Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Juan Nicasio

Dodgers part ways with Juan Nicasio

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

By Jon Weisman

Relief pitcher Juan Nicasio and minor-league arm Lisalverto Bonilla were not tendered contracts by the Dodgers for 2016, making them free agents.

Nicasio led all Dodger relievers in 2015 in innings pitched, finishing the year with a 3.86 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He had a 2.92 ERA through August 30, before allowing nine runs in his final nine innings and ending up off the Dodgers’ playoff roster.

This was Nicasio’s first full season as a reliever, after 3 1/2 seasons as a starting pitcher for Colorado.

Bonilla had been claimed October 21 by the Dodgers from the Ranger organization, after missing the 2015 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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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Shoulder sidelines Yasmani Grandal

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Reds, 4:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Chase Utley, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Kiké Hernandez, CF
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

Yasmani Grandal is not expected to start before Thursday at the earliest because of an ailing left shoulder, Don Mattingly told reporters today.

Grandal is third on the Dodgers with 140 weighted runs created (wRC+), but he is 3 for 30 with five walks and no extra-base hits in his past 35 plate appearances. Mattingly said there is worry the shoulder condition is altering Grandal’s swing.

The 26-year-old catcher isn’t expected to go on the disabled list, especially with rosters expanding one week from today. But it will mean more work than usual for A.J. Ellis, who is quietly posting his best averages at the plate (.356 on-base percentage, .360 slugging percentage) since 2012.

The Dodgers need improvement from several players as they look to win their first game since August 16. During the current five-game losing streak …

  • Justin Turner is 1 for 18 with two walks and two errors.
  • Jimmy Rollins has a single, double and homer in 22 plate appearances.
  • Adrian Gonzalez has four singles and a walk in 20 plate appearances.
  • Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford and Alex Guerrero are a combined 1 for 28 with one walk.

Rollins’ third-inning home run six days ago at Oakland is the Dodgers’ most recent four-base hit.

Alex Wood, who takes the mound today for the Dodgers, has been charged with exactly three runs on five hits with three walks in each of his past three starts.

Mat Latos pitched a five-inning simulated game Monday, and is scheduled to start Saturday against the Cubs, with Brett Anderson, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw taking the starts between now and then.  Juan Nicasio, as noted Monday, has been activated from the disabled list.


As Nicasio nears return, Dodgers option Garcia

Yimi Juan

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers optioned Yimi Garcia to Triple-A Oklahoma City, with the expectation of activating Juan Nicasio from the disabled list before their next game Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Nicasio has struck out 10.0 batters per nine innings this year while allowing 62 baserunners in 47 innings. In August, he allowed a hit in each of his four appearances before going on the DL with a left abdominal strain, though none of those hits led to a run.

Garcia has allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings for the Dodgers since the All-Star Break, but it was a killer: the 10th-inning run scored by Oakland on August 18, Garcia’s 25th birthday. For the year, Garcia has allowed 46 baserunners in 45 2/3 innings while striking out 58.

Though rosters expand September 1, the right-hander can’t be recalled for 10 days unless he is replacing another player going on the DL.

Juan Nicasio placed on disabled list, Chris Hatcher activated

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Reds at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Kiké Hernandez, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

Juan Nicasio has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Aug. 10) with a left abdominal strain by the Dodgers, who have activated Chris Hatcher from the 60-day DL.

Carlos Frias, out since July 1, has been moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Nicasio has allowed 62 baserunners in 47 innings this season while striking out 52. Since allowing three runs on July 5 and again on July 7, the right-hander, who turns 29 at the end of the month, has allowed two runs in 11 innings (with 13 strikeouts) and stranded all three inherited runners.

Hatcher has allowed 31 baserunners in his 18 1/3 Dodger innings with 19 strikeouts.

Some other quick notes …

  • Yasmani Grandal has been nursing a sore left (non-throwing) shoulder, but is back in the lineup tonight. Justin Turner also makes his first start since returning from the disabled list.
  • Joc Pederson on Thursday hit his second homer since July 1. Mike Petriello looked at Pederson’s contact rates for
  • Mat Latos spoke about his own struggles Thursday after a second consecutive subpar start. From Bill Plunkett of the Register:

    “I just need to get back to pitching like me instead of trying to fool everybody, throw too many breaking pitches and so on and so forth,” Latos said. “Go look back at video and try to make some adjustments on how I used to pitch when I was getting outs.”

    Latos could not say when that drift occurred and whether the change was in response to a gameplan devised by his new team, saying only that it has been “kind of like spring training all over again, trying to get used to a new team, get used to a new catcher.”

    “I honestly can’t tell you,” he said. “I need to go back and look a couple years back when I was more fastball dominant, throwing more fastballs, locating better. I’ve gotten away from that and started throwing much more off-speed.

