Dodgers Dugout: Rick Honeycutt gets a bum rap

Rick Honeycutt, left, walks with Kenta Maeda during spring training.
(Ross D. Franklin / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and please, whenever Rich Hill pitches next, don’t say the opposing batter really blistered the ball.

Rick Honeycutt gets a bum rap

For some reason, I get a lot of email from Dodgers fans who don’t like Rick Honeycutt. They don’t think he does a good job. They blame him any time a Dodgers pitcher has a bad game. They blame him for Chris Hatcher. They blame him for injuries. With all due respect, those of you who believe that have got it all wrong. Some of my more childish readers will even throw in a fat joke.


Honeycutt was named pitching coach by Grady Little for the 2006 season, and is the only coach to remain on staff since then. Joe Torre kept him, so did Don Mattingly. And now Dave Roberts relies on him. Why? Because he is considered one of the best pitching minds in baseball, not only by the “experts” out there, but by pitchers who have played for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw loves working with him, so if you were worked up that the Dodgers traded A.J. Ellis because Kershaw loved pitching to Ellis so much, you should get equally worked up if Honeycutt ever retires or is let go.

Let’s take a look at the Dodgers’ team ERA at the end of each season since 2006, and where that ranked in the majors.

2006--4.23 (8th)

2007--4.20 (10th)

2008--3.68 (2nd)

2009--3.41 (1st)

2010--4.10 (12th)

2011--3.54 (5th)

2012--3.34 (3rd)

2013--3.25 (2nd)

2014--3.40 (6th)

2015--3.44 (5th)

2016--3.70 (5th)

2017--2.75 (2nd, through Sunday’s games)

So, in his 11 full seasons as Dodger pitching coach, the team has been in the top five in ERA seven times. That seems to me to be a guy who does his job pretty well.

Not again

Stop me if you have heard this before: Rich Hill had to leave after three innings of his start Sunday because of blisters. I talked about his blisters last week, and won’t go over that again. But I do think Alex Wood will do well replacing him, for however long Hill will be out.

As a starter, Wood has a 24-28 record with a 3.39 ERA in 78 starts. He averages eight strikeouts per nine innings and has a WHIP of 1.279. The Dodgers will happily take that type of production.

In fact, with Hill out and Kenta Maeda struggling, Wood could be the second-best starter the Dodgers have at the moment. Who would be battling him as the second-best starter on the team? Brandon McCarthy. Yes, Brandon McCarthy. He’s 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts this season.

Of course, as I always warn, it’s very, very early in the season. The stats right now are virtually meaningless in being able to predict how a player will do this season. But it is odd to think of McCarthy as the second-best starter in the rotation.

So, don’t be overly worried about Maeda, or the struggles of Hyun-jin Ryu. A little wary, sure, but remember how long the season is. There are still 149 games left to be played.

Next two series

Tuesday, 7 p.m., Colorado (Kyle Freeland) at Dodgers (Hyun-jin Ryu)

Wednesday, 7 p.m., Colorado (Tyler Anderson) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)

Friday, 6:30 p.m., Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) at Arizona (Taijuan Walker)

Saturday, 5 p.m., Dodgers (Alex Wood) at Arizona (Robbie Ray)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy) at Arizona (Shelby Miller)

Note: I am off the rest of this week, so there will be no newsletter on Friday (please stop applauding). I’ll be back in action next Monday.

KTLA games

There will be six more games on KTLA-TV this season:

April 18, 6:30 p.m., vs. Colorado

April 19, 7 p.m., vs. Colorado

April 23, 1 p.m., at Arizona

April 30, 1 p.m., vs. Philadelphia

May 3, 6 p.m., vs. San Francisco

May 7, 1 p.m., at San Diego

The Dodgers obscure record of the week

Excluding pitchers, which Dodger has had the most plate appearances with the team without ever stealing a base?

Tim Wallach, who had 1,525 plate appearances with the team from 1993-96. He was caught stealing five times.

Next on the list is Jeff Hamilton, who had 1,273 plate appearances with them from 1986-91. He was caught stealing three times.

In third place is Olmedo Saenz, who had 816 plate appearances from 2004-07. He was caught stealing once.

And finally

The Dodgers unveiled a long-overdue statue of Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. You can see it and read about 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.

Twitter: @latimeshouston