Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Pitching (Page 1 of 15)

Interview: A happy chat with Burt Hooton

Slowly and unsurely, I am sharing some of the conversations I had while writing and researching Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition, on what I have christened the Word to the Weisman podcastHaving already posted my chat with Carl Erskine, we now move exorably but enthusiastically to Burt Hooton, whom I consider to be one of the two or three most underrated pitchers in Dodger history.

Whether or not you have already read about Hooton in Brothers in Arms, I think you’ll enjoy hearing him talk about his life in baseball in his own drawl. I recommend this both for older fans like myself who saw him pitch and younger fans who might not be aware of his talent, given that the way he was overshadowed in the public eye by the likes of Don Sutton and Fernando Valenzuela.

Listen below, or click here to listen on iTunes. 

If you enjoyed this or would like to hear other interviews from me, please let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me @jonweisman on Twitter. Thanks!

Listen on Google Play Music

Who pitched the Dodgers’ top games each year in the 2000s? Some names will surprise you

Clayton Kershaw is by far the most dominant pitcher for the Dodgers — if not all of Major League Baseball — in the 21st century. Not surprisingly, he has pitched the game of the year for the Dodgers more times than anyone else.

But using the tried and true Game Score formula as a barometer, Kershaw has topped the charts in only four of his 11 big-league seasons. During the Kershaw era, some unexpected names have stolen the spotlight from Kershaw, if only for a moment.

In fact, in the 13 seasons from 2001 through 2013, 13 different pitchers had the top Game Score for the Dodgers.

Here’s a year-by-year rundown of the Dodgers’ best Game Score performances each year, dating back to 2000.

Read More

Postseason Opening Day starters for the Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Below is a list of the pitchers who kicked off every postseason for the Dodgers since the start of the 20th century. If the Dodgers won the game, that’s in bold.

Click on any name for the boxscore. I’ve asterisked the Dodgers’ six World Series title years. Note that in five of those years, they lost their first playoff game.

Overall, the Dodgers are 11-20 in their 31 playoff openers heading into tonight: 9-13 since the franchise moved to Los Angeles, 2-7 when the team was in Brooklyn.

Clayton Kershaw has the most postseason Opening Day starts with five, followed by Derek Lowe, Ramón Martínez, Fernando Valenzuela, Don Drysdale, Don Newcombe and Rube Marquard with two each. Hall of Famer pitchers Don Sutton and Sandy Koufax each had only one. 

Read More

Who makes the do-or-die starts for the Dodgers?

On Sunday, Walker Buehler might making the highest-stakes regular-season start by a rookie in Dodger history. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

I’m writing about an event that likely won’t come to pass, an event that most Dodger fans hope doesn’t come to pass.

But as their three-game series at San Francisco begins tonight, the Dodgers could soon be facing as many as four consecutive do-or-die games to reach the National League Division Series.

Read More

The Dodger pitching pecking order for the stretch run

Ross Stripling remains an X factor on the Dodger pitching staff. (Ryan Meyer/MLB.com)

Considering what a mess the Dodger bullpen was a month ago, seemingly undermining every strong effort the starting pitchers made, you might be surprised to see the Los Angeles pitching staff has coalesced more than a little bit. The relief corps still won’t frighten any opponents (yet), but there is some order in the court.

Honestly, this staff can do the job in a vacuum — the question will be, can it do the job in a tornado?

Read More

59 since ’59 — Remembering Sandy Koufax’s record-setting breakout game in Los Angeles

Sandy Koufax wasn’t unknown when he arrived in Los Angeles from Brooklyn, but it was on this date in 1959 that the fans out West caught their best glimpse of the future Hall of Famer.

Read More

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.

Read More

A post-deadline review of the Dodger pitching staff

Clayton Kershaw has a 2.28 ERA since returning from the disabled list, but the Dodgers know he needs bullpen support. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Call it Summer Training for the Dodger pitching staff, with a cautious eye toward the Fall Classic.

As the month of August dawns, there are 29 pitchers currently in the Dodger organization who have been part of the team’s 40-man roster this year. Yep, 29. But with their July mound acquisitions limited to Dylan Floro, Zach Neal and John Axford, is 29 enough?

