The Art of the Pitch

As I mentioned yesterday, the Dodgers have been #1 in MLB in ERA and WHIP over the past two years. I see no reason why that trend won’t continue. In fact, I agree with Rick Honeycutt that the pitching can get even better in 2019.

First of all, the Dodgers have a glut of starting pitchers, but two of them will likely be gone after this season, namely Rich Hill and Hyun-jin Ryu, so they really can’t afford to trade any of them right now. That means that the bullpen will be crowded again the year. Which two end up in the pen is unclear.

Since nothing ever goes as planned, the Dodgers have incredible depth to withstand just about any injury. Let’s look at the rank and file of the starting pitching staff… all seven (count ’em 7) of them:

Starters

  1. Clayton Kershaw– The best pitcher in baseball the past 10 years (if you forgetabout the playoffs). He could have more left at age 30… if he can stay healthy with a new training routine. Last year was his worst and it featured a 2,73 ERA. Some pitchers would sell both kidneys on e-Bay to have that kind of ERA. That said, I look for him to have a great year… unless he gets injured again.
  2. Striker (I refuse to call him Walker) Buehler– Some think he is already the Ace… patience Young Grasshopper. He is simply a filthy throwing horse. He will likely throw a no-no soon. He’s likely a TOP THREE Vote for the Cy Young in 2019. Who would name a pitcher “Walker” anyway – change his name to Striker and do it now?
  3. Hyun-jin Ryu– According toDodger Insider,“Beyond Ryu’s 1.97 ERA, he had the top-ranked changeup in the game last year among pitchers who threw at least 80 innings. Ryu’s 2.99 weighted changeup runs per 100 pitches (wCH/C) was first in the Majors, according to FanGraphs.” Need I say more? All he needs is to stay healthy. He’s pitching for another contract.
  4. Rich Hill– If you remember Rich Hill’s first year, he pitched deep into games and then had his blisters flare up. Since then, Roberts had had him on short innnings. With his blisters behind him and in the last year of his contract, I would work him like a rented mule. He could be a big surprise.
  5. Kenta Maeda– Quietly, he is one of the most unhearlded starters in MLB. The problem is: he can pitch out of the pen too. According toDodger Insider,Honeycutt said it’s imperative for the right-hander to work with the count in his favor. When he was behind in the count, according to Baseball Reference, opponents hit .275/.486/.578/.1.065 against him. When he was ahead, they batted .179/.183/.282/.465. Maeda also has elite pitches in his arsenal. His changeup was eighth in the Majors (min. 80 innings) in wCH/C (2.25). Opponents hit .135 against his changeup and .216 vs. his slider last year. “On any given night, Kenta has weapons to be a dominant pitcher,” Honeycutt said. “For me, at times the command of the four-seam fastball wavers. He knows his slider is probably his best pitch, and the split and changeup combination when it’s on it’s deadly. But you also have to have positive counts to get empty swings on that split. … When the fastball command is there he’s got offspeed weapons that can definitely put you away.”
  6. Ross Stripling– For two months last year, Ross Stripling was one of the MLB’s best pitchers… certainly the Dodgers’ best pitcher. Then he ran into some injury issues and lost it due to “tipping his pitches.” I happen to believe that if you do it once (he’s done it more than once), you can do it again. Don’t forget the No-No that he was pulled out of. Ross is smart and a student of strategy and he also believes that he is a starter. I believe he is too… maybe even a #3, but unless there are injuries, he will have to pitch out of the pen for this year. In 2020, he could be a big part of the rotation.
  7. Julio Urias– I think he will start out in the bullpen (I could be totally wrong) because innings are innings and I think he can build arm strength by either being “an opener” like Sergio Romo, except that he could pitch 2 or 3 innings or a long man in the pen. I think he will join the rotation by the All-Star Game and be a solid #2 as a #3. He is so much better than many know.

Waiting in the wings, but not likely this year, are Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May… maybe Gonsolin could get the call (but that means a lot went wrong)… especially in the pen. I agree with Rich Hill: This is the best starting rotation in baseball, bar none! If you have the best starting rotation in baseball, it’s rare that you also have the best bullpen. While I will not predict it, I will say that the indicators are there.

