Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Justin Turner (Page 1 of 9)

Bring on the DH so Dodgers bring back Corey Seager

OK, the timing and subject of this piece might seem weird considering there are bigger fish to fry today, but hear me out …

First things first: In the world that I’d prefer to live the rest of my life, I still don’t want to see the designated hitter in the National League, primarily for reasons I discussed here. But I’m going to admit that over the past year, I’ve been worn down on this, partly because so many pitchers themselves have completely given up on trying to hit, partly because there are newer, even more cockamamie rules that I’m more eager to get rid of. (Maybe later this year, I’ll write about my grand distaste for the year-old runner-on-second rule in extra innings.)

But in the wake of the exciting reports Thursday about the Dodgers’ apparent acqusition of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner — reports that others are covering at length — I have a more selfish reason to want the DH to arrive in the NL by 2022. 

It might be the only way Corey Seager returns to the Dodgers. 

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Dodgers poised to reboot
Sweet Life of Zach and Cody

Though Corey Seager is still sidelined for weeks thanks to the hand that rocked the baseball, within a week the Dodgers are expecting to get a major reinforcement with the return of Cody Bellinger, not to mention a key boost from Zack McKinstry. 

For a team that has struggled to get production from the back end of its roster, these infusions will have a major impact. Bellinger has played in only four of the team’s 45 games this season, and even while establishing himself as an early season sensation (142 OPS+), McKinstry has only appeared in 17. 

Always a streaky hitter, Bellinger might require time to get back into the groove, while the promising McKinstry still needs to prove how productive he can be over the long term. Nevertheless, here’s a quick look at how this revival of the Suite Life of Zach and Cody will transform the Dodger squad we’ve been watching the past month.

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Previewing the 2021 Dodgers: Position players

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Hey there! Since I haven’t actually written much on the defending World Series champions this year, I thought I’d throw down some of the stuff that’s been percolating inside my head about the 2021 Dodgers ahead of Thursday’s Opening Day. Let’s start with the position players. (Note: Some of these thoughts materialized during the chats we’ve had on Clubhouse.) 

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A quick thought on Justin Turner and his potential Dodger Stadium finale

Photo: Jon SooHoo

It shouldn’t be. 

As Houston Mitchell of the Times reminded me in his morning newsletter, Justin Turner could be playing his final game in Los Angeles as a Dodger tonight. Should the Dodgers beat the Brewers and advance to the National League Division Series, their remaining games will be played not in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains, but in Arlington, Texas. After that, Turner becomes a free agent.

And then, ideally, he’s right back here again next year. 

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Dodger issues against LHP should solve themselves

See full chart at Baseball-Reference.com.

If you’re worried that the Dodgers haven’t been hitting left-handed pitching this season, my advice is … don’t worry.

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Best of the 2010s:
The All-Decade Dodgers

Raymond Gorospe/MLB.com

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 … 

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Uneasy lies the head that wears a Dodger cap

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Hi ho, it’s February. Dodger pitchers and catchers and other eager beavers are scheduled to report to Camelback Ranch in eight days. The first full squad workout comes two weeks from Tuesday.

Vibe: unsettled.

Forecast: angsty.

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Meanwhile, what’s happening with the Dodger offense?

Cold and hot: Manny Machado and Justin Turner (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Justin Turner has been on fire. Since returning from his second trip of the year to the disabled list in early August, Turner has a .488 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage. More than that, he’s all but been his usual self since June 1, with an .885 OPS.

Yasiel Puig has been on fire. Since his own DL trip ended in early May, the right fielder has a .365 OBP while slugging .578, for a .943 OPS.

Cody Bellinger has been on fire. Since August 1, Bellinger has matched Turner’s .488 OBP while slugging a nearly compatible .605.

Brian Dozier has been on fire. Starting his Dodger clock on August 1, Dozier is OBPing .429 and slugging .590. Despite an apparent EKG scare Monday, the second baseman is in tonight’s starting lineup for the Dodgers.

Nevertheless, several Dodgers have very much not been on fire, leading to four straight losses and a 5-10 plunge over their past 15 games).

While the Dodger bullpen has pitched under a laser-firing microscope for the past several days, the underplayed story is how the offense has let the team down, scoring a total of nine runs in the final three games at Colorado and then two more Monday against the Giants.

Since July 29, the Dodgers have scored 59 runs in those 15 games, but 21 runs came August 2 against Milwaukee. In the remaining 14, the Dodgers are averaging 2.7 runs per game.

There’s no particular shame in being held to two by the likes of Madison Bumgarner, even if one of them is on a collision-inducing bloop double by Clayton Kershaw, but there’s still an important mini-trend to process.

In making their July deals, the Dodgers bet big on bats, acquiring Dozier and Manny Machado. Their additions to the bullpen, Dylan Floro and the now fibula-challenged John Axford, look altogether small by comparison — but keep in mind baseball is a run-differential game. If you increase your offense, your bullpen gets more cushion. The Dodgers looked to ease the strain of their pen with a workaround, and certainly, the plan to eventually move two strong starting pitchers like Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling into relief played into that intent.

Obviously, over the past week, the strategy could not have looked worse, with the bullpen giving up go-ahead runs in six straight games. Kenley Jansen’s heart issue unexpectedly put more pressure on the relief crew than it was ready to handle. But also, the Dodger offense came to the rescue only once, in Thursday’s crazy 8-5 win. So when you look at the culprits of an ugly week, they include not only the relievers, but the recent performance of Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson and perhaps most frustratingly, Machado.

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What’s up, Dodger fans? Feats of strength and other notes …

Seventh-inning stretch at Dodger Stadium, Independence Day (click to enlarge)

When you’re out of the blogging groove but the ideas keep coming, the easy thing to do is just dish them off on Twitter. But tweets are like shooting stars, and sometimes you want a constellation. So here I am back at Dodger Thoughts to try to collect some thoughts.

Also, I’m convinced that tons of people bypass the intro to a column and to get straight at the meat, so let’s get right to it.

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The reign in pain: Justin Turner making HBP history


One other thread in the Andre Ethier legacy is that he is the all-time Los Angeles Dodger leader in times being hit by a pitch, with 58. But at the rate Justin Turner has been going, Ethier’s reign might not last the year.

Last year, the Dodger third baseman set a single-season franchise record with 19 HBPs, breaking Alex Cora’s previous and literal mark of 18. (Cora also held the Los Angeles career mark before Ethier.) That gave Turner 46 plunkings as a Dodger, putting him within 12 of Ethier — and Turner has averaged 14 HBPs over the past three seasons.

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Video: Who was the most underrated Dodger in 2016?

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By Jon Weisman

Late in October on Twitter, I asked folks whom they would pick for the most underrated Dodger of 2016.

It was a doubly subjective exercise, integrating not only your own perception of Dodger players but your belief in how others feel as well.

From the dozen or so nominees, I picked out the four with the most mentions and put them in a decidedly unscientific poll, narrowly won by Joe Blanton.

Blanton was a fine choice, but my own vote went to Joc Pederson. In this video (edited and produced for Dodger Insider by Julian Gooden) I explain why. Enjoy …

What the Dodgers’ qualifying offers to Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner mean

Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, who became free agents at the end of the 2016 season, have received qualifying offers from the Dodgers.

Accepting a qualifying offer before the deadline of 2 p.m. November 14 guarantees the player a one-year contract for the 2017 season at $17.2 million. If declined, the Dodgers are still free to negotiate with the player, but would receive draft-pick compensation if either signs elsewhere.

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Dodgers facts and figures after four NLCS games

infielders

By Jon Weisman

With the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and Dodgers now tied at 2-2, let’s do what we did after it was tied 1-1 and reset the scene …

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the Dodgers be holding a 2-1 NLCS lead

sunset-overhead

By Jon Weisman

Pitchers paint on the edge of a cliff. They are artists, tending to a tiny canvas that hovers in mid-air, and they are adventurers who might fall at any moment.

Rich Hill took a minor masterpiece into the sixth inning tonight at Dodger Stadium. After walking two of three batters with some tremulous brush work to start the top of the second, Hill was in his element. Twelve of the next 13 batters he faced became dots on his Seuratian landscape.

In the top of the sixth, the ground beneath Hill’s easel began to quiver. With one out, Kris Bryant singled to left center, for the second hit off the Dodger left-hander. With two out, Anthony Rizzo took the first four pitches, and three fell outside the borders of the strike zone. On deck was Javy Baez, whose electric play helped the Cubs win Game 1 of the National League Championship Series and nearly Game 2 as well.

Hill raised his arm and lofted the next pitch, a 74 mile-per-hour curveball that sidled through the California air with the arc of a rainbow, landing into the glove of Yasmani Grandal for strike two.

Then, at 87 mph, Hill dropped down with a master’s flourish.

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Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (Top: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (Top: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Hill pumped his fist, shouted to the heavens and handed his work to the gallery, for 54,269 art-lovers at Dodger Stadium to marvel.

The 36-year-old’s six innings of two-hit shutout ball, his finest performance since he threw seven perfect innings at Miami on September 10, were framed by Grandal, the catcher who also hit a two-run home run off Jake Arrieta in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory.

Taking a 2-1 lead in the NLCS, the Dodgers are as close to the World Series as they have been in 28 years.

Hill struck out six, giving him 19 in 13 postseason innings (13.2 strikeouts per nine innings) with a 3.46 ERA. With Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finishing the game, the Dodgers have thrown consecutive postseason shutouts for the first time in franchise history.

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Absolutely yes! Epic effort sends Dodgers to NLCS

turner-erupt

By Jon Weisman

You are dry. You are bled dry, you are bone dry, you are a body crawling across the desert toward paradise, and not until the last reach of the arm, not until the last extension of the fingertip, not until the last grain of sand was behind you, did you know if you had reached a mirage or the Promised Land.

You open your eyes, and it’s paradise.

In the most epic Dodger playoff game in a generation, in the longest nine-inning playoff game in postseason history, the Dodgers found the buried treasure of a four-run seventh-inning rally, then watched Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw drag that golden chest to glory, defeating the Washington Nationals, 4-3, to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Jansen, whom Dave Roberts boldly put into the game with the tying run on base in the seventh inning, threw a career-high 51 pitches — four fewer than Dodger starter Rich Hill — to get the Dodgers within reach of victory.

Kershaw, the 19th Dodger to play in the game, got the final two outs, two nights after he threw 110 pitches in the Dodgers’ Game 4 victory — instantly recalling Orel Hershiser’s extra-inning save in the last playoff series the Dodgers came from behind to win, the 1988 NLCS.

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The winning pitcher was none other than Julio Urías, who became the youngest pitcher in MLB playoff history to get the W.

It was the victory of a generation. It was a victory that seemed to take a generation.

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