But, the Bullpen Has Been Awesome…

Anyone who suggests that the bullpen is somehow the problem hasn’t been paying attention.  Even after the past two games, the Dodgers starting pitching and bullpen remain the very best in baseball. I am not a meteorologist but I do know that sometimes it is more humid than others.  Barometric pressure, humidity, air temperature and other such things can create a good or poor environment for a pitcher.  No excuses.  It is what it is;  Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu were horrible the past two games.

Maybe it’s weather related… actually, it is most certainly weather related, but you still have to play the game.  It didn’t seem to bother Robbie Ray as much, but he is s true fastball pitcher.  Hill and Ryu are very effective only when they have their curveballs working and they were not even close to working the past two days.  This is baseball.  Stuff happens.  Teams get hot, players get hot, players get cold, teams get cold.  It happens all the time.  Just when you think a team will never win again, they go on a tear and sometimes when you think they can’t lose, they run a double-digit string of losses.

This is not suddenly a flawed team.  It a very good, balanced team that is slumping.  Seager is hurt and sitting (and maybe should for a couple more weeks).  Cody Bellinger is back after missing 9 games.  Kershaw, Wood, Stewart and Ethier are due back Friday and A-Gon is trying to get his sea legs.  Oh, and Justin Turner, Kike Hernandez and Logan Forsythe are mired in slumps.  It happens all the time. Baseball is a crazy game.  It will drive you mad some times.

But, this is the team that won 51 of 60 games.  This is the team that has incredible depth.  This is a team built for the long haul and I believe this is the team that will win it all.  So, take a deep breath – it will be September 1st soon and the final push to the playoffs begins. There is no such thing as a good losing streak, but if you are going to have one, now is a good time.  There’s plenty of time to get straightened out get back to their winning ways.

Rants and Raves

  • Tim Locastro continues to hit at AAA while playing CF and 2B  (.395 BA/1.025 OPS)
  • Joc Pederson is up to .200 and playing LF.
  • Rios was 4-5 with a Grand Slam and 6 RBI.
  • Liberatore pitched an inning at OKC and allowed 3 hits and 2 runs
  • Walker Buehler pitched a perfect 9th without a strikeout – just 3 groundball outs.
  • Tulsa won 16-0  (that’s not a typo).  Mitch White pitched 5 innings and allowed 2 hits.  His AA ERA is now 2.57.
  • Yusniel Diaz is starting to figure it out.  in 26 games at AA he is hitting .348/.920 OPS/.414 OB%.  He may need another year, but maybe not.  It seems that when it clicks, it’s time to hit the show.
  • Matt Beaty is quietly having a great season.
  • Alex Verdugo looks gassed.
  • Jeren Kendall is still struggling with Low -A Pitching
  • Cristian Santana is still doing very well at GL – the Dodgers have quite the stockpile of catchers.
  • Unless the Dodgers have ideas of playing Austin Barnes at 2B next year, maybe they should trade Yasmani Grandal before electronic balls and strikes take over.  He has a lot of value.  All catchers do. Yasmani is having a strange year. His BA is up, but his walk rate is way down as is his OB% and OPS.
  • Kike needs some serious work on his swing… especially against RHP.
  • Yasiel Puig should get better by the day as he applies his new hitting science to the game.  Maybe he can start hitting LHP?
  • I think Forsythe should lead off against LHP – he has a .443 OB% and .895 OPS.  With Seager out, mover Taylor to #2.
  • Can Andre Ethier rebound in September?
  • It’s going to be an interesting September.., Buehler will almost certainly be up and so should Font… maybe Verdugo.
  • Who is Brandon McCarthy?
  • Maybe you wonder why Chad Billingsley is todays photo?  Why did I do that, you might wonder?  Because I felt like it!  That’s all folks!  😉
  • I don’t generally like pre-season football, but it’s the last game of pre-season so I am going to see the No Luck Colts play tonight against my better judgement.