Bullpen

We will start at the backend of the pen and work down. Kenley Jansen is the closer… that much we know. Beyond that, we can only guess and I am not afraid to do that:

  1. Kenley Jansen– His heart problem fixed, 25 less pounds, chasing a legacy like Mariano Rivera and a hunger to win the World Series leads me to believe Kenley will return to form with a vengeance. He is motivated and able.
  2. Joe “Machine Gun” Kelly– I am not sure if he will be the Set-Up Guy or pitch all over the game like Andrew Miller. It’s no secret his fastball is 100 MPH, but he has learned to take some off to acheive better control. That’s the key… he has to minimize the walks and if he does, he will be another Brandon Morrow… or better.
  3. Pedro Baez – el Gasolinois in the rear-view mirror. He has lowered his time between pitches and increased his confidence level. If it carries over into 2019, he will be another 8th inning option. He has went from “most hated Dodger” to someone we are willing to give a chance. If he can pitch again like the last couple of months of 2018, the Dodgers might have something very powerful .
  4. Scott Alexander– Not many fans have any confidence in Alexander, but we have all seen him get that sinker low in the zone for an inning or two and he is unhittable when he does that. Just a little bit better in his repeatable mechanics and he is a ground ball machine, instead of a walking machine.
  5. Dylan Floro– While not flashy, Dylan has proven to be a solid addition to the bullpen. While not yet a 8th inning guy, he is a solid RH reliever with two good pitches.
  6. Josh Fields– Josh had a 2.20 ERA last year and enters his 4th season with LA. Out of options he is a candidate to be traded… before Spring Training, but you could do worse than Fields.
  7. Yimi Garcia– Yimi never quite got it all back last year, but with some players it takes until the second season to fully recover from surgery. In the past his stuff has been outstanding.
  8. Tony Cingrani– He resurrected his career with ethe Dodgers, but was injured much of last year. If healthy he is a big LH part of the bullpen solution.
  9. JT Chargois– With a solid, but not spectacular fastball and slider, he is another piece, but is also like to be moved in one way or another.
  10. Adam McCreery– At 6′ 9″ he is an imposing figure on the mound, due to throwing from a 3/34 arm slot. The lefty throws 90-92 MPH with a developing curveball. He’s a longshot to do anything this year, due to control issues, but he is unique.
  11. Brock Stewart– This guy should have been in the pen two years ago where he has flourished. With just two plus pitches, he is not a starter. He had an injured knee last year which allegedly cost him some velocity. Hopefully, the put him in the pen and he can resurrect his career… or be traded… or DFA’ed. If healthy, he could be a surprise.
  12. Caleb Ferguson– So far they say he is a starter. I don’t believe it. He is already a very good LH reliever with two plus pitches. If kept in the pen he should break with the team.
  13. Tony Gonsolin– He has several pitches and can sustain his 100 MPH velocity late into the game, so he is on a starters path, but if the unthinkable happens, he can flourish in the bullpen for part of a season.
  14. Dennis Santana– A RH Caleb Ferguson… maybe even a future closer. I do not see him as a starter, but he will likely start in AAA.
  15. Jamie Schultz– A failed starter from the Rays, he throws near 100 MPH and has a plus breaking ball… all that is needed for a reliever. Think Cody Allen. He has has control issues but could flourish in the bullpen. Watch this guy! He could put it all together.
  16. Jesen Therrin– This guy is a strike throwing machine. He has four pitches (two-seam, four-seam, slider and splitter). He can hit mid-90’s his slider is compared to Brad Lidge in his perfect year. He’s a protegee of Eric Gagne. While not on the 40-man, his stuff may play up to having to be called up… if he is healthy (there’s always a catch).
  17. Marshall Kasowski– Last year, he conquered his control problems and he has a very deceptive motion where the ball seems to come out of his ear at up to 96 MPH. He is pure bullpen!

I have not included Josh Sborz, Yadier Alvarez, Mitch White and Jordon Sheffield, all of whom have the “stuff” to pitch in the majors. Other issues, like health, control or “head” issues plague them, but the talent is apparent.