The next two days at Dodger Insider will be relatively quiet because of family events. Will catch up with you soon …

Nicasio at night: Juan at one with relieving

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies

Rockies at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 1B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Juan Nicasio’s first Major League save might be his last for a while now that Kenley Jansen is back, but let’s take a moment to appreciate how useful the new Dodger reliever has been.

The converted starter has a 1.02 ERA in 17 2/3 innings this season with 25 strikeouts (12.7 per nine innings) and only nine hits allowed. Since taking the extra-inning loss April 23 at San Francisco, Nicasio has pitched 10 1/3 consecutive shutout innings with 15 strikeouts, allowing two singles and four walks. He stranded three of four inherited runners in that time.

Showing his versatility, Nicasio is the third Dodger in the past 10 years to have a three-inning relief win and a separate save in the same year, after Chan Ho Park in 2008 and Chris Withrow in 2013. And just to play off the headline, opponents have a .115 slugging percentage in night games against Nicasio so far this year.

In his rookie season, Nicasio a fractured vertebra in his neck after taking a line drive to the head on August 5, 2011, and was a mixed bag as a starting pitcher thereafter. He is still only 28 years old, and having been liberated from Colorado’s Coors Field, has done little to discourage his future prospects as a reliever.

Footnote: Four Dodgers have saves this year, and Kenley Jansen figures to soon become the fifth, but that’s not close to a record. In 1979, 11 Dodgers had saves, led by Bobby Castillo with seven. Don Sutton, Jerry Reuss and Bob Welch each had at least one complete game and one save.

Shelter from storm gave way for Dodgers

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A sole Dodger fan shows his support during the rain delay. Jill Weisleder/LA DodgersBy Jon Weisman

For the third time in four days, the Dodger bullpen surrendered a lead, and for the second consecutive night, the offense couldn’t bail them out.

Thursday’s 5-4 loss to Colorado left a soggy sting, coming after the 85-minute rain delay and Brett Anderson’s second consecutive triumph over the elements.  After pitching the five-inning rain-shortened complete game in Denver last week, Anderson struck out a season-high eight at unusually wet Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado RockiesFor the month of May, Anderson has a 1.10 ERA and 13 strikeouts against 19 baserunners in 16 1/3 innings. Opponents have a .645 OPS against him.

“My breaking ball was the most consistent it has been,” Anderson said, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. “My slider was the best its been all season. I was able to throw it back foot to righties more consistently and get some swings and misses.”

While Juan Nicasio shined after the rain delay with four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings and Chris Hatcher found quick redemption from a rough Wednesday outing with a perfect eighth, Yimi Garcia, nearly flawless in 2015 before this week, gave up his second ninth-inning homer in as many appearances — this time on a 2-1 fastball that, as Don Mattingly said, just missed its spot.

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“I thought his stuff was good again,” Mattingly said. “Threw the ball in the wrong area. If we throw the ball where we want, I feel like we get him there.”

It was a shame that the Dodger fans who braved the entire night of rainball weren’t rewarded, but all part of the ebb and flow of the season.

One piece of trivia: Joc Pederson, who went 0 for 5, has started 35 games this season. Thursday’s game was only the second time he didn’t have a walk, home run or strikeout, and the first since April 10.

In case you missed it: No new Ryu news to rue

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By Jon Weisman

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s MRI on Monday revealed no change from a 2012 MRI, the Dodgers announced today. Ryu is scheduled to rest and rehab for two weeks before being re-evaluated to determine his next steps.

In other news …

  • I hadn’t heard of the Teres Major muscle until 12 months ago when it was discovered injured in the body of Clayton Kershaw, but it turns out everyone’s got one. Erik Bedard is the latest to suffer a strain of said muscle, and is reported to be out for four to six weeks, according to Ken Gurnick of
  • “I have the same injury as [Clayton] Kershaw, and I want the same rehab as Kershaw. And the same fastball.” — Bedard, via Steve Gilbert of
  • Brandon McCarthy threw five scoreless innings Monday in his minor-league game, covered by Gurnick.
  • Monday’s Cactus League game, featuring three hit batters and four ejections (all on Arizona’s side), was certainly a perplexing one, with everyone weighing the Dodger-Diamondback rivalry against the reminder that, you know this is Spring Training right?’s Gilbert and Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. run it down for us.
  • Daniel Coulombe became the latest Dodger to be optioned to the minors. He faced 21 batters and retired 18 this spring with three strikeouts, allowing a single and walking two.
  • Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has a lengthy feature today talking to pitchers McCarthy, Juan Nicasio and David Huff, all of whom have been hit in the head by line drives.
  • Jimmy Rollins talked candidly with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about subjects including his transition to Dodger blue.
  • The Fangraphs positional rankings continue today, with the Dodgers sixth at first base and also at second base.
  • Joc Pederson’s swing is analyzed by Chad Moriyama at Dodgers Digest, with the conclusion being that he is now keeping the barrel of the bat in the strike zone longer, which should lead to better contact.
  • I tweeted this out Monday, so it’s a day late on here, but I still like it …

In case you missed it: Be there or Bedard


A post shared by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles DodgersBy Jon Weisman 

I’m knee-deep in the 2015 Dodger Yearbook and April 2015 Dodger Insider magazine — you’re going to like what you see in both.

