The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Three Under .500 – Three Outta’ First. That’s part of what you should know… but there’s a whole lot more than that.

The cream always rises to the top!

Yes, up until the past couple of weeks, the Dodgers have played poorly… for a variety of reasons, some valid, some problematic.

The cream always rises to the top!

So far, the Season of 2018 will be known as the Season of Bad Luck – If you look at the teams above the Dodgers in the NL West standings, you will see the following “run differentials” for each team:

  • Rockies – 20
  • D-Bags  +19
  • Giants – 45
  • Dodgers  +26

On runs scored verses runs allowed, the Dodgers have been extremely unlucky, while the Rockies have been extremely lucky.  The Dodgers have also been extremely unlucky in losing Corey Seager for the season, Justin Turner for about 45 games, Logan Forsythe for 30 games and the early and/or current slumps of Puig, Taylor and Bellinger. It’s also bad luck to lose 80% of your starting rotation to the DL and have a body snatcher occupy the body of your closer for about a month.

The cream always rises to the top!

Walker Buehler and Ross Stripling have risen to the occasion.  Boy, have they! Kenley is back, Kemp is great, JT is getting it together, Puig and Taylor are on the move and Cody is showing signs of life.  Last night we saw that Dennis Santana has some stuff that will play well in the pen… maybe not in Colorado and maybe as as starter…. just not yet.  Since the clock has already started on Santana, they will probably keep him in the OKC shuffle. They might try him in the rotation, but I happen to believe he will be very good in the pen.

The biggest worry is Clayton Kershaw, who has landed back on the DL with back problems for the 4th time in 3 years.  At some point… and it could be right now, he is going to probably have to try and get that disk surgically repaired.  I say go ahead and do it now  so that he will be ready in 2019, but his agent and his opt out clause will likely take precedence.  So, we know we won’t see him back until at least July… maybe longer.  Don’t bet that he still won’t opt out.  I think he will.  Someone will have to fill his shoes in the meantime.  The candidates are Buehler, Wood and Stripling.  My money is on Strip!

The cream always rises to the top!

I still think the Dodgers need another bat and an arm or two.  Jose Abreu is making more sense.  Would the ChiSox take Pederson and Toles for him? Platoon Muncy and Forsythe at 2B and put Abreu at 1B.  Bellinger is stuck in CF, but the offense will improve.  Insofar as more arms, Tom Koehler, Urias, Hill and Ryu should all be back by July.  The Dodgers just need to play a game or three above .500 until then. Andrew Toles could play a role too…

The cream always rises to the top!

It’s a long season – there’s a long way to go.  Yesterday, Bluto posted a quote from another team’s unnamed executive: “The Dodgers are going to win that Division by 7 games!” They will win the NL West, but the World Series will be more difficult without Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw – although they have been unable to win it with them. They will give it a try and who knows what could happen? The last time they won the World Series, they did it with a Bulldog and without their best player.  You never know in baseball.  That’s what makes it so confounding, frustrating, fascinating and fun!

The cream usually rises to the top!

  • Ariel Hernandez threw 2 scoreless innings for Tulsa last night, with no hits and no walks.  After being demoted back to Tulsa from OKC he has 15.2 IP with only 3 walks (he had 7 walks in 4.1 innings at OKC).  If he can keep that up (0.89 WHIP/2.30 ERA) he will be in LA in a blink of an eye. He can be Brandon Morrow 2018!
  • I’ll bet Zach Reks can hit in the majors right now.

The cream generally rises to the top!

 

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 64 Comments

  1. We have four staters on the DL. Kershaw, Ryu. Hill and Maeda. How many teams can absorb these many injuries to their starters? You now have Wood, Beuhler, Stripling, Stewart, and Santana. I believe Santana has to start until someone comes off the DL. I thought he looked pretty good last night. He looked nervous in the first inning to me. He has pretty good stuff. He also looked like he was enjoying the moment. Especially after he hit the double.

    I find it hard to believe we are only three games out of first. The hitting is starting to come around. The bull pen is starting to improve. We could very easily be 10-15 games down. You can say what you want about FAZ, the depth has kept us in the race.

    Something else has happened. Doc is staying with his starters longer. This needs to continue. This probably has happened because the bull pen was a mess in April.

  2. Give em time M.T.!!!
    I too was impressed with Santana… He could have folded after the first but instead he grinded… His first MLB hit was great to see..

