State of the Dodgers – Halfway to a World Series

Thursday night’s game was the official half way point in the season. So I thought it was an opportune time to look at what is right, or what is wrong, what can be fixed, or what doesn’t need fixing.  With Thursday night’s win, the Dodgers are 53-28.  That is a projected win total of 106.  They will win 94 even if they go 41-40 the rest of the way.  The Playoffs are calling the Dodgers.  The stats below do not include last night’s game.

Starting Pitching – The starting pitching as a whole is working very well, even if the individual components may need some adjusting.  With Urias out, the Dodgers have settled on six starting pitchers…Kershaw/Wood/McCarthy/Hill/Maeda/Ryu.  Waiting in reserve is Brock Stewart, Trevor Oaks, and one of the 2017 surprises…Scott Barlow.  Emergency starters would be Justin Masterson and Wilmer Font.  That is 11 deep who could pitch at the ML level and not be overwhelmed.  That is also excluding Ross Stripling who I think is going to become a full-time reliever if he stays a Dodger.

#11 innings pitched – 447 – #1 – SF Giants (486.1), #2 – Nationals (484), #3 – DBacks (476.1)

#1 – WHIP – 1.17

#1 – BAA – .233

#1 – Wins – 37 (Tied with Houston)

#2 ERA – 3.48 – #1 DBacks – 3.46

3rd Least # HR allowed – 54 – #1 Marlins (51), #2 DBacks (53)

Bullpen – With the exception of Kenley Jansen, this has been a relative Merry-Go-Round.  But it still has been an effective pen as a unit.  There have been 15 different relievers, and only Jansen has been with the 25 man for the entire year.  Jansen has been perfect in 17 save opportunities.  He recorded his 200th Dodger (career) save earlier in the year.  He recently set the MLB mark for most strikeouts to begin the season without a walk which is now at 51. Baez was on the DL for the first part of the season, but has been on the 25 ever since, and has been very good.  Currently the bullpen has 5 RHP (Jansen/Baez/Stewart/Morrow/Romo) and 2 LHP (Avilan/Dayton).

#13 innings pitched – 269.1 – #1 Cincinnati (308.1)

#1 – WHIP – 1.10

#2 – BAA – .213 – #1 Astros (.212)

#2 – ERA – 2.87 – #1 Indians (2.57)

Team Offense –

#15 against LHP – .251 (increase from #30 and .214 in 2016)

#11 WRISP/2 Outs – .247 (increase from #28 and .206 in 2016)

#13 WRISP – .262 (increase from #23 and .250 in 2016)

#16 BA – .253

#5 Runs – 412

#4 OBP – .340

#5 OPS – .781

The Astros and Nationals are clearly the #1 AL and #1 NL offenses.

Position Players – IMO the Dodgers have three MVP candidates in Cody Bellinger/Corey Seager/JT.  Bellinger leads the NL in HR with 24 (#2 in MLB); top 10 MLB in RBI with 56; #6 OPS, and are set for several years at 1st, SS, and 3rd.  JT would be leading MLB in BA, OBP, and OPS if he had enough plate appearances.  He has plenty of time remaining to get qualified.  Seager is amongst the MLB leaders in most offensive categories for a SS.  He is generally behind Zach Cozart (and his career year), and Carlos Correa.

Logan Forsythe has gotten off to a bad start with the Dodgers, and is probably in a platoon role with Utley at 2B.  Grandal is playing at an All-Star level at catcher. Taylor/Joc/Puig should be the starting OF against all pitchers.  Since coming off the DL, Joc has been outstanding, and if he and Puig continue to hit, OF offense should continue to improve.

Bench Players – This has been another Merry-Go-Round.  Barnes, Utley, and Kike’ have been good reserves for most of the year.  Barnes is as good of a backup catcher as there is in MLB.  Kike’ has been invaluable with the number of positions he handles and handles well.  He has an outstanding slugging % (.500) and OPS (.816) for a reserve.  From SVS, Eibner, Gutierrez, and now Thompson & Freeman, the remaining bench players have not been special at all.

