The plight of the Dodgers has many Dodger fans concerned about them playing in the post season. More specifically, not playing in the post season. I tend to think they will make it but don’t lose any sleep over it at night. I have lived through all of the Dodger WS championships and do pine for another. Although I am in good health and questionably sound of mind (it has always been questionable) I will enter my ninth decade in a couple of years. So, I would kind of like to get another WS championship on my résumé before too long. The best game ever for me was the seventh game of the 1955 World Series. At that time, without TV, we listened to the afternoon games on radio, often with the permission of our teachers as long as we got our work done. Rather than get too antsy with the current Dodger situation, I take much sustenance from the minor leagues.
Presently the Great Lakes Loons are on a run that is not too dissimilar from their 2016 championship year. A few short weeks ago they were all but dead and lingering at the bottom of their division and the entire league. Now they one game up on the Fort Wayne TinCaps for the second half league lead since both the Lansing Lugnuts and Bowling Green Hot Rods qualified for the play-offs in the first half. The Loons are one-half game ahead of the West Michigan Whitecaps for the second half wildcard spot so they have given themselves two shots at making the play-offs. They are 14-4 in their last 18 games and have seven one-run wins in August.
The Loons do resemble the 2016 squad in that they are getting excellent relief pitching from a number of guys – Stephen Kolek, Melvin Jimenez, Devin Hemmerich, Austin Drury, Bryan Warzek, Darien Nunez and Jasiel Alvino. Warzek, presently on the 7-day DL, might just be a Caleb Ferguson clone or perhaps a left-handed Marshall Kasowski. On the season he has walked four and struck our 34 in 18.1 innings.
Kolek has allowed only two runs in 24.1 innings pitched while Drury has allowed no runs in his 15 innings. In his last 28.2 innings Melvin Jimenez has posted an ERA of 1.26 and a WHIP of 0.66 along with 35 strikeouts and eight walks.
The relief pitchers support a group of young starters who don’t usually go deep into games or are on a pitch/innings counts – Andre Jackson, Alfredo Tavarez, Geraldo Carrillo, Joel Inoa and recently added Jose Chacin. On Wednesday evening Chacin went six innings giving up three hits, one unearned run while striking out eight and walking three. He induced seven ground balls.
The hitters are getting into a routine of timely hits led by shortstop Deacon Liput and pretty much the entire lineup chipping in, not so much with power but putting the ball in play, finding holes and forcing defenders to comment errors. Outfielder Josh McLain has a 12-game hit streak in which he has struck out only once. Outfielder Chris Roller has three walk off hits in the last seventeen games and saved another by throwing out a tying run at home in the bottom of the ninth inning to end the game.
The big likeness to the 2016 squad is that although the team struggled for most of the season they now play with a “can’t lose” mentality overcoming deficits and getting walk-off hits.
The team has had a big turnover during the season with outfielder Romer Cuadrado being the only present Loon who was on the opening day roster.
In Tuesday’s game left-hander John Rooney picked off his fifth base runner in his 14 innings pitched with the Loons. The Loons downed the TinCaps 6-3 on Tuesday and 2-1 on Wednesday on Roller’s walk off hit. The final game of the three-game set against Fort Wayne goes on Thursday.
Right-hander Zach Willeman made his debut with the Loons, in relief, on Tuesday pitching three innings while striking out five and walking none. He was the Dodgers selection in the 19th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Kent State University. He is another one of the Dodgers many Tommy John surgery survivors.
In other news:
- The Dodgers have signed Korean right-hander Hyun-Il Choi to a $300K bonus, according to a report from Ilgan Sports (Korean language link; h/t Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter). Choi, 18, will reportedly receive a $300K bonus to join the Los Angeles organization. It seems the young hurler was viewed as a top amateur draft target for KBO organizations before the Dodgers wooed him across the Pacific. Choi certainly appears to be an intriguing prospect. According to Kim, Choi has a fastball in the low 90s, an impressive velocity for someone at his age. The curve needs work, but has a solid difference in velocity from his heater. Choi also has a respectable changeup with downward movement, a pitch that has a great deal of potential.
- Dennis Santana (shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Tuesday according to J.P. Hoornstra of The Orange County Register. The bullpen session was the first mound work the rookie participated in since injuring his rotator cuff in June. Santana was able to touch 90 mph with his fastball, which is understandably off the 92.9 mph average posted in a brief stint in the majors this season. The Dodgers didn’t provide a projected return date for the 22-year-old, but with a rehab process from a lengthy layoff beginning late in August, a return this season appears unlikely.
- Jordan Sheffield has made five appearances with Quakes, in relief, in which he has allowed only two hits, no runs while walking three and striking out five.
Dodger News From Mark Timmons
- Dodgers lose again… Wait that is old news and it’s not fake news.
- Now you are seeing why I said I would not have re-signed Kenley two years ago. Relievers are fickle – good one year, bad the next. That’s part of the reason why FAZ is loathe to give them big money. Not many are worth it. Next year, Scott Alexander may be an All-Star and I am not being sarcastic! Right now, without Kenley the Dodgers are screwed and I don’t know if he can recover….
- But, the pen is not the problem. The problem is still the hitting. When your 2 through 7 hitters go 0’fer, it is criminal… especially when 5 or the 6 have been All-Stars and the other one was in the HR Derby.
- I am not saying Dave Roberts makes all the wrong decisions – it’s just that the only chance this team has to win is to fire Doc and try something new.
- At least Joc hit a bomb!
- Ryu, Fields and Stripling will be up soon…. Hey, maybe they can hit!
- Excuse me while I vomit….