Chicken Wings and Broken Backs

Saturday was an eventful day for the Dodgers as Hyun-Jin Ryu and Trayce Thompson made their first official appearances of the season. Ryu is coming back from elbow and shoulder surgeries on his chicken wing and Thompson is only overcoming a broken back.  I have to believe that Trayce will start the season at AAA, along with Andrew Toles – it won’t hurt either of them to play every day at OKC, but Ryu has a shot at making the rotation at the start of THIS season although, I still believe he will start at AAA to build arms strength.  There’s still three weeks to go.  You never know…

Ryu allegedly was dialing it up to 91 MPH.  If that is true, then that is very good news considering how little he has pitched.  I thought he looked outstanding and I was pleasantly surprised.  Ryu reported no pain in his shoulder or elbow.  If true, that is also great news.  If Ryu can be anything close to what he was in 2013 and 2014, then the rotation is dramatically improved.  Of course, there are a lots of other options as well – I don’t need to name them all… you know who they are.

Right here, right now, it looks like Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu are healthy, but my bet is that Ryu spends a few starts in AAA.  I have also heard some say that Julio Urias might stay behind in Arizona (extended Spring Training) or start at AAA.  What?  When you pitch at AAA, the innings don’t count?  That’s silly!  Urias will either stay behind or start the season in the rotation. If it were me, I would hold him out about 3 weeks.  Then, I would unleash the Kracken!  Maybe a DL stint or two during the year as well, but why would anyone even consider having him go to AAA?  The innings count there the same as MLB – you might as well have him in the rotation.

If Urias and Ryu don’t break with the team, then this is what I think the rotation will look like in April:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Hill
  3. Maeda
  4. McCarthy
  5. Wood

I know it’s dangerous to assume, but I think Kazmir is toast (yeah, I am reading the reports that say otherwise) and so he is outta’ my plan. By the end of April, Urias and Ryu should be ready… and then what?  I see Ross Stripling as the swingman.  Barring injury, Romo and Jansen make the team, so that makes eight pitchers.   That leaves four spots open.  I can’t imagine that Dayton won’t have one of those spots.  Pedro Baez is likely to start the season on the DL and Avilan has no options, and neither does Hatcher, so this is their shot – they have  few weeks to step up or shut up!

That leaves one spot left – Fields, Liberatore or Morrow?    Morrow is not on the 40-man, so I am not sure what happens there.  I think Fields gets the final spot, but KNOW THIS:  the look of this pitching staff WILL ABSOLUTELY CHANGE DRAMATICALLY before the season is over – in ways we can never imagine.  Morrow could be up later.  Liberatore WILL be up later.

I can also see Walker Buehler ending the season in the pen. You are going to need a scorecard, people.  You are going to see musical chairs like you can’t imagine.  The pitching staff is taking shape, but there is a lot to be decided.  This is a deep, deep staff with lots of arms and FAZ will use that 10 day DL like a farmer uses a rented mule.

And then, there’s always the chance for a trade….

Rants and Raves

  • Doug Padilla of ESPN has a great read on Cody Bellinger: Budding Superstar!  He’s ready, I am telling you!
  • Brett Eibner is a very good CF.  Very, Very Good!
  • Stetson Allie is organizational depth.
  • Yasiel Sierra doesn’t look overpowering but he has looked very good.
  • Darnell Sweeney has little chance of making the team despite a good Spring.
  • Chris Taylor is making the Utilityman job a tough call between himself and Kike.  He has done nothing to tarnish his star.
  • Dylan Hernandez of THE LA TIMES really nails the situation with Yasiel Puig  It’s a great read.
  • FAZ HATERS:  Don’t Read This:  Andrew Toles Credits Sabermetrics for Emergence
  • There are lots of good reads on the Dodger Dashboard today!
  • Oh, I almost forgot – Adam asked about the WBC and said he didn’t care about it.  Neither do I!  I can’t watch it.  Now, if they really had all the players – the Trouts, Kershaws, Bumgarners and all those – then I would be into it. It’s no dream team!
  • You may or may not know that I am a Big Duke Blue Devil Fan- 4 wins in 4 days to win the ACC Championship.  Coach K is amazing because when he loses, it’s his fault and when he wins, it’s because of his players. Players run through walls for him.  BTW, I think the ACC will have 10 teams in the tournament.

Todays Music

That’s one of my favorite songs!

Posted by Mark Timmons

I started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. I took a year off in 2016 and now I am back. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. I don't do game recaps or in-depth sabermetric analysis. I value sabermetrics, but leave that to people smarter than me... which is only 98% of the population. This is where you start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome!

This article has 41 Comments

  1. On my way to Glendale. Ryun is key—again. Just like the last 2 years. It would be amazing if he comes back. Haven’t seen much of Liberatore. I like Mark’s use of Urias. AAA would be a waste and probably will set him back mentally.