Injuries – Ethier, Kazmir, Urias, Toles, Segedin, are all out on 60 day (much longer) DL stays.  AGon has not been right all year going on the DL for the 1st time in his career, and is now out for a much longer period.  JT/Joc/McCarthy/Maeda/Wood/Liberatore/Dayton/Hatcher/Gutierrez have all spent time on the DL.  Seager also had some down before getting back into the lineup on Thursday.  I think Doc would have preferred one more day, but having Seager in the lineup is very important for success for LAD.

Surprises – Cody Bellinger not only getting the call, but playing at a MVP level.  Chris Taylor reinventing himself offensively, and being very good surprise on the bases.  Austin Barnes has proven to be an extremely good defensive catcher, but is also proving to be an offensive force.  His ability to play multiple positions also gives the Dodgers more options.  While not so much of a surprise to ME, Alex Wood has inserted himself into the CY discussion, and Brandon Morrow is proving to be a very good addition to the bullpen, along with Pedro Baez (less of a surprise, but still somewhat).

FAZ – The front office has been masterful at creating and utilizing an ever-evolving 40 man roster.  IMO they are the Yoda’s of front office personnel.  Other teams will follow their lead.  FA pick-ups during the off-season…Brandon Morrow, Wilmer Font, Madison Younginer, Justin Masterson, and Brett Eibner (trade).  Signing their own FA to good contracts (Jansen/JT/Hill).  Yes, DR even Hill (I know you disagree).

Second Half – While the Dodgers are playing at an unbelievable clip, there can always be improvements.  The pundits have been all over the place.  Solid/dependable #2 SP, reliable lock down LHP setup reliever, and a RH power bat.

#2 SP – Jose Quintana, Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer, and Justin Verlander have all been rumored to the Dodgers.  I know some on this site are pulling for Darvish, but I have not heard anything that links him as a possible destination to LA.  He would also be very costly.  The Rays are not going to move Archer as long as they are in the playoff picture.  The Dodgers are not going to assume $56 million for 2018/2019 for Verlander.  They want out of the luxury tax, not deeper into it.  Both Quintana and Cole would be costly in prospects. I can see them going for Miami’s Tom Koehler.  Miami wants him out, and he is exactly the high reward low risk player FAZ seems to go for.  I think there will be three quality pitchers out of Kershaw/Wood/McCarthy/Hill/Maeda/Ryu available for the playoffs, so I do not think that there will be any trade for a co-Ace.

LHRP – Brad Hand, Justin Wilson, Felipe Rivero (no chance).  All of the potential teams are looking at relief pitchers, so the bidding for Hand and Wilson should bring back quality.  The Padres are said to be asking for “Chapman –like” return in prospects. They do not have to trade him, so they may hold out.  There are more RHRP available.  But with the current members and with good to very good options at OKC, RHRP is not so much of a need as what it will cost.  The Phillies’ Pat Neshek is intriguing.  Or the Mariners’ Nick Vincent. The Dodgers do not have a dependable lock down setup, so this is a logical place to look.  Is Brandon Morrow legit?  I have said I believe in him since the Dodgers signed him to a minor league deal. Will Liberatore replicate his healthy 2016?  Joe Broussard or Madison Younginer?  I am not as high on Rhame or Ravin, but they are options as well.  I think FAZ will look fo r asolid setup reliever, but will not overpay.  They have a ton of quality options that they can take a chance on. Brock Stewart may be the lock down setup they are looking for.  Or maybe Ryu or Maeda will become a difference maker in the pen.

RH Power Bat – The logical choice would be J. D. Martinez.  With Joc hitting again, the need for a CF is not a high priority, so Lorenzo Cain should not be an option.  No to Kemp or Markakis.  I like Marcell Ozuna a lot, but I do not see Miami moving him for anything less than king’s ransom.  If you think the Nats overpaid for Eaton, wait to see what it will cost for Ozuna. I am a Verdugo fan, but he is LH and not a power bat.  There are no other RH bat possibilities at OKC.  As long as Seattle is in the playoff picture, Mitch Haniger is not going to be moving anywhere, and even if they are out, Haniger is the type of player they would hold on to.

