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.