  2. Let the kid pitch. You can keep him on a pitch count, not an innings count,and occasionally skip a start when there is an off-day or give him a mysterious 10-dL stint. Leaving him behind and re-starting him isn’t any better either. He’s a young strong kid, let him throw. They already botched his innings by doing the eye surgery in the middle of the season instead of the off-season prior.

  3. Ryu has notched up 7-8 MPH from the initial reports, so he is getting stronger. So much for those that latch on to early reports and deem players done before they even get a shot in a game. Good for Hyun-Jin. He may not be the 2013-2014 version, but he will make the full comeback, and probably be effective. He needs to face batters, so I would agree that AAA seems a good starting spot, rather than extended ST.
    .
    With respect to Scott Kazmir, I am not yet ready to call him through. Mark, as you may recall, we went round and round on Zach Lee. I was always pulling for him and then trying to find a hole after he did make an appearance. You were ultimately correct about him as a Dodger, but I will still pull for him as a Padre (unless he faces the Dodgers). I will stick with Kaz until FAZ decides he is through.
    .
    I started ST as a Brandon Morrow supporter, so I will stick my neck out and say he makes it over Fields. There is a 40 man spot open, so that should not be a hindrance. I think Hatcher is done as a Dodger. He is absolutely snake-bit and he needs to move if he wants to re-establish himself as a ML pitcher (which he is more than capable of). Hatcher has no trade value, so I see him as a prime DFA candidate. If he is not picked up, and is willing to accept a minor league assignment, give it a shot, and maybe he can re-emerge at AAA.
    .
    Other than the Goldschmidt HR, McCarthy has been very good. There is no reason right now to believe he is injured (or has the yips), and cannot become the #4 or #5 starter.
    .
    Either Wood or Stripling make the initial rotation depending on whether FAZ/Doc want 3 LH starters or 3 RH starters (or who they are playing). Both pitchers can assume the now named Andrew Miller role. There is a good article in MLB TradeRumors for the re-emergence of this type pitcher. Unfair comparison to Andrew Miller in ability, but I believe that both Wood and Stripling can be effective in that role.
    .
    I agree that both Toles and Thompson start the year in OKC where they play every day. If anything happens to Ehtier or Gutierrez, FAZ will have no second thoughts about bringing either up. I believe Ethier will produce, but I am not as sure with Gutierrez.
    .
    I like Chris Taylor, and I think he is the logical utility player based on his ability to play SS, and because he has earned it for his spring play. He can also hold his own in CF if needed, as well as Kike’ IMO. Of course there is also the Zach Lee factor. Chris Taylor is who the Dodgers received for Zach, so naturally I became a Chris Taylor fan from day 1.
    .
    Knowing that FAZ moves their prospects quickly through the organization, I can see Walker Buehler getting a call in September for the pen, but I still believe that it is a long-shot. FAZ is still going to want to control Buehler’s pitch count, and both Trevor Oaks and Josh Sborz should be more advanced and in line for the call before Walker.

    1. From all accounts Ryu has touched 91 but has been working around 88. I’m rooting for him.

      The HR Goldscmidt hit of off McCarthey wasn’t a bad pitch. Just have to tip your hat to the guy.

      Oaks is interesting because he’s a GB pitcher the Dodgers sorely need in the pen. I doubt they start him there but it’s something to keep an eye on.

      Sounds like Sierra is using his two seam more rather than the 4 seam that was getting hammered last year.

      1. Hawkeye

        That is what I read about Ryu’s velocity, 88 range, and touched 91 at times.

        I think almost everyone is hoping the best for Ryu!

        He is fun to watch, and he was very effective, when he was healthy.

        1. There was a time when Rtu would touch 94 to 95, but that was rare – he was generally 91-93 with his fastball, so hitting 91 on his first start was impressive!

  4. Thanks for the update on Sierra. I’ve not been able to watch him pitch yet, but the stats say he’s doing very well; much much better than last year in the minors.

    Hopefully he’s figured things out

    1. Maybe it is because he is getting more comfortable in the U.S.? He defected at 23 form Cuba, the only home he knew. That has to be hard on anyone. He seems to work hard and hopefully he gets his chance this year. He should move quickly if he produces.

  5. I have said this a few times so sorry to repeat myself but I think Stripling would excel in a Miller role and with that I have said Stewart instead of Stripling should be in the rotation. Hopefully, Stewart only needs a week to get past his strain.
    .
    I have enjoyed watching Sweeney play third. He might be able to play there a few weeks should Turner need to visit the DL.
    .
    Ethier is taking ground balls at first again. It has been a couple of years since he has done that. If SVS doesn’t make the 25, might Ethier spell Agon at first a few games this year?
    .
    Thompson might not have enough time left this spring to get the at bats he needs to be ready to start the season with the Dodgers but I see him joining the team by May if he doesn’t open the season with the Dodgers.
    .
    I will repeat myself again, sorry, but I like Taylor. The better he does the better the Lee story/draft. I like his speed. He stretched a double into a triple yesterday and as a result scored on a SF by Utley.

    1. Bums, maybe if both you and I continue to repeat ourselves, the idea of Chris Taylor gets out in the universe and the notion finds its way to the FO, and he makes the 25 man come April 3. I also repeat myself about Brandon Morrow, and hope the same thing happens with him.
      .
      Maybe Sweeney is playing himself into the hearts of some Dodger fans. He certainly was not well received by most when he was re-acquired through the Howie K. deal. But I agree with Mark, that he is destined to AAA, but now he will now have eyes on him.

    2. Bum

      I don’t see Ethier being a very good choice, to give Agone a day off, because Ethier, hits lefties worse, then Agone does, and he won’t be a platoon, advantage.

      I think if Scotty is healthy, he is the better choice.

      I also think Scotty is a better choice then Guetierrez, because Scotty not only plays first base, he still plays pretty good defense, in the outfield.

      But I also agree with Mark, that Scotty hasn’t been reliable, and hasn’t produced much, in the last few years, so I can see why the front office, signed
      Guetierrez.

      The front office will probably manipulate both Scotty and Guetierrez, to keep both players available, because Scotty still has options left, and they will work the DL, with Guetierrez.

      And I don’t see Kike, and Taylor, even close in this competition.

      Taylor is the better defensive player at shortstop, and he has been better
      offensively, then Kike, in spring.

      Kike might have more power, but I don’t see many pitchers, giving Kike many fastballs, so I don’t see Kike, hitting as many HRs, as before.

      This 25 man roster will ever be changing, so nothing is set in stone, with the opening, 25 man roster.

      And Kike and Taylor, will probably be manipulated to, throughout the season, unless one, really gets hot, and can consistently hit.

  6. Not sure why Stewart, Stripling or Wood would be in the rotation except as a placeholder for Urias, assuming McCarthy keeps performing. Let the kid pitch, he is special! 5 best guys with Ryu another month away. Wood or Stripling or both as swing men, Stewart to AAA. Nice problem to have with too many healthy starters pitching well. Kazmir may not be done but has fallen out of favor and won’t take it well if not in the rotation. He is an addition by subtraction candidate. I like Taylor better than Kike for his speed and glove, and SVS has an option left but has earned a spot IMO. There could be a trade or more likely some players open on the DL and others get an extended look. Great takes and topic today as usual.

    1. I agree if Urias is sent to extended ST, that whoever assumes that rotation role will be holding Julio’s place. With Stewart now having shoulder tightness and shutdown for a week, he is destined to OKC. Both Stripling and Wood can be interchangeable as the place holder.
      .
      I have read the reports that Kaz is not a team or fan favorite, and both you and Mark may be correct that he is not going to be in the rotation either because of his seemingly chronic injury or because he has fallen out of favor. I have a tendency to hold out hope for certain players. I became emotionally invested in Kaz when he signed, so it is hard for me to let go. I pushed the discussion last year for him to be signed, so when he was, I was pleased with the signing. I have the same feeling for Alex Wood, who many do not believe is a quality pitcher. I do.

      1. AC

        While I don’t agree with you about Kazmir, I do agree with you, about Wood.

        When Wood was healthy and pitching, he was pitching really well, twice through the order.

        And Wood has a much better attitude, then Kazmir, too.

        Wood is a competitor, and he wants to be in the starting pitching rotation, and he wants the ball.

        But Wood will do what ever Roberts thinks, is best for the team, too.

      2. I have also read reports (and seen on broadcast games) that Kazmir is not a great teammate. When he was teammates with a young David Price, there was talk that he was a bad influence. So the Rays jettisoned Kazmir and David Price’s career took off. I’ve also seen him show up teammates who made errors behind him – that can’t make him popular.

        1. I have heard that, but I can find no evidence of it. Instead, I find a lot of the opposite. A lot of his former teammates have great respect for him. Maybe I am missing something, but I can only seem to find good things written about him… and there is a lot.

          1. MJ, I think you can count on one hand the number of fans that believe Kaz has anything remaining to offer, and the other four are members of his family.

          2. It’s quite possible Kazmir did make some poor choices in the past and has made amends… but here is a writeup from a Rays fansite based on “close inside sources.” http://www.raysindex.com/2010/08/were-david-price-and-marijuana-factors-in-the-scott-kazmir-trade.html
            .
            I have seen with my own eyes where Kazmir was not supportive of a teammate who did not make a play behind his pitching. The player did not make an error and the Dodgers did not lose the game. But it did cost Kazmir a W and for that he was very demonstrative in showing how upset he was. He may not be as bad as Mat Latos wrt negative influence, but I don’t think he’s the type of player who wins over his teammates loyalty. Just my opinion.