With 7 starters and 17 bullpen pitchers, there’s a lot to sort out, but sorted properly, this is a pitching staff that could have a sub 3.00 ERA. Of course, I am looking at the upside, and while some players will elevate their game, some will head the opposite direction (kind of like Austin Barnes did last year), others will get hurt and some will stay in the same rut. Who does what is open to conjecture…

I seldom look at “what is?” I focus on “what could be?” I don’t know, I can only use data, my eyes and my gut. That’s all we have anyway. The power of the human spirit often holds sway. That’s the part that is hard to read – how much do they want it? Overall, I will take this pitching staff over any other one in the majors, but the composition will likely change by the end of Spring Training.

This article has 55 Comments

  1. Thanks Mark for bringing all the pitching pieces together. The whole looks larger than the sum of its parts.
    .
    I think if Kershaw, Stripling, and Stewart have fully recovered from their injuries and have recreated their good mechanics, they will be the ones that impress the most this year. All three could be comeback players.

        1. whatever he does thru September is irrelevant. Will he continue to be the biggest October disappointment in Dodger history is the real question.

    1. The whole is always more than a sum of it’s parts with the pen. As you add more quality arms, arms are pushed into less leveraged situations making the whole a whole lot better. This is a very exciting pitching staff top to bottom with more depth than I’ve ever seen. No room for Rosscups and Venditties this year. Floro is a right handed Alexander and is quietly one of the best bullpen arms in the league. Day I say that we rival the big names in the Yankee’s pen? I think when all is said and done we will be pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of different looks here as well. From guys with a Starter’s arsenal, sinkerballers, flame throwers, sping rate guys. Doc will have a lot of weapons to choose from. It’s February 1st and I can’t wait for this plane to take off.

  2. I just got word that my Purchasing Manager died of a heart attack at 2 AM this morning. He was 48 years old and a bear of a man, but a peach of a guy. Only the good die young and he left behind a wife and 4 children from 15 to 3. Maybe a heart CAT Scan would have prevented it. They are inexpensive – if you haven’t got one get it. If you can’t afford it, I’ll send you the money.

    1. That is sad. I guess if anybody has to die young it is better for them to not suffer with a prolonged illness. God bless him and his family.

  3. Sorry to hear of your purchasing manager’s passing… will pray for his family! That will be a tough loss for them, especially the kids.

    1. Very sorry to hear this news Mark. I was a purchasing Manager for many years and know what a big part of your company he was. My condolences…….

  4. Keith Law on the Top 20 Prospects ready for the show:

    18. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Verdugo has nothing left to prove in the minors, and it seems like there’s going to be a job for him in the majors, with the Dodgers apparently looking to trade Joc Pederson, and Kiké Hernandez better suited to a utility role than to everyday duty in an outfield corner. Verdugo has hit all over the minors with incredible contact rates, showing strength for power but not driving the ball enough for more than 15 homers in a full season in the majors, though the Dodgers could work their launch angle woo on him to try to get there.

  5. Keith Law on Tony Gonsolin:

    Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Gonsolin was a reliever on the same St. Mary’s team that produced current Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes and also played the outfield, so his pitching was behind where you’d expect it to be at age 21, and he was still available in the ninth round for the Dodgers in 2016. He has had nothing but success as a starter in pro ball, with a four-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball and plus split-change, along with excellent control. Teams have been trying to pry him loose from the Dodgers in trades for a year, but L.A. seems to know what it might have here, either a midrotation starter or maybe a multi-inning power reliever.

  6. Of all the arms mentioned above, and without naming the obvious names, I personally feel the key to a dominant bullpen is the return of Cingrani. He was unknown to most us when we traded for him and Tony Watson in 2017. But he was much better than Watson and showed much better stuff.

    I think if he’s healthy, he can be a situational leftie, or a trusted full inning guy. Much like how a good hitter in the 7 hole adds depth to the lineup, I think a guy like Cingrani would add big time depth to the bullpen. Combine that with a potential full good year from Baez (who may have finally figured it out), and we’ll have a fantastic bullpen.

    1. We are going to know a lot more about our depth at the Trade deadline. If Stripling, Urias, Gonsolin, Stewart, Fergusson show they are ready to carry the Dodgers through the post season, Hill and Ryu could be traded in July.
      .
      If Muncy and Verdugo excel and Seager and Bellinger provide solid thump, the Dodgers will not need Joc’s lefty bat. Those are 4 ifs. But there is always a chance that if Verdugo proves he is a good major leaguer, he will be the one that is traded and Joc is the one that is extended.
      .
      I can see the Dodgers make a splash in pre-trade deasline trades.

