Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: August 2018

A Boring tunnel won’t dent journey to Dodger Stadium

If the trouble with driving to Dodger Stadium were only about the area immediately around Dodger Stadium, that would be a blessing.

Instead, the time needed for the journey just to get within shouting distance of Chavez Ravine has more or less doubled over the past 35 years. It’s basically a 15-mph drive on your average night now, and that’s with all the science of applications like Waze theoretically making travel more efficient.

The problem with driving to Dodger Stadium is the problem with driving in Los Angeles. There are simply too many cars on the road.

Long before sunset arrives on Sunset, the entire city has become the parking lot.

So consider that amid Wednesday’s news that the Boring Company will dig a tunnel that will move people “from Los Feliz, East Hollywood or Rampart Village” to Dodger Stadium.

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Meanwhile, what’s happening with the Dodger offense?

Cold and hot: Manny Machado and Justin Turner (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Justin Turner has been on fire. Since returning from his second trip of the year to the disabled list in early August, Turner has a .488 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage. More than that, he’s all but been his usual self since June 1, with an .885 OPS.

Yasiel Puig has been on fire. Since his own DL trip ended in early May, the right fielder has a .365 OBP while slugging .578, for a .943 OPS.

Cody Bellinger has been on fire. Since August 1, Bellinger has matched Turner’s .488 OBP while slugging a nearly compatible .605.

Brian Dozier has been on fire. Starting his Dodger clock on August 1, Dozier is OBPing .429 and slugging .590. Despite an apparent EKG scare Monday, the second baseman is in tonight’s starting lineup for the Dodgers.

Nevertheless, several Dodgers have very much not been on fire, leading to four straight losses and a 5-10 plunge over their past 15 games).

While the Dodger bullpen has pitched under a laser-firing microscope for the past several days, the underplayed story is how the offense has let the team down, scoring a total of nine runs in the final three games at Colorado and then two more Monday against the Giants.

Since July 29, the Dodgers have scored 59 runs in those 15 games, but 21 runs came August 2 against Milwaukee. In the remaining 14, the Dodgers are averaging 2.7 runs per game.

There’s no particular shame in being held to two by the likes of Madison Bumgarner, even if one of them is on a collision-inducing bloop double by Clayton Kershaw, but there’s still an important mini-trend to process.

In making their July deals, the Dodgers bet big on bats, acquiring Dozier and Manny Machado. Their additions to the bullpen, Dylan Floro and the now fibula-challenged John Axford, look altogether small by comparison — but keep in mind baseball is a run-differential game. If you increase your offense, your bullpen gets more cushion. The Dodgers looked to ease the strain of their pen with a workaround, and certainly, the plan to eventually move two strong starting pitchers like Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling into relief played into that intent.

Obviously, over the past week, the strategy could not have looked worse, with the bullpen giving up go-ahead runs in six straight games. Kenley Jansen’s heart issue unexpectedly put more pressure on the relief crew than it was ready to handle. But also, the Dodger offense came to the rescue only once, in Thursday’s crazy 8-5 win. So when you look at the culprits of an ugly week, they include not only the relievers, but the recent performance of Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson and perhaps most frustratingly, Machado.

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‘But at least I have a husband’: Airplane quotes that apply to the Dodgers’ past four days

Randy, are you all right?

Oh, Dr. Rumack, I’m scared. I’ve never been so scared. And besides, I’m 26 and I’m not married.

We’re going to make it, you’ve got to believe that.

[a woman passenger comes in]

Dr. Rumack, do you have any idea when we’ll be landing?

Pretty soon, how are you bearing up?

Well, to be honest, I’ve never been so scared. But at least I have a husband.

* * *

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Which starting pitchers should move into the bullpen for the Dodgers?

Kenley Jansen’s absence puts more pressure on the rest of the Dodger pitching staff to step up.
(Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

All summer long, the big question for the Dodger pitching staff has been which relievers would serve as the bridge to Kenley Jansen.

But with the distressing news that Jansen will be sidelined at least into September with an irregular heartbeat, we now have to ponder not only the bridge, but the destination.

You can read all the options the Dodgers have available in my recent review of the Dodger pitching staff, and Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest has a post up today looking specifically at who might close in Jansen’s absence.

My focus today is on the fact that it’s obvious that the Dodgers, who will soon have seven starting pitchers available with the impending returns of Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu from the disabled list, will need to move at least one starting pitcher to the bullpen — two if they don’t go with a six-man rotation.

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Playing .600 ball for 90 days, Dodgers surging if not streaking

Christine Kroeckel/MLB.com

Are you impatient that the Dodgers are barely hugging first place in the National League West, let alone struggling to put more distance between themselves and the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants?

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Street cleaning seems bogus, right?

Is weekly street cleaning just a shallow disguise for generating parking ticket revenue?

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The worst play in baseball: The walkoff balk

In the online baseball world this week, a fun conversation materialized out of a nicely written column by Meg Rowley of Fangraphs: “What is your favorite sort of baseball play?”

With so many great options, there could hardly be a wrong answer to the question (FYI, I’m not making a dare here). I went with the Rodney McCray, epitomizing a fantasy I’ve had of basically making the most memorable, full-sprint, throw-your-body-into-oblivion catch of all time.

Happy as I was to enjoy everyone’s favorites, which together formed a scrapbook of what makes baseball such a treat, the conversation delivered me (with a little help from Tuesday’s Keone Kela trade) to what might be my least favorite baseball play, or certainly one of the dumbest: the walkoff balk.

I’m not big on bans — and certainly, this would be among the most trivial you might find — but this play should be banned.

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It’s time to stop pining for Brandon Morrow

MLB.com

Brandon Morrow is the Joe DiMaggio of a lonely-eyed Dodger Nation.

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