I am a firm believer in team chemistry.  The team is playing as a strong cohesive unit.  They are winning by different methods.  New star every night.  They seem to be magical right now.  Do they want to mess that up?  Do the Dodgers stay safe and work with in-house players, or do they go for it and try to put a package for Justin Wilson and J.D. Martinez?    FAZ has certainly put together an organization that can use its assets and trade for a perceived better shot this year.  Many fans would like to see that.  “Just go for it…1988 was a long time ago.”  The Dodgers are stacked with quality RHP prospects, and other position prospects that may be blocked (Rios/Calhoun/Farmer).  They picked up Hill and Reddick with players that were blocked and not considered as good as others in the organization.  Could the Royals’ Justin Vargas be this year’s Rich Hill?  Is Quintana worth Alveraz and 3 other top prospects?  As bad of an April and May as Quintana has had, his June has been outstanding. Is Darvish worth it, or is his desire to stay in Texas going to be a problem for the stretch?  Is Brad Hand worth it, or do the Dodgers really want to give an Inter Divisional foe quality prospects to haunt them in future years?  Or do they like the low risk high reward potential of the Marlins’ Tom Koehler and Kyle Barraclough?

There will be some changes, but I do not think that they will be big buyers this year, unless they can steal someone.

Posted by Always Compete

This article has 55 Comments

  1. The problem with “just going for it” and loading up for the stretch run in that the best team doesn’t always win.

    The MLB playoffs more than most sports (maybe not the NFL) are too prone to randomness, hot streaks, or freaky happenings.

    Better, in my opinion, to configure for continued high performance than focus on a year.

  2. I think that it’s a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers will win 100 games!

    There is too much depth for this team not to play at least 15-20 games over .500 the second half… barring catastrophic injuries.

    You never know, however! Look at the Cubs: One game above .500. They were being called a juggernaut a few months ago.

    Great Article about Matt Kemp:

    1. This was a very nice tribute to Matt Kemp. I have long since donated my #27 jersey, but I will always remember the magical times and wonder “what if”. But he is a Brave now, and not just in uniform, but also in spirit. Good for him. I am glad he is finally happy. I wish Matt continued success, except of course when he plays the Dodgers.

        1. MJ, you can go to Click on TEAM on the top bar. Start playing from there.

    2. Sounds good about Kemp, but, I noticed the author, Jill Martin, works for CNN the king of “fake news”.
      Let’s see trade deadline coming up, two more years at $21.5M/yr. I wonder if Jill gets a commission if Kemp is traded. Buyer Beware!
      Last thought on the subject:
      Kemp, $21.5M salary, .309 BA, 12 HRS, 37 RBI
      Puig, $6.5M salary, .251 BA, 15 HRS, 42 RBI
      Everytime I see Puig talking/joking with Turner Ward I get a smile!

          1. You only need to look at the clown in the White House for your source of fake news. You should be old enough to know better than to believe a word that comes out of his filthy mouth.
            Now…back to Dodger baseball.

          2. I’m definitely old enough to know when someone is confused. How did you go from Fox News to Obozo the Clown as the king of fake news? Although I admit, you’re getting warmer.
            By the way, Obozo left the White House last January. News you can trust from Boxout7. Your welcome!

  3. Excellent Analysis!
    I agree with your conclusion, “I do not think that they will be big buyers this year, unless they can steal someone.”
    Your analysis really points out how the entire roster/organization is rounding into top shape. Yes, we are set “for several years at 1st, SS, and 3rd”. Additionally, we could be set for several years at these other positions:
    Catcher, Grandal, 28 yrs old, Barnes, 27 yrs old.
    2nd Base, Taylor, 26 yrs old, Hernandez 25 yrs old, Barnes, 27 years old
    Outfield, Puig, 26 yrs old, Pederson, 25 yrs old, Toles, 25 yrs old and Verdugo, 21 yrs old.
    And that doesn’t even consider the minor league studs we have, except Verdugo. You mentioned Verdugo in your RH Power Bat discussion. Rightfully so! Yes, he is left-handed, but this year at AAA he is:
    Against Lefties: 56 ABs, .339 BA, .424 OBP
    Against Righties: 209 ABs, .349 BA, .413 OBP
    This guy at the top of the batting order could make a RH Power Bat much less of a need.
    Three potential MVP position players and solid with young potential studs everywhere else. Very nice Dodgers!