      1. “But there is always a chance that if Verdugo proves he is a good major leaguer, he will be the one that is traded and Joc is the one that is extended.”
        *
        Bum, I’m not sure I understand your reasoning here.

        1. Let’s say the Dodgers want Kluber in August and Cleveland prefers Verdugo over Joc based on their performance to date, then Verdugo could go instead of Joc. Two teams have to dance in any case.

  7. Seems like the idea is, there would be more value in trading Verdugo and keeping Joc than doing the opposite. And that that would be more doable.

    1. If Verdugo turns out to be a good player, keep him and his multi years of control and jettison the dough boy.

  8. Yeah, it does seem only the good die young, though I know some pretty good old guys that I ask to them to outlive me. Sorry to hear of the loss to so many. Who’s given the go-ahead for the SOB death to put in the overtime? He’ll be tuggin on my coat soon enough. Man was yesterday ever the day for me and emotions. Listening to songs and fighting back tears. It’d been okay if I was alone. Can’t show the world I’ve gotten this soft in my old age.
    .
    With Baez I’m certain will be alright. All’s he needed to do was to face and stand up to the unseen bully to discover he was tougher than he credited himself. Thanks to KJ for that one. Kershaw is still the best and will be till he’s not, but in the meanwhile……talk about a man who has earned respect!
    .
    This crew has the potential to go all the way and they’ve dusted off the last two championships from their thick enough skin and are eager to start this new season with their batteries fully charged. I just hope they can avoid the DL, then all’s well and will be! I plan to put $ behind those words! CHEERS!

      1. Thank you for that DC. No, haven’t seen “The Mule” as of yet, but I’ll be sure to view it real soon. I don’t know if I let the old man in, but if I’m not missing the meaning then I hadn’t. Somehow I never learned how to grow up and for that I’m paying the price. Someday when my senior discounts don’t work I’ll try to be an adult. To be or not to be………

  9. I still have 2 weeks before pitchers and catchers report, so I can still play devil’s advocate a bit. But when they report, it will be time to get behind the roster 100%.
    .
    Now, with respect to the starting rotation, I agree that it looks good in depth. But if they could have added Corey Kluber how much better could it be with Kluber in the #3 slot and Hill either traded or Maeda to the pen. I have no doubt that the rotation the Dodgers sport will get them to the playoffs with a 7th consecutive NL West championship. But the Nats top 3 of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin is as good as the Dodgers top 3. Who rises between Anibal Sanchez and Erick Fedde will go a long way to determine if they have the top 4 rotation for the playoffs. Doolittle, Barraclough, Grace, Miller, Suero, are the start of a decent bullpen, and if Trevor Rosenthal can come all the way back, it could be very good, especially if one or two of their youngster relievers improve. The Nats have not been shy about adding relievers, especially at the trade deadline.
    .
    The Cardinals have 8 legit starters; 9 if you count Adam Wainwright, and have added Andrew Miller to their bullpen. With Miller, Hicks, Hudson, Shreve, Brebbia, and 3-4 of the starters going to the pen, their bullpen could also be good. I do think the bullpen is their biggest weakness, but if Reyes goes to the pen, it could turn into a strength. As good as we Dodger fans feel about Buehler, the Cardinal fans feel the same about Jack Flaherty. I am not saying they are comparable, but I have good friends who are Cardinals fans who absolutely believe it. I simply tell them they are wrong. There is no denying he is going to be their Ace, and maybe this year.
    .
    The Dodgers rotation and bullpen as they are now are certainly one of if not the best pitching staff in baseball, but they can get better. I would love to see what it would take to get Will Smith out of SF. You like Scott Alexander? I would much prefer Will Smith. I would guess that Farhan would love 4 years of control from ground ball specialist Scott Alexander as a partial return for 1 year of Will Smith. With seemingly 75 kids pitching in the system looking to make it to The Show, the loss of Alexander would not be missed.
    .
    I think JTR is more of a pipe dream than close to reality. If I were to wager a bet, I would say that the Dodgers package will probably come in 4th behind any of Pads, Braves, or Reds. I think JTR gets moved, but I will be shocked if he ends up wearing Dodger Blue this year.
    .
    I would actually be less shocked if Bryce Harper signed with the Dodgers in some crazy *** type contract with 175 different opt in/opt out variables. It would not make them any less balanced as he would undoubtedly be taking the place of either Joc or Verdugo. There is no doubt in my mind that while he will take the Dodgers well north of the CBT threshold, the additional revenues that he alone would generate for the team will more than offset the tax, surtax, and a portion of his salary. While I am not an advocate for Harper, there are more than enough zealot fans who are that will make this an exciting investment for the organization, and not necessarily the cash drain many believe.
    .
    Bottom line, as constructed the team is solid and definately an NL West heavy heavy favorite. But one that can be improved. Therefore, do not make any small Marwin Gonzalez or Tony Sipp type acquisitions. Go big or don’t go at all. They have the prospects and they say they have the financing to make a HUGE splash, so we will see.

    1. AC

      I think that last game Buehler started in St Louis last year on national TV was his coming out start.

      Because I heard and read more baseball people on the east coast talking about how good Buehler really was after that national broadcast, including John Smoltz.

    2. I’m getting behind this team 62%. The other 38% is pure 100% negativity,
      the most undervalued treasure on a fan blog. Especially a fan blog
      poisoned by the great Opti-stein (Kike’s latest projections: 76 HR,
      412 RBI, and .836 – his BA, not his OPS, which will level off some-
      where near 1.977, after a torrid April and May as the starting catcher).

      Let’s go Dodgers……

      1. I agree, at the least he’s gonna outhit Barnes and Martin, unless Barnes “regresses” back to 2017 levels, then we have an All Star catcher. Kike has shown the ability to play plus defense (unless you count the ball hit over his head in the outfield) at every position they’ve put him in so far. SS, no problem, 2B, check, 3B, all 3 outfield spots. Why not catcher? Have him work with Martin and Yeager over the Spring and Ouala, all-star catcher! Problem solved. His bat will definitely carry as a catcher even with extreme peaks and valleys…see Grandal. So, I’m with you dud dew. Kike for Catcher. I also heard he knows his way around a banana.

  10. A really interesting take by Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic on why the Dodgers shouldn’t sign Harper – it’s all about the future:
    “By incorporating a large number of quality 0-to-3 players, the Dodgers sustained success while holding off on major expenditures in recent seasons; Andrew Friedman has yet to award a $100 million contract since taking over as president of baseball operations in October 2014. Eventually – after years of trading prospects, selecting at the bottom of the draft and operating with smaller international signing bonus pools – the Dodgers will be in less of a position of strength.

    When that happens – and when their division rivals, several of which are rebuilding, start to pose more of a threat – the Dodgers will be well-positioned to react to their increased urgency, well-positioned to spend big. They will benefit from the money they saved. The money they declined to spend on Bryce Harper.”

    1. While I am not a Bryce Harper advocate, Rosenthal does raise some questions. But after 31 years, I have a Theo Epstein belief…If not this year, when? Even with their draft position and movement of minor league players, they still have one of the top 10 farm systems in MLB. Somewhere between 8 & 10. But look where their strength in the farm is and where their weaknesses are. They have a boatload of potential starting and relief pitchers ready to make a move to MLB, but really have zero potential OF unless Peters and Kendall somehow prove they can make consistent contact. Maybe they will surprise this year, but Harper costs $$$ not prospects, and even if they do go north of the CBT threshold this year, they will get back below next year.
      .
      The Dodgers need a big bat in the OF against all pitchers. Harper could make the lineup deeper for a youngster like Cody as well as Max. It would be interesting to see how many pitch misses Cody would see after the pitcher was amped for Harper right before him. And then Max after Harper and Cody?
      .
      Would Harper help the Dodgers win the WS? I think so, but it would be no guarantee, and it could be a costly investment. The window is open now. The BoSox got very fortunate with JDM last year, but without JDM I do not see a path to the WS for Boston. As good of a year that Mookie had and to a degree Benintendi, how many believe that the presence of JDM didn’t at least help their seasons. Besides, I believe that Harper will opt out after 2021 when the current CBA expires. He will still be under 30 and believes he will get a better deal with the new CBA. You know Boras is thinking the same thing.
      .
      I continue to not believe the Dodgers will sign Harper, but the longer he is out there, the better the slim chances get.