  3. The cream always rises to the top!
    Hope you are right about Kershaw still opting out at the end of the season, guess it will depend on when he comes back and how he pitches.
    Rather have Bellinger back at first and Verdugo in center field.
    I think either see what Muncy can do at second or bring up Locastro and give him a chance.
    I think it’s time to move on from Forsythe who has had enough chances and has shown little results.
    The Dodgers could use another arm in the rotation but trading for one will cost them and they could be giving up more value then they get in return,
    Maybe Santana isn’t ready at this point, but I hope the Dodgers give him another start and see what he can do.

  4. If you can’t get Abreu for 1B they need to try like heck to improve the offensive production at 2B. I like Muncy but he’s not an everyday 2B and I would love to see a team take on what’s remaining of Forsythe’s contract so we can put those $$ into another position player, preferably an upgrade at 2B. Josh Harrison, Gennett, Whitfield, Lowrie or Starlin Castro might be options.

    Dodgers need to continue to play good ball over the next 20-25 games and then we can get Ryu, Hill, Maeda back and take off. Any update on Urias? I’ve read about some side BP work but that was a couple of weeks ago. Is it realistic to think he might contribute this year?

    Santana looked OK but it will interesting to see him pitch in a real MLB ballpark not the band box that is Coors.

  5. It’s June 2 and our starting rotation is Wood, Beuhler, Stripling, Stewart, and Santana. And there is still some optimism on this board. Wow. Got to love this game. (I am one who thinks we win the division going away).

  6. Why don’t they bring up Solano to play 2nd base? I know he isn’t on the 40 man roster but that is easy enough to fix. They could remove Segedin. I can’t see how Solano would be any worse than what they have been throwing out there. Muncy is not the answer.

    1. Reason #1 is what you started: He is not on the 40-Man Roster.

      Reason #2 is that he is on the Disabled List.

  7. I think Santana did pretty good considering the situation he was in, because he did get himself together, and didn’t have to leave the game, after that initial inning.

    I wasn’t concerned about Puig as much as some, because he really didn’t start hitting until June last year, and he proved to me, he could stick with his program that got him to hit better last year.

    So it was good to see him have a good night at the plate, and I would keep him in the eighth position, especially against lefties, because he has hit righties much better then lefties, in the last couple years.

    It was nice to see more hitting from the team too yesterday, because we have not always hit like we should, in Colorado.

  8. Kemp’s trade value has risen do the Dodgers still trade him and for what could they get back in return.

  9. Ken Gurnick writes this about Matt Kemp:

    Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will skipper the NL All-Star team, concedes that Kemp is surprising even him.

    “A guy that has his track record, the work ethic, the professionalism, the hit tool. Self-admittedly, he’s learning some things in his 10th year, as far as approaching pitchers, talking to the hitters and coaches. Matt’s really growing,” Roberts added. “You see his at-bat quality. He’s always been a guy that can drive in runs and get a hit and slug a little bit, but to take the walk, stay out of the double play, stay on a slider down and away and use the whole field, I haven’t seen that consistently, even at his best. There’s a lot of good things going on with Matt.”

  10. Yeah – 3 games back but 3 under .500. Only teams that are trying to lose (Padres, Reds and Marlins) have worse records in the NL.

    The run differential is deceptive. They have lost lots of close games due to the incompetence of the bullpen. They have 14 bullpen losses, 11 blown saves (2nd worst in the NL) and a 58% save rate (3rd worst). As good as the starters have been, in close games they don’t hit and the ‘pen gives up the winning runs. In other words, they lose the close games so they score more runs in the aggregate but still lose more than they win.

    Bellinger doesn’t hit when playing OF. It was true last year and it’s true this year. This from TrueBlueLA;
    “Last season, he started 33 of his first 43 games in the outfield because Adrian Gonzalez was still a thing. During that time, he hit .212/.282/.441 with an 83 wRC+. In the 10 games at first base, .333/.417/.952 with a 241 wRC+. Yes, it was in 48 plate appearances and may not have meant much at the time, but it was still impressive. He only had 45 plate appearances while playing outfield the remainder of the season, and he hit .162/.311/.324 with a 72 wRC+. In 315 plate appearances playing first base, Bellinger hit .293/.377/.623 with a 155 wRC+.

    His struggles this season have been apparent, but Bellinger is still hitting better while playing first base.

    As 1B: .256/.320/.456, 112 wRC+
    As OF: .163/.265/.349, 73 wRC+”

    They have to figure out a way to move Cody back to 1B and find a 2B who can both hit and field. This is the spot that i would upgrade.

    1. But…. is his slump caused by playing the OF or did it just co-oincide with his playing in the outfield.

      However, I do very much prefer him at 1B, because he may very well be the best defensive 1B in baseball.

      How about this linup:
      1. Toles CF
      2. Gennett 2B
      3. Turner 3B
      4. Kemp LF
      5. Bellinger 1B
      6. Grandal C
      7. Taylor SS
      8. Puig RF

      The Dodgers traded Verdugo for Gennett

      1. In epidiemiology, doctors look for statistical correlation. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but enough statistical evidence implies it. it’s happened 2 seasons in a row.

  11. Free Bellinger and move him back to 1B. Free Taylor and move him back to CF. Find a good-fielding, .260 hitting SS and go from there.
    *
    Get rid of Forsythe, Baez, and Hudson and find replacements. C’mon FAZ, earn your keep.
    *
    Roberts: Read “Making out a Starting Line-up for Dummies”.

    1. I have given up trying to predict or being surprised by Roberts lineups, who starts, where they play and where they hit. His in game moves are not much better. There are signs of improvement then injuries hit the pitching staff again. They are an inconsistent team, tough to get winning streaks going when their play is so uneven. There is talent there and hopefully they get it together because this division will struggle all year.

      1. Roberts made a lot of line up changes last year, does everyone think there is more line up changes this year, because some players are just not producing enough on offense, or do you think the line ups, are responsible for the lack of offense?

    2. If Belli can’t play the outfield and hit too….well, I choose to think his swing is too long and too much uppercut. Just swing through the ball. Shorten up the swing and get inside the ball. Adjust. Playing the outfield should not affect your hitting. Pitchers have found his weak spot. He needs to find the solution. Maybe change his stance to a more athletic one.

  12. The worry is starters not named Stripling or Buehler. If they are rocks the others are shifting sand. BP looking pretty good lately. If the Dodgers are gonna get lucky the pitching has to be good. Hitters perking up a little. Belli however looks lost right now. Someone needs to help him find himself. Too much uppercut IMO.

    1. Santana needs another pitch like a cutter or 2 seamer. You could tell he relied on the 95 mph 4 seamer to get outs in the minors. That isn’t going to work in MLB unless he has great command. To be fair it was his 1st get go and in Coors to boot. Nice 2 rbi double. Gonna have to take a good look at Ferguson.

      1. The fact that he needs another pitch is why I think he is currently a reliever. Of course, Ross Stripling got another pitch and he’s now a starter. It’s the same with Brock Stewart!

    2. The problem with many of the original low prospects is that they are generally 2 pitch pitchers. Santana has a plus plus fastball with a plus slider. He can get by with those pitches in the minor leagues, but he needs that 3rd pitch to be an effective starting pitcher at the ML level. He is working on his change, and needs to at least make it an average pitch to show it to left hand hitters to make his fastball and slider more lethal.
      .
      Caleb Ferguson does not have the mid 90’s fastball that Santana has but he is up to 92-93 and can crank it to 95 so it is a plus. His 70’s curve is his out pitch, but he also needs that changeup to become an effective starting pitcher. Right now it is average, but he is getting more confident in game situations.
      .
      Mitchell White (who pitches tonight), Dustin May who is closer to developing the change for his 3rd pitch, and James Marinan (who they will be patient with), are SP who show they have potentially 3 plus pitches. Tony Gonsolin actually has 4 potential plus pitches. At St. Mary’s, Gonsolin was a 2 way player, but the Dodgers wanted him to concentrate only on pitching. In his first year he greatly improved his fastball where he went from low 90’s to touching 100. He has a plus curve, plus slider, and plus splitter. While Gonsolin is currently starting at A+, the ultimate goal for Gonsolin is to be an effective multi inning long reliever. Maybe a RH version of Andrew Miller??? Anything close would be a big positive for the Dodgers. If White, May, and Marinan develop into good starting pitchers, the others can join a very effective bullpen. Who knows what to really expect out of Jordan Sheffield.
      .
      This does not take into account Morgan Cooper. I have no idea what to expect from Cooper. He could be a mid to back end rotation starting pitcher, to a multi inning long relief, to back end reliever. He needs innings. The Dodgers are being overly careful due to his TJ surgery after his freshman year. But he is a big kid from Texas who pitches downhill. What’s not to like. I am very eager to watch Morgan Cooper pitch.

