The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Five games into the season and the Dodgers are 3-2. There’s really not much to go on, but we have seen some good things, some bad things and some ugly things. In baseball, it is all about Peaks and Valleys.  Peaks and Valleys – write that down!

The Good

2.25 – That’s the Dodger’s team ERA.  They are among the best in baseball. The starters ERA is 2.93 and the relievers is 1.10. Some people can only see the negative so they will say: “But we all know it won’t stay that low.”  But, then they turn around AFTER TWO GAMES and say “See, same old team – they can’t hit lefthanders.”  If the pitching won’t stay that good all season, why do some automatically assume that the Dodgers will not hit lefties?  ESPECIALLY AFTER TWO FREAKING GAMES?

The Dodgers are 23rd in baseball against lefties.  There are 7 team doing worse, including the Mariners and Rangers who are two explosive ball clubs.  Now, you could be right (I doubt it, and I will explain why) that they have not improved against left handed pitching, but how can you tell after 2 games?  If that were the case, Baltimore and Minnesota are both on track to win 162 games.  That is just as absurd as drawing a conclusion about the Dodger’s ability to hit lefties after 2 games.

The Dodgers hit .213 against lefties last year.  Right now they are at .182.  If you have followed baseball for any length of time you should know that it’s a long season and is full of peaks and valleys  The teams that hit the peaks at the end are the ones that win it all.  To be moaning and groaning after 5 games is beyond silly.  The Giants are last in baseball in team ERA with a 6.70 number.  I hope they stay there, but I really doubt it. Peaks and Valleys

Why I think they will do better against left-handed pitching this year:

  • Another year of Turner Ward.  Just like the hitting dramatically improved the second half of last season, I believe his philosophy and changes in players’ mindsets will help improve the hitting throughout the season.
  • Justin Turner is showing that he may hit left-handed pitching better –  It’s a small sampling, but I see improvement overall with him. Time will tell. He has been up 8 times against LH pitching and has 4 hits.  I don’t think that will keep up either.
  • The team picked up Logan Forsythe and Franklin Gutierrez.  Forsythe is off to a slow start against pitchers – PERIOD! But last year he hit .270 against them.  Gutierrez is a known lefty killer who is also off to a slow start.  Peaks and Valleys.  He got off to a slow start last year as well, but saved his best month for last – In September he OPS’ed 1.054.
  • Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson should help, if healthy.
  • Grandal has worked on his RH swing and along with Barnes should give the Dodgers better hitter against LH pitching. Grandal had a .385 OB% against lefties last year.

Ryu and McCarthy have looked well in their first starts and Alex Wood and Ross Stripling make a dynamic middle-relief core. The bullpen looks to be as good as last year… probably better! But it’s early!

The Bad

The whole team is off to a bad start offensively, except for Turner, Gonzalez, Seager  and 3 swings by Puig. They are 12th in MLB in hitting and it’s way too early to see any pattern… unless you want to invent one.

Rich Hill, the poster boy of The Blister Foundation is back on the DL.  Allegedly, it is very minor, but they aren’t showing us pictures so who knows?  He will be out at least two weeks I would say.

Several players are struggling after 5 games, including Forsythe, Grandal, Toles and Hernandez.  Peaks and Valleys!

The Ugly

The Dodgers have seven players on the DL as we speak. One (Yimi Garcia) is out for the year,  The others are in various stages of rehabilitation. The Rangers have 9 on the DL. The Red Sox, Rockies, Padres and Rays all have seven players on the DL as well.  Several teams have six on the DL – THIS IS NOT JUST A DODGER MALADY.  It is plaguing a lot of teams.  Yes, I think there are more injuries today than ever before – that is a whole another discussion. Peaks and valleys.

What I find ugly is that when the team loses many fans blame players that Friedman has acquired:  Kike, Utley, Gutierrez, Hill, Maeda, Grandal.  This is their way of trying to prove to themselves that they were right about FAZ.  Last year, I put up with so much crap that I had to move and lock it out.  I am all for dissenting opinions – I am not for the same of circular thinking that some people apply over and over.

This team has to get better against left-handed pitching and I’ll bet anyone a thousand dollars they will.  They are hitting .182 against LH pitching and I know that will improve.  The question is: how much? The Dodgers will not make any “knee jerk” reactions.  Peaks and Valleys! They will give it time, but due to the depth of the system, if the hitting against LH does not improve dramatically, they will get another bat or two.  Count on it!  They know they can win it all this year and they will pull the trigger if necessary. I really don’t want Ryan Braun but they will get him, if necessary.  Never forget, it’s a long season.