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 69 Comments

  1. This is a post I totally agree with, not much to add except this is the 1st 4 game losing streak of the season, coming against 2 teams with playoff aspirations. Last year the Cubs had two 4 game losing streaks and one 5 game. With the luxury of a huge lead they could afford to back off of tired or nicked up players and think big picture. Nothing has changed except the Snakes lead in the WC. Truth be told I would rather face Col or Milw in the NLDS but they can beat AZ too, 8 and 7 on the season with 4 left, 3 at home.

    2 Games in a row the starter goes about 4 and gives up 6 ER, 8 of the 12 in the 1st inning. The team still battled back to almost catch up. Maeda throws more sliders and cutters than curves so he won’t be affected as much but he needs good fastball location to be effective. The streak ends today and a new one begins!

    Stewart named the 2nd starter on Sat in the DH against the Padres. Makes sense as he was already on the 40 man and already stretched out to go 5 or so. I believe they will go with a 6 man rotation for awhile now to keep everyone fresh with no off day until the 14th.

  2. Good article Mak. I just love to hear about our prospects. I know they are just that, prospects. However, they cannot all fail.

    I think Barnes needs to play. You cannot leave a good player like Barnes as a backup catcher. I would move Barnes to second in September. Let Granderson and Forsythe play left field. Forsythe is batting over 300 against lefties. Let Grandal catch in September. Rest him when he needs a rest.

    Someone has mentioned that Taylor should of caught that ball last night to the wall. At first I felt the same way. Then I remembered in Tuesday’s game I felt he should of caught that fly ball to the wall. When they showed the replay the ball was way above Taylor’s head. Last night they did not show a replay and I am just wondering if it is not the angle of the camera. In fact, the HR where the umps conferred on was much higher on the wall then I thought. Just an observation.

    1. Idahoal

      You might be right about Taylor, it was either that, are he mis timed, his jump.

      They threw their best pitchers at us, and they faced are number three and four pitchers.

      I can’t wait until we play the Dbacks next week, at Dodger stadium.

      Because they are acting cocky right now, so let them think they are all that!

      And I hope we beat Greinke today, I think that would make eveyone feel a little better.

  3. Stewart gets another start on Saturday, and Wood starts on Sunday. Stewart gets another shot to redeem himself for his last start. Is he starting pitcher, or should the Dodgers throw that fastball into the bullpen in 2018. I do not think he has much of a chance to make the post-season roster.
    That Sunday start will be very telling for Wood. Is his velocity back up or continuing in the decline? Wood credits the decrease in velocity to mechanics, but does agree that the mechanics could be hampered by the sternum inflammation. The injury affects his in-between starts routine where it becomes stiff and impacts his preparation. He will probably still be limited to less than 100 pitches through September. Sunday is game 137, which should give him 5 more starts (counting Sunday).
    Ethier will get his chance to audition for a playoff roster spot. I cannot see the Dodgers including Dre, Granderson, and Pederson all on the roster. Probably only one and it will be the one who hits. Joc is the only true CF on the 40 man, but even he has to hit to make the roster. He has not done so at OKC. In his 9 games at OKC since his option, he has a slash line of .167/.250/.194/.444. He has 6 hits in 36 AB with only 1 double. He has not had a multiple hit game since his option. I do not expect to see Joc back up until the OKC season ends on Monday. He will get a full month to audition, but Dre has done it better and longer, and Grandy hits both Scherzer and Arrieta very well. IMO, that makes him #3 on that list.
    The only OKC Dodger coming up this weekend so far is Stewart. But he is needed to start on Saturday. Who else gets the call? Farmer, Pederson, Thompson, Segedin are all on the 40 man and should be called up. Fabio Castillo, Jordan Jankowski, and Luis Ysla are on the 40 man, but are looooongshots to get a call and could be considered as potential DFA. Brett Eibner and Grant Dayton are 60 day DL candidates. There are three non-roster candidates who can potentially get called up; Walker Buehler, Wilmer Font, and Alex Verdugo. Buehler and Font could both be helpful during the month of September, while I think that Verdugo would be called for the experience. While it has been widely expected that Walker will be called up, there is room for all three.

