Newsletter: Dodgers Dugout: Clayton Kershaw speaks the truth

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.

(Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, wondering when the Dodgers will notice that their bullpen is not as strong as it could be.

Clayton Kershaw has the answer

The Dodgers have lost five in a row. They were no-hit by Houston on Friday and the bullpen blew a victory for Clayton Kershaw on Sunday.

For the last few weeks, I have been saying the Dodgers need to play with at least a little bit of passion. They seem terribly complacent on the field, just standing around waiting for things to happen instead of making things happen. Finally, someone on the team said basically the same thing. And it was an important someone.

After Sunday’s loss, Kershaw had this to say: "I hope we're panicking a little bit. I think panic's a good thing, to a certain extent. There needs to be a sense of urgency, maybe that's better to say than panic. I feel like we have to start playing like that. Not to say we haven't, but it's definitely time to start thinking that way."

Can’t beat good teams

Much has been made about the Dodgers’ poor record against teams with winning records. But how does their record compare against how other teams, such as St. Louis, have done against teams with winning records? I chose the 12 teams with the best records in baseball, and compiled the Dodgers’ record against those teams. The Dodgers are 14-29 against those teams.

Then, I checked the record of the five other top NL playoff contenders (the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants) against those same 12 teams. How those teams fared:

  1. St. Louis, 31-18
  2. Pittsburgh, 27-17
  3. Chicago, 25-17
  4. San Francisco, 20-22
  5. Dodgers, 14-29
  6. New York, 13-27

And in one-run games?

Next I decided to check how those teams did in one-run games. A team’s record in one-run games can give you a clue as to how good the bullpen is, and basically how good the team is, with the theory being that really good teams, teams that know how to manufacture runs, have strong records in one-run games.

  1. Pittsburgh, 27-15
  2. Chicago, 27-17
  3. St. Louis, 28-19
  4. New York, 20-21
  5. San Francisco, 15-18
  6. Dodgers, 16-21


Mark them down

The Dodgers have seven games left with the Giants, so the season will more than likely come down to those seven games. It appears the NL Central has both wild-card spots locked up, meaning the Dodgers will need to win the NL West to make the playoffs. Those seven games against the Giants will be must-see TV for the 30% of you who actually get to watch games on TV, and must-hear radio for the rest of us. The dates: Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and 2 at Dodger Stadium, and Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at San Francisco.

Pederson is benched

The Dodgers finally decided they have seen enough of Joc Pederson as their everyday center fielder, for now. Don Mattingly made it official Sunday, saying Kiké Hernandez is the new center fielder. "I think he gives us a better chance to win," Mattingly said.

Since the All-Star break, Hernandez is hitting .344, Pederson .163. Pederson will be the late-inning defensive replacement.

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on to him. Here’s his next reponse:

Patricia Savery  asks  this  question: "I’m very surprised that the current Dodgers front office does not appear to be interested in extending Zack Greinke’s contract past his ‘2015 opt out date.’  He appears to be a guy who continues to be consistently successful even as his fastball speed has possibly lessened due to aging.  He is so intelligent that he can outthink most hitters and, then, come up with other pitches to compensate.  Frankly, I’d take Greinke over all the potential pitchers that are due to become available in the off-season.  Why wouldn’t the Dodgers work to keep him before the time arrives when other teams are negotiating?  It doesn’t make sense to me."

Ross:  "Your question, Patricia, is a good one. But, to bring up a well-known quote, ‘It takes two to tango.’ That's what you have in the Zack  Greinke sweepstakes. I'm sure the Dodgers would love to sign the pitcher who may well be the National League Cy Young winner to a multi-year contract. And, maybe they will. However, if you look at the situation from Greinke's point of view, he is in a position to listen to several teams' generous offers. This could be Zack's last baseball contract, so why should he be in a rush when this will be the  most lucrative deal he ever has. It's tough to guess what Greinke will command, but six years and $150 million might win the bidding  rights.”

This week in Dodgers history

Aug. 25, 2012: The Dodgers obtain Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from Boston for James Loney, Allen Webster, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands.

Aug. 29, 1951: Gil Hodges sets the team record for homers in one season with his 36th of the season.

Aug. 31, 1950: Hodges hits four home runs in a game, becoming the fourth major leaguer of the modern era to accomplish the feat. The Dodgers defeat the Milwaukee Braves, 19-3.

Aug. 31, 1959: Sandy Koufax strikes out 18 Giants to set a new NL record.

And finally

This year is the 50th anniversary of the infamous Juan Marichal-John Roseboro brawl. Bill Plaschke takes a look at it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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