Minor League Report

  • OKC – BOX They lost 7-5  – Verdugo was 2-5 and Eibner hit a HR and Baez pitch 1 inning
  • Tulsa – BOX  Lost 5-2 – Farmer was 3-4 and played 3B
  • RC – BOX – Lost 2-0  Estevez got the only hit
  • GL – BOX – Lost 6-3  Nothing to see here folks, move on

Today’s Music

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 29 Comments

  1. Mark asked on the last thread if anybody wanted to trade Puig, Toles, and Calhoun for Braun.
    .
    I would rather keep Puig and trade for Marcell Ozuna who played CF last year before shifting to LF this year. The Miami owner a few years ago often said he didn’t like Marcell Ozuna as I remember. He started hot in 2016 and finished cold, maybe due to several injuries.
    .
    I have no idea what kind of a teammate Ozuna is or why he was not wanted by Miami’s owner. Answers to those questions might exclude him from a Dodger team that seems to have great chemistry.
    .
    Adding Ozuna, an outfielder, would mean an outfielder would have to be sent back. Toles could get the conversation started. Ozuna and Toles seem to be similar players but hit from the opposite sides.

    1. Toles, Hatcher, Hernandez, libatore for Ozuna. I’m generous so I will throw in Kazmir and most of his salary. They can have SVS as well.
      .
      I hate to say this but Utley and Ethier and Gutierez have reached a point in their careers that put them really close to retirement.

  2. Two players I do not like are Gutierrez and Kike. I have never like Gutierrez when he played at Seattle. Kike, I used to like. I hope they both prove me wrong.

    Our five starters have done well. We have pitched well enough to be 5-0.

    I do not like platooning, but I better get used to it. Roberts will use his entire bench.

  3. Healthy analysis for a 3-2 team n rumbles and grumbles about trades…Holy Cow…
    I don’t want Braun either, but believe me when I say, this FO will do what it has to do when the time comes…
    Need more time for Toles…how long??? Forsythe will be there in the end…
    Patience Blue fans…
    P.S. Is Honeycutt something or what!??!

  4. Mark, RC played a doubleheader with Stockton. In the 2nd game, Mitchell White pitched 4 innings without allowing a run or a hit. I think he has pitched a total of 26 professional innings in his career and has a 0.00 ERA.

    1. You are right, 27,

      I did not scroll down far enough.

      I think AC is going to cover that, so I won’t steal his thunder.

    1. Bobbie17

      You have to love what the Giant’s little guppy has done up to here, as well, as the long, and over paid contract, that the Giants gave him.

    2. If you’re like me and you watch the local Giants broadcast, you can also enjoy the debacle that is the Giants LF situation. They tried a platoon with Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez. Neither played well in the field. So they moved Aaron Hill, a career infielder, to LF because they like his bat. Well, the saying goes “the ball will find you” and it is always amusing watching the routes (or lack thereof) whenever something goes to the Giants LF.
      .
      schadenfreude – that is what defines the Dodgers/Giants fan rivalry.

  5. It is really hard for us to hit a leftie, when both Corey and Agone, are not in the line up.

    They both hit about 250 against lefties last year, but unfortunately, that is better, then a lot of other hitters, on this team.

    Corey had the second highest exit velocity against lefties last year, and that is a good stat, for someone like Corey, who makes more consistent contact, then most of the other hitters on this team, and in baseball, in general.

    It was good to see Scott hit that double yesterday, because he can give Agone days off, if he continues to hit.

    I think Roberts needs to give Barnes some more starts, against lefties too, because Grandal does need his rest.

    And we need to see if Barnes, can not only hit major league pitching, but to also see, if he can also hit lefties too.

    Because although Grandal worked on hitting better against lefties this year, from the right side, right now, Grandal isn’t hitting any differently, then he did last year, when it comes to hitting, for a decent average.

    And I am sure he has his share of strike outs too, even though, I didn’t check.

    And another reason, it hasn’t looked very good, is because although Gutierrez hits lefties, he is more a power source against lefties, so he does strike out a lot too.

    Another problem that Mark mentioned, is Logan, because Logan isn’t hitting as well as he should either.

    And although Logan has hit lefties better, he has also struck out, a lot more then he should, against lefties.

