Dodger Thoughts

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

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

In case you missed it: Blowin’ in the wind

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Cubs at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Andre Ethier, DH
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
(Brandon McCarthy, P)

By Jon Weisman

How many steps must a man run down
Before he realizes he’s not going to catch that home run by Howie Kendrick?

The answer, my friend, is 11. That’s about how many footprints Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin made before he watched forlornly as Kendrick’s homer sailed about a first down or two beyond the outfield fence.

Here is some postgame reaction, from Pedro Moura of the Register:

It was 11 a.m. Tuesday, two hours before the Dodgers were to play the Texas Rangers here, 20 minutes away from their spring-training home, and Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins had made plans to carpool.

Kendrick was dressed and ready to go; Rollins was still in his workout gear, needing to shower. They chided each other in the clubhouse, Rollins telling Kendrick to slow down, Kendrick telling Rollins to speed up. That’s the relationship the two men have developed in three weeks as teammates after almost a decade of mutual, cross-league admiration.

So, after Kendrick smashed perhaps the longest homer of his pro career Tuesday, at least 440 feet to dead center off Rangers left-hander Joe Beimel, no one in the Dodgers clubhouse was better suited than Rollins to provide perspective.

“Actually, I kind of thought I missed it a little bit,” Kendrick tried to say. “I guess the wind was blowing today.”

Rollins interjected: “In other words, I’ve never hit one that well.” …

Click here to read the entire article.
And now, here are some more morning links …

  • Baseball Prospectus gives the Dodgers an 89.7 percent chance of making the playoffs and 17.6 percent for winning the World Series, significantly higher than the other 29 teams. Will Leitch writes about the playoff odds today at Sports on Earth.
  • offers a sortable Milestone Tracker (link via Openers), putting the spotlight on future achievements great and small. Here are the lists for Dodger hitters and for Dodger pitchers. Now you know when Jimmy Rollins will enter MLB’s all-time top 50 in steals.
  • J.P. Howell warmed up too long during the Dodgers’ seven-run fifth inning, the pitcher and Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of On the bright side, Howell a) learned his lesson and b) doesn’t figure to make many appearances after the Dodgers score seven runs in an inning.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu’s fluctuating velocity (well, the fluctuating velocity of Ryu’s pitches, not Ryu himself) is the subject of this piece by Eric Stephen at True Blue L.A.
  • Andrew Friedman on meeting Sandy Koufax, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News:

    “It’s very rare in life where you have incredibly high expectations for someone and they actually exceed them,” Friedman said. “It’s really all encompassing — the type of person he is, the way he articulates his points, the knowledge he has, the way he’s able to question things in a very thoughtful way. I had so many different conversations over the span of that week that were incredibly thought-provoking and got me thinking.”

  • Today is the 60th anniversary of Koufax’s first game at Spring Training in Vero Beach, we were told by Historic Dodgertown in a press release. At age 19, he faced seven batters, walking two and striking out five. In the same game, 18-year-old Don Drysdale pitched four innings and struck out eight.
  • Brandon Beachy threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since his second Tommy John operation, reports Gurnick, who adds that Beachy was both excited but keeping his enthusiasm in check.
  • Director of player development Gabe Kapler is a big booster of social media for athletes. At his blog Kaplifestyle, he explains why.
  • No more hanging chads at the ballpark: All-Star Game balloting is going all digital, notes Mike Oz at Big League Stew. End of an era …
  • Finally, we’re looking ahead to today’s biggest contest …


More from Hoornstra here.

In case you missed it nightcap: Late-inning heroics

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Milwaukee Brewers

For more photos from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Just imagine it was a pennant race. Kyle Jensen (two-run homer in the eighth) and Corey Seager (walkoff RBI double in the ninth) brought homw go-ahead runs in consecutive innings for the Dodgers, who improved to 4-1-1 with a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee.