    2. What I found interesting in that Rosenthal piece was that by staying under the luxury tax threshold the team DOES NOT have to adhere to debt service rules.

      This echoes what I have always heard. That it’s not LP like Boehly who are influencing the finances, but it’s more about MLB.

      1. Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner.


        I think you just nailed it!

        They HAVE to stay under the LTT. Good pickup, Bluto!

        1. Respectfully, I disagree with both of you. I do agree that there might be debt service concerns, but a debt restructure could take care of that especially with their 50% bump in value of their $2.1B investment.
          .
          It was Todd Boehly who came out and said that the Dodgers could not sustain payrolls at the levels they were at, and that they were working to get to $200MM and stay right around that mark. Maybe up a tick one year, and down a tick another, but right around $200MM. That was their sustainable level
          .
          Bluto, I think you have previously labeled Boehly as Walters’ errand boy. If it was not you, then I apologize. But that description is just plain wrong. Boehly is a very accomplished and very educated finance and investment executive, who knows financing far far far better than any of us on this blog. He is the creative finance guy on that ownership team. Walters has the $$$. I would bet money that it was Boehly that created the infamous investment prospectus for potential investors, not necessarily partners. There are different types of investors. Now it could be that the owners have discussed with MLB a plan that included a path to getting below CBT threshold, and that they have every intention of staying under. But do you really believe that MLB would nix the Dodgers signing any FA that would take them above the threshold? Do you think they would force them to sell the team? Fine them? Or do you think that MLB likes the idea of the Dodgers and NYY spending “reasonably” and always being in contention? If I were MLB I would want Bryce Harper in LA or NY with big advertising dollars.
          .
          The owners got themselves in deep doodoo with the Punto trade and the bad Kemp and Ethier contracts, as well as the Greinke contract. They needed to shift gears to get to a more sustainable payroll level. As far as the CBT threshold, as Kasten so inarticulately stated, they are probably already over it with the projected Kershaw and Maeda incentives. Is MLB going to tell the Dodgers that they have to hold Kershaw and Maeda back so they cannot reach their incentives so they stay the threshold? MLB has already stated that the debt service issue is a guideline and that the Dodgers are NOT being told they have to stay under the threshold. That is LAD driven for whatever reason.
          .
          Mark, you have given the Dodgers credit for leading other owners for not making dope-fiend contracts, because it does not work many more times than it does. Give them credit here. This is not MLB mandated. Do you really think that MLB likes the idea of these FA not getting their big paydays? Do you really think they want a work stoppage with the next CBA? The MLBPA is not going to roll over next time. LAD is choosing to stay where they are. If the Dodgers believed that Harper is the difference maker of winning the WS or coming in 2nd again, they will sign him if it falls within THEIR guidelines. They have already stated that they would entertain Harper with less years even with a high AAV. If they were mandated to not going north of the threshold, there would never be any such comment. That is why I believe that the longer this goes on, Harper could very well tell Boras to get very creative and get him to his team of choice, Dodgers, with an untold number of opt in/opt out variables. He is going to opt out after 2021 anyway.
          .
          I do believe that MLB had discussions with LAD when their debt service ratio was high and their payrolls were approaching $300MM, and they did discuss a plan to get the payroll below the CBT threshold. But it was not mandated. LAD fulfilled that obligation (if it was one), and even if they go over this year, they will be back under by plenty next year. The Dodgers are staying where they are because they believe it is a good business model. It is not MLB telling them not to sign Harper, it is the ownership group themselves.

          1. No, wasn’t me who called him his errand boy.
            `
            Everything I’ve read and heard about Boehly is that he’s smart, dogmatic, but very much in step with Walters and not a strong voice in the governing of the Dodgers (he leaves that for the money guy and Walters.)
            `
            You also mistake my interpretation from the Rosenthal article. I don’t think, for a single nano-second, that MLB has any direct influence on the Dodgers operations. I think MLB’s bylaws, vis-a-vis the CBA, do.

          2. As I said, I apologize for the insinuation on Boehly. I do not like him as an owner of my favorite sports team, but he is brilliant. He is a businessman/finance executive trying to run a sports team. I think winning is secondary to Boehly, far behind ROI.
            .
            Also apparently I did misunderstand your position on payroll. You stated;“What I found interesting in that Rosenthal piece was that by staying under the luxury tax threshold the team DOES NOT have to adhere to debt service rules.”. Debt service rules are not CBA but rather MLB, and with Mark echoing that the Dodgers“HAVE to stay under the LTT”I thought you were both stating that MLB has a say in whether the Dodgers go north of the CBT threshold due to debt service rules. I believe this is an LAD organizational position to stay below the threshold, or just slightly above it for one year.

          3. This is mega-confusing, and it may help to precisely cite what I was referring to from Rosenthal’s piece:

            If a big-market team such as the Dodgers exceeds the threshold for at least two consecutive years, it forfeits a percentage of the revenue-sharing refund it would otherwise receive. Teams also must remain in compliance with the debt-service rule, earning enough profits to adequately service their debt.

            I read the condition of the first sentence to apply to the second sentence. I could be mis-interpreting.

  11. I too want to extend my sincere condolences to the family, colleagues, and friends of your purchasing manager. Loss of life is rarely timely or welcome, but it is certainly tragic at such a young age and leaving so many behind. Both he and his family will be in our family’s prayers.
    .
    I would think that Caleb Ferguson has one year to develop a third pitch and to refine his curve ball, or he will undoubtedly spend the remainder of his career as an Andrew Miller type reliever. While there will not be any 9 figure contracts for an Andrew Miller type reliever, he will still get paid handsomely to be one of the very best relievers in all of MLB. He just has to decide if he wants to be average at something or excel at something.
    .
    I would love to say that I believe that Clayton is going to have a CY type year, but backs do not get better with age, especially as much torque as CK puts into his pitches. Perhaps his training regimen has been changed, but nobody works harder than Kershaw does anyway. Can his back hold out for at least 3 more years? The Dodgers are banking at least $93MM on it.
    .
    Buehler is a CY candidate right now. He is 24 (25in July), and he is only going to get better. He has the cocky type confidence (absolutely not arrogance) that Kershaw has, and believes in himself. With his arm and confidence, he is an Ace waiting for Kershaw to step aside.
    .
    I feel most for Ross Stripling. He has proven that he belongs in the rotation, and yet he is without a starting job. The difference between him and Urias is that Strip is 29. The Dodgers still have 4 years control, so he is not going anywhere unless the return is top shelf. Certainly no Francisco Cervelli type players as was rumored earlier this winter.
    .
    Gonsolin and May will be starters, and could possibly be knocking down the door in 2020. Mitchell White has two plus pitches and two at least average pitches, so he is going to get every opportunity to start. I think he is a potential trade chit for LAD. Michael Grove does not have the same repertoire as does White, but he may have untapped talent. He also has 4 pitches that he will offer with two being plus. His innings will be monitored, but he is nearly 2 years since the surgery so I am guessing that he is itching to go. I think he has at least mid rotation type capability.
    .
    With Jordan Sheffield, Yadi Alvarez, Marshall Kasowski, and Josh Sborz all capable of getting called up this year, the bullpen is certainly in good hands. Like Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana should get another year to try to become a starter, but also like Ferguson he is a two pitch pitcher better situated for the bullpen. His fastball is legit and makes him a potential closer, while showing his slider. I am not nearly as optimistic for Brock Stewart as Bums is. I have no idea why he is still on the 40 man, except to maybe increase his trade value with a good spring. He is at least two years too late from accepting where he belongs. He could have established himself as a plus reliever for LAD, but wanted to start, and still does.
    .
    But the one I am most excited to see is Jesen Therrien. I have been talking him up for over a year now, and he is going to be ready this year. He will start the season at OKC to get his baseball legs after being out more than a year, but he has Brandon Morrow written all over him. I really believe he is a June callup that will could eliminate the need of a lockdown reliever at the deadline. Notice I said need and not desire.

  12. I’m still seeing breadth more than depth here, with many questions,
    Walker the possible exception (and sophomore seasons have been
    known to disappoint a time or two:-).