    And he only has one hit against righties.

    And those strike outs from Gutierrez and Logan, are not doing a thing, to help with the leftie problem.

    Strike outs, are wasted outs!

    And about Toles, there are a lot of other players on the team, that are not hitting any better then Toles, and Toles is still learning how to hit major league, pitching.

    And he is hitting at the top of the order, and it is harder to hit, at the top of the order.

    Remember what Joc did, at the top of the order, in his first year.

    The good thing is that I don’t think Roberts, will take as long as Mattingly did, to move Toles down, or send Toles down, to regain his stroke, if he doesn’t hit.

    I haven’t liked his at bats either, but I don’t like him, at the top of the order, because he hasn’t been that type of hitter in the majors, like a veteran hitter, like Logan.

    And I still can’t believe that Toles changed his swing from last year, when he was doing so well.

    Joc also only has two hits, but most of the players on this team, have not done there job, offensively.

    It has been our steady hitters, like Turner, Agone, and Corey, who have hit.

    And Puig has done a decent job too.

    Mark is right about it being to early, but I do understand everyone’s concerns, about how badly we look, against leftie pitchers, I see it too.

    And the truth is, that we are going to see a lot of leftie pitching, until we can prove, we can hit leftie pitching.

    I will say it was good to see the team do the small things yesterday, to score that one run, like they did.

    And they need to do that more, even against rightie pitchers, because that will help them score better, against good pitching, in general.

    And good pitching, is mostly what you see, in the post season.

    1. Lots of great takes by MJ.
      .
      On the broadcast, Joe Davis mentioned that Toles worked on changing his swing with his dad. Unless his dad is Turner Ward, I’m not sure what he was thinking. Toles would sit on fastballs and drive them into the gaps. He’s getting underneath the ball a lot and popping up or flying out on the first or second pitch. As a leadoff batter, he needs to stress the pitcher more than what he’s done. Otherwise, the pitcher gets into a groove with their windup and can be more efficient going through the rest of our lineup. If Toles can figure this out, I think he is the best candidate for leading off. I had thought of Forsythe right after the trade. However, after watching him in ST and now in the first 5 games, I have concerns about his ability to catch up to a good fastball in the zone. He has swung and missed consistently at these pitches.
      .
      I also agree with MJ’s point about platoons. The reason we struggle against lefties is because it’s a different lineup with hitters that just frankly aren’t as good as our left handed hitters. At this point, maybe they should stop platooning and just bet that the same lineup can improve against lefties because they’re getting more reps.
      .
      Before ST was over, I was hoping Trayce would get the nod over Toles because I think Trayce can hit lefties and then make it possible to use Guitierrez as more of a RH pinch hitter off the bench.
      .
      I was also in favor of Chris Taylor over Kike. Neither helps vs lefties, but at least Taylor can field a ground ball.

      1. Knight thanks!

        I just don’t get Toles changing, his swing.

        I think I heard he changed his timing mechanism, which was lifting his leg, to be able to adjust better, for breaking balls.

        I didn’t worry about that in spring training, because he came around, and had the good hitting streak, right before the regular season began.

        But he isn’t hitting line drives now, and he is poping up, and hitting little flyballs.

        But if he doesn’t start hitting, either Roberts will move him down in the order, or down to AAA, to get him hitting again.

        I like both Trayce and Toles, so I wouldn’t care, if Thompson did come up.

        But I still think Toles will hit, he might have to get there in AAA, if he doesn’t start, hitting.

        And I do think it is unfair for people to go after Toles, when most of this team, isn’t doing any better.

        And we should expect more, from the other players, who have more time, in the majors.

        And you might be right about Logan, because he has the most strike outs, on the team.

        And that is hard to do, with Joc and Grandal, on this team.

        Logan has two strike outs, by a leftie, and he has about five strike outs, against a rightie.

        And he has only one hit, against a rightie.

        I am always afraid of players, that have played in the American League, that come to the National league, where they have to face, all new pitchers.

        Because it seems it takes a while, for some hitters, to adjust to the new pitchers, in the new league.