    1. AC

      It seems like the mechanics that allow Wood to get that extra velocity, also causes his sternum soreness, so it seems like this will be an on going problem, with Wood, so what is the answer?

      And how tall was your son that pitched, for the Sox?

      1. It may be an ongoing problem. I am not much of a kinesioligist or have much musculoskeletal knowledge to know how it all works. I do not know if it can be strengthened. Maybe Dodgerrick will know or have some keen insight. If it can be strenghtened, then he should concentrate on that during the off-season.
        My son was a catcher/1B/PH for the Sox. Maybe he should have pitched. He probably would have come out of baseball less beat up.

    2. I’m thinking that Font is the only one that will get the initial call that isn’t already on the 40.

  4. Taking a Devil’s Advocate stance, I am a bit concerned that resting this person and that person could diminish the steamroller effect the team has had up until recently. Injuries aside, the regulars need to continue to do just that – play regularly.

    I see the starting pitching as a problem, no matter how it currently ranks against the rest of the world. I’m not concerned with Kershaw and Darvish, but I do have concerns with Wood (injuries) and Hill (inconsistencies). I’m hoping Maeda has a strong outing this afternoon. Not sold on Ryu, Stripling or Stewart. I see them more as winter trade bait than as major contributors to the Dodgers.

    1. Rudy

      I think you are right, that certainly could be an issue, but Corey does have that elbow soreness right now, so resting him, is the right thing to do.

      But those thoughts have had to cross Robert’s mind, and the Dodgers, just like it has crossed your mind.

      I always worry about the big lay over that the good teams have, waiting for the wild card teams to play.

      I also think the wild card teams playing, while the other teams wait, gives these wild card teams an edge over the other teams, that are waiting.

      And that is probably why the wild card teams, have so much success, in the post season.

    2. I’d rather have them rest and play regularly than just play.
      A little rest never hurt anyone.
      I’d say, and I’m no statistician, than the “diminishment of the steamroller” is more an unavoidable regression than anything else.
      Sometimes teams lose.

      1. I had some comments about the above but after readying Bluto’s, he essentially covered my points and I would agree with what he had to say about rest.

  5. This is what I posted on 8/24:
    “I observed that in August, the offense is down and the ‘pen has underperformed. The Dodgers will need to rest some, assess to see who’s getting the job done, and re-tool where necessary.
    Let’s face it – they can’t play at the same level all year long. They are going to cool off a little. We can hope that they will have some momentum by the post-season.”

    So the Dodgers are like every other MLB team – they have some late season aches and pains that they will have to overcome to win. They have several bats that have cooled off (like Turner) and several guys who just aren’t hitting. The starters have failed the past couple of games and the ‘pen was bad at the beginning of the month. They get little production out of 2B and whatever OF position that Puig and Taylor do not occupy.

    The next few weeks will be tryouts for the post-season. A couple of observations:
    1 – I agree with Mark that there are only so many old lefty-hitting bench players that they need. Between Utley, Gonzalez, Ethier (and maybe Granderson) they probably only need 2.
    2 – Kike and Forsythe should never hit against righties; Utley, Ethier and Gonzalez against lefties
    3 – I sure would like to see Barnes get more regular ABs.
    4 – They need to get Seager healthy. I cringe at the thought of Kike getting regular reps at SS and he’s not hitting either.
    5 – OK – a post-season rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, Wood and Hill. Does anyone want to know if Maeda, Ryu or McCarthy are going to be successful pitching out of the ‘pen or whether they should be left off of the playoff roster altogether? How are they going to figure this out with a 6 man rotation and none of the 3 getting regular reps out of the bullpen?
    6 – This is the difference between the eyeball test and “defensive metrics”. My eyes tell me that Joc Pederson is still the best defensive CF on the team.
    7 – These losses are obviously not a big deal – BUT – I would like to see the team sort through who is going to play (you wouldn’t think that this is going to be an issue this late in the season) and get some momentum going again. (I know – statheads tell us that momentum going into the post-season is meaningless, but I sure would take some comfort in some momentum right about now.)

    1. Also agree with Rick’s comments almost completely. Only partial exceptions are more like clarifications. Joc is the better defense in CF but doesn’t hit enough at this point to make the playoff roster this year. He either needs a more compact swing or else he doesn’t have what it takes to be a successful ML hitter.
      Maeda and Ryu have already shown some chops out of the pen (even though that is not where they want to be) and while I like your 4 starters for the playoffs I think Maeda and Ryu may actually find a place on the team out of the pen in the playoffs and could be very valuable 2 or 3 innings at a time.
      Point #1: I say you include Granderson in the group and concur you only want 2 of them in the playoffs. Otherwise, completely agree with all your comments.

      1. I agree on Maeda and Ryu out of the pen in the playoffs DD. Scenario: Hill (or Wood or Darvish) is struggling and can’t find the plate and he is gone for a PH in the 3rd down a couple of runs. Who would you rather give the ball to and get to your set up men, Maeda and Ryu or Stripling and Stewart? Having one of your best pitchers, savvy and veteran or some unproven under pressure kids? That’s why I don’t like McCarthy in the pen because of his yips under pressure.

        I think Rick makes a ton of good points today.

  6. Will somebody wake me up in October?

    This hiccup was inevitable, 10.5 game lead on the Nationals for Home Field throughout the playoffs is all I am concerned about, just get healthy

  7. At least making the playoffs has long since been established and we’ll have home field advantage against whichever wildcard victor it is, plus cooler weather although I don’t see Hill or Ryu as playoff starters. Actually I don’t see a fit for Hill out of the pen at least at this point. There’s no stacking the deck for a World Series but the Dodgers will enter the final table with major chip lead. I see it as ‘I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine’. If any other team wins it all it’d be because a curse switched hands. If the Dodgers are cursed I’ll be happy with every season playing out as this one has to date. So it’s already worked out fine. But Dodgers ARE gonna win it all! CHEERS!!!!!!!!

    1. When Hill is on point he is one of the best pitchers on the team. I don’t see him not being in the playoff rotation. They are going to take a chance on him being good and if he isn’t good in a particular playoff game, early hook and Maeda or Ryu will come in from the pen.

      1. I agree with “when Hill is on”. That’s the problem too. I would much rather have someone on the mound with more confidence. Hill’s becoming too used to saying “I sucked tonight”. He sort of reminds me of Billingsley in the “when he is on”. On and off are a big contrast that I’d rather not chance unless ahead to a point where there’s little gamble.

  8. Reports are coming in that the Dodgers are going to call up Alex Verdugo. It is not confirmed, just those pesky anonymous reports.

    1. That wouldn’t be my call as I think he will be overmatched at this point. But, worth taking a look and helping him to understand the work he still has left to do and what it takes to make it in the bigs. I’d love to be wrong but he is no Seager or Bellinger IMO.

        1. Well I hope he proves me completely wrong and shines as brightly as Seager and Bellinger.

  9. J Hair mentioned on the post game show that Arizona hit Bellinger on purpose because they feel he stands too close to the plate. I didn’t see any comments about it today so does anyone think this could linger over into todays game? Will the Dodgers plunk any D-Backs today? I hope we don’t go that route and hope Bellingers ribs are OK today.

    1. I have no idea if he was or wasn’t, but if the team thinks he was hit on purpose…then yes there will be payback.

  10. One thing I have disagreed with is retaliation. You hit ourine, we will hit urine. It the same way you handle a bully – you have to hit them or they will keep coming inside. Drill Goldy in the backside and get it over with.

