Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Eric Surkamp

Two seasons, 80 Dodgers


By Jon Weisman

Dodger Stadium is the land of opportunity. In a month shy of two seasons, the Dodgers have used the equivalent of two 40-man rosters.

On Friday, Carlos Ruiz became the 80th person to play for the Dodgers since Opening Day 2015.

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Dodger minor league report No. 18: Winning time for Julio Urias

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By Jon Weisman

Because of the careful way the Dodgers have controlled his innings at a young age, 19-year-old Julio Urias only had five wins in his first 50 career starts. Thankfully, no one judged him on that.

For the record, Urias has picked up career victories No. 6 and No. 7 in the past two weeks, most recently with six innings of one-run ball in Double-A Tulsa’s 2-1 victory Wednesday over Frisco.

Urias struck out eight and allowed six baserunners in a slender 81 pitches. In August, Urias has a 2.53 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings, and he hasn’t allowed a home run. For the season in Double-A, Urias has a 3.03 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 71 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.

For comparison, at age 19 with Double-A San Antonio, Fernando Valenzuela had a 3.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 162 strikeouts in 174 innings. In a much different era, Valenzuela completed 11 of his 25 starts in 1980 before his callup to the Dodgers, for whom he pitched 17 2/3 innings in relief without allowing an earned run, striking out 16.

Now, let’s take our tour of the system …

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Ian Thomas replaces Eric Surkamp on Dodger roster

Ian Thomas (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Ian Thomas (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

Southpaw pitcher Ian Thomas has been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take the roster spot of Eric Surkamp, who was optioned there.

Thomas has pitched 39 1/3 innings this season in Triple A with a 4.81 ERA and 41 strikeouts against 54 baserunners. This is his third callup by the Dodgers, for whom he has made one appearance: three innings of four-run ball in the first game of the June 2 doubleheader at Colorado.

With Atlanta in 2015, Thomas had a 3.38 ERA in five relief appearances, allowing nine baserunners while striking out five in 5 1/3 innings.

In his Dodger debut Monday, Surkamp allowed a bunt single, walk, home run, single and line-drive double play to the first five batters he faced. After that, he stabilized somewhat, finishing with 3 1/3 innings, four runs, seven baserunners and four strikeouts.

Thomas and Surkamp each faced 16 batters in their lone relief appearances, the most by any Dodger reliever this year.

Dodgers stop Phillies, time in 10-7 triumph

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By Jon Weisman

I’m not sure I can do justice to the surreal quality of tonight’s long and crazy, crazy and long Dodger game, won by the home team, 10-7, in well under five hours, so just take these notes and know that I did not feel rushed to write them.

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Dodgers will take it inning by inning with Garcia, Surkamp

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Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, RF
Yimi Garcia, P
Jimmy Rollins, SS

By Jon Weisman

Flexibility is the name of the game tonight for the Dodgers and their move to start reliever Yimi Garcia tonight, with the plan to bring minor-league starter Eric Surkamp in partway through the game.

“We just thought this was going to give us the best chance (and) the most options to win,” Don Mattingly said, adding that the decision came through conversations with the front office.

Mattingly didn’t say exactly when Surkamp would enter the game, but he joked that Garcia isn’t batting in the No. 8 spot of the order “for his bat.” This is the first time that the Dodgers have a starting pitcher batting eighth since 2009, when it happened eight times, according to (On each of those occasions, Juan Pierre batted ninth.)

The Dodgers went 4-4 with their starting pitcher batting eighth. Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley each had one single.

For his part, Surkamp said today he was told to “be ready for whatever.” He said he would preserve as much of his starting routine as he could.

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Eric Surkamp brought up by Dodgers, but Yimi Garcia will start tonight

Eric Surkamp (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Eric Surkamp has a 3.77 ERA in Triple-A this season. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

Eric Surkamp, whom the Dodgers acquired May 23 from the White Sox for minor-leaguer Blake Smith, has been brought up from Triple-A Oklahoma City for tonight’s game for Los Angeles in place of the injured Carlos Frias.

