Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. If the Dodgers lose three of four to the Giants, then what will Arizona do to them? Win five out of four?
Stumbling into mediocrity
In a season when the entire Dodgers team seems to be sleepwalking, Dave Roberts, finally, has taken a stand. He put his foot down. He laid down the law. He finally … wait, what did he do? He benched Cody Bellinger, one of the only guys hitting this year, for failing to hustle? Now, failing to hustle isn't good. I'm not defending it at all. And apparently Roberts warned Bellinger about lack of hustle earlier Sunday. But taking your anger out on Bellinger and publicly singling him out seems a bit odd when you consider:
--Bellinger isn't the guy who keeps bringing Pedro Baez into games.
--Bellinger isn't the guy who keeps rolling the dice on the bullpen. He's not the one who figures you can let guys such as Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson go because relievers are a dime a dozen and completely interchangeable. Because letting Watson go and bringing in Scott Alexander sure worked well, didn't it? Alexander was sent to the minors Saturday.
--Bellinger isn't the one using Tony Cingrani so much that he has a dead arm.
--Bellinger isn't the one who keeps putting a man with a .273 OB% atop the lineup.
--Bellinger isn't the one who took Rich Hill out after four solid innings during a World Series game, messing up the bullpen for the rest of the series.
--Bellinger isn't the one who rarely sacrifices, rarely puts the runners in motion and rarely does anything to shake up the opposing defense. I think bunting is overrated too, but sometimes you have to create action to keep the defense guessing.
--Bellinger isn't the one who decided to start Yu Darvish in Game 7 instead of Alex Wood, or that pitcher who is getting paid $30 million a year to win games like that. A pitcher that was used in the game anyway.
--Bellinger isn't the only one who failed to notice Darvish was tipping his pitches. It was the Astros who figured that out. Seems like maybe Roberts and the coaches should have noticed that.
--Bellinger isn't the one who did nothing to improve the club during the offseason and hoped career years by Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Wood weren't just flukes.
--Bellinger isn't the one who gave $48 million to a pitcher with a history of blister problems, who is now on the DL with an infected fingernail, a pitcher that isn't trusted to face batters more than twice, making one wonder why you gave him $48 million in the first place.
--Bellinger isn't the one who keeps Kenta Maeda in the rotation despite it being obvious to pretty much everyone else that he could be the setup man the Dodgers need. Yeah, his contract has heavy incentives based on games started. But you guys are smart. So is his agent. Something can be worked out.
I could go on. But I won't. I'm not saying Bellinger shouldn't be punished for not hustling. But when you publicly single him out when there are a whole host of issues this season that need to be addressed, it makes you look like you are picking on one of the best kids in a class full of malcontents.
I hope when Bellinger gets to the clubhouse today he brings a mirror with him, because there are some people in there who need to look into it.
So what was all the fuss about?
Bellinger drove a ball into right-center Sunday, a place called "Triples Alley" because most people get to third if the ball goes there. Bellinger ended up on second and was later doubled off. When he got to the dugout, Roberts told him his day was over. I'll let Bellinger and Roberts, in their post-game comments to reporters, take it from there.
Bellinger: "I feel like I'm always hustling, hustling on ground balls, and it kind of didn't make sense to me. But I get it as well. Just trying to prove a point, for me not hustling, being the young guy, got to hustle."
Roberts: "I felt there wasn't hustle on the play. The ball he hit went 421 feet into right-center field, he cruised into second base and for me, I just feel he's too talented of a player, for a team competing every day and grinding. We've got a right fielder [Kiké Hernandez] there who had the chills the day prior, throwing up, and [he's] diving around out there. For Cody not to be on third base, it's something we talked about before. I wouldn't be doing him or the team any service by not acting."
Bellinger: "I took a big swing on a curveball and went down on my knee. We're down four runs, I'm not trying to make an out on the bases at third and be the first out. That was my reasoning. He saw what he saw, so it's all good. I'm never going to dog it."
On getting doubled off second:
Bellinger: "Can't get doubled off there. I got in the dugout, he said I was out of the game. Didn't know any reason. I guess I was a little surprised; at the same time, just trying to prove a point. I don't know, who knows? I'm not inside his mind."
Since bashing Joc Pederson in Friday's newsletter, he has gone six for 10 with four RBIs.
2018 Dodgers: 12-15, fourth place in NL West, 7 games behind Arizona, +12 run differential
2017 Dodgers: 14-13, third place in NL West, 2.5 games behind Colorado, +19 run differential
These names seem familiar
What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):
Adrian Gonzalez, Mets: .200/.296/.317, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs, 72 OPS+
Charlie Culberson, Braves, .111/.226/.148, 7 OPS+
Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 3-0, 3.38 ERA, 115 ERA+
Yu Darvish, Cubs, 0-2, 5.26 ERA, 77 ERA+
Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .317/.423/.567, 165 OPS+
Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 6 saves, 0.00 ERA
Tony Watson, Giants, 1-1, 0.77 ERA, 524 ERA+
Chris Hatcher, A's, 2-0, 9.82 ERA, 44 ERA+
Luis Avilan, White Sox, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 97 ERA+
Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .147/.147/.353, 33 OPS+
Wilmer Font, A's, 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 37 ERA+
Andre Ethier, still unsigned
Monday, 6:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Ross Stripling, 0-0, 0.63 ERA) at Arizona (Zack Greinke, 2-2, 4.80)
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 1-4, 2.84 ERA) at Arizona (Matt Koch, 1-0, 1.93 ERA)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, 3-0, 2.22 ERA) at Arizona (Zack Godley, 4-1, 3.81 ERA)
Thursday, 12:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Alex Wood, 0-3, 4.11 ERA) at Arizona (Patrick Corbin, 4-0, 2.25 ERA),
Thursday's game against Arizona will not be on TV, but will be shown exclusively on Facebook Watch. To learn more on how to watch that game, click here.
The Dodgers put Puig on the disabled list and recalled Brock Stewart from the minors. Read all about it here.