    1. I agree we need to protect our players.

      Of course no one wants to throw at someone’s head, but I remember another Dodger that was hit in the ribs, and that was enough, to take him out of the equation.

    1. Good point, I would hope that Font gets a call as well today, just in case he’s got what it takes to help the team at the ML level.

  11. Verdugo coming up and Doc says he’s playing. The may have just realized that Granderson isn’t very good. Joc is staying down until AAA season ends to get more AB’s.

    Everyone is so concerned about who plays 2B vs righties. Who is the 3rd OF vs righties is much more concerning to me. Granderson, Joc, Verdugo One of them needs to hit.

    1. Forsythe, Utley, Barnes will work itself out as long as there is solid defense there.

      Upton to Halos.

      1. Hawkeye

        Granderson must have been hitting really well, before he came to the Dodgers.

        Because in August these are Granderson’s numbers.

        259/360/700s/ 1000s

        So I don’t think the front office are concerned with Granderson’s numbers, this month.

          1. Hawkeye

            Your forgetting Granderson’s OPS, against Scherzer and Strasberg!

            Remember he played in that same division that the Nats are in, for years.

            Utley defensive metrics are right up there, with Forsythe’s.

            And remember Chase played in that same division as the Nats too.

            And Granderson and Forsythe is going to play just like Reddick did, you know that.

            And Granderson has a high OBA Just like Forsythe, and he just came to the team.

            We won’t have a choice with these two, because they will play, just like Reddick.

            Take a look at Forsythe’s stats against righties, they haven’t got any better.

  12. Wilmer Font was named PCL Pitcher of the Year. That is a very well deserved honor. I hope he gets a call. He certainly deserves it.

  13. I would not be surprised if Alex does what Cody and Corey did… without the power. He could develop into our leadoff hitter with a Quickness (not that I am saying he is fast… he isn’t).

    I guess he’s not coming until tomorrow, so forget what I said. He can take someone’s place who goes on the DL.

  14. Alex is hitting .284 against lefties and .325 against righties. His OPS is almost the same, either way.

    1. I’m ok with everything but Grandal ahead of Puig and Forsythe against a RHP instead of Utley or even better Barnes.

    1. Watford

      Any time Maeda stops attacking hitters, and messes around with his off speed pitches, around the corner, he gets hit!

      And why are they even pitching to Goldy, put him on first!

  15. Dodgers’ starting pitchers have allowed 19 runs in 10 2/3 innings in three games in this series.

    1. This will all go away when we get back to LA. It took Greinke a year to learn how to pitch in the Desert!

  16. As I am witnessing another smackdown in the desert to the D-Bags, I go back to a couple of days ago when Colleti was a guest on Roggin and Rodney sportstalk. Ned said that even he was surprised of the run the Dodgers were on. “Hey, he said, the other teams are getting paid too”, meaning that nobody was rolling over for them. He also mentioned that what was happening now is more of a normal correction, it wasn’t possible to sustain the run they were on and lastly, he liked the idea of us facing good pitching so it can prepare us down the road. I agree with him. The D-bags are good at home, we didn’t pitch Kershaw, a healthy Wood or Darvish. It’s just our turn in the fish barrel. What I do like the last couple of days, and it will bode well in the play-offs, is we didn’t pack it in like the Donnie baseball days, we kept scrapping and were a key hit or two from coming all the way back. Also, big thing is that the D-bags NEEDED this series in a big way for their confidence going forward. Even Rodney is talking smack, like he can’t wait to see us in the play-offs. Careful what you wish for, you know that Roberts and his crew will have the Dodgers ready to roll come October. Just another speed bump, let’s get Seager healthy, get Bellinger back in his groove, enjoy the hell out of the season Puig is having(He could be flat out dangerous in the play-offs. The at bat last night was awesome, how he worked that walk), and enjoy the show. Where’s the popcorn?!!??

  17. Pathetic showing in the desert. Goldschmidt showed up. Turner didn’t. This is playoff pitching? Never were ahead. The magic is over. Now it’s time for mano a mano. Hold your breath for Brock Stewart. The Pads smell blood.

