocking eight hits and scoring six runs over 4 2/3 innings, the length of Ryu’s first big-league appearance since the 2014 playoffs, in a 6-0 victory.

Read More

Page 3 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén