Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Zach Lee (Page 2 of 5)

Zack Greinke expected to pitch against Mets this weekend

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Dodgers at Mets, 4:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Austin Barnes, C
Ian Thomas, P

By Jon Weisman

It’ll soon be back to work for Zack Greinke.

The new dad (though not this kind of new dad) is expected to be back in New York this weekend to start for the Dodgers either Saturday or Sunday, manager Don Mattingly told reporters today.

In other starting-pitching news for the Dodgers, Brett Anderson passed all his tests today to avoid the disabled list. Mattingly indicated that the Dodgers still might give Anderson extra rest for his left Achilles tendon and delay his next start until Tuesday.

Either way, assuming Greinke has no issues with returning to the Large Apple, the Dodgers would only need to call up at most one starter for this weekend’s games against New York. Speculation is strong that Zach Lee will be that pitcher.

If so, Lee would become the Dodgers’ 14th starting pitcher this year, after Ian Thomas becomes No. 13 tonight while making his first MLB start. Not since 1964 have the Dodgers used 13 starting pitchers, and not since 1952 have they used 14. Given the possibility of a trade before the season’s over, it seems likely that the 2015 Dodgers will use more starting pitchers than any team in franchise history except the World War II-era 1944 team, which used 19.

For a while today, it appeared that both scheduled starting pitchers would be scratched because of babies being born, but even though his wife reportedly went into labor, left-hander Jon Niese remains tonight’s scheduled starting pitcher for the Mets.

Alex Guerrero is making his first start for the Dodgers since July 10. Guerrero has reached base once in his past 18 plate appearances and hasn’t homered in 61 at-bats since his game-winning grand slam June 2 in Colorado. He has a .175 on-base percentage and .180 slugging percentage in that span.

Update: Kiké Hernandez has replaced Guerrero in the lineup. Guerrero was scratched because of back stiffness.

Dodgers activate Carl Crawford, option Beachy

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Dodgers at Braves, 4:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Austin Barnes, C
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

After nearly two months on the disabled list, Carl Crawford returns to active duty today for the Dodgers.

Los Angeles will have an extra position player for the next few games, having optioned right-hander Brandon Beachy to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers likely to make at least one more move to bring back a starting pitcher for Saturday in New York, with Zach Lee (who pitched six shutout innings for Oklahoma City on Monday before allowing two runs in the seventh) among the possibilities.

Crawford had a .260 on-base percentage and .408 slugging percentage in 50 plate appearances before his sight oblique strain April 27. Last year, from August 10 through the end of the 2014 regular season, Crawford had a .463 OBP and .606 slugging in his final 135 plate appearances.

He is expected to fill the role of a fourth outfielder at the outset.

To re-open a vacancy on the 40-man roster for Crawford, the Dodgers designated right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet for assignment. Guilmet, who was claimed by the Dodgers on July 10, allowed one run in three innings of relief for Oklahoma City.


Zach Lee gets first MLB taste as 26th man

Dodgers at Nationals, 1:05 p.m.
Kershaw CCXXVIII: Kershawt Hot American Summer
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Following their 5-3 loss in the completion of Friday’s suspended game, the Dodgers recalled former first-round draft choice Zach Lee as the special dispensation 26th man for today’s regularly scheduled game. It is Lee’s first official moment as a Major Leaguer.

Adrian Gonzalez hit home runs on different days of the calendar in the same game for the Dodgers, and Joc Pederson nearly had a game-winning three-run shot in the ninth inning, but it was all for naught.

Zach Lee enters Saturday conversation

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Phillies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

I feel badly spending time on speculation, because we’ll know soon enough which pitcher will start Saturday for the Dodgers.

But I figured I might as well pass along the news that a) Brandon Beachy is going to make another rehab start this weekend for Triple-A Oklahoma City, and b) 2010 first-round draft choice Zach Lee has been mentioned as a possibility to make his Major League debut.

Don’t run any farther with it than that: Lee, after all, has only pitched in two games since being sidelined for more than a month with a circulation problem in his right middle finger, and neither of those starts were even at Triple-A. He pitched five innings in each, however, making it possible that he could come up and take some innings in the Dodgers’ second-to-last game before they take five days off.

Before his June intermission, Lee had a 2.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 7.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 10 starts for Oklahoma City.

Dodgers stop Phillies, time in 10-7 triumph

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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.

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Dodger minor league report No. 12: Scott Schebler’s turn and Zach Lee’s return

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By Cary Osborne

In the June edition of Dodger Insider magazine, we profiled outfield prospect Scott Schebler. The theme of the story was how Schebler was a notoriously slow starter who takes off once the summer months hit.

When the story was written, Schebler’s numbers were subpar. The No. 8 prospect in the system, added in the offseason to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, was hitting .208/.299/.377 for Triple-A Oklahoma City entering June with six doubles, one triple, six home runs and 14 RBI.

Then June arrived, and true to form, Schebler turned it on. The 24-year-old was one of the best hitters in the Dodger chain last month. He batted .321/.389/.595 with four doubles, five triples, three home runs and 17 RBI.

A year after leading the Double-A Southern League in triples and home runs, Schebler ranks tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in triples. He is mere percentage points from Corey Seager’s OPS in OKC (.780 to Seager’s .783).

We talked to Dodger director of player development Gabe Kapler about Schebler this week, who said, in reality, Schebler’s early swoon was less that met the eye.

“Scheb all along was performing well. He just wasn’t having a lot of luck,” Kapler said. “He was striking the ball with real authority. He was doing a good job from a number of perspectives. He just wasn’t showing the results in the traditional counting numbers. Now you’re starting to see that. A lot of that is completely out of your control. Scheb’s actually been doing a good job all the way through.”

Here’s more from the past week in minor-league action …

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Kenley Jansen cleared to pitch tonight

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves  Monday, May 25, 2015 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California. The Dodgers beat the Braves 6-3. Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015

(Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Cardinals at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Alex Guerrero, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Kiké Hernandez, 2B
Carlos Frias, P

By Jon Weisman

Kenley Jansen has been cleared by medical staff to pitch tonight after being held out of  Wednesday’s 7-6 Dodger loss to the Rockies.

Jansen, who has faced 20 batters this season and allowed one hit and no walks while striking out 11, complained of headaches and an upset stomach and was found to have elevated blood pressure, according to Don Mattingly, who said he learned Jansen would be unavailable in about the fifth inning.

Mattingly said he did not discuss the specifics of Jansen’s condition after Wednesday’s game out of respect to Jansen’s wishes. Jansen, however, is expected to speak to reporters before tonight’s game.

In other medical news, Howie Kendrick has been given a rest from the starting lineup tonight after his knee stiffened following a slide into third base Wednesday. Kendrick has started 50 of the Dodgers’ first 53 games in 2015.

Also, Triple-A pitching prospect Zach Lee has experienced tingling in the fingers of his right hand, and is in Los Angeles to be examined.

We’re not in Albuquerque anymore

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By Jon Weisman

On Friday, Mike Bolsinger extended to 11 his streak of scoreless innings to start 2015. He has allowed three hits and three walks while striking out 17.

Zach Lee has given up but one run and eight baserunners in 12 innings, with 13 strikeouts. Scott Baker’s ERA is 1.80.

As a team, the Dodgers’ new Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City has a 2.79 ERA with 104 strikeouts against 90 baserunners in 83 innings.

It’s still the Pacific Coast League, but it’s definitely not the high-flyin’ altitude of Albuquerque, where the Isotopes in 2014 had a team ERA that was more than double (5.83).

The OKC Dodgers played their first eight games of the season at a home ballpark that is far more friendly to pitchers than Albuquerque fans could ever imagine.

That’s not to minimize what the OKC Dodgers are doing at the outset of the season — that their 2.71 ERA leads the Pacific Coast League isn’t entirely the ballpark’s doing. Bolsinger’s five scoreless innings Friday came in the team’s road debut, a 3-2 victory over Iowa in which Oklahoma City allowed seven baserunners and struck out 14. But as time passes this season, we need to remember a different set of standards now applies to evaluating Dodger Triple-A pitchers statistically.

Similarly, the forgiveness typically directed toward Isotope pitchers might now be reapportioned toward the batters of Oklahoma City, who have the fourth-worst OPS in the PCL. Individual results vary wildly, from Buck Britton’s 11-for-28 start with six walks (1.036 OPS) down to Scott Schebler’s .379 OPS.

In case you missed it: A one and a two …

By Jon Weisman

Today’s Dodger farewell to Arizona offered a rare, nearly simultaneous outing for both the No. 1 and No. 2 starters — Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Kershaw’s final preseason tuneup (three innings, three baserunners, two strikeouts) left the Dodger ace in his familiar, humbly optimistic form.

“There’s definitely room for improvement, but physically, I feel good and feel ready to go,” Kershaw told “That’s all you can ask for at this point.”

Meanwhile, pitching against Dodger minor leaguers, Greinke allowed two home runs but ultimately threw 85 pitches in seven innings. Ken Gurnick of describes the adjustments Greinke was making during the outing.

  • After Kershaw departed, Zach Lee entered the game against the Royals and unfurled five nearly spotless innings. He came out in the ninth for the chance at the nearly impossible — the six-inning save. Unfortunately, Lee surrendered a two-run homer, tagging him with a blown save after 5 1/3 innings and leaving the Dodgers with their seventh tie of Spring Training, 4-4.
  • Dustin McGowan was officially released by the Dodgers.
  • Before Monday’s game, Don Mattingly and Arizona manager Chip Hale met — successfully, it appears — to defuse any tension between the two teams.
  • J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News describes how a nearly anonymous 19-year-old Dodger minor leaguer, Victor Gonzalez, made an impression on Yasmani Grandal today.

Dodgers send five starting pitchers to minors

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A’s at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Justin Turner, 1B
Darwin Barney, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Juan Uribe, 3B
Andre Ethier, LF
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Kike Hernandez, 2B
(Zack Greinke, P)

By Jon Weisman

Five pitchers who all figure to start games at some point for Triple-A Oklahoma City — Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Mike Bolsinger, Joe Wieland and Carlos Frias — were optioned to minor-league camp before today’s game.

Erik Bedard, Chad Gaudin and David Huff are among the potential minor-league starters or swingmen that remain with the big-league club for now.

The report from Planet Urias

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By Jon Weisman

At times, I felt silly about tweeting out batter-by-batter updates on Julio Urias’ outing today, but it just felt to me like the combination of the level of interest and it being his first Cactus League outing as a grown-up justified them.

What I felt badly about was the short shrift given the other noteworthy prospects on the mound for the Dodgers today. Chris Anderson pitched two perfect innings, Zach Lee walked one batter but retired the other six and Chris Reed had a perfect inning before two singles, a wild pitch and a ground out spoiled his second frame.

Nonetheless, our minds were already in full orbit around Urias.

Urias did display a bit of “Aw, shucks” fallibility that on one level was a welcome antidote to those of us who might be getting carried away with our star-gazing, as if he were a celestial body from light-years away that had already blossomed, while we were just now getting our first glimpse. Facing seven batters, he walked three and went to a full count in an eight-pitch at-bat with another.

Urias pitchingHis first inning of work, following Lee to the mound, was fairly scintillating — two strikeouts sandwiching his first walk, followed by a harmless ground out (18 pitches in all). Coming back to the mound after a long rest (the Dodgers ate up a lot of time on offense in producing their 10-1 victory over Milwaukee), Urias took eight pitches to retire Carlos Gomez, then used another eight pitches in walking Aramis Ramirez.

(It’s here that we pause and remember, that’s an 18-year-old pitcher facing two 2014 National League All-Stars. Anyone else but Urias or Clayton Kershaw would have simply dug a hole on the mound.)

That put Urias at 34 pitches with four outs on his ledger, and a pitch-count limit was nigh. Urias staved it his departure — and showcased another exciting element of his game — by picking off pinch-runner Elian Herrera.

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But after getting ahead of Khris Davis 1-2, Urias couldn’t finish him off. Davis fouled off two pitches and took three more, and that was that.

Part of me couldn’t help but wonder, “Shoot, if the guy can throw 42 pitches on March 6, couldn’t he throw 21 on August 6?” My takeaway, however, was that whatever was meant to be for Urias in a Major League uniform would all come in due time.

And flying under the radar, despite their own impressive pedigrees, Anderson, Lee and Reed should have their chances to romance us.

* * *

Reporters naturally sought out Urias for comment afterward, and it was nice to see his enthusiastic reaction.

“It was awesome to face (Gomez) and get an out against him (on a popup) at this early stage,” Urias told’s Lyle Spencer, who noted that the pitcher’s father, grandfather and brother were watching. “I felt good, comfortable.”

Also weighing in was the man himself, Fernando Valenzuela.

“He was relaxed, nice and loose,” Valenzuela said, via Spencer. “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He has a good fastball with life and throws a nice curveball and changeup. He got ahead (in counts), but they didn’t chase. He looks like he can be something special.”

A.J. Ellis put the outing in perspective, in Eric Stephen’s writeup at True Blue L.A.

“He looked like a guy making his first start of spring training. A little bit erratic, a little bit anxious,” Ellis said. “When you’re erratic and anxious, but still have electric stuff, you can get away with a lot of things. We saw a little bit of everything.”

* * *

Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson come together before splitting off for today's split-squad games. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson come together before splitting off for today’s split-squad games. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

It was also another fine day for the Dodger bats, mainly against the Brewers but also in their 7-4 split-squad victory over the Mariners.

In support of Lee, Urias, Reed and Associates, Ellis had a walk and a three-run home run, Yasiel Puig had a single and two walks. Joc Pederson and Alex Guerrero each went 2 for 3 with an extra-base hit (double for Pederson, home run for Guerrero) to keep them a matched set with .714 batting averages this month.

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“There is a very short window to make the team,” Guerrero told Stephen. “I’ve prepared a lot in the offseason, so I have to jump right in with a short time to prove myself. Mentally I’m confident, I’m relaxed, so that’s a difference too.”

Scott Schebler had two doubles, and Kyle Jensen followed up Thursday’s home run with two singles today. Darnell Sweeney got in the act, hitting a single and the Dodgers’ third home run off Milwaukee pitching. The Dodgers had 22 baserunners in that game, while Milwaukee ended up with a runs-hits-errors linescore of 1 2 3.

Joey Curletta ended the rout with a diving catch in right field.

Back at Camelback, O’Koyea Dickson hit his second home run of Spring Training, after Adrian Gonzalez went 1 for 2 at first base. Erisbel Arruebarrena had two hits, after Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 2 at short. Howie Kendrick, Andre Ethier and Shawn Zarraga gave the Dodgers a total of six 1-for-2 batters in the game.

An energizing moment for the Dodgers

Gabe Kapler and A.J. Ellis lead a Winter Development Program session Wednesday on coach-player communication.

Gabe Kapler and A.J. Ellis led a Winter Development Program session Wednesday on coach-player communication.

By Jon Weisman

What’s happening at Dodger Stadium this week is bigger and more exciting than you realize.

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Minor league highlights from 2014

Minor League Wrap

In the October issue of Dodger Insider magazine, Cary Osborne took this snapshot of highlights from the Dodger farm system in 2014, and I thought it would be nice to share with our blog audience before this year passes into next. Click the image above to enlarge.

— Jon Weisman

Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Scott Schebler join 40-man

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Ahead of tonight’s deadline to protect players before the December 11 Rule 5 draft, the Dodgers selected the contracts of pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Reed and outfielder Scott Schebler to the team’s 40-man roster.

The Dodgers have 39 players on the 40-man, after reliever Onelki Garcia was claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox. Garcia, who allowed two runs in 1 1/3 big-league innings with the Dodgers in 2013, missed most of 2014 because of arm surgery before a brief return at season’s end for Rancho Cucamonga.

— Jon Weisman

Greinke’s elbow could further test Dodger depth

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All Wet

The Dodgers might well have caught a break Tuesday from the Wrigley Field grounds crew, whose struggle to effectively put down a tarp during a 10-minute rainstorm left the field unplayable, causing the Giants’ game against the Cubs to end after 4 1/2 innings in a 2-0 loss. There is talk of a protest, but at least for now, San Francisco fell to 4 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the National League West.

By Jon Weisman

Teams don’t win or lose, organizations do.

Maybe that’s just a matter of semantics, but the point is, every aspect of your organization, top to bottom, plays a role in the fortunes of the team. And sometimes, you need the bottom to carry the top. Or, depending on your point of view, the middle.

That’s what the Dodgers face right now, given the possibility that Zack Greinke will become the fifth Dodger starting pitcher sidelined for at least the short term, following Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

And yes, I think it’s important to include Billingsley in these lists, because when the season began, he was considered likely to be in the rotation in the second half of 2014, certainly more likely than Beckett or Maholm.

Here’s the latest on Greinke from Ken Gurnick of

Greinke is only a “possibility” to make his scheduled start on Thursday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Tuesday night’s 8-6 win over the Padres.

Greinke has been dealing with a tender elbow for the past three weeks, bypassing regular bullpen sessions to throw on flat ground, which puts less of a strain on the arm.

Mattingly would not elaborate on Greinke’s condition or who might replace him, although the Dodgers have few options besides rookie Carlos Frias, who pitched four innings in relief of Dan Haren on Sunday. …

If Greinke misses a start, that would mean each of the Dodgers’ six primary starting pitchers this season has missed at least one turn in the rotation, although Haren’s was outwardly labeled a rest stop.

And so the Dodgers have needed to step up in other places. They’ve made trades to bring in Kevin Correia (who was rocked for three runs before retiring a batter Tuesday, then held San Diego to one run over his next 19 batters) and Roberto Hernandez. They called up Stephen Fife and Red Patterson early in the season and now perhaps will use Frias as a starter as well.

About the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is a sustained turn in the rotation from a minor-leaguer, in part because someone like 2011 first-round pick Zach Lee, who turns 23 next month, hasn’t come on the fast track. Not that he’s been slow. Lee had made midseason leaps to the next level in 2011 (high school to Single-A Great Lakes) and 2012 (High-A Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Chattanooga) before spending full seasons at Chattanooga in 2013 and, up to now, Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.

Lee has struggled somewhat predictably in his first Pacific Coast League season (a league Clayton Kershaw bypassed on his way up). It would be nice to see the Dodgers get a youthful infusion in their rotation, but the timing might not be right for Lee. Maybe it will be the 24-year-old Frias, who retired the final 12 batters he faced in long relief Sunday after allowing a solo home run.

Happiest of all would be if Greinke wakes up healthy this morning or the next. But if someone takes Greinke’s turn Thursday, that pitcher will be the Dodgers’ No. 11 or No. 12 starter this season. You’re not expecting someone like that to dominate; you’re hoping he keeps you in the game enough for your offense to step up, as it did Tuesday, behind Carl Crawford’s three singles, walk and home run and the pairs of doubles from both Matt Kemp and Justin Turner. One player acquired by trade, one player acquired through the draft, one player a savvy pickup by the front office from the discard pile. Because, like we said, you win or lose with your entire organization.

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