  13. DODGERS CLAIM P.J. CONLON

    LOS ANGELES
    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today claimed left-handed pitcher P.J. Conlon from the New York Mets and transferred left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) to the 60-day disabled list. Conlon will be assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
    .
    Conlon made his Major League debut with the Mets on May 7, and made two relief appearances for the club, posting a 11.12 ERA (7 ER/5.2 IP) and striking out two batters. In 77 career minor league games (53 starts), the Belfast native has gone 22-15 with three complete-games and two saves, while posting a 2.85 ERA and limiting the opposition to a .241 average.
    .
    Conlon, 30, is the first Belfast native to play in the majors since Henry “Irish” McIlveen, who played from 1906, 1908-1909 with Pittsburgh and the New York Highlanders. The lefty is the 46th Irish-born player to play in the majors and first since Joe Cleary pitched for the Washington Senators on August 4, 1945.
    .
    Ryu, 31, who was 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA (7 ER/29.2 IP) was placed on the disabled list on May 3 with a left groin strain.

  14. Just crazy thinking, don’t know if it would work or not. But send Baez, Joc, Forsythe, Stewart, Will Smith, Imani Abdullah, Jordan Sheffield and Drew Jackson to Baltimore for Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Brad Beach. It would put them right at the luxury tax and Hill or Ryu would need to be moved at the deadline.

    This would move Bellinger back to first fix center and 2b plus reinforce the bullpen. Baltimore gets 3 young arms a replacement for Jones and maybe Forsythe finds his old form and they flip him for something at the deadline.

    Flame away

    1. I don’t think your idea is crazy at all.
      Signed, Ken Kesey
      *
      All seriousness aside, I enjoy reading other people’s trade proposals (except Mark’s, of course).

  15. A little late but had to watch my grandson in another 5 K.
    .
    OKC – 8-7 Win over Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)
    .
    The Dodgers hit 3 HR’s in their victory. Matt Beaty hit his 1st, while Jacob Scavuzzo hit his 2nd and Kyle Garlick hit his team leading 7th. Five OKC hitters had multiple hit games led by Kyle Garlick who went 3-4 with a HR and double (5th). Kyle Farmer went 3-5, while Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty went 2-4, and Tim Locastro went 2-5.
    .
    This was not a typical Caleb Ferguson outing as he issued 4 walks against 2 K’s in 3.0 IP. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits. Adam Liberatore gave up a single in his 1.0 inning of work to get the win. Manny Banuelos pitched 4.1 innings while Joe Broussard finished up the final .2 and got his 3rd save.
    .
    Tulsa – 4-3 Win over Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston)
    .
    Yusniel Diaz hit a 2 run single in the 7th to give the Drillers a 4-3 lead which Ariel Hernandez held with his 2 perfect innings to close the game and register his 3rd save. LAD did not have the only relief pitching night as two RC Quakes’ relievers were promoted for the game (Parker Curry and Michael Boyle), and Logan Andrusek making his first 2018 appearance (and the win). Curry started his first game of the year after 16 games in relief for RC. The Drillers totaled 9 singles and 3 walks, with only Yusniel Diaz having a multi-hit game going 2-3 with a walk.
    .
    Rancho Cucamonga – 2-0 Win over Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies)

    Starting pitcher Dean Kremer was the star of the game in dominating fashion. He went a solid 5 innings allowing 1 hit and 1 walk all while registering 9 strikeouts. Nolan Long and Jason Richman both pitched 2 shutout innings with Richman getting his 4th save. The Quakes had 6 hits to go with their 2 runs. Gavin Lux went 1-3 with a walk. His hit his 6th HR, and 2nd in back to back games. Cody Thomas went 3-4 with his 11th double, Jeren Kendall 1-4 with his 12th double, and Rylan Bannon 1-3 with his 11th double.
    .
    Great Lakes – 7-6 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
    .
    The only Dodger affiliate to lose last night was the Great Lakes Loons. Leo Crawford started and went 4.2 IP allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, with 2 strikeouts. James Carter and Max Gamboa followed Crawford with Gamboa getting the loss after surrendering 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Romer Cuadrado, Carlos Rincon, and Starling Heredia each went 2-5. Heredia got his 9th double, while Cuadrado got his 3rd triple. Marcus Chiu went 1-3 (5th double) and 2 walks, while Brayan Morales hit his 2 triple.

  16. I won’t get too excited but finally Doc puts Joc in CF flanked by Puig and Kemp, and they all have hits today. Also Cody at 1B and a true 2B in Valera although he hits too many ground balls to second. I feel this makes the overall defense much better and plays the best OF bats.

  17. Probably an absurd suggestion, but do you think the FO would ever contemplate giving Cody some AAA time to adjust. They did send both Joc and Puig down after both had some extensive ML time. Would be a huge ego blow but he’s like 5 out of his last 52……not making an adjustment, bat has a big hole and he is approaching a mendoza like BA.

    1. Maybe but not now.

      Puig went down for disciplinary reasons… nothing more.

      Joc was horrid and went down.

      Cody is getting close…. but not there yet!

      BTW, Joc looks awesome today!

    1. Tip of the cap to Bums, who never doubted Joc. He turned a corner (hopefully) by using the whole field and trusting his natural power, plus was moved to CF where I still think he takes the most natural routes to the ball. He is not overly speedy but gets great jumps for the most part.

  18. The Rockies spent a billion dollars on their bullpen.

    The Dodgers didn’t.

    The Rockies got screwed!

    1. Kazmir, McCarthy, Anderson and to a lessor extent Hill kinda screwed the Dodgers too

  19. There has been a lot of talk about letting Kike’ play everyday against both RHP and LHP. Maybe it’s time to say it’s Joc’s turn to play against all pitchers.

    1. Until someone steps up and claims second base and with the hope Seager returns to short next year, maybe Kike’ should play short, his best position, and Taylor second. Then the Dodgers could have 8 players starting most of the games with Belli at first and Joc in CF. Taylor might be the best longer term second baseman in the organization so why not just put him there now?

  20. Huge game by Valera who is a switch hitter and has a smooth glove. Please play Joc, Kemp and Puig tomorrow plus Taylor! Yas and Cody need a day off as well, play Barnes and Muncy instead. I am hopeful Wood can go 6 tomorrow but it may not matter the way the bats are working. 2 back and looking like a scrappy bunch!

  21. What a great 6th and 7th inning. If you are a true baseball fan and not a bandwagon boy, you gotta love it. Puig, down 0-2, walks, JT goes the other way on a tough pitch and scores a guy. Yasmani legs out a single to keep the inning alive . And Kemp,(Damn Mark, great call two months ago) is a damn stud. Don’t really care who is out right now, (Kersh, Ryu, Chase, Hill, Kenta, etc.) Our boys have some fight on the road. Bring all the torches and pitch forks all you want for Doc and FAZ, but we are right there in the division. Sometimes we just have to shut our mouths and watch the process,

  22. 2 huge wins for the dodgers! We have had chances to put games away this year with one clutch hit. We finally got that hit tonight. From the beginning of the year when we were horrible, when everything that could go wrong did, we are now close to .500. Once we get to .500 I think we will be able to have the confidence that we can win the division. We are getting contribution up and down the lineup currently. I said joc needed to be able to hit .260 to help us and he is in that range now. We need to get bellinger and Barnes going. Kemp has been an all star while Taylor has been steadily climbing. Just having turner in the lineup helps but he is due a hot streak. I think Roberts is looking for somebody to take charge at second. Maybe it can be Valera. I don’t know how our pitching is doing it but they are really competing.

  23. Back to the premise of the article, the depth on this team is unbelievable. Not everything has been perfect (what is?). But losing 80% of the starting rotation, Corey Seager for the year, JT for nearly 50 games, Bellinger clearly in a sophomore slump, and they are only 2 games out of 1st place. Muncy and Valera, 2 players nobody expected anything out of, and while they are not going to be winning any MVP awards, they are helping to win games. Chicken Strip, Buehler, Santana, Stewart…none were expected to be in the rotation. While no team is going to mistake them for the Nats rotation or Mets rotation, most are pitching fairly well.
    .
    I am still concerned about the bullpen, but there could be some trades that will bolster that part of the team. Maybe there could be a trade for a starting pitcher. It is rumored that J.A. Happ is being made available. The Yankees appear to be in on Happ as well as Hamels. Maybe Hamels has one more half year in him. In the midst of a not too great season, Verlander gets traded to the Stros which did great things for both pitcher and team. Maybe Hamels can be deja vu (maybe not).
    .
    I know there are those who are going to say that there is still only 4 teams with worse records in the NL, and three of them are trying to throw the season. The team got as low as 16-26, and since then they are 12-4.
    .
    2013 – 23-32 on June 2, in 5th place, 8.5 games behind – Finished is 1st 92-70.
    2014 – 31-28 on June 2, in 2nd place, 7.5 games behind – Finished in 1st 94-68.
    2016 – 28-27 on June 2 in 2nd place , 5.5 games behind – Finished in 1st 91-71.
    .
    The depth has kept the Dodgers competitive and maybe now they are just starting to feel like a team.

  24. After posting the link about Dean Kremer earlier today, it looks like he had a great game tonight! What is he ceiling? Him being Jewish, I hope there is not pressure to be another Koufax.

    1. I think most people think he will end up as a middle relief guy… but you never know.

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