Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Jim Johnson

Dodgers claim Brooks Brown, designate Jim Johnson for assignment

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By Jon Weisman

Relief pitcher Jim Johnson, whom the Dodgers acquired with Alex Wood and Jose Peraza from Atlanta in July, has been designated for assignment.

Taking his place on the 40-man roster — not eligible for the current playoffs — will be right-handed pitcher Brooks Brown.

A first-round (34th overall) pick by Arizona in the 2006 draft, the 30-year-old Brown had a 3.97 ERA with 41 strikeouts against 75 baserunners in 59 Major League innings for Colorado in 2014-15. He had a 2.77 ERA in 2014, then a 4.91 ERA in this year while dealing with right shoulder inflammation.

Johnson did not make the Dodgers’ postseason roster after allowing 42 baserunners in 18 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts for Los Angeles.

Dodgers order an Adam Liberatore for late pick-me-up

Adam Liberatore (center) joined Mike Bolsinger and Joc Pederson on a coffee run June 25 outside Wrigley Field. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers).

Adam Liberatore (center) joined Mike Bolsinger and Joc Pederson on a coffee run June 25 outside Wrigley Field, as Dave Strumpf filmed for SportsNet LA. (Jon SooHoo).

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Corey Seager, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Heisey, CF
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

Rookie reliever Adam Liberatore has been brought up to Los Angeles to give the Dodgers another lefty option out of the bullpen for the stretch run.

Liberatore had been with Triple-A Oklahoma City since shortly after the All-Star Break. This is the third time he has been recalled in 2015.

From April 17-May 30, Liberatore had allowed only three runs and 10 baserunners in 14 innings, with 14 strikeouts. Thereafter, he maintained his strikeout rate, but allowed 10 runs and 21 baserunners in 12 innings.

In Triple-A, the 28-year-old allowed 29 baserunners in 21 2/3 innings, striking out 18. He last pitched in a game September 11, when he threw his sixth consecutive scoreless inning.

In other bullpen news, with a baby due at any moment, right-hander Jim Johnson will be soon be away from the team on paternity leave, Don Mattingly said.

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.

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Jim Johnson ‘True or False’ Test

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

1) True or false: A pitcher’s likelihood for success is entirely determined by how he pitched in his previous four games.

Pencils down.

* * *

Jim Johnson hasn’t pitched since suffering through an eight-run seventh inning Sunday at Pittsburgh — the single worst inning of his 505-inning career. He’s due to return in this four-game series against Cincinnati, perhaps as soon as tonight.

When he warms up, or when he enters the game, some will freak out over his unsightly 29.45 ERA through four games as a Dodger — somehow ignoring, for example, his 2.25 ERA in 49 games with Atlanta. (Not that we should be using ERA to evaluate relievers, but that’s the stat that has everyone’s attention.)

From June 9 through July 17, Johnson faced 64 batters, and none scored. Nor did an inherited runner score. (There was only one who could have, but he didn’t!) No one even got an extra-base hit.

Still, that didn’t mean Johnson would never allow any runs again — because this is baseball.

And over the past two weeks, did Johnson ever get reminded “this is baseball.”

So anyway, next time his number is called — next time any struggling player’s number is called — how about we skip the doomsday vision and just see what happens? Not saying you have to like it when things go south. Just suggesting not to assume they will.

What time is it?

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By Jon Weisman

“Darkest before the dawn” can be a tough sell, especially when “darkest before it gets even darker” is also true. It’s hard to know whether it’s midnight or 5 a.m.

Individual games and series disappear quickly behind you, succumbing to the omnipotence of “What just happened?” Just as the sweep over the Angels or the two victories against the Phillies are already distant memories, so too will be the three excruciating Dodger losses this weekend to the Pirates. A walkoff defeat in the 10th, a one-run loss with the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, and then Sunday’s come-from-ahead, 13-6 electroshock featuring a numbing nine-run seventh.

By this time Tuesday, we’ll be talking about how the Dodgers found a ray of daylight against the Nationals, or how they slipped deeper into the void by losing their fourth game in a row for the first time this year. Los Angeles is 5-0 after it has lost three games this season.

Complicating our vision is what appears to be a rather serious injury to Howie Kendrick, a strained left hamstring that will receive an MRI today but that already has the Dodgers preparing for an extended absence. Until third baseman Justin Turner returns, the Dodgers are without half their starting infield. Kiké Hernandez, hitting .400/.450/.714 (but mostly against southpaws) is a candidate to take some at-bats, with newly acquired Jose Peraza (.385/.415/.590 for Triple-A Oklahoma City) perhaps getting a call.

The Dodgers are also looking for salvation for their bullpen. Saturday’s four shutout innings ended a streak of eight straight games that the Dodger relievers had allowed a run, but faced with an equal task Sunday, Jim Johnson entered a nightmare, with eight batters reaching base, interrupted only by a sacrifice fly and topped off by a three-run homer off Joel Peralta by Jung Ho Kang.

So yes, darkness.

