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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: Some friendly advice to Dave Roberts from a concerned Dodgers fan

In this Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson prepares to bat against the Ne
Joc Pederson
(Julie Jacobson / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it’s all my fault the Dodgers have been slumping. I haven’t been wearing my lucky Dodgers pajamas.

Dear Dave

Have you ever seen “Apollo 13”? It stars Tom Hanks and tells the story of the trouble-ridden mission to the moon that is aborted because of a mechanical failure. It’s one of my favorite movies.

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I’ve been thinking of that movie a lot lately while watching the Dodgers. What looks like a relatively easy mission to the moon with lofty ambitions gets sidetracked by an unexpected catastrophe. What looks like a relatively easy mission to a World Series title gets sidetracked by an unexpected skid of 10 losses in 11 games.

One of my favorite scenes in “Apollo 13” is when everyone at Mission Control in NASA is thinking the mission is beyond saving. Gene Kranz, played by Ed Harris, walks into the room and says, “Let’s look at this thing from a... um, from a standpoint of status. What do we got on the spacecraft that’s good?” It’s a good reminder to try and seek out the positive.

There’s also the scene with Hanks (Jim Lovell), Bill Paxton (Fred Haise) and Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert), where Haise and Swigert start arguing about whose fault this was, and Lovell steps in and says “All right, we’re not doing this gentlemen. We are not going to do this. We’re not going to go bouncing off the walls for 10 minutes, ’cause we’re just going to end up back here with the same problems!” A good reminder to remain calm under trying circumstances.

With that in mind, trying to remain as calm as possible, here are some thoughts for you:

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--It’s good to see that you were able to convince Pedro Baez to fill the role Chris Hatcher had before he was traded.

--Corey Seager last started on Aug. 27. Since then, here are how his replacements have done in the No. 2 spot in the lineup:

Curtis Granderson, 2 for 28 (.071)

Enrique Hernandez, 0 for 8

Austin Barnes, 2 for 4

That’s a combined 4 for 40. The Dodgers’ lineup was awesome with Chris Taylor, Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger batting 1-4. Take one of them out, and it’s like watching a three-legged dog run around.

--I can’t emphasize this enough: STOP BATTING CURTIS GRANDERSON SECOND!

--Is there some law that was passed recently that requires Logan Forsythe to play every day? Can’t we put Chase Utley in against righties and Forsythe against lefties? You know, the formula that worked so successfully most of the season?

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--It was nice to see Rich Hill and Hyun-jin Ryu rebound from their horrible starts against Arizona last week to pitch well against them this week.

--I think a big reason for the Dodgers’ great play this season has been your enthusiasm. But it’s OK to get mad every once in a while at your own team. I get mad at my kids, and they still love me. At least that’s what they tell me.

--STOP BATTING CURTIS GRANDERSON SECOND!

--It’s OK to give Yasiel Puig the day off, but why does that have to involve putting Cody Bellinger in center field and Adrian Gonzalez at first? Leave Bellinger at first while he is trying to get his swing timing back after being on the DL.

--To me, and maybe I am wrong, but part of the job of manager is to be the vocal leader of the team to the fans. For better or worse, Dodgers fans use Tommy Lasorda as the yardstick to judge current Dodgers managers. Lasorda would get irate after long losing strings. Now, you don’t have to be like Lasorda, but saying things like “We’re going to be just fine. We can’t win every game,” and ““We’re going to win the division. I can assure you of that,” doesn’t inspire confidence in the fan base, it just makes you look like a guy who isn’t paying attention to what is going on around you.

--The Dodgers went 50-11, then went 1-11. Which of those two is most likely to represent the true potential of this team, and why do you think people are so quick to judge on 12 games and not on the 61 before that? It mystifies me too.

--During this slide, Chris Taylor is hitting .234 with a .250 OB%. So the top of the lineup never gets on base lately. Makes it hard to score runs.

--A lot of fans keep bashing him, but Justin Turner is hitting .282/.364/.513 during this bad stretch. Keep him in that No. 3 spot.

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--Chase Utley is hitting .294/.429/.353 during this bad stretch. Forsythe is hitting .115/.258/.115. Forsythe’s glove isn’t good enough to make up that much difference on offense.

--In this losing skid, Baez is 0-2 with a 16.88 ERA. Kenley Jansen has a 0.00 ERA with six strikeouts and one hit in three innings. Since he’s not pitching much right now, maybe it’s OK to bring Jansen in before a save situation develops, especially since there haven’t been a lot of save situations lately.

