Dodger Thoughts

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

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August and everything after

1994By Jon Weisman

Twenty years ago, this was shaping up to be a good week.

As spring sneaked up on summer in 1994, the Dodgers were in first place. They surged to the top with a seven-game winning streak in mid-May and never fell off the perch, taking the division lead into August. My niece – my brother’s first child and my parents’ first grandchild – was born on August 8.

I was an uncle, the Dodgers were on top, and bigger than any of it, I was in love.

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Newest Dodger turns Atlanta into Correia Town

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Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 8.38.23 PMBy Jon Weisman

Even though one start is only one start, it’s hard not to feel good about this afternoon’s post. Atlanta could hardly touch Kevin Correia in tonight’s 6-2 Dodger victory, one that moved them five games up on San Francisco in the National League West.

That’s one victory in the books for the Dodgers from their new No. 6 starter, setting up some nice dominoes for the rest of the Dodgers’ week.

See the spray chart at right? Only two balls hit by the Braves went beyond medium left field, and one of those was Evan Gattis’ inconsequential double off Carlos Frias in the ninth.

Correia faced 23 batters, striking out five and getting 10 groundouts. He allowed a walk, three singles and a double. There were two lineouts, one on a sweet, skyscraping catch by Miguel Rojas. Atlanta reached ball three in the count only three times the entire night.

Maybe sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but tonight, Correia was plenty good.

Oh, and Correia went 2 for 2 at the plate, scoring the Dodgers’ first run after they trailed 1-0 through five innings. Dodger pitchers have reached base seven of their past 14 trips to the plate.

Despite seeing two of their first three baserunners get picked off, the Dodgers plenty whelmed Atlanta, reaching base 15 times (that’s 33 in their past two games) against Atlanta’s top pitcher, Julio Teheran, and looking sharper than their opponents defensively. Special mention to Carl Crawford, who is 5 for 8 in his past two games.

On Kevin Correia and the upside of inconsistency

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Dodgers at Braves, 4:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Kevin Correia, P
Note: Pedro Baez has been optioned to Albuquerque to make room for Correia on the roster.

By Jon Weisman

Kevin Correia takes the mound tonight, in his first start for the Dodgers, with the lowest strikeout rate (4.24 per nine innings) of any Major League starting pitcher since 2013.

Correia has faced an average of 25 batters per start this year, striking out 11 percent of them. Approximately nine out of every 10 batters against Correia either walks or puts the bat on the ball.

Perhaps you’re wondering how this ends well for the Dodgers.

One thing to consider is the value of inconsistency. In 13 of his 23 starts this season, Correia has held the opposition to three runs or less. That doesn’t speak well of the other 10 appearances, and five of them, in which he allowed more runs than innings pitched, are best not spoken of at all.

The point here isn’t to try to spin Correia into the second coming of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke or Hyun-Jin Ryu. He’s a clear tier below. But the goal is to offer a little perspective, and I can’t think of a more artful way to say it than this: Below average is not the same as hopeless, and a below-average acquisition is not the same as a pointless one.

If I told you, without naming names, that the Dodgers had a 57 percent chance of a quality start tonight, you wouldn’t despair that the game was lost, nor should you. And that’s from a spot starter whose assignment is to give the other five starting pitchers a breather.

There’s an argument that the Dodgers could have turned to Carlos Frias or a current minor-leaguer to fill that role, an argument that I’m sympathetic to (mainly because I’m reflexively eager to see a kid thrust onstage), but whether that’s the right argument isn’t clear. If the goal for this pitcher is to eat up innings and keep the Dodgers in the game, and we assume that the cost of acquiring Correia is low, it’s not obvious that an in-house candidate is a better choice than Correia right now.

Correia generally keeps the ball in the park, allowing home runs in nine of his 23 games this year. He generally puts the ball over the plate, walking two or fewer in 20 of 23 games. The rest he mostly leaves up to giving his defense a chance at the ball. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But he gives you that chance.

If it doesn’t work out with Correia or Roberto Hernandez, the Dodgers can then theoretically turn to Frias, Red Patterson, Zack Lee or Chris Reed if they need to. The reverse isn’t necessarily true. Given that other teams need rotation help as well, it’s not obvious that Correia and Hernandez would have been around in a week or two. Some of you might be laughing at that, but ask the Angels, for example, whom they can turn to for depth now that Tyler Skaggs is having Tommy John surgery.

Every little bit can help, even if it doesn’t help every single time.

The A.J. Ellis Happy Home Run Dance

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Because when it’s right, it’s right …

— Jon Weisman

Kershaw shows all the tools in latest victory

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By Jon Weisman

Today’s game didn’t exactly slow the downhill-rolling boulder that is Clayton Kershaw’s National League Most Valuable Player candidacy.

The former prep football center was the equivalent of an NFL Punt, Pass & Kick winner today, leading the Dodgers to a 5-1 victory at Milwaukee that helped push them to a season-high 4 1/2-game lead in the NL West.

Kershaw walked leadoff batter Carlos Gomez today, the first walk the big lefty had allowed in the first inning all season. But as omens go, it wasn’t much.

Lowering his 2014 ERA to 1.78, Kershaw allowed one run on eight baserunners in eight innings with six strikeouts — and was his own best friend today. Not only did he reach base thrice (hit by a pitch, walk and RBI single), he also picked off Carlos Gomez in the fourth and made, as you can revisit in the video above, one of the great diving plays you’ll ever see a pitcher make, thwarting a Milwaukee squeeze bunt attempt.

Laundry detergent companies, the endorsement ball’s in your court.

Kershaw won his 11th straight decision, the longest winning streak for a Dodger pitcher since Orel Hershiser in 1985. Since the start of June, Kershaw has a 1.16 ERA with 117 strikeouts against only 12 walks and 62 hits in 101 innings, averaging 7.8 innings per start.

The Dodgers whittled away at the Brewers with single runs in the third, fifth and seven innings before busting loose for two in the eighth, thanks in no small part to A.J. Ellis’ first home run of 2014 and Miguel Rojas’ career-high third hit of the game.

Adrian Gonzalez had two doubles, a sacrifice fly and two RBI, and is 9 for 14 with three doubles, two homers and three walks in his past four games. The Dodgers reached base 18 times in all today.

Hanley Ramirez placed on disabled list, Darwin Barney recalled

Dodgers at Brewers, 11:10 a.m.
Kershaw CCI: The Kershawering Inferno
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Reality asserted itself upon Hanley Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Saturday) with a right oblique strain.

Darwin Barney, recently acquired from the Cubs, was brought up from Triple-A Albuquerque to take Ramirez’s roster spot.

Ramirez is the eighth Dodger currently on the 15- or 60-day disabled lists, but the only non-pitcher after Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Onelki Garcia, Paul Maholm, Chris Perez, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow.

Barney was 9 for 35 with three walks and a double with the Isotopes.

The Dodgers also designated relief pitcher Colt Hynes for assignment. Acquired from the Indians in April, Hynes had a 4.08 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 53 innings with Albuquerque.

Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig gets a rest after starting 15 consecutive games. Puig has a .381 on-base percentage and .586 slugging percentage in that period, but is 0 for 8 with a walk in the two previous Milwaukee games.

Update: A note from Don Mattingly’s media session today was that newly acquired Kevin Correia could start for the Dodgers as soon as Monday in Atlanta, to give an extra day of rest to rest of the rotation.

Dodgers acquire Kevin Correia

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By Jon Weisman

For the second time this week, the Dodgers have acquired a veteran pitcher, tonight picking up Kevin Correia from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Correia, who turns 34 on August 24, provides another starting pitching or long relief option. This season, he has a 4.94 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 23 starts covering 129 1/3 innings, including a 4.03 ERA since May 20.

His best year might have been as a reliever in 2007, when he had a 3.45 ERA in 59 games (51 in relief) with 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Are the breaks beating the boys?

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Dodgers at Brewers, 4:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Though they knew that Yasiel Puig’s bat had suffered a serious break on a check swing, the Dodgers were awaiting to find out the severity of the injury that forced Hanley Ramirez out of the first inning Friday’s 9-3 loss to Milwaukee.

Miguel Rojas is starting in the short term, but if Ramirez has to go on the disabled list, the Dodgers could call up Erisbel Arruebarrena, Darwin Barney or even Alex Guerrero to take some of the shortstop load.

Ramirez was injured in his 100th game of the season last night, 88 of which he has played shortstop. Did you know that only one Dodger in the past six seasons before this one has fielded at least 100 games at short? That was Rafael Furcal in 2009.

A week of injuries and promotions

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt with Chris Reed at Spring Training (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt with Chris Reed at Spring Training (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at Brewers, 5:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Drew Butera, C
Roberto Hernandez, P

By Jon Weisman

So, this has been an interesting week:

  • Saturday: Paul Maholm to the disabled list.
  • Monday: Chris Perez to the disabled list.
  • Tuesday: Paco Rodriguez to the disabled list.
  • Friday: Josh Beckett to the disabled list.

There has been some good news, though. Carlos Frias made his Major League debut with two shutout innings. Pedro Baez came back and pitched a shutout inning against the Angels.

And left-handed pitcher Chris Reed received a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Reed’s ERA in Double-A Chattanooga is 3.22 this season, with 116 strikeouts in 137 innings compared with 169 baserunners. He will no doubt find the environment in the Pacific Coast League a shock to his system, but it’s still a nice step for the 25-year-old taken in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Stanford.

As Josh Beckett heads to disabled list, revisit a memorable comeback

By Jon Weisman

Josh Beckett has officially gone on the disabled list today with a left hip impingement, an event that jeopardizes the remainder of his season. Whenever he’s destined to pitch again, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the remarkable contributions and moments he gave the Dodgers and their fans so far in 2014, even as his body at times seemed to be doing everything it could to fight against him.

Below, I’m posting our story on Beckett from the July Dodger Insider magazine, one that’s a little more poignant now but still effective in illustrating how big his comeback was. And below that, relive Beckett’s May 25 no-hitter again.

Click each file to enlarge.

Beckett 1

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Josh Beckett sidelined

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Dodgers at Angels, 7:10 p.m.
Justin Turner, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Matt Kemp, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
(Hyun-Jin Ryu, P)

By Jon Weisman

Josh Beckett is not going to make his next start Friday in Milwaukee, and newly acquired Roberto Hernandez is on his way there to take the mound for the Dodgers.

Mattingly told reporters that Hernandez would make the start “as long as that plane gets there,” Bill Shaikin of the Times tweeted.

Beckett, who is having hip issues and is going to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache today, has a 2.88 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings for the Dodgers this season. He passed the 2,000-inning plateau for his career earlier in 2014, but has not pitched more than five innings in a game since June 26.

 

Dodgers add to starting pitching depth with Roberto Hernandez

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By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers have acquired right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez from the Philadelphia Phillies, in exchange for two players to be named later or cash considerations.

“Roberto provides us with another big league starting pitcher, who has pitched well this year, particularly the last seven starts,” said Dodger general manager Ned Colletti. “He has postseason experience and helps fortify the rotation down the stretch.”

Hernandez is not to be confused with the relief pitcher of the same name whose 17-year MLB career ended with the Dodgers in 2007.

The Dodgers’ newest Roberto Hernandez, who turns 34 on August 30, has a 3.87 ERA with 75 strikeouts against 108 hits and 55 walks in 121 innings for the Phillies this year. He has started 20 games and relieved in three others. On May 23, he lost a 2-0 duel to Clayton Kershaw in Philadelphia.

In his past seven starts, Hernandez has a 2.85 ERA with one home run allowed in 47 1/3 innings, allowing 52 baserunners while striking out 19.

His top season came in 2007, when he had a 3.06 ERA in 215 innings with 148 strikeouts and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting. Hernandez was known at that time and until early 2012 as Fausto Carmona.

Throwback Thursday: Carlos Frias comes to the U.S.

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Young Dodger reliever Carlos Frias is among those featured in this video from December 2009 showing how new Dodgers from the Dominican Republic adapted to Rookie Ball life in Ogden. Food worlds collide!

— Jon Weisman

Dodgers find the Haren necessities

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By Jon Weisman

How effective was Dan Haren tonight? In matching his longest outing of the season in innings, he had his second-shortest start of the season in pitches.

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Chone Figgins designated for assignment

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Angels, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Matt Kemp, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
(Dan Haren, P)

By Jon Weisman

Chone Figgins, whose most recent game with the Dodgers was June 13, has been designated for assignment, the team announced today.

Figgins, whose minor-league rehabilitation assignment was completed this week, could clear waivers and return to the Dodger organization if he accepts that assignment, or he could be claimed by or traded to another team.

Figgins had a .373 on-base percentage and .267 slugging percentage with Los Angeles in 76 plate appearances this season. He is the first Dodger with at least 75 plate appearances to have an OBP that high and a slugging percentage that low since Ellie Rodriguez in 1976.

Figgins also had a .393 OBP with Triple-A Albuquerque in 76 plate appearances this season.

Miguel Rojas, the third-ranked defensive infielder on the Dodgers, according to Fangraphs, has established himself as the team’s top backup shortstop. On the MLB roster, Justin Turner also plays every infield position, with Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Carlos Triunfel and Darwin Barney among other waiting in the wings in the minors.

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