Dodgers Dugout: Right now, Dodgers are third in a three-way race
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and what did I miss while I was gone? OK, really, I wasn’t on the moon, so I was able to keep track of what the Dodgers were doing and technically, I am still on vacation, but I wanted to take a time out from that to take a quick look at the team.
It is becoming apparent that the pre-season prognostications by most that the Dodgers would open a 20-game lead in April and then slowly pull away is not going to happen.
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And it looks as if the Giants are not going anywhere either, a quick check of the NL West standings reveals:
San Francisco, 37-22, —
San Diego, 37-25, 1.5 GB
Dodgers, 34-25, 3 GB
In fact, let’s compare the three teams in a few other areas:
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Runs per game
FIP (click here for an explanation)
Inherited runners who scored %
League average: 35.7%
OK, I realize that is a lot to take in, but a couple of numbers jump out at me: The Dodgers’ record in one-run games is atrocious. That can be a sign of a number of things: Bad luck, poor bullpen, weak defense, lack of clutch hitting. All things the Dodgers have had at times this season. Also, the Dodgers do really horrible in extra innings, again a sign of bullpen depth causing issues.
On the other hand, the Dodgers do better than the Padres and Giants in quite a few categories. Combine everything and you get a three-way race for the division title, which will provide for some exciting baseball down the stretch.
The thing to keep in mind about the Dodgers when you are ready to throw your hands in the air in frustration: They have the third-best record in the National League. They just happen to be in the same division with the teams with the best and second-best record. Are the Dodgers playing to their full potential? No. But to be playing this erratically and still have the third-best record is a positive sign, not a negative sign.
Scott Alexander, LHP: Still rehabbing his shoulder at the spring training site in Arizona. Return in not imminent
Garrett Cleavinger, LHP: Out with shoulder inflammation, he recently threw a bullpen session and will need a rehab assignment in the minors before he returns.
Caleb Ferguson, LHP: Not expected to return this season after having Tommy John surgery last September.
Tony Gonsolin, RHP: Rehab complete and is expected to start Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
Brusdar Graterol. RHP: Completed his injury rehab assignment and was send to triple-A Oklahoma City to work on his command.
Tommy Kahnle, RHP: Not expected to pitch this season after Tommy John surgery last August.
Corey Knebel, RHP: Has a strained back muscle and won’t return until July at the earliest.
Dustin May, RHP: He had Tommy John surgery and may not be back until 2023.
Max Muncy, 1B: Should return from his sprained ankle today against Pittsburgh.
Edwin Rios, INF: Out for the season after shoulder surgery.
Corey Seager, SS: On the current road trip with the Dodgers. Taking grounders at short (but not throwing) and swinging the bat one-handed. Could return at the end of the month.
One thing is very apparent about Albert Pujols: He has smiled more with the Dodgers since they got him than he did in the last three seasons with the Angels. He seems so happy to be with the team. With the Dodgers, he is hitting .229/.288/.521 with two doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs, good for an OPS+ of 122.
Something to keep an eye on going forward: Last week, MLB announces they are going to seriously crack down on pitchers who use foreign substances to help them grip the ball. The theory being that the substances help the pitchers spin the ball faster, making it move more and/or travel faster, making it more difficult for the hitter.
Sunday, Trevor Bauer pitches and his spin rate is his lowest of the season. He has his worst outing of the season. Coincidence? Here was what Bauer said after the game:
“Hot, humid day in Atlanta. I just want to compete on a fair playing field. I’ll say it again. That’s been the whole point this entire time. Let everyone compete on a fair playing field. So if you’re going to enforce it then enforce it. And if you’re not then stop sweeping it under the rug, which is what they’ve done for four years now.
“So, I’d just like to see everyone be able to compete on a fair playing field so we can see who the best players are and who the best team is, according to the given rules and the given enforcement of the rules.”
Jorge Castillo has a great look at the whole spin rate story here. As does Dylan Hernández here.
Fernandomania @ 40
The fifth episode of our “Fernandomania @ 40” docuseries went live last week. When Fernando broke camp in 1981, he was penciled in as the Dodgers’ No. 3 starter. But when Opening Day pitcher Jerry Reuss came down with a calf strain, manager Tommy Lasorda tapped the unheralded 20-year-old rookie to replace him. Valenzuela proceeded to throw a four-hit shutout over the Houston Astros. It was not only the first win of an amazing 8-0 start for the pitcher - it was ground zero for Fernandomania.
You can watch the latest episode here.
