Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I remember the days when it seemed as if the Dodgers had three or four All-Star starters each year.
Where are all the All-Stars?
The rosters for this year's All-Star team will be announced Sunday. No Dodgers are leading the voting at their position, and I was going to write about that, but Bill Plaschke wrote about it wonderfully here, so we can move on to other things: Which Dodgers should be on the team?
Now keep in mind that each team has to be represented by a player, so the odds of all these players making it are slim, but considering the Dodgers have the best record in the NL, they should be well represented.
Should be locks to make team
Corey Seager. It looks like Zack Cozart of the Reds will be voted as the starter, but Seager should make the team. He is hitting .294/.397/.498. Coincidentally, both are battling leg injuries, with Seager day-to-day with a hamstring injury and Cozart about to come off the DL with a quadriceps injury.
Cody Bellinger. Let's see, he leads the NL in homers, is the top candidate for rookie of the year and a strong candidate for MVP. Plus he can play first base and left field. He has to make the team, doesn't he?
Kenley Jansen. He's the best closer in baseball. He has 18 saves and an 0.79 ERA and his fielding independent pitching number is even better (0.54). He has struck out 53 in 34 innings, giving up only 17 hits and one walk. If he doesn't make the team, they should just cancel the game.
Clayton Kershaw. Most pitchers would love to have the off season most people say he is having. Sure, he has given up 17 homers, but he has a 2.32 ERA and a 0.9211 WHIP. The homers make his FIP higher (3.40), but he's still an elite pitcher.
Should get consideration to make team
Yasmani Grandal. Buster Posey is by far the best catcher in the league, but you can make an argument for Grandal as second best. But he could get lost in the shuffle in favor of Wilson Contreras (Cubs), Tucker Barnhart (Reds), Manny Pina (Brewers) or Yadier Molina (Cardinals).
Justin Turner. He'd be a lock if he hadn't missed part of the season because of an injury. Even with that, he's still second among third basemen in wins above replacement. Nolan Arenado (Rockies), Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Anthony Rendon (Nationals) may edge him out (with Bryant or Arenado being voted as the starter), but can't they find room for the guy who is leading the NL in batting average?
Alex Wood. I almost had him in the lock section, but decided to move him here because he has pitched only 67 2/3 innings. He has a 1.86 ERA, a 2.12 FIP and an 0.916 WHIP. In fact, his numbers across the board are better than Kershaw's this year.
Take a pass
I'm a big fan of Yasmani Grandal, but there's one part of his game that needs definite work. During Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Angels, he had a key passed ball in the bottom of the ninth. That was his seventh passed ball of the season. Let's look at the passed ball leaders since 2014:
2014: Yasmani Grandal, 12
2015: Derek Norris, San Diego, 13
2016: Yasmani Grandal, 10
2017: Yasmani Grandal, 7
Grandal finished fourth in 2015 with eight.
Grandal is great at framing pitches, but one of the keys to framing pitches is occasionally catching pitches closer to the edge of the glove, so the center part of the glove stays in the strike zone. Grandal is so good at this, that I'm thinking some of the pitches he tries to catch on the edge tick off his glove and bounce away. So, perhaps what makes him great at one thing makes him the worst at something else. I haven't gone back to look at all of Grandal's passed balls, so this may be totally wrong. Just throwing it out there as a possibility. It's a fair trade. The passed balls stick out in fans' minds, but when he frames a pitch as strike three to get out of an inning, no one pays attention.
Angels? More like devils
The Dodgers win 10 in a row, play the Angels and promptly lose two of four. This should come as no surprise. Since Mike Scioscia became manager of the Angels in 2000, they have done very well against his old club.
2000. Angels 4-2
2001. Angels, 4-2
2002. Tied, 3-3
2003. Angels, 4-2
2004. Tied, 3-3
2005. Angels, 5-1
2006. Dodgers, 4-2
2007. Angels, 5-1
2008. Tied, 3-3
2009. Tied, 3-3
2010. Angels, 5-1
2011. Angels, 4-2
2012. Angels, 4-2
2013. Tied, 2-2
2014. Dodgers, 3-1
2015. Dodgers, 5-1
2016. Angels, 3-1
2017. Tied, 2-2
That's nine series wins for the Angels, three for the Dodgers and six ties. The Angels have won 58 games, the Dodgers 42.
The Dodgers are trying to win their fifth consecutive division title. Let's take a look at this year's record and how it compares to the same point in the last four seasons.
2017: 53-28, first place in NL West, 2 1/2 games ahead of Arizona
2016: 44-37, second place, 6 games behind San Francisco
2015: 45-36, first place, 3 games ahead of San Francisco
2014: 45-36, second place, 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco
2013: 38-43, fifth place, 4 games behind Arizona
Ask Ross Porter
Scott Grover asks: Ross, what did you learn from Vin Scully, and do you two talk?
Ross: 1. Impartiality. You want the Dodgers to win, but never show it on the air. 2. Don't get too close to a player. It could cloud your objectivity. 3. Stay out of the front office. Don't get involved in the politics there.
Yes, Scott, we speak on the phone and email regularly. Vin is happy, healthy and will narrate "Portrait of Lincoln" at the Hollywood Bowl two nights in July.
Jack C asks: Is Cody Bellinger the leading candidate for NL rookie of the year?
Ross: They can present him the plaque at home plate, Jack, before any remaining home game.
Michael Gorecki asks: Hi, Ross. Would you agree Hideo Nomo's no-hitter at Coors Field in 1996 is one of the greatest ever?
Ross: Without a doubt, Michael. A two-hour rain delay, facing the best offensive team in MLB in the best hitter's park and it rained throughout the game. Nomo pitched only out of a stretch after the second inning because the pitching rubber was slick, his ERA in Denver the previous two years was over 11.
Wade Sammis asks: What team did Ross grow up rooting for?
Ross: Pirates. My dad went to college in Pittsburgh. Some rough years like 1952 when they went 42-112. Eight years later, they faced the Yankees in the World Series. I watched Game 7 with my father, disgustedly left the room when they fell behind 7-4, returned before Bill Mazeroski hit the only Game 7 Series-deciding walk-off homer in history for a 10-9 victory. Wade, the Pirates were outscored, 38-3 in three games, but won the other four.
Have a question for Ross? Email it to me and I will pass it on. Ross answers reader questions every week.
Friday, 7 p.m., Dodgers (Alex Wood, 8-0, 1.86) at San Diego (Clayton Richard, 5-7, 4,42)
Saturday, 7 p.m., Dodgers (Rich Hill, 4-4, 4.60) at San Diego (TBA)
Sunday, 1 p.m., Dodgers (Kenta Maeda, 6-3, 4.15) at San Diego (Jhoulys Chacin, 6-7, 4.76)
Note: Pitchers are subject to change
Kenley Jansen wants to be the Kershaw of the bullpen. Read all about it here.