    But the game is headed toward breadth, in a way, and maybe this is the
    year that change is fully rewarded. I don’t have a sure feel for this year’s
    side (in 2017, I said, during the 43-7 apparition, they were still not champs –
    so, technically right, but essentially wrong, since I doubted they would get
    to the final round, let alone game seven against a dynamite AL side; and last
    year, I thought they would dive to mid to high 80s in wins, and struggle to
    make October ball, and was technically wrong- 91 wins in regular time – but
    essentially right, given their struggles against a hurt Brewer crew, and the
    dismal Red Sox saga.
    No feel yet. I’m just respectful they aren’t drowning the competition in
    shadily gained dollars any more, one of the reasons I said 80s last year.
    I will be VERY surprised if they win it all.

    Go Dodgers, 62%!!!

  13. Not that I ever put any stock in it, but ZIPS has Cody Bellinger at 34 HR/101 RBI/.270 BA. – I’ll take that!

  14. Mark, so sorry to hear about your purchasing manager, my prayers go out to his young family, particularly, but also to all of your family and employees. Being local, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    I feel really good about this team this year. The new hitting specialist needs to be able to convince the hitters to only try to power the pitch in their zone, use discipline to take or foul off pitches out of the strike zone to increase pitch count, use the whole field to drive or slap pitches for base hits rather than always trying to pull the ball, and hit defensively when facing a two strike count . The entire coaching staff needs to push this philosophy and push it hard. The Dodgers have better team speed this year than I’ve seen in some time and this will hopefully translate into aggressive baserunning, more stolen bases, and forced errors by the other team.

    I would like to suggest that the Dodgers use a six man rotation for the first few weeks of the season in order to allow the starters to build their arm strength slowly since there are so few off days the first two months of the season. We could still keep a seven man bullpen if we went with a three man bench (Kike, Freeze and Martin) and rely on the positional flexibility of the players on the roster. Everyone would get plenty of at bats to get and stay sharp and still get one or two days off per week. It will limit us in the late innings against situational pitcher switches but it could also push the hitter to develop the discipline to perform in these situations.

    9Hernandez

  15. I was walking through the drug store today and BEHOLD: On the Magazine Rack was the 2019 Athlon Sports 2019 Baseball Preview. I suppose I have bought hundreds of Street & Smiths, The Sporting News and others over the year. It might be the only one left.

    So I just read through it. Obviously, it still has a lot of Free Agents not signed, but it included the Reds Trade and the Kelly signing. In it, they predict the Dodgers to win 92 (that’s without Pollock) and beat the Cardinals in the NLCS and the Astros in the World Series.

    Not that they ever get it right… but maybe they think the Dodgers are a better team than last year too.

  16. Mark, I was saddened to hear about the death of your friend and Purchasing Manager. That is much to young to die. My prayers for his family and all who held him dear in your company.
    .
    I’m glad it is February and the players are soon to report to Camelback. My head is starting to explode in trying to get my mind around all the “what-ifs” that are being thrown about. I want to see them start playing.
    .
    In my opinion, I would still like to add Kluber. I doubt it will happen. But he would absolutely make a difference.
    .
    It would not surprise me to see the Dodgers add one or two depth pieces from the relief pitchers still on the market. But I’m not holding my breath for either Harper or Machado. Whichever team they go to, it seems to me, they would want to be the #1 guy on that team. The Dodgers already have that role filled with several players. Kersh, JT and Seager will always be tops as long as they still play for the Dodgers.

    1. I was mistaken when I said he was 48. It turns out he was 43… We are still in shock. He was new with our company and his life insurance when in effect 1 hour before he died. He had just compelted his 90 day waiting period.

      1. 48 or 43, it’s still much too young! Having gone through similar situations several times myself, I totally understand the shock. It’s a numbness of mind and body I never have learned to enjoy. Thankfully there will be some financial help for the wife and family. But, no matter how much it is, it will never fill the gaping hole left by his death.
        .
        Another reason to like this blog so much. The day to day stresses of life are there for all of us. We can come here, jibber-jabber about our favorite team a bit, and even if we disagree, it remains stress free (even when you stir the pot, Mark!)

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