Just a few more links before we close out for this daylight-savings discombobulated day …Los Angeles Dodgers vs Milwaukee Brewers

  • Brandon McCarthy threw 15 pitches in the bullpen after his two-inning outing Sunday, mostly to work on his curveball, according to Ken Gurnick of
  • J.P. Howell will take a short break from workouts because of mild tightness in his left groin, reports Gurnick.
  • Service members from the 56th Fighter Wing at nearby Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona near Camelback Ranch are shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice for the Dodgers, notes Gurnick. The venture provides a great interaction with the military while helping reduce injury risk for Dodger pitchers.
  • Justin Turner had the Dodgers’ defensive play of the game Saturday:

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In case you missed it: Kick in the pants edition

Los Angeles Dodgers first workout for pitchers and catchers

For more photos from today, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Let’s see what’s underfoot …

  • Clayton Kershaw feels good but was very self-judgmental after his first bullpen session at Camelback, reports Ken Gurnick of
  • J.P. Howell and Joel Peralta are in their third city as teammates, writes Gurnick. (Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has more.)
  • Early arrival Yasiel Puig is the subject of this feature by’s Anthony Castrovince, who writes that “this morning, he was taking hacks off the pitching machine with a slightly different mechanical intention, trying not to wrap the bat over his head as much in his stance and keeping his hands just a tad farther from his right shoulder.”
  • Here’s how Corey Seager is out to make a good first impression, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.
  • Dan Haren officially reported to Spring Training for the Marlins, as this Associated Press story indicates.
  • David Schoenfield of’s Sweet Spot looks at some of the key non-roster invitees of the National League West.
  • Dick Young’s February 1957 story on the Dodgers’ purchase of Wrigley Field in Los Angeles was reprinted today by the New York Daily News.
  • Here’s a video clip from Thursday of Andrew Friedman and Don Mattingly discussing the Dodgers’ bullpen situation, courtesy of SportsNet LA.

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And more from social media …

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Whoever’s pitching, Matt Carpenter is hammering

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By Jon Weisman

On Friday, Don Mattingly was hit hard for not replacing Clayton Kershaw with J.P. Howell in the seventh inning.

Tonight, in the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory over St. Louis in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Mattingly got almost as much grief when he replaced Zack Greinke with Howell.

Howell, whom it seems safe to say is in a slump after being at the top of his game for nearly the entire regular season, gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Matt Carpenter, the batter he would have faced with the bases loaded if Kershaw had been pulled one batter sooner.

It showed pretty starkly why Mattingly was reluctant to give up on his best pitcher in Game  1.

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Dodgers aim to end roadtrip the Wright way

Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs

For more photos from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20 a.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Jamey Wright, P

By Jon Weisman

Since becoming a full-time relief pitcher, Jamey Wright has made one start, with the Rays on September 1, 2013. As Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. noted, the start came in part because of concern over Wright’s current Dodger teammate, Roberto Hernandez.

Today, Wright will start the Dodgers’ 2014 regular-season road finale at Wrigley Field, the capper of a week of extraordinary reliance on the bullpen.

Wright, who started 246 games from 1996-2007, has had three short outings this week of 16 pitches Monday, 10 pitches Tuesday and 12 pitches Friday. He has had two three-inning outings with the Dodgers this year, both in May and peaking when he won the second game of the Minnesota doubleheader that went extra innings on May 1. That game, which featured Red Patterson’s only big-league appearance, was about as close to a bullpen game as the Dodgers have come until this week’s non-stop reliever parade.

Dodger relievers, not unexpectedly, threw four more innings in Saturday’s bummer of an 8-7 loss to Chicago, giving them 29 2/3 in six days. Kenley Jansen and Yimi Garcia are the freshest heading into today’s game, though the only pitcher who might be unavailable after pitching two days in a row is J.P. Howell.

The home run that Howell allowed Saturday was his first in more than a year, since September 6, 2013, and third as a Dodger. Even after that blast, Howell has allowed only a .249 slugging percentage in his two years with Los Angeles.

Brian Wilson, who gave up the game-winning home run in the eighth inning, had pitched shutout ball without allowing an inherited runner to score in nine consecutive appearances dating back a month. Since the All-Star Break, Wilson hadn’t allowed a run or an inherited runner to score in 17 of 19 appearances, striking out 19 while allowing 16 baserunners in 15 1/3 innings.  I won’t pretend that Wilson has looked like a shutdown reliever in that stretch, but he hasn’t been a gascan either.

The difference Saturday, as Ken Gurnick of noted, was that Dodger manager Don Mattingly hasn’t let Wilson face many lefties with power potential. Chris Coghlan had already homered once Saturday when he came up against Wilson.