Surkamp will not start, however. Instead, relief pitcher Yimi Garcia will make his first official MLB start, with the Dodgers possibly then playing a platoon switcheroo and bringing Surkamp in for early long relief. It’s possible the Dodgers could even go through tonight’s game without having the pitcher bat, giving them a psuedo-designated hitter.

Garcia has pitched a career-high two innings four times, most recently June 15 against Texas. His career high in pitches for one game is 33, set September 14 against San Diego. His last professional start came in 2011 with Rookie League Ogden.

The 24-year-old hasn’t pitched since July 1, except for a five-pitch outing Saturday. From June 7-27, he had a 0.79 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings, while stranding all five inherited runners. But in three outings since then, Garcia has allowed four runs on five hits in two innings.

Daniel Coulombe has been optioned to Oklahoma City for the sixth time this year, and Paco Rodriguez has moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day to make room for Surkamp on the 40-man roster.

For a variety of health and scheduling reasons, Scott Baker, Brandon Beachy, Zach Lee, Ian Thomas and Joe Wieland were among the other minor-league starting pitchers unavailable to make today’s start.

In 53 2/3 career MLB innings, Surkamp — who turns 28 in 10 days — has a 6.20 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 98 baserunners. He pitched 35 big-league games in relief in 2013, and his last MLB start was July 23, 2013. He has never pitched in Dodger Stadium.

His best Major League outing was his first, when he allowed one run in six innings on August 27, 2011 for the Giants against Houston, striking out four.

Over his past five starts with Oklahoma City, all in June, the lefty has had a 2.89 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Surkamp pitched for the White Sox against the Dodgers on Opening Day of Cactus League play this year, allowing a run in two innings on two hits, including a Joc Pederson double.

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Unpacking the Uribe-Withrow-Callaspo-Thomas-Jaime-Stults trade (see, that’s a lot to unpack right there)

For photos from Tuesday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Chris Heisey, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

As unusual as the past 36 hours have been, nothing quite brought it home more sharply than seeing Juan Uribe in Atlanta Braves gear at Dodger Stadium, so soon after he had worn Dodger whites for the final time.

Gazing upon Matt Kemp as a Padre on Opening Day took an adjustment and a half, but at least we had most of an offseason to prepare.

But baseball, the game without a clock, ticks on — and everyone moves forward, ready or not. Here is a bullet-point summary of this late afternoon’s news.

  • According to Don Mattingly, Uribe had initiated discussions about his decreased playing time, and Andrew Friedman said that Uribe’s agent told him that Uribe would welcome a trade to a team that would offer more playing time. It wasn’t a literal trade demand, but more an indication of where Uribe’s mind was at.
  • Similarly, Alberto Callaspo balked at the trade at first because he was concerned that his at-bats would go down, according to Friedman, but his concerns were assuaged. It has been reported elsewhere that the Braves paid Callaspo an additional sum to agree to the trade.
  • Friedman thinks the switch-hitting Callaspo can help the Dodgers as a left-handed bat off the bench (with Andre Ethier starting, the Dodgers often don’t have a lefty position player in reserve at all). Callaspo’s positional versatility is also a better fit for the Dodger bench than Uribe would offer, according to Friedman.
  • Chris Withrow was admired enough by Friedman to be a trade target while Friedman was with the Rays, but hopes of what Withrow might provide in 2016 were sacrificed in order to add pitching depth for this year.
  • Left-handed Ian Thomas will be stretched out at Oklahoma City to see if he might become a starter (not coincidentally, a recent Dodger acquisition, Eric Surkamp, is getting the same treatment as a starter for Oklahoma City tonight.) Relief pitching is a fallback for Thomas.
  • Righty reliever Juan Jaime “misses bats,” Friedman said, and so the Dodgers will attack his control problems at in extended Spring Training at Camelback Ranch to see what develops.
  • Chris Heisey was called up in no small part because two Dodger outfielders, Scott Van Slyke and Kiké Hernandez, are not 100 percent healthy.
  • The Dodgers hope that the two pitchers designated for assignment today, Sergio Santos and Eric Stults, will clear waivers and remain in the organization, but whether they clear remains to be seen.
  • Brandon Beachy threw three simulated innings today, ahead of his next steps — first games at Camelback, and hopefully the start of a minor-league rehab assignment in June.
  • For their doubleheader Tuesday at Colorado, the Dodgers get a 26th-man roster exemption. Joe Wieland is lined up in the Triple-A rotation if the Dodgers want him, but they have not announced how they will use the extra spot.