    1. Rudy

      Thanks for saying that!

      I love Boxout, but not when he reminds me of what is going on, right now.

  4. I don’t think the Dodgers will get better pitching if they trade for a starter but hopefully would improve reliability.
    Kershaw, Maeda, Stewart should be very reliable health wise. I think Wood will hold up as well. Ryu, Hill, and McCarthy are less reliability health wise. If Ryu and McCarthy were traded for a more reliable pitcher and Hill stays healthy, then Stewart probably goes to the pen or down to OK.
    Kershaw, Maeda, Hill, Stewart, and Wood is an excellent rotation, especially if backed up with McCarthy and Ryu.
    I think a lock down lefty reliever would be the best addition.
    I would like to swap Verdugo for the right handed version of Verdugo.

  5. AC

    Another nice piece!

    The former Rockie GM said, that he learned that these little incremental moves that he made, to make the team better, were not worth messing with the over all chemistry, of the team.

    Like you said AC we could always get better here and there, but that might be, just over thinking, and you don’t want to mess with what is working.

  6. I keep repeating myself but, I think we have two needs, a LRP (Maybe Liberatore can come back from the DL–does anyone have any news on his current condition and possible return?) and an everyday top quality 2b. Boxout lists “2nd Base, Taylor, 26 yrs old, Hernandez 25 yrs old, Barnes, 27 years old”, and I see each of them as good backups or fill in’s, but I would like to see the quality at second that we have at the rest of the infield slots.

    1. That’s what Forsythe was supposed to be. Maybe he still can be THIS year.
      Who you looking at as a possibility?

      1. I only see a couple of possibilities out there (the top guys aren’t going anywhere). Schoop from Baltimore — 25, has some power (15 HR this year, but that is in Balt. ) plays a good 2b, hits for average. Harrison from Pittsburgh is the other 29, hits a few HR–9 this year, steals some bases-10 so far, hits for average .290’s. Other than that, not much out there.

        1. Yeah, I don’t see many realistic possibilities for a major upgrade. Like most people here, I like Taylor, I think he could stick at 2nd long term, seems more likely than left field. But, I agree, we could use better production from our 2nd basemen. I still have hopes for Forsythe this year, especially since we need Taylor in left until something better comes along.
          When you have three potential MVP position players (even though we ALL want MVP players at every position), reality is, we will be really good if all our other position players are just “solid”. All our other guys are pretty good defensively and usually give us a workmanlike at bat.

        2. Jonathan Schoop is exactly what Baltimore needs to build around. With Machado, Jones, and Britton all FA after 2018, Schoop could become the face of the franchise. If I was Baltimore GM, I would be looking at a way of extending him and buying him out of his final two years of arbitration.
          Josh Harrison is a 29 year old Howie Kendrick. I think that Chris Taylor is a better long term fit. If you want to think outside the box, how about getting Zach Cozart and putting him at 2B to finish the year. You immediately upgrade 2B for this year. He will cost prospects, but the Dodgers have a surplus of pitching which is what Cincinnati needs. He is a rental so he would not be as costly as Schoop. I have never heard of any interest, nor am I advocating it. It just seemed like a potential fit for the Dodgers, in my mind.

  7. It seems like the Chris Taylor marching and chowder society is getting smaller. Fans are fickle. What have you done for me lately.
    I think Taylor is a long-term solution at second base and will get enough exposure in left, center, and second this year to let us know if he will lock down second for years to come. A Utley / Forsythe platoon will get most of the innings at second this year but both most likely will be gone next year if Taylor proves himself this year.

    1. I think most sensible Dodger fans expected Taylor to regress back towards his career numbers.
      He may project to more like a platoon RH utility bat.
      Nothing wrong with that.