(Mattingly) said he knows Wilson didn’t hit 90 mph with a pitch in this game, but Wilson indicated that he’s been a cutter pitcher all season after being unsuccessful early in the year when he occasionally amped up to the mid-90s. He said he didn’t locate the home run pitch, he’s not hurting and that velocity is not a correct barometer for his season.

“It’s what he’s been doing all year,” Mattingly said. “Nothing different than all year. Not trying to change anything, this is what we’ve been doing to get us here. Today it didn’t work out.”

Except that by the time Wilson had come in, Mattingly had used lefties Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Daniel Coulombe. Scott Elbert and his delicate arm were used Friday, so Wilson faced the left-handed-hitting Coghlan. Lefties are hitting 52 points higher than righties against Wilson, which is why Mattingly has been setting up with both when possible to avoid these kinds of vulnerable matchups.

Defense, defense

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Though it was ultimately in vain, the Dodger defense put on a show Saturday. Take a look.

— Jon Weisman

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A little notebook music

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Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCIII: Kershawsablanca
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
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Some random facts to take your mind off the Dodgers’ injury woes:

  • Clayton Kershaw is by almost any definition a clutch pitcher. Did you know he’s also a career .304 hitter in 46 at-bats from the seventh inning on, including his Opening Day 2013 home run.
  • J.P. Howell crossed the 100-inning threshold as a Dodger this month, and with that as a minimum, became the Dodgers’ all-time leader in ERA at 1.75. Kershaw is 16th, but third if you up the minimum to 1,000 innings. Here’s the top 20:
  • Since June 1, the Dodgers have more victories (41) than home runs (36). The last time the Dodgers did that over a full season was 1976.
  • Left-handed batters are hitless against Kershaw’s slider this year, notes Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a good piece putting the Dodgers’ late-inning performance at the plate in perspective. It’s similar to what I’ve written about the Dodgers’ struggles with the bases loaded coming while they lead the National League in on-base percentage with runners in scoring position — the latter situations coming far, far more often. A smaller negative shouldn’t outweigh a larger positive.
  • Dazzy Vance was “the ultimate outlier,” writes Tony Blengino at Fangraphs.

From the magazine: The quirks that work

Wanted to share this fun feature by Cary Osborne from the August edition of Dodger Insider magazine that looks at the oddities in the pitching motions for such Dodgers as Clayton Kershaw and J.P. Howell. Click on each image below to enlarge the pages.

— Jon Weisman

Quirks 1

Quirks 2

You’d think it was Father’s Day


By Jon Weisman

Why yes, I have noticed that a certain Even Steven approach to the Dodger exhibition season. Cyndi Lauper is putting out her new single, “Tie After Tie,” as we speak.

Today’s 8-8 deadlock with Oakland widened the Dodgers’ Cactus League record to 4-6-4 and gave them ties in nearly 30 percent of their contests. In their past 10 games, the Dodgers are 2-4-4. Their past six games have been as easy as 1-2-3.

Last year, Los Angeles played 15 extra-inning games out of 162 in the regular season.

The Dodgers allowed a game-tying five runs in the eighth inning today, but it could have been worse. Brian Wilson, still mixing the occasional knuckleball, had a visit to the mound from an assistant trainer in the eighth inning (no, I’m not making a connection there), but the team reported no trouble to Ken Gurnick of

Wilson was charged with two runs, while Carlos Frias, who retired none of his four batters, was charged with three.

Los Angeles looked great at the outset, with Andre Ethier lovingly smashing a three-run home run in the first inning, Juan Uribe following with a solo shot, and Hyun-Jin Ryu scattering a run and four baserunners over five innings, striking out four.

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Miguel Olivo added a three-run double (not to mention a stolen base) in helping boost the Dodgers’ lead to 8-3. In addition, J.P. Howell and Dee Gordon each turned in fine defensive plays.

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Following the game today, the Dodgers optioned pitcher Matt Magill and reassigned Frias, J.C. Boscan, Brendan Harris and Clint Robinson to minor-league camp. Harris is the second of the pre-Spring Training infield candidates to miss the cut, following Justin Sellers, who was sent to Cleveland.

Magill has had a nice exhibition season, with six strikeouts against five baserunners in 5 2/3 innings.

And, a postscript: I know the story here is Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp progressing in their rehab, but what really tantalized me was the thought of seeing Kemp bat against Julio Urias. The 17-year-old gave up a sacrifice fly to Kemp in the intrasquad game, but also struck him out.

In short, call it Even Steven.


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