In case you missed it: New stat places A.J. Ellis No. 1 in game-calling

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

For more photos from Friday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis — who was thrust into action midway through Friday’s 2-1 victory over San Diego after Yasmani Grandal was injured — has taken some grief in recent times for not being a strong pitch framer. However, according to a report by Harry Pavlidis for, Ellis ranks No. 1 in Major League Baseball in a new statistic measuring game calling: game-calling runs above average (GCAA).

Here’s a fun task: Try quantifying something as ephemeral as game-calling. Well, after a decade of research, that’s just what we’ve managed to do — by crafting a statistical model that attempts to quantify the value of everything from stolen-base prevention and directing pace of play to identifying hitter tendencies like swing behavior in various game situations and knowing which batters expand hit zones in RBI opportunities. Sound complicated? Oh, it is. But based on these factors, and controlling for others, we can now quantify, in runs saved, how well catchers manage their pitchers. …

… Ellis is the best game caller in the business, and now we can actually prove it. His game-calling alone saved the Dodgers 38 runs from 2012 to 2014, though he gave back 19 of those runs with everything else he did behind the plate (see below). Does it hurt to be Ellis? At times, perhaps. But at least now, when that ninth foul tip slaps his once-unheralded (but now-appreciated) inner thigh, it might not sting quite so much.

There’s not a whole lot of detail in describing the methodology behind GCAA, so we’ll see how it stands up to scrutiny. Update: On his Twitter feed, Pavlidis has been adding to the discussion.

Grandal, meanwhile, is uncertain for tonight’s game after being hit in the face in consecutive innings Friday by Yangervis Solarte’s bat and a Matt Kemp foul ball. Triple-A catcher Austin Barnes was removed midway through Oklahoma City’s game Friday in case he needs to be called up. Ken Gurnick of has more details.

In other developments …

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu spoke to reporters post-surgery Friday, and revealed that there was knowledge about his labrum tear two years and 344 innings of 3.17 ERA ago. ” Ryu, his left arm in a sling during a Dodger Stadium news conference, said he was always able to pitch with it and figured he’d be able to again after it flared up in Spring Training,” wrote Gurnick.
  • Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford are not much closer to returning to the Dodger outfield, Don Mattingly told reporters Friday. Puig, who has an .845 OPS in 50 plate appearances, has felt tightness trying to even jog.
  • Double-A Tulsa righty pitcher (and converted outfielder) Blake Smith was traded by the Dodgers to the White Sox for right-handed pitcher Eric Surkamp. Both are 27 years old. In 53 2/3 career MLB innings, Surkamp has a 6.20 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 98 baserunners. For Triple-A Charlotte this year, Surkamp has a 2.81 ERA with 30 strikeouts against 28 baserunners in 25 2/3 innings.
  • Carlos Frias’ ongoing adjustments are the subject of Daniel Brim’s piece on Carlos Frias today at Dodgers Digest.
  • The Dodgers’ offensive scoreless-inning streak ended at a record-tying 35 innings with Andre Ethier’s RBI double in the fifth, though they didn’t score an earned run until Joc Pederson’s game-winning homer three innings later.
  • Chris Hatcher, who threw 1/105th of the pitches that Zack Greinke threw, was credited with his first career Dodger victory.
  • Kenley Jansen struck out two in his perfect ninth inning. His K/9 dropped to 21.0.
  • Pederson has struck out four times in his past 39 plate appearances (10.3 percent). Prior to that in 2015, he had struck out 43 times in 127 plate appearances (33.9 percent).

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