Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: J.P. Howell (Page 1 of 2)

Best of the 2010s:
The All-Decade Dodgers

Raymond Gorospe/

We have nearly reached the end of the ’10s, and though selections of the Dodgers’ all-decade team should probably wait until after the 2019 World Series, these few days of relative calm before the storm of the postseason seemed like a good time to reveal them. Nothing is likely to affect these choices between now and then (although I’m fascinated by the idea that something could). 

Most challenging was having to deal with five legitimate candidates for the four openings at outfield/first base. Catcher was nearly a toss-up, and second base yielded its own surprise. 

Here we go … 

Read More

Andrew Friedman, Dave Roberts explain Dodgers’ NLDS roster choices

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers faced several hard choices in coming up with their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series — and to some extent, the specific matchup with the Washington Nationals served as a tiebreaker.

Read More

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.

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

Marathon outing shows J.P. Howell has bounced back

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

J.P. Howell allowed four runs in this April 7 game at San Francisco — and has allowed four runs since. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Before Sunday, J.P. Howell hadn’t pitched two complete innings in a game since 2013, and hadn’t pitched three innings since 2008.

But in the Dodgers’ 17-inning victory over San Diego, Howell whipped through nine outs, allowing only one hit. Considering the outing, his 35 pitches were economical, but they were still an unusually high total for the 33-year-old. Not that he was complaining.

“I haven’t pitched too much this year, so it was kind of nice to be out there for that long period of time,” said Howell.

In fact, Howell said he was ready to come back and pitch Monday if needed. Tuesday was a different story, however.

“You go three innings, you can pitch the next day,” he said. “It’s day two — it’s like once you stop and recovery starts to happen, it’s over.

“So for me, it was yesterday — I was really feeling it. And it’s not your arm, it’s your body, just the middle of your body, the whole core — the front and the back is stiff.”

Read More

Avilan, Bolsinger called up — Tsao to disabled list, Stripling optioned

Ross Stripling pitched three shutout innings Sunday. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Ross Stripling, whose season began with 7 1/3 no-hit innings April 8 in San Francisco, pitched three shutout innings Sunday in his relief debut. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Regrouping after throwing 582 pitches in three games at San Diego — and losing one of their pitchers to the disabled list in the process — the Dodgers are bringing up two fresh arms for their pitching staff.

Read More

In case you missed it: Dodgers option Liberatore, hone in on bullpen

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Dodgers at Padres, 1:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Chase Utley, 2B
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Ross Stripling, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers are down to two left-handers in their Major League bullpen after optioning Adam Liberatore to the minors following the team’s 5-4 victory Monday over Texas.

The question now is, will they go down to one?

Since we last checked in on the bullpen, it has been whittled in predictable fashion, leaving the following:

Read More

Dodgers offseason update from Andrew Friedman

Tommy Lasorda, one of the people not interviewing for the Dodger managerial opening, with Andrew Friedman. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tommy Lasorda, who is not interviewing for the Dodger managerial opening, speaks with Andrew Friedman in August. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

OK, so the Dodgers have no new manager or head trainer yet, no new free-agent signings or trades to announce, nothing locked down for the coaching staff.

But with the MLB General Managers meetings underway today through Thursday, Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke to reporters to provide an offseason update. Here’s a sample of what was said …

Read More

Taking the panic out of the Dodgers’ improved bullpen

Chris Hatcher (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chris Hatcher has allowed a .529 OPS since August 31. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Pirates at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCXXXIX: Kershawlk the Line
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Heisey, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Maybe you groaned when Zack Greinke left Friday’s Dodger game in the eighth inning. Maybe you thought “Here we go again” when Chris Hatcher gave up an RBI single to Pittsburgh left fielder Starling Marte on his very first pitch.

But if you’ve really been paying attention lately, you might have noticed that was an aberration.

And you might not have been surprised that Hatcher came right back, buckled down and got the Pirates’ most dangerous hitter, Andrew McCutchen, to foul out, before Aramis Ramirez grounded modestly to first base.

Since September 1, the Dodger bullpen has the second-lowest WHIP (1.03) in the National League and is first in strikeout-walk ratio. These are among several encouraging signs for a relief staff that was strong in the first third of the 2015 season before slumping terribly in the middle portion.

Though not exactly like the team’s 180-degree basestealing turn (an MLB-best 34 for 43 since August 1), the Dodger bullpen seems to have evolved from a weakness into, if not an out-and-out strength, at least an adequacy.