Now, let’s finish off today …

  • Juan Nicasio received some nice compliments from his former team in Colorado — specifically Rockies manager Walt Weiss and general manager Jeff Bridich — via J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News.
  • Erik Bedard told Ken Gurnick of that he would accept a minor-league assignment out of Spring Training. That stands in contrast to Alex Guerrero, but of course, their contracts are structured quite differently — with Bedard on a minor-league deal to begin with — so it’s an apples-to-different-kind-of-apples comparison.
  • Brett Anderson threw to actual hitters for the first time in more than six months today, pitching two simulated innings and remaining on track to make a Cactus League start Monday. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has more.
  • By the way, Mike Bolsinger will start Saturday, while Brandon McCarthy will start Sunday, as Gurnick notes.
  • Juan Uribe likes the idea of winning a World Series every five years, given his past titles in 2005 with the White Sox and 2010 with the Giants, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Former Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst is now the Dodgers’ field coordinator of their Campo Las Palmas academy in the Dominican Republic, reports Gurnick.
  • Dan Haren has adjusted to becoming a Miami Marlin, writes Jon Heyman of
  • Rick Honeycutt is among the principals in this story by Matthew Kory at Vice about the “Dad Hat.”

Outfield competition front in center as Cactus League opens

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Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles DodgersBy Jon Weisman

On the first day of Cactus League play, Joc Pederson had two hits while playing designated hitter. Andre Ethier struck out twice while playing center field, but he probably wouldn’t have minded that much if he had made a diving catch at the warning track.

Well, there’s always the next game.

“Just a tough play,” Ethier told Phil Rogers of “It’s one where you have to make a break on it, try to keep an eye on the ball the best you can, not lose it. I got there, just didn’t bring it in.”

Said Don Mattingly: “As we get into spring, he catches that ball all day long.”

Despite losing to the White Sox, 6-4, it was a pretty eventful day in general for the Dodgers. Most of the action came after the starters were pulled …

  • O’Koyea Dickson hit the Dodgers’ first homer of the exhibition season, turning on a ball at his knees and pulling it over the wall in left.
  • Alex Guerrero had two hits off the bench, playing third base.
  • Corey Seager and Darnell Sweeney each singled and walked.
  • Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 2, but fellow newcomers Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes each went 0 for 2.
  • Juan Nicasio was the domino that fell over after Ethier’s near-miss, allowing three runs in the third inning.
  • Carlos Frias allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, but struck out five. Batting average on balls in play: .750.
  • Sergio Santos, Adam Liberatore and Josh Ravin each pitched a perfect inning. Liberatore struck out two.
  • The Dodgers had the tying runs on base with none out in the ninth after singles by Sweeney, Guerrero and Seager scored their fourth run, but Kyle Jensen flied out, Kiké Hernandez struck out and Scott Schebler grounded out.

In case you missed it: Yasiel Puig asks, ‘Did you see?’

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers avoided salary arbitration hearings this year, making deals with A.J. Ellis, Chris Heisey, Kenley Jansen, Juan Nicasio and Justin Turner. The team hasn’t had a salary-arbitration hearing since Joe Beimel’s in 2007 and hasn’t lost one since Terry Adams in 2001.

Elsewhere …

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Dodgers send Noel Cuevas to Rockies in Juan Nicasio deal

Noel Cuevas has gone to the Colorado Rockies to complete the November 24 trade for pitcher Juan Nicasio. Those of you with good memories of Spring Training might remember Cuevas’ game-winning homer against the Royals in March.

The 23-year-old outfielder had a .285 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage for Double-A Chattanooga this season.

— Jon Weisman

Dodgers sign Barney, retain rights to other arbitration-eligible players

By Jon Weisman

As the 9 p.m. deadline approached tonight to retain the rights to the players eligible for salary arbitration or cut bait, the Dodgers had eight players on the docket — including outfielder Chris Heisey, acquired hours earlier.

Shortly after the deadline, the Dodgers announced they were keeping all eight on board, signing Darwin Barney to a one-year deal and tendering contracts to catchers A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera, infielders Dee Gordon and Justin Turner, pitchers Kenley Jansen and Juan Nicasio, and Heisey.

In theory, all of the players besides Barney could go to salary arbitration, though few if any will.

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