  6. Yeah, I know it’s early but…
    1 – The Dodgers are hitting .182 against LHP (not just starters but all lefties) with a .538 OPS, 1 HR and 6 R (73 plate appearances) (39%)
    2 – The Dodgers are hitting .289 vs. RHP with .991 OPS, 6 HR and 22 R (113 PA) (61%)
    3 – The Dodgers have gotten 7 IP from 1 starter (Kershaw), 6 from one (McCarthy), 5 from 2 (Hill and Maeda) 4 2/3 from 1 (Ryu) – average IP/S – 5.5 IP/S
    4 – The Dodgers have 7 on the DL already – 3 SP (Hill, Kazmir and Stewart), 3 RP (Baez, Ravin and Garcia) and 1 OF (Ethier). They are paying Kazmir and Hill $36MM/year to sit on the DL

    I don’t like the early trends, but I acknowledge it is early

  7. I would keep Puig: younger, cheaper, better fielder than Braun and might be putting it all together at last. It’s LF that I worry about and the CF option for some lefties. Get a solid RH bat that does not kill you on defense and offer a package back. Thompson might be that guy, others are further away. Braun maybe in LF but he would block what they are trying to do going forward. I would rather see SVS than Gutierrez getting the starts in LF right now. Toles needs to pick it up fast to hold his side of the platoon or Bellinger might get the call. They started the Urias arbitration clock early last year and might do the same this year with another top prospect.

    They must be stretching Urias out some more at OKC, Wood should get the nod over Stripling for the Mon start in Chicago. The entire staff has looked good and if the offense can pick it up against LH starters this could be a special team. The results so far are really positive and Roberts will not panic. Minor leagues are just starting so they need to see how players perform there as well.

    I am really enjoying watching the Giants struggle…it’s early but the pitching is not there and the offense is not that special. The Rockies look solid and will pass the Giants this year for 2nd place in the West.

    1. Vegas

      I agree it is still way to early, to think about trading anyone, let alone, Puig.

      Especially since this problem with the offense, is not just with the players we have mentioned, it has been with most of the players, on the team, except Corey, Agone, and Turner, and to an extent, Puig.

      But since we will be facing more lefties, then we like, let’s see, who will produce on, offense, on this platoon team.

      And if these part time platoon players, and the platoon team, doesn’t start producing, they better try something different, and play, the almost everyday line up, instead.

      So they don’t make the same mistake, that they made last year, and go with this platoon team, for the entire year.

      And this was a mistake because this platoon team wasn’t any advantage on offense, in fact, they were last in offense, in all of baseball.

  8. NO team is perfect. Every team has it’s strengths and weaknesses, Dodger weakness is hitting left-handed pitchers, there is worse things, could be trouble hitting right- handed pitchers. Remember they say, “Practice makes perfect”, so I guess it’s a good thing we’re going to be facing a lot of lefties.
    .
    I consulted the magic 8 ball, the answer, Dodgers will be in the middle of the pack against left-handers at the end of the season.
    .
    Thank you, SoCalGrinch for doing the math and letting us know we are pace for 97 victories!!

  9. Mitchell White, who apparently should have been drafted much lower, hasn’t allowed a run yet as a Dodger, I believe

    1. Ozuna is in his 5th year and has a .315 career OB%. Is it likely to jump a lot? His problem is that he doesn’t walk much.

  10. Like everyone else is saying, it’s early. Yes, we struggled against some lefties, but keep in mind the Rockies started someone the Dodgers haven’t seen before, so the advantage usually goes to the pitcher the first time around until the hitters get a book on him. With that said, I agree with MJ about platooning. I hope we don’t get too set in our ways and just platoon platoon platoon all season just to get “better” match ups. I also agree with Knights27. If this keeps up, maybe we should just stick with the regulars and let them get their reps against any lefty that’s thrown at them, and get used to a steady line-up.

    One thing we should all keep in mind. Both FAZ and Doc are not the hard headed type, they have shown that they will stick with something only to a point, then go another direction. That’s why I feel we are in good hands no matter what happens this year.(Great way to put it Mark, Peaks and Valleys, Peaks and Valleys!). We will go through a stage where the sky will seem like it’s falling, and then we will get back up, dust ourselves off and get it done. This team is put together too well with a great mixture of veterans, one or two year players, and grinders, to have a long sustained losing streak. The players just won’t let it happen. So yeah, we have some warts right now with the lefty thing, but two months from now that will not be the issue, because if the players don’t do something about it, FAZ and Doc will.

  11. On the good side, we should all be grateful that Hyun Jin Jyu is looking good.
    Same with McCarthy
    Hopefully Maeda is better than he pitched. My fear is that bulking up made him
    physically stiffer. Not as limber, lost the whippet effect.

  12. Tyler Anderson tomorrow, Jon Lester on Monday, Brett Anderson on Thursday, and Patrick Corbin some day next weekend. That is a fair amount of lefties to face, and hopefully the Dodger hitters will start to get comfortable against lefties the more they see them. I would not be surprised to see the Giants work their rotation to have Bumgarner, Moore, and Blach face the Dodgers. Cain is a mess, Samardzija, is an overpaid #5, and Cueto is good, but he is not LH. The Dodgers will have rotations switched on them until they prove they can hit lefties. As Doc Roberts says, if you want to stop the can’t hit lefty dialogue, change the narrative. Jon Gray is RH, and he is no slouch. Colorado could be dangerous this year.
    .
    The Giants are so desperate for some more offense, they signed Melvin Upton, Jr. to a minor league deal. They did not sign him to stay in the minors, so expect to see him in the Giants lineup soon.
    .
    I thought that signing Gutierrez was insurance for SVS if he could not make it back. It appears that SVS is okay, and should get more ABs than Franklin. I have nothing against Gutierrez, but with only 5 bench (including 1 catcher), the Dodgers really do not need two of the same guy.
    .
    So far Trayce has not done anything at OKC (it’s only one game and one PH), and Chris Taylor had a bad offensive night, but a very good defensive night. So there is no real rush to bring them up right now. Bellinger will not be called up until June at the earliest, but it is conceivable that Bellinger and SVS can platoon in LF, with both spelling AGon from time to time. Like the pitchers, I want AGon fresh for the final 2 months and playoff run.
    .
    I do not think we will get to see much of Ethier this year (if at all). That will leave Toles in LF for the time against RH pitching. He will stay until he plays himself off the 25 man and or Bellinger is ready. At 20, Verdugo is showing that he belongs in OKC. He should stay there for 2017.
    .
    Wood gets the joy of going against Jon Lester on Monday., the Cubs home opener. I am hopeful that Wood will pitch well, and I see no reason why he should not. Winning…now that may be more difficult. The Cubs should have 3 lefty bats and 1 switch to go with the 4 RH bats. Some may be down on Forsythe, Grandal, and Joc, but Kris Bryant is 1 for 16. Does anyone believe that his BA stays under .100. Plus, Rizzo, Schwarber, Russell, Zobrist, and Baez are all hitting .200 or lower. I think all those mentioned will be well above Mendoza line before too long.
    .
    I see no benefit in trading Puig now unless the Dodgers are getting an overpay (which they will not).
    .
    Last year the Dodgers started the season 12-7 and then proceeded to lose 8 out of the next 10, including 4 in a row against the Fish at home to drop below .500. 5 games is not reason to have any pessimism, unless that is how you normally look at things. I do believe that FAZ believes that this could be the Dodgers year. So I would not be surprised to see a significant trade come July. Whether it is for a RH OF bat, or a more reliable/durable #2 (Quintana or Archer?), we will need to see what the remainder of the first half provides.

    1. If you get a chance to watch the Giants play, you would find it amusing to see anything hit to left field. Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez started a platoon there but neither have hit and in the case of Gorkys – the fielding has been poor. It got so bad, they put Aaron Hill, a career infielder, in left field. Hill has hit, but he plays left field about as well as you would expect for someone who never plays outfield. Every time there is a ball hit there, Hill looks about as lost as a little leaguer with his routes to the ball – very amusing/entertaining to watch for this Dodgers fan.
      .
      I think the Giants getting Melvin Upton is as much about them needing a legitimate left fielder as it is them needing someone who can hit.

      1. I saw Gorkys Hernandez play in Sacramento last year, and the weekend that I saw him he did very well offensively and defensively. He played mostly 2B, but also some CF. He had no problem tracking the ball or running routes in Sacramento. He stretched singles into doubles. He was clutch. I liked him…at least that weekend. I saw Gorkys in a ST game, and he did not seem the same to me.
        .
        Mac Williamson will probably get a call once he is off the DL. I thought he was their best LF option.

  13. AC, didn’t know the Cubs big guns were struggling as well. Right now is such a small sample size, but I think in this day and age we are so quick to analyze and make a judgement on some of our players(myself included) that we forget that there are other teams out there, good ones, who have the same stuff going on that we do. I still have hope and confidence that FAZ and Roberts are the right guys at the right time, and we will be fine, I just hate us losing like anybody else.

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