    2. I, for one think Chris Taylor is for real. In the past 7 days his strikeout average is down from his season average (in other words, he is putting the ball in play more), but he has been hitting them where they is… not where they ain’t! It will even out.

      I like him at 2B. He kills LH pitching and is batting .375 with a .500 OB% (50 AB’s) in the leadoff spot. Leave him there!

  8. Bum and AC, I agree Taylor is a long term replacement at second base. He has done a good job in the outfield, but he is an infielder. I really think he can bat 270-290. He has good speed. I think he is their best lead off man. He is willing to take a walk. He has a good eye at the plate. I also think he is a good team player. Some of those outside pitches were balls. Th announcers said the same thing. Taylor would not swing at those pitches.

    I am really hoping Thompson makes it. He can be the right handed bat we need. I admire him for the struggles he had to overcome this year. Joc, Thompson, and Puig could make a strong outfield. Move Taylor to second and you have your eight starters.

  9. Bum and AC, I agree Taylor is a long term replacement at second base. He has done a good job in the outfield, but he is an infielder. I really think he can bat 270-290. He has good speed. I think he is their best lead off man. He is willing to take a walk. He has a good eye at the plate. I also think he is a good team player. Some of those outside pitches were balls. Th announcers said the same thing. Taylor would not swing at those pitches.

    I am really hoping Thompson makes it. He can be the right handed bat we need. I admire him for the struggles he had to overcome this year. Joc, Thompson, and Puig could make a strong outfield. Move Taylor to second and you have your eight starters.

  10. Agree, Taylor could be our 2b for a few years. Which makes Forsythe totally expendable and perhaps valuable trade bait to a team who really needs a solid 2b.

    1. You need 3.1 plate appearances for each game. As of Thursday, there were 81 games played, and JT needed 251.1 PA. Also as of Thursday he had 237. Depending on the number of days off he has, he should get to the mark by the end of July. But unless he has another extended DL stop, he should have no problems getting to 502.2 plate appearances for the year.

  11. How about trading Alvarez and Forsythe to Tampa for Archer? I don’t think Alvarez is going to pan out. He has made his millions and bought his Lamborghini’s and high end sports cars and no longer needs or baseball. Tampa Bay gets one of the Dodger’s top prospects and their clubhouse friend Forsythe back and the Dodgers get a solid #2.

    1. I wouldn’t mind Archer, but they will want more than that. They will ask for at least 4 top prospects like Buehler, Calhoun and Verdugo to go with Alvarez.

      I would counter with Alvarez, Oaks, Stripling, Calhoun and Diaz… and throw in Forsythe.

      1. Mark, that would leave a rotation of Keshaw, Maeda, Ryu, Wood, McCarthy, Kazmir, Hill, Archer, and Stewart. I think they need to include one of them for Archer or, make another trade to trim down the rotation candidates.
        Mattingly and sanity aside, I would be entertained by rumors that sent Ozuna and Stanton to the Dodgers for Puig, Toles, McCarthy, Maeda, Kazmir, Verdugo, and Gonzales. Not sure if the cost of McCarthy, Kazmir, and Gonzales is enough to take on Stanton’s contract.

        1. Bum

          Why would the Dodgers trade two of their outfielders, that can actually hit, for older players, that cost more!

          Tole’s, and Puig, have proven they can hit.

          1. At some point MJ, there are just too many position players NOT at the level of Stanton or Ozuna.
            I don’t advocate that trade, at all, but the thinking is:
            Toles, Pederson, Puig, Verdugo, Thompson, and Kike (to an extent) are all OFs.
            Why not bundle a few for higher talented players?

    2. I would do that trade and include Ryu. Rays would do that trade if they were convinced that Alvarez was the next Koufax and the Dodgers would do it if they thought as you. Neither are convinced of that is my guess.

      1. Bluto

        I would trade Pederson before Puig and Toles, but he didn’t mention Pederson!

        But I agree with you, you can’t play them all.