    1. They will probably go down there, see more Dodger fans than Madre fans and sweep the 4 games (the Stewart game 7-5) Nothing makes a team feel better than seeing fans turn out on the road and make noise and face a team with nothing to play for except to be a spoiler. Having Kersh, Darvish and Wood pitching don’t hurt either.

  18. I am tired of Roberts leaving a starting pitcher out there who clearly has nothing and let the team get farther and farther behind. This is another problem of having a bullpen built on guys who usually go 1 inning at a time. In the “olden days”, if a starter was yanked early a reliever came in and pitched as long as needed.

  19. There’s no doubt the Dodgers got spanked by the D’Backs the last three games. It was bound to happen. For the last two months fans continued to speculate that the pace they were on could not be sustained, and they were proved right. Now we need to allow them to them to get fully healthy and reset. Can’t stop the negative comments, and there will be those. They have already started.
    September could be a fun month. Kershaw and Wood will be back on the bump, Bellinger will be on a quest to 40 HR’s as a rookie. Alex Verdugo will get his MLB debut. Walker Buehler not far behind. Which one of the left handed bats will get hot…AGon, Dre, Grandy, Joc, Chase and hit the playoff roster on a good streak. How many games over 100 will they win?
    Not just the ML team, but the farm teams are also playing well. The two DSL 2 teams have made the playoffs, and both won the first round and are in the semi-finals. DSL1 lost the first game to the DSL Mets2, while DSL2 beat the DSL Twins in their Game 1. The AZL Dodgers are .5 game behind the AZL White Sox for the 2nd half championship and a spot in the playoffs. They have 3 games remaining including 1 against the White Sox. The Ogden Raptors are currently in 1st place in the 2nd half and are in very good shape to make the playoffs. Rancho Cucamonga is one game away from clinching a playoff spot for the third consecutive year. The Tulsa Drillers are 1 game ahead in the 2nd half for that 2nd playoff spot. They have five games remaining including the final three against the number two team, Springfield Cardinals. In addition to the teams doing well, there are a number of individuals that are at the top of the stats in their respective leagues. There have been three Players of the Year, DJ Peters (California League), Matt Beaty (Texas League), and PCL Pitcher of the Year of the Year, Wilmer Font, who is also scheduled for a promotion to the 40 man. Official PCL news release for Wilmer Font:
    Some will point to all of the current problems, while others will recognize that it is a 162 game season, and for two months the team could do no wrong. Now they have hit a road bump. They have 30 games until the end of the regular season. They win half and that is 106 win season. It has been a fun year so far. Let’s not let a five game losing streak disparage what has already transpired.

    1. Great post AC! I think the Dodgers have been playing rope a dope. They could have rushed guys back but why? Yes, Hill, Ryu and Maeda struggled in Az but reinforcements are on the way and plenty of innings can be spread around. The upcoming home stand against Az and Col follows 4 games with the Madres. They get the Giants for 6, Padres for 7 and Phillies for 4. They will easily exceed the 106 mark and that is way beyond what anyone predicted before the season. Breakout years by Cody, Alex and Chris bode very well for the future, plus all the prospects n the pipeline. It’s almost like they were ok with a mini slump now to reset and refocus for the big task ahead and I believe they will be ready. I stopped betting the team after Hill lost the no hit game and never get in front of a winning or losing streak in baseball but something tells me they are about to get well in a hurry starting tomorrow when Kersh puts the team on his back and Cody breaks out. I think there will also be some payback next week for all the starters who got hit in AZ and the hitters will make the Snakes pay as well. Book it, I will!

  20. A good Astros team got better by landing Verlander. It could be a very interesting WS if both the Dodgers and Astros get there.

  21. DDM
    You are right there.
    In fact I would say that Verlander is certainly pitching better than Yu at this time, although he arguably cost more.
    They are going for it, as are the Angels.

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