--The more relievers you bring in during a game, the greater the chance that you will find a reliever who does not have his best stuff.

--Seager will be back this weekend against Colorado. Joc Pederson is also back. How about for one game you put the lineup out that was used a lot during the great part of the season? Taylor, Seager, Turner, Bellinger, Grandal, Utley, Pederson, Puig.

--STOP BATTING CURTIS GRANDERSON SECOND!

--In the 1980s the Dodgers had a great hitter named Pedro Guerrero. They tried him at third base, and Dodgers fans always had a silent prayer each game, “Please don’t hit the ball to Pedro Guerrero.” They are beginning to say the same prayer about Yasmani Grandal. And he’s the catcher! He might be great at pitch framing, but he is seriously regressing defensively.

--The Dodgers can still win the World Series. If you went 7-16 the rest of the way, Arizona would have to go 17-5 just to tie for the division. It’s better to be up by 10 ½ games with 23 to play than to be down by 10 ½ with 23 to play. The way baseball works, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Arizona lose the wild-card game and the Dodgers play the Angels in the World Series.

--Even the Dodgers fans who are calling for your job and say the team has no chance still love the team. They just have a funny way of expressing it. Appreciate their passion, but don’t invite them to any of your parties. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let them ever know your email address.

Epic collapses

Are the Dodgers headed toward a collapse of epic proportions? Many are beginning to compare them to the 1951 Dodgers, the 1969 Cubs, the 1964 Phillies, the 1978 Red Sox or the 1995 Angels. A look at what kind of lead those teams had with 23 games remaining in their season:

1951 Dodgers: Led the New York Giants by six games

1964 Phillies: Led St. Louis by five games

1969 Cubs: Led the New York Mets by 3 ½ games

1978 Boston: Led the New York Yankees by three games

1995 Angels: Led Seattle by 6 ½ games

Comparison

Comparing this year’s Dodgers team at this point in the season with the teams that posted the best records in Dodgers history (since 1901).

2017: 92-47, .662

1953: 97-42, .698 (finished season 105-49, .682, lost World Series to Yankees)

1942: 94-45, .676 (finished season 104-50, .675, did not make postseason)

1941: 89-50, .640 (finished season 100-54, .649, lost World Series to Yankees)

1955: 92-47, .662 (finished season 98-55, .641, won World Series over Yankees)

1974: 87-52 .626 (finished season 102-60, .630, lost World Series to Oakland)

Ask Ross Porter

David Kent asks: Ross, is the spitball dead? And if so, what killed it? When I was a kid, you would frequently hear about various pitchers throwing it, especially Gaylord Perry. What happened?

Ross: A spitball has been altered by the application of saliva, petroleum jelly, or some foreign substance. This alters the wind resistance and weight on one side of the ball causing unusual movement. The spitball was banned in 1920, but 17 pitchers were allowed to continue throwing the pitch. Burleigh Grimes was the last officially permitted to use it in 1934. Grimes pitched for Brooklyn between 1918 and 1926, where he chalked up 158 of his 270 career wins on the way to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

That didn’t mean pitchers honored the ban. Preacher Roe said he used the spitball all seven seasons he was with the Dodgers (1948-1954) and went 93 and 37.Don Drysdale, Lew Burdette and Perry were accused of throwing a spitball, but Perry was ejected just once in his 21-year Hall of Fame career.

David, current rules allow pitchers to moisten their fingers with saliva, but they must wipe those fingers on their uniform before touching the baseball. One way to avoid detection is to combine sunscreen and water, and put it on the body or uniform. Why don’t today’s pitchers throw more spitballs? It’s not an easy pitch to throw and it would be hard to escape the surveillance of numerous TV cameras.

Next series

Thursday, 7 p.m. PT, Colorado (Jon Gray, 6-4, 4.26) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 16-2, 1.95)

Friday, 7 p.m. PT, Colorado (German Marquez, 10-6, 4.26) at Dodgers (Yu Darvish, 6-9, 4.01 overall and 2-2, 4.50 with the Dodgers)

Saturday, 6 p.m. PT, Colorado (Chad Bettis, 0-2, 4.91) at Dodgers (Alex Wood, 14-2, 2.57)

Sunday, 1 p.m. PT, Colorado (Tyler Chatwood, 6-12, 4.88) at Dodgers (Rich Hill, 9-7, 3.67)

Note: Pitchers are subject to change

And finally

Enrique Hernandez worries about his family in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Irma. Read all 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.

Houston.mitchell@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimeshouston

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