Understandably, there’s still the fear that this could all blow up again in a minute. But to give credit where credit is due: Since the Dodgers’ disastrous 0-5 roadtrip from August 18-23, they have played 23 games. Here’s how many times the bullpen has hurt the Dodgers …

  • September 3: Dodgers lead 7-4 in sixth inning at San Diego, lose 10-7.
  • September 9: Dodgers tied 2-2 in eighth inning at Anaheim, lose 3-2.
  • September 15: Dodgers trail 3-1 in seventh inning vs. Colorado, lose 5-4 in 16 innings.

I’d argue that the last example shouldn’t even count: Dodger relievers allowed one run in nine innings before erstwhile starting pitcher Mat Latos gave up the 16th-inning homer to Nolan Arenado. But even including that defeat, that’s an encouraging slate.

The Dodgers are 18-5 since August 25, despite only one complete game and 72 1/3 innings from the bullpen.

Read More

Dodger Insider magazine — September 2015 edition

September 2015 cover

September magazine sidebarBy Jon Weisman

He is a man of family. A man of faith. A man of baseball. And for Clayton Kershaw, the spirit he brings to one informs the spirit he brings to all.

That’s the approach we took to our special, 13-page photo essay in the September issue of Dodger Insider magazine that highlights numerous aspects of Kershaw’s love of the game.

September also presents a package of pieces on the Dodger bullpen — but don’t be nervous. There’s a fun feature on the unique, odd-couple relationship between Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell, plus a 100-year history of the Dodger relief corps. Another story you should enjoy, written by Mark Langill, is what happens at Dodger Stadium after the final out to tuck our beloved ballpark in at night.

In all, there are more than two dozen stories in Dodger Insider magazine, plus all the usual great photos, games, tidbits and more. For $5 at the ballpark, it’s a bargain.

Dodger Insider magazine is available at all Dodger team stores.

Bear and grin it: The line between too much and too little encouragement


By Jon Weisman

How far should you go to light a fire under someone?

After seeing the Oscar-nominated movie “Whiplash” last winter, with its internal debate between tough love and abuse, I was curious what the reaction would be in the sports world. So earlier this season, I talked to Scott Van Slyke, A.J. Ellis, Kiké Hernandez, J.P. Howell and Darwin Barney about it for the July issue of Dodger Insider magazine. Click each page below to enlarge.

Read More

In case you missed it: On the off day


By Jon Weisman

Good day, everyone. I’ve got a long buildup of links to share, and today’s off day provides the opportunity.

Read More

Dodgers stop Phillies, time in 10-7 triumph

[mlbvideo id=”235935283″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

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.

Read More

Shutout Sunday won’t extend to All-Star selections Monday


By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers were shut out today by the Mets and the National League All-Star voters, who didn’t put any Dodger position players among the league’s elected starters.

Los Angeles still has a chance to make an impression on the All-Star roster when reserves are announced Monday afternoon, with Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell in consideration for the pitching staff and Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner for the bench. Pederson and Greinke could still even end up in the starting lineup.

Read More

J.P. Howell is back in business

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Guess what? It’s increasingly looking that J.P. Howell’s struggles in late September and October last year were an aberration.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 9.34.05 AM

By striking out the side in the Dodgers’ 1-0 balkoff victory Thursday over Texas, Howell has now pitched 18 1/3 consecutive innings since allowing his last earned run. And the only inherited runner who scored this month on Howell came in on a passed ball in the ninth inning at Colorado, the night Kenley Jansen was too ill to pitch.

Only one batter out of the 83 Howell has faced this year has an extra-base hit, and it’s pretty forgivable — Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt’s leadoff double in the ninth inning of an 8-0 Dodger victory on May 1.

The biggest difference between Howell this year and his 2013-14 heyday is that his strikeout rate, even after his last outing, is down. But even while allowing a higher batting average on balls in play in 2015, he has managed to keep batters off base at essentially the same rates.

Among pitchers with at least 100 innings in Dodger history, only Takashi Saito has a better adjusted ERA than Howell, and only five pitchers (Saito, Kenley Jansen, 1915 starter Phil Douglas, Clayton Kershaw and Jay Howell) have a better WHIP.

Howell can’t maintain a 0.45 ERA all year, but don’t let that stop you from being impressed.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén