Dodgers Dugout: Kenta Maeda looks like money well spent

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers an insurance run with an aggressive play during Sunday’s win over Buster Posey and the Giants.

(Alex Gallardo / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I am voting for Justin Turner for president because he has promised free parking for all Dodgers fans if he is elected.

Back in first place

The Dodgers won two of three from the San Francisco Giants and are in first place in the NL West, which would be a lot more exciting if there weren't 149 games left in the season.

However, it's better to be in first than someplace else, and there are many positive things to look at:

---Yasiel Puig looks like a new man so far, hitting .356 with a double, two triples and a home run.

---Kiké Hernandez continues to be one of the most underrated, and valuable, players in baseball. He is hitting .400 and is tied for the team lead in homers (two) and RBIs (eight).

---The young players on the bench, Trayce Thompson and Charlie Culberson, look really solid. I'd rather have either of them than Alex Guerrero. It will be interesting to see what happens when Guerrero is ready to play again.

---Kenta Maeda looks like the real deal, but it's always best to hold off on getting overly excited about a pitcher until his second time through the league. Teams will build a scouting report on him and will adjust. Will Maeda be able to adjust to that? I'm thinking he will.

---Kenley Jansen gets my vote for best closer in baseball. He is five for five in save opportunities this season, and look at these career numbers since he became the Dodgers’ closer in 2012: 265 innings pitched, 171 hits, 397 strikeouts, 0.898 WHIP and a 2.28 ERA to go with 138 saves. He is only 14 saves behind Eric Gagne for the most in Dodgers history.

More on Maeda

Maeda’s 14 2/3-inning scoreless streak to start his career was the third-longest in Dodgers history, behind Dave Stewart (18 1/3 innings in 1978 and 1981) and Bob Welch (15 1/3 innings in 1978).

But what I enjoyed most about Maeda's performance Sunday was the fact he obviously didn't have his good stuff, especially in the first couple of innings, but still battled and found a way to get guys out. That is the sign of a good pitcher. 

New swing for Pederson?

The Dodgers center fielder says he has retooled his swing, though to me it still looks like he is swinging from his heels on almost every pitch. But here's what Pederson says of his new swing:

“I needed to slow things down, make some mechanical changes that put me in a better hitting position to be able to recognize pitches better. These pitchers are good up here — they can locate. They showed me I need to make adjustments. It's part of the game. I learned from it.”

The magic number

Each week I will look at a uniform number a current Dodger is wearing and go through the history of that number with the Dodgers. When I was a kid and went to games, I was always curious as to who wore the number of my favorite players. Then again, I was a strange kid.

We will go in numerical order, meaning next up is:

No. 6 (Charlie Culberson)

Best players to wear No. 6: Steve Garvey (1969-82), Carl Furillo (1946-60), Ron Fairly (1961-69).

Others who wore No. 6: Lefty O'Doul (1932-33), Sam Leslie (1933-35), Rod Dedeaux (1935), Buddy Hassett (1936-37), Johnny Hudson (1938-40), Tony Giuliani (1941), Joe Medwick (1941-42), Hal Peck (1943), Carden Gillenwater (1943), Jack Bolling (1944), Bill Hart (1944-45), Jolbert Cabrera (2003), Brent Mayne (2004), Jason Grabowki (2005), Kenny Lofton (2006), Tony Abreu (2007), Aaron Miles (2011), Jerry Hairston Jr. (2012-13), Darwin Barney (2015).

Note: After Garvey signed with the San Diego Padres after the 1982 season, no one wore No. 6 for 21 years. Also, legendary USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux wore the number when he played two games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1935.

What Vin Scully means to me

I asked you to tell me your best Vin Scully memory, and I got a lot of responses. I will respond to selected ones in each newsletter starting with this one. And keep emailing them to me.

Daniel Landeros: When I was 5 years old, I had a bedtime, just like every 5-year-old did. So when Dodger games went well past my bedtime, I remember I would ALWAYS sneak out and slowly Army crawl into the dark living room where my father sat and watched the game. I would listen to Vin call the game and I would listen to his stories as if he were my grandpa. There were times where I would accidentally cheer, or say "Dummy!" And I would immediately be sent back to my room. But there were happier times where I would just close my eyes and just listen to Vin speak, I would imagine all the stories he told in my head and I would fall asleep to his voice. 

Till this day, I consider Vin Scully as my third grandfather. I love Vin Scully, and I hope all baseball fans truly appreciate his art.

And finally

Want an easy way to keep track of the Dodgers' top 30 prospects this season? Click 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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