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Dodgers Dugout: Don Mattingly can't solve baserunning problems

Dodgers Dugout: Don Mattingly can't solve baserunning problems
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. (Jae C. Hong / AP)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m wondering why we can send a probe to take pictures of Pluto, but I can’t watch the Dodgers on TV.

Run Dodgers, Run

The Dodgers may be the worst base-running team in baseball. During Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Phillies, they made two strange blunders. Joc Pederson led off the fourth inning with a walk and was thrown out trying to advance to third on Alberto Callaspo’s single to right. Two things: Never make the first out of the inning at third base, and Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur has one of the best arms in all of baseball. After the game, Mattingly said Pederson should have known better, since they went over it in the hitters’ meeting before the series started.

With the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning, a pitch bounced a few feet away from Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. Yasiel Puig decided it was far enough away for him to score, despite the fact that The Flash couldn’t have made it to the plate. He was out, inning over. Mattingly was shown muttering to himself in the dugout.

After the game, Mattingly talked about the team’s base-running problem: “It’s something we’ve been harping on for three or four years now, honestly, and it doesn’t seem to get a whole lot better. I think it’s game awareness, really, that gets us caught. It’s not that guys try to take extra bases, you don’t mind that.”

So, let’s see. The manager of the team has been telling the players something for four years now, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Does this bother anyone else but me? Isn’t it sort of the manager’s job to make sure these points get across? Can you imagine a manager like Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy or Tommy Lasorda allowing this to continually happen without players getting benched or yelled at? Mattingly seems like a great guy, a guy you’d love to have a beer with. But this is just another point in the “Why Don Mattingly Shouldn’t be Managing the Dodgers” ledger.

Bullpen failures

Remember when the Dodgers needed a reliable bullpen and made a lot of trade-deadline deals to shore up the relievers and bridge the gap between the time the starter leaves the game and Kenley Jansen comes in? Remember that? You don’t really have to remember it, because the Dodgers are still stuck in the same situation.

Since the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers’ bullpen has pitched 9 2/3 innings, giving up 13 hits, eight runs and three home runs. That leads to a 7.45 ERA. And that spells trouble.

Jim Johnson, in his two appearances since being acquired, has given up three runs in two innings. The worst part: After giving up only two homers in 48 innings with Atlanta, he has already given up two homers with the Dodgers.

Then there is Joel Peralta. In 16 games since coming off the disabled list, Peralta has a 7.50 ERA. Making it all the more mystifying as to why Mattingly would summon him in to Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia with the bases loaded and one out in a 1-1 game. Peralta promptly gave up a grand slam. And then Mattingly followed up by bringing him in to Thursday’s game to start the ninth with a 10-6 lead. Peralta gave up two runs and Jansen had to come in to pick up the save. 

Let’s take a look at the bullpen ERA by month:

April: 2.25

May: 2.82

June: 4.20

July: 6.27

August: 6.40

Notice a trend there? I was fine with the trade for Johnson, and I hope he settles in and pitches like he has in the past. But until this is fixed, I don’t care how many games they win the NL West by, they won’t win the World Series.

Poor Mike Bolsinger

Mike Bolsinger was a solid No. 4 starter for the Dodgers all season long. His 2.83 ERA would place him ninth in the National League. But when the Dodgers acquired Mat Latos and Alex Wood at the deadline, Bolsinger became the odd man out. Instead of sending him to the bullpen, however, they sent him to the minors, where he has gone 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts and 31 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Shouldn’t Bolsinger  be up with the big club and contributing right now instead of Peralta, who has been bad for weeks? Sure, he’s not used to pitching out of the bullpen, but these guys are professionals. He will adjust. He has pitched in relief in the minors before, so it’s not like he has never done it.

Nice pick

After weeks of rumors, the Dodgers officially announced on Wednesday that Walker Buehler, their first-round draft pick this season, will have Tommy John surgery and will be out 12 to 18 months. “We still think he is one of the top pitching talents in the draft,” Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said. “We have the luxury of being able to play the long game. Even if it puts him a year behind, we think when he comes back, he’s going to justify where we selected him.” Zaidi then went to his local car dealership, walked past all the new models and tried to buy a car that a mechanic was working on.

Who should win?

Here are the leading candidates for the NL Cy Young. Who would you vote for?

Zack Greinke, Dodgers, 152 1/3 IP, 136 K’s, 11-2, 1.71 ERA

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 148 IP, 192 K’s, 9-6, 2.37 ERA

Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh, 137 1/3 IP, 138 K’s, 14-5, 2.29 ERA

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis, 129 1/3 IP, 131, 11-4, 2.57 ERA

What’s wrong with Zack?

Greinke gave up six runs in six innings Thursday. Time to bench him.

And finally

Some of you have asked me this season why the Dodgers keep A.J. Ellis and his anemic bat around. This is why.

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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