At the outset of Sunday’s game, I ranted out several tweets that might have seemed ill-timed by the ugly seventh inning, but that actually were all the more appropriate. Here is the text:

  • Dodgers have been hustling on the bases and in the field all weekend, but nothing will sway ESPN from calling them lethargic.
  • (Yasiel) Puig not starting today, or we’d have heard how he’s most lethargic of all, a day after a 9-6 forceout and hustle down the basepaths.
  • ESPN also said “I don’t know what this team is,” even though, like ’em or not, HR power and front-line SP have defined the team for months.
  • Have Dodgers been inconsistent? Days in first place: Dodgers 115, Giants 3. Months below .500: Dodgers 0, Giants 3.
  • No, Dodgers haven’t proven they’re the best team in baseball. This time last year, neither had the Giants.
  • Should Dodgers be better? Sure, why not? But how much better? Team has 62 wins. A 100-win pace would be 68 wins, or 1.5 extra wins per month.
  • Happily accept idea that there’s room to improve. Absolutely refuse to buy notion that a team playing .564 ball is a huge disappointment.
  • Looking for improvement? If this matters to you, here’s Dodgers’ record vs. winning teams since July 1: Road: 4-5, home: 5-1, total: 9-6. (After Sunday, you can add one more road loss to this.)

Imperfection is not the same as incompetence. Not having reached the ideal — especially in August — does not mean the season is lost.

Look, I understand that until a new World Series title is won, many Dodger fans live in a binary world, where nothing is good unless everything is good. I understand that. I do. I could feel the rising anger with every run the Pirates scored.

I also know that the Dodgers could have the best record in baseball, and while the national coverage in that case might be good, for sure there would still be concern here at home over what was lacking. Going 26 years and 10 months without a championship makes insecurity a permanent condition.

There are good signs for this team, and there are bad. But the best sign of all is there are still games to play. Whether it’s midnight or 5 a.m., the night is far from over.

In case you missed it: Walker Buehler to have surgery

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By Jon Weisman

Some pregame news and notes for you …

  • Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ No. 1 choice in the 2015 draft, will have Tommy John surgery performed Wednesday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
  • Justin Turner will spend some time at Camelback Ranch while recovering from his leg infection, Don Mattingly told reporters today. Turner is still not expected to miss more than 15 days.
  • In their past 10 games in Philadelphia, the Dodgers have allowed 13 runs, according to the Dodgers’ public relations department.
  • Same source (with help from Stats, LLC): The Dodgers have an extra-base hit in 95 straight road games, tied for the second-longest streak all-time behind the 2005-07 St. Louis Cardinals (127 games).
  • Tonight’s starting pitcher, newly acquired Alex Wood, has a bit of a decline in strikeouts this year. Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest did a deep dive and may have connected the dots with some shifts in Wood’s unorthodox delivery.
  • Pedro Moura of the Register has more on Wood, including this:

    Over the weekend, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt watched Wood’s first bullpen session in awe.

    “Some of his changeups were almost like splits that went almost straight down,” Honeycutt said. “I said to him, ‘Geez, that’s filthy.’”

    “He goes, ‘Yeah.’”

  • New Dodger reliever Jim Johnson, now on his fifth team in the past two seasons, spoke to Arash Markazi of about the travails of changing teams.
  • Despite the presence of Adrian Beltre and, of late, Justin Turner, no MLB team has gone longer without an All-Star third baseman than the Dodgers, writes Miles Wray of the Hardball Times. Pedro Guerrero was the last, in 1983.
  • Newly acquired injured pitcher Bronson Arroyo could play an indirect role in the Dodger postseason, even if he never throws a pitch, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. explains.
  • Major League Baseball Advanced Media has make a major deal to run the NHL’s TV and online video operations, as Todd Spangler of Variety notes. How BAM, as it’s known, became such a behemoth is explored by Ben Popper at the Verge.
  • Adrian Gonzalez’s three-homer, 13-base game against the Padres in April is the top offensive performance by a player this year, according to Cliff Corcoran of
  • Kiké Hernandez and Yasiel Puig took up this year’s Ice Bucket Challenge on behalf of the Dodgers this year. Don’t worry — they did it over the Dodger Stadium grass, so the water was put to use.
  • Funny stuff from Jason Bateman on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the other night (via Blue Heaven) — watch below.

Johnson, Avilan and Wood on becoming Dodgers

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New Dodger pitchers Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Alex Wood spoke to reporters this afternoon about their trade from Atlanta to Los Angeles. (Mat Latos has not landed in Los Angeles yet) Watch the video above.

— Jon Weisman

Moving day brings major additions to Dodgers

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By Jon Weisman

It’s a massive move that puts five established pitchers in the Dodger starting rotation from now through October.

It’s a win-now, win-later maneuver that deepens the franchise for years to come.

In a three-team deal with Atlanta and Miami, the Dodgers have acquired left-handed pitchers Alex Wood and Luis Avilan, right-handers Mat Latos, Jim Johnson and Bronson Arroyo, second baseman-shortstop Jose Peraza and outfielder-first baseman Michael Morse.

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