      1. Not that I know. I thought he would be on the roster, but I have seen no evidence he has played.

  7. Didn’t get a chance to comment on your last post Mark, but your article on Grienke’s contract was just an awesome read. The way you broke down Grienkes contract vs. the risk and reward of the other guys we signed totally opened my eyes on why we didn’t sign Zack. Made total sense, even though at the time I was totally pissed off we let him go. This is why I follow this site. Between you and some of the other guys on this page, I have learned stuff I never even thought of before. Keep up the great writing and feedback from the other guys, because I bet there are more guys like me out there that are learning more about the Dodgers than they ever thought possible. Great job man!

    1. Thanks Roger, it has been a breath of fresh air to have divergent viewpoints since I started LADT back up, but it is awesome to not have someone disagree everyday no matter what you say.

  8. AC,

    Did you see the interview I did with Zach Lee 5 years ago?

    He was a great kid.

    That was at Parkview Field in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

    I did an interview with Garrett Gould thye same day, but John Shoemaker’s was the best:

    Shoemaker runs the Arizona Operation.

    1. Mark

      Kike is three for four today, but Puerta Rico is playing Italy.

      I don’t recognize the current pitcher on the mound for Italy, and I don’t know if Italy has any major league pitchers, or any good major league pitchers, on the team.

      It is kind of a blowout, so that is probably why Kike is getting to play, today.

    2. Mark, I had not seen the interview, so thank you for that. I hope Zach socked some of that bonus away for his college education. He seemed to appreciate the value of education. He is a fine young man. I wish him all the best.
      .
      I loved John Shoemaker’s comments about instructing at the lower levels rather than coaching. That is my view as well, so I am glad that I can agree with someone at the level and resume of John Shoemaker.
      .
      I think Drew Saylor could very well be the next John Shoemaker in the Dodgers organization.

  9. I have hopes for Kazmir also, and he pitched very well 2 years ago especially in the first half season. It just seems his physical problems and general attitude don’t fit well with the team concept Roberts and Faz are promoting. I agree Wood has potential and his unorthodox delivery causes hitters problems. But how many lefties can or should be in one rotation? That gives McCarthy an edge if healthy who along with Maeda gives the rotation more balance.

  10. Of the non-Ryu pitches trying to come back from injury, Kazmir has the best track record. The Dodgers will give him (and all of the others) every chance to show that he can do the job.

    I would personally like to see Urias in the opening day rotation. He has pitched like he’s the Dodgers’ 2nd best pitcher and in keeping with last years’ narrative that they will play the best players, it sends the right message if they let him pitch. This will allow Ryu, Kazmir and Stewart (who has a sore shoulder) additional time to get ready for the season.

    As of right now I expect the rotation to start the season to be Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Urias and McCarthy with Wood as the long man in the pen, Stripling in AAA, and Stewart either in AAA or the DL and Ryu and Kazmir on the DL.

  11. I know I may be daydreaming a bit here, and the article in the Times trashed him pretty good, but didn’t Puig looked focused as hell the other night when he hit two homers against Texas? He looked alot slimmer too than past springs. (feel free to pile on here, I know his track record sucks). For some dumb reason, and I have been burned I don’t know how many times the past 3 years, I still believe in Puig. The guy is oh so close to being downright scary. If he can just get the Raul Mondesi out of his head, he will be unstoppable. He seems more comfortable at the plate. I get the feeling that FAZ really wants him to work out, because they probably know that he will come back to haunt them someday if they trade him and he figures it out. (Picture him in a Giant uniform, my worst nightmare). I am going to go out on a very shaky limb again and say Yasiel can be the difference maker in the lineup this year if he keeps playing the way he is. Ok, let me have it, I can take it.

    1. I do not believe in Yasiel Puig.

      I do not dis-believe in Yasiel Puig.

      He has a wealth of talent but has been a knucklehead.

      He is in fantastic shape – he may be 30+ pounds lighter than last year.

      He could be the NL MVP…

      Or a knucklehead.

      I have no opinion… only hope!

    2. I think FAZ tested the market for Puig and there were no takers who did not insist on getting Puig + another solid prospect. In other words, there were no trade partners who wanted to take a risk on Puig turning it around without hedging that bet with another coveted Dodger prospect. The possibility that Puig might turn it around with guidance from Dodger coaches and other assorted mentors was probably more attractive than trading him for Ryan Braun + whoever else the Brewers were asking for.

  12. Roger,
    I too am hoping against hope. I think this could be Puig’s year. I am rooting for him to get it together and have a break out year where he puts it all together. But again that’s why I love baseball, especially in the spring. Because hope springs eternal. Baseball for me is a chance to hope that this is the year that any given player can have a career year and the Dodgers can go to the World Series.

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