    3. The Rays are not going to trade Chris Archer. In Mark’s words, that would be a dope fiend move. They are in the middle of a Divisional and Wild Card playoff spot, and need Archer. Nobody in the AL East is running away, and mathematically nobody in the AL is out of the Wild Card. If a team believes they can get hot, they might become buyers and not sellers. With Hechavarria now with the Rays, they can move Beckham to 2B. Matt Duffy will be back as will Kiermaier. They do not need Forsythe. The Rays have to be positively thinking that they are going to be in the playoff run through September.
      Archer would be a good #2 (reliable but certainly unspectacular), but Mark is closer to what they would ask for, and I would not do the trade Mark proposed.
      J. P. Morosi seems to be convinced that the Dodgers will in fact go for a #2. He thinks that it will come from Quintana, Cole, Sonny Gray, or Verlander. It will not come from a rental. Verlander may appear to be done, but he is one I think would love the limelight of LA. Kate Upton would become a huge fan favorite at Chavez. I think he has at least one good playoff run left in him. I just do not see how they get out away from the $56M due for the next two years.
      Billy Beane and Farhan seem to be able to put a deal together. Maybe Sonny Gray can find the Magic again. He has the ego to make it in LA.
      Gerrit Cole is a LA boy, and performed well on the big stage in the College WS. The last time I spoke to John Savage (UCLA coach) he told me he loved Cole and his competitiveness. He has three very good games in a row, and tonight he goes against Cueto in Pittsburgh. Let’s see if he can make it four in a row.
      Quintana started out rough in April and May, but his five June starts have been tremendous. He starts again on Sunday. He was a good #2 behind Sale. Maybe he does not like being the #1, and would look good in a #2 role behind Kershaw, or #3 behind Wood.
      I still do not think they will go for the #2, but Morosi is much closer to the talk than I am (much closer).

  12. 1 – i don’t see them going for a #2. The Quintanas of the world will be expensive (cost too many high end prospects), and I don’t want an old broken down expensive guy like Verlander.
    2 – The Dodgers had 3 LHRP going into the season – Avilan has been solid but isn’t seen as an 8th inning guy, Dayton lost what he had last year, and Liberatore can’t stay healthy. This is an obvious area for improvement.
    3 – I prefer Taylor at 2B, and this would be the best way to get a RH power bat. AC said that JD Martinez is the obvious fit here and I agree.

  13. There’s been talk on the MLB Network about Verlander to LA. Nothing firm rumor wise just that Verlander would be a great fit behind Kershaw. Also that Verlander is looking at his legacy with a World Series win. The only way his contract fits is if Detroit eats some money to get better prospects. 20 to 25 million gets Calhoun, Alvarez and Stewart. 15 to 20 million Rios, Stewart and Oaks. One good playoff run from Verlander might be all they need.

    1. Verlander would be the worst pitcher in the Dodgers’ rotation at the cost of $28MM/year
      5-4, 4.47 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

  14. Not my choice to trade for Verlander just the opinions of MLB Network commentary. He might just need a change of scenery he should have been the AL Cy Young winner last year. I worry about any trade upsetting the apple cart in the clubhouse. They’re playing well now and don’t have to make any moves right now

  15. Trading for Verlander would be a dope fiend move and, thankfully, Mark would veto that move in a second. I don’t understand why some of these publication are even mentioning him as a possiblity. Old, expensive and no one really knows what they are getting.

  16. A couple of good pitching outings tonight.
    Great Lakes – Dustin May goes 7.1 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 5 walks, 8 strikeouts, ERA down to 2.61 ERA.
    Tulsa – Walker Buehler goes 5.1 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, ERA down to 2.85.
    OKC – Ross Stripling is now pitching after Masterson had a rough night, all while the OKC bats are going wild. OKC is leading 12-5 going into the 6th. Verdugo extended his hitting streak to 20, with 3 hits so far.
    DSL 2 – Aldry Acosta (17 RHP) has pitched 16 innings this year, allowing 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts, and a 1.10 ERA.
    Ricardo Hernandez (19 RHP) has pitched 10.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 1.74 ERA.
    Antonio Hernandez (17 LHP) has pitched 19 innings, allowing 12 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts, and ERA down to 0.95.




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