Read More

Walker Buehler’s time arrives for the Dodgers

Walker Buehler has a 2.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts in his first 10 innings for the Dodgers this year. (Michael Urakami/MLB.com)

Seems like Walker Buehler can take Rancho Cucamonga hotels out of his favorites on Waze.

Read More

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s comeback unique in Dodger history

Since 2017, Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 113 ERA+ in 142 1/3 innings. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Sometime in the next six or 12 months, Julio Urías will attempt to return to the big leagues from major shoulder surgery.

In the meantime, with much less fanfare than one would anticipate for Urías, Hyun-Jin Ryu is making one of the most impressive and odds-defying comebacks ever by a Dodger pitcher.

Ryu is …

  • the first Dodger since Darren Dreifort to make 25 starts after missing more than a season with an injury. (Dreifort was actually a reliever in 1994-95 when he made his first extended stay on the disabled list.)
  • the first Dodger starting pitcher since Orel Hershiser to miss more than a year (April 1990-May 1991) and then return to the rotation to make at least 25 starts.
  • the first Dodger starting pitcher since Tommy John to sit out an entire season (1975) and then return to the rotation for at least 25 starts.

John went 21 months between starts, from July 17, 1974 to April 16, 1976. Ryu missed 22 months, from September 2014 to July 2016, made one MLB appearance — then went another nine months without throwing an official pitch.

And now, Ryu has thrown nearly 150 innings since nearly being mothballed. At least dating back to the franchise’s move to Los Angeles, no pitcher in a Dodger uniform (and there have been several remarkable ones, I hear) has done anything like it.

Read More

Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Eight: The Bullpen

Because we already used Clayton Kershaw’s birthday as an excuse to delve into Part 9 of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (order now!), our series of previews ends on Part Eight: The Bullpen.

Niftily, the position of relief pitcher emerged with the Dodgers around the same time as the Dodger pitching tradition itself took root.

For nearly the entire history of the Dodgers before the end of World War II, when their pitching tradition was incubating, almost every pitcher they used in relief was a moonlighting starter. Only three players in Brooklyn history totaled more than 200 innings in relief before 1940, and two of those were swingmen — Watty Clark and Sherry Smith, who started more games than they relieved. The lone exception, Rube Ehrhardt, did mainly pitch out of the pen from 1926 to 1928, with modest effectiveness.

Starting with Hugh Casey in the 1940s, the game changed, and the Dodgers began transforming pitchers who weren’t cut out to be fulltime starters into pitchers who were primarily relievers, and later purely relievers. In the history of Dodger pitching, they play a supporting but key role, occasionally grabbing headlines—some heartbreaking, some thrilling.

Read More

Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Seven: The Hired Hands

Part Seven of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (order now!) — “The Hired Hands” — is the book’s shortest section, but it takes us to another key transition point for the franchise.

Right up until the final decade of the 20th century, the Dodgers signed or scouted, domestically or internationally, every significant starting pitcher they ever had as an amateur — or parlayed that homegrown talent into a trade for one. While the best things in life aren’t always free, the Dodgers rarely risked big dollars on pitchers from rival area codes. You could say it was pride. Or a conservative streak. Or feeling scorched by the relatively fruitless expenditures on the Dave Goltzes of the world.

But as the 20th century neared an end, the Dodger pitching tradition couldn’t survive on its own momentum. The team had to begin to look elsewhere for talent.

Read More

Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Six: The International Rotation

Our journey through Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!) takes us to what I suppose serves as the beginning of dark days for the modern Dodger fan — the 1990s, when the team didn’t win a single playoff game.

Nevertheless, it was still a key period in the history of Dodger pitching, as I note in the introduction to “Part Six: The International Rotation.”

Read More

Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Five: El Toro and the Bulldog

Back before I settled on the idea of writing Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!), I was toying with doing a biography on a single Dodger pitcher. And among my first choices were the two men who end up appearing together in “Part Five: El Toro and the Bulldog” … Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser.

Read More

Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Nine: The Magnificent Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is 30.

Born March 19, 1988 — seven months and one day before the Dodgers’ most recent World Series title — Kershaw has long been the prodigy, the exceptional, otherworldly wonder. But today, he enters baseball middle age.

Because of this big birthday, I juggled the order of my previews for Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!), jumping ahead to the end. The final chapter of the book is on Kershaw, and Kershaw alone — such is his stature in the history of Dodger pitching.

Read More

Page 1 of 15

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén