What To Expect in the Days Ahead

With the Amateur Baseball Draft coming up in the next couple of weeks, it’s generally assumed that not many other moves will be made by teams as their focus is on that draft… and that is generally true, but one never knows! There are many things to think about as a Dodger fan, however, including the Draft.  I see all kinds of predictions as to who the Dodgers might take, but it’s hard to predict who will go where ahead of the 30th pick.  I do know that FAZ was ridiculed for taking a pitcher named Buehler a few years ago because he needed TJ surgery at the time of the draft. I think that one worked out pretty good.

The Dodgers currently have a TOP 5-10 farm system with some prospects knocking on the Big Club’s Door and others striving for promotion to a category ahead of where they are:AAA  – Toles (not a prospect anymore), Farmer, LoCastro, Verdugo, Garlick (11 HR), Beaty, Santana and Ferguson. AA– Joe, Peters, Diaz, Raley,Smith, Ruiz, Sborz, (Mitch White and Yadier Alvarez are currently struggling).A-Lux, Wong, Reks, Bannon, Kendall (after a slow start is picking it up) and others.

The team also has players like Ariel Hernandez, JT Chargois, Yimi Garcia, CC Lee and Manny Banuelos, while not really “prospects” in the full sense of the word, could become valuable pieces in the right situationIFthey can continue to improve. Here are a few other things to look for:

  • The Return of Clayton Kershaw– We will find out this week if Clayton is healthy.  Was his decrease in velocity caused by his bicep tendinitis or is he in decline?  It may take a few starts to clear that up. At any rate, he should be a big boost to a rotation that has done just fine without him.
  • The Rise of Striker Buehler– It’s pretty clear to me that he is evolving into that #2 Starter the Dodgers lacked.  That’s a lot to put on a rookie, but he’s shown incredible poise and is a Striker… not a Walker.  I think the Dodgers will try and get him a little rest along the way, but he will be 24 this season, so he more mature physically and mentally than most Rookies.  I would not be surprised if he pitched 180+ innings. Doc says Striker reminds him of Tim Lincecum.  I think that’s an appropriate comparison. He’s an Ace in waiting!
  • The Return of Julio Urias– Now that he is throwing off the mound, the Dodgers will let him advance a little quicker.  I think we will see him in long relief in 5 or 6 weeks.  That’s just a hunch. This is another pitcher would could be an Ace… next year.
  • The Rise of Chris Taylor– It turns out he has been working on his swing and approach at the plate and the results are starting to show. His batting average and OB% are climbing each week. A hot Chris Taylor creates opportunities throughout the lineup.
  • The Rise of the Dodgers Pitching Staff– Actually, it could as easily be called “The fall of the ERA of the Dodgers staff.” They have climbed up to #9 in all of MLB and will climb up even further. I look for them to be TOP THREE by July 1. The Dodger starters are #4 in MLB and the  Relievers just moved up to 18th. Ross Stripling continues to look like a solid #3 and then there is Maeda, and all Rich Hill needs is to get over that blister.
  • The Return of Cody Bellinger’s Home Run Trot–  The Dodgers need his big bat and Cody will adjust and the Home Runs will start flying again.  Bet on it!  Send him down to AAA?  Are you crazy?
  • The Search for Another Bat– I expect Forsythe, Hernandez and Puig to improve, but with the loss of Corey Seager, the Dodgers need another bat very badly.  I doubt that it is Machado, unless the O’s would bundle Britton and Brach in the deal. I guarantee FAZ is working all the angles and they have the prospects to trade.
  • The Taking of First Place by June 15th– Just an arbitrary date that I have set. Here we go…
  • Here’s aGOOD READ
  • For the Record– I hope Brock Stewart makes me eat crow, because I do not think he is a good starter.

This article has 35 Comments

  1. I have been studying for the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft (6-4 to 6-6). The Dodgers have only two picks out of the top 100, so do not expect any miracles out of draft. But then I read a challenge from Adam on the state of the farm and I went into another direction. I hope to have something up tomorrow.
    The state of the ML Dodgers – They desperately need another bat. They miss Corey Seager tremendously, and regardless where his arm will allow him to play next year, his bat will be more than welcomed back. Some do not believe the batting order is all that important, but I am one who does believe that it is. You cannot lose your #2 and #3 hitter and expect the same results for those that follow. Puig is a better hitter down the lineup than he is in the power third. One can argue that he it hard and in bad luck, but results are what matter. I said it before, you cannot argue Puig has hit the ball hard but right at people and ignore the same having been true for Joc the last two years. Get on base, that is what matters. Puig hits better in the #8 slot, so leave him there.
    JT is still probably feeling some rust, and none of Kike’, Chase, Muncy, Joc, can make up for the loss of Corey in the #2. Why has Kemp been able to hit without Corey and JT?? Maybe because Kemp has always been a good hitter, and at 33 knows the game a lot better than a 22 year old Cody Bellinger.
    CT3 is now starting to hit like a leadoff hitter, but it took moving him down the lineup for him to get comfortable again. Pitchers could pitch around CT3 without a Corey in the lineup, and CT3 started guessing too much, and undoubtedly got frustrated by guessing wrong so often, which is why he failed to swing at pitches down the middle. I was talking to my son early in the year, and he could see by CT3’s body language that he had no clue what was coming. He texted me the first week of the season that Taylor should move down to 6 or 7 and take the pressure off. Once he stops guessing and getting comfortable again, then move him back up.
    I do not expect any big hitters from the farm, so the Dodgers are going to have to rely on what they have. I do not see a JDM coming available at the deadline. Bellinger will be the key to the offense. He needs his confidence, but once he makes the adjustments, he should be able to help the offense from the middle of the order. Kike’ is who he is…a utility player who can hit lefties. He has never shown that he can consistently hit RHP, even in the minors.
    If the offense comes around, the team can lean on a defense first 2B, but if it does not come around, they cannot accept a Mendoza line hitter like Forsythe. He is not tradeable, so the Dodgers are stuck with him for the year. He could be a late inning defensive replacement if needed.
    Barnes should play more giving Grandal more rest.
    The Dodgers get Kershaw back on Thursday and the starting pitching has been mostly good. Ryu was originally believed to be out until the AS break, but he is getting closer and closer to a rehab next month. With the way Stripling is pitching, the odd man out may be Rich Hill. Hill may need to go to the bullpen when he comes back. Urias will definately be assigned to the pen when he comes back. FAZ will be overly careful with his left arm as he is expected to replace Ryu in the rotation next year.
    The biggest weakness this year has been the bullpen. I think the allure of closing was more of a reason for Morrow signing with the Cubs rather than the Dodgers, but his loss hurt, and the thought that Koehler or Alexander could replace Morrow was not realistic. There will be a bevy of relievers who will become available at the deadline, but the two biggest ones will be the Royals Kelvin Herrera and the O’s Zach Britton. I would hope the Dodgers would make a play for both, but they should not let both go to other teams. The Astros will be all over them as well, as will the Red Sox and Cardinals. The DBacks have a decent bullpen with Bradley and Boxberger, and they will give everything they have to go after Machado. The Giants are sort of stuck in not wanting to to take on more salary, but if they can unload some of what they have, they will be in on the relievers as well. If they think they can win, I do not believe the luxury tax will be an obstacle for them.
    I can see Dennis Santana getting a call for late inning relief sooner than expected. With the way the Dodgers rely on the bullpen, to not have stoppers all the way through is just not being fair to the team.
    Zaidi has said that it is the lack of HR’s that has cost the team too many losses in close games. Who am I to question a ML GM, but IMO it is the lack of a quality bullpen that has cost the team the close wins, not the lack of HR’s. Look at the number of inherited runners scoring, blown saves and flat out losses by the relievers. Fix that, and the wins will be flourishing.
    If there is a bat available, it will require an Alex Verdugo return in a package. Buehler is about as untouchable as there is, and Ruiz will be next closest. But the Dodgers could put something together to get a quality bat although it will not be Machado. I just do not know who that bat is.

    1. AC

      Another really good analysis!

      I agree with everything you said.

      I don’t know how Britton’ s health has been, but I have thought about Herrera, because I remember how he pitched, in the Royal’s championship run.

  2. Mark do you know where Sierra is at? Do you know if Mitchell white has been injured? I assume he is currently healthy or he wouldn’t be playing. We lost seager but we essentially replaced his bat with kemp.if kemp is heathy he is not as good but his stats should be comparable. Eventually Toles could be the hitter we need. If he can play centerfield and can stay healthy he could be the offensive piece. I believe we need help in the bullpen and another hitter. I don’t know what kind of a defensive player he is but scooter gennett might help us.

    1. Sierra is injured, but unless he pitches like Mariano Rivera, he can’t be considered because of the $$$ added to the roster. Maybe next year… maybe never. FAZ has learned that International Signings are tricky business!

      Mitch White missed over a month with “an undisclosed injury.” Now he is back and trying to catch up. Unless he has an injury, I would expect him to get untracked soon.

      Scooter Gennett is an OK second baseman. He has bloomed later than most. He has 2 years of control left and could be a nice addition. I like the idea. Trade Verdugo for him.

      1. Thanks for the info. I didn’t figure Sierra to be in la. I hope white is just catching up had high hopes for him. Starling marte might be a fit for the Dodgers but he is a bit injury prone and pricey but he is a very solid player. With the pirates contending they would not consider but that could change quickly. Barraclough of the Marlins would be a nice bullpen piece if dodgers could matchup. Abreu of the White Sox would be somebody to consider.

  3. I too like Scooter Gennett but he only has 1 full year remaining before he becomes a FA. Verdugo is probably too much for. 1 1/2 year 2B.

  4. Bullpen help on the horizon?
    Tom Koehler will be throwing a bullpen session shortly. He said he is progressing well. He could rejoin the Dodgers before the All-Star break.

    1. Are we really waiting on Tom Koehler to be the bullpen savior? He has had 1 year with an era under 4. He has only pitched a few innings in the pen. He is not a strikeout pitcher. I will tell you what he is he is a cheap blue light special who may be an effective reliever. The dodgers have rolled the dice and come up with snake eyes so far. He may get back and be very good or he may be very bad or injured again. I hope he is very good but he doesn’t have a track record of that. He is certainly no Brandon morrow but we will see if he ever does actually pitch.

  5. Morrow said that he preferred to be a Dodger and closing wasn’t important to him. He was asked to wait and see if the Dodgers could move money off the payroll. Unfortunately, he wasn’t willing to wait long and the Dodgers chose to pick up Forsythe’s option rather than pay Morrow.

    1. I thought it was a no-brainer to sign Forsythe in case Turner went down or for 2B. It turns out it was a lethal dose of “no brains” to sign him…. especially if it cost us Morrow, but $20 mil is a lot for a set-up guy.

  6. I posted this at the end of a post a couple of threads back, and it probably wasn’t seen by many.

    “I don’t know how deep the international market is this year, but whatever depth there is might influence how the Dodgers approach the upcoming international draft period that opens on July 2. I haven’t kept up with any of the rules changes the last couple of years, but I was wondering if the Dodgers who are now out from under the $300K signing limit, might open up there checkbook in this coming draft, if there is a deep talent pool. Or will they stay within the limits of there allotment, and avoid the penalties?”

    “I imagine AC might have some insights along those lines.”

    And speaking of the July signing period, I wondered in 2015 and still wonder, why the Dodgers didn’t make Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. a prime target at that time when they went on their international spending spree. If memory serves, the now 19 year old Guerrero was considered the top (or at least near the top) prospect in that draft. And is of course, considered one of top prospects in the game at this time (might be #1).

    I suggested earlier that the Dodgers might consider sending Cody down to AAA for a while, and I don’t think there was anything crazy about it. I can’t find the post, so I don’t recall my exact words, but I’m sure I saw it as a temporary solution, and only if the Dodgers brass thought it might do some good. If it had been necessary, I’m sure it’s something that Cody would have handled well. And although the HR the other day was encouraging, it will still take a lot more production before we can consider Cody to out of his slump.

    And certainly, Verdugo should be considered to be a part of any deal that brings good value back to the Dodgers. But I also like him a lot, and would not mind seeing him in the Dodgers lineup right now, everyday.

    1. The number one prize in the International pool is 16 year old catcher, Diego Cartaya, from Maracay Venezuela. He is strongly rumored to be leaning heavily to signing with the Dodgers. He is considered an advanced hitter with limited power. Defensively he is graded well at handling pitchers, and has soft hands. He works well around the plate and has a plus arm. He has a very high baseball IQ. The last time the Dodgers dipped into the Venezuelan catcher pool, they came out with Keibert Ruiz.
      Another top rated international prospect rumored to be leaning towards the Dodgers is 16 year old RHP, Jerming Rosario, from Bani, DR. Rosario has a three pitch repertoire and all three pitches figure to get better once he gets further developed at the Dodgers Academy. He is considered advanced for his age with a highly competitive makeup with a lot of confidence.
      There figure to be more lower tiered prospects the Dodgers will take a gamble on. The problem with these kids are that they are 16 and probably physically advanced compared to their youth competition.

      1. It is really hard to know – sometimes they were just bigger and better, but then plateau. In other cases, they just keep improving. You probably can’t go wrong taking them at any rate.

  7. Mark you are absolutely right about Stewart. No business in the starting rotation and we should have traded him when he had some value. This is back to back games where he is absolutely terrible. He was awful the last game but got lucky. Turn the lights out and only the second inning. Never gave us a chance.

  8. Mark you were correct about Stewart but it is obvious his stuff has regressed. Any thoughts on why? I am unclear how good out of the pen he can be with his current stuff but it likely is better then Hudson’s, maybe?

    1. He has two good pitches and if he pitches in relief his fastball will be 2-3 MPH Faster. You cannot be a starter with just 2 pitches unless you can throw 100 MPH. I have been saying it forever: HE IS NOT A STARTER. The stats bear it out. I cannot understand why FAZ, DOC and anyone think he is a starter. Even Ray Charles can see he is not!

      In his career he has a 5.38 ERA as a starter and a 2.37 ERA as a reliever. Come on, you morons – put him in the pen. This is really dumb!

    2. Stewart is a reliever who desperately wants to be a starter (that is where the big $$$ are). He only has two pitches, fastball and slider, and both figure to get better in a limited role. But he needs to hold back in a starter role, and his third pitch (changeup) is just not a quality pitch right now. Put him back at OKC and let him concentrate on high leverage pitching situations with his two plus pitches, and I think you will see a different Brock Stewart.

      1. I agree… he might be able to do the same in LA, but he has to change his mindset first.

  9. I can see nice improvement in Yimi Garcia… along with increased velocity. I think he’s a solid piece of the pen.

    1. Matt freakin kemp! Garcia is the guy in the pen if he can stay away from the homer in ball. I must admit when Grandal was up I expected the dp or k but hats off! Great dodger win! We got some more evenin out to do.

  10. The Dodgers have won 9 out of the last 11 games… but someone will bitch about something! Of that I am sure!

  11. Actually, I don’t think the luck this year has evened up yet.

    Stewart showed a pretty good change- up tonight. And I do remember he had a pretty good one when he first came up. And he didn’t look too terrible tonight. Except for the HR, nothing really hit very hard off of him. I agree that as things stand now, he’s a better bet out of the pen. But if he ever develops that change into an effective third pitch, , he might even turn out to be a solid starter.

    Thanks AC for the info on the current crop of international talent. I recall previously reading something about Cartaya. Any thoughts on why the Dodgers didn’t sign Vlad Guerrero, Jr. back in 2015? I believe he signed with Toronto for about $3.9 million. Maybe the Dodgers made an offer but we’re not interested in getting into a bidding war.

    1. I think the Dodgers were more interested in Yadier Alvarez. That is where there focus was. Secondarily they wanted the other two Cubans, Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez. For whatever reason, the Dodgers were really dialed in with the Cuban ball players.

  12. And one other thing about Stewart. Whatever the role, be it starter or reliever, command is essential. He needs to develop better and more consistent command. He can only succeed if he throws strikes, and can locates those pitches where he wants them.

  13. When was the last time we signed a 16 year old from the USA? Why from overseas but not here?

  14. I agree with you guys on Stewart. He threw a couple of change ups that looked pretty good. His location is not good. That to me is his biggest problem.

    Garcia looked good. We need him badly in the bull pen. Jansen looks like he has finally made it out of ST. I think the pen is finally start to look like it may make it. At times every pitcher has looked good and has looked terrible. We need some more consistency.

  15. Just some thoughts
    Verdugo for Scooter Gennett? I still think Verdugo is going to be a hitting machine, something the Dodgers need more of. Trading him unless it’s for a really really good player that brings value to the Dodgers for a long time is not the move to make.
    Hernandez is a sub, not an everyday player, stop trying to make him do what he can’t.
    Stewart is not a starter.
    The Dodgers want to see what Muncy can do at second base to keep his bat in the lineup, it’s better than Forsythe, Utley, or Hernandez.
    If the Dodgers do try Muncy at second base and move Bellinger back to first base then bring up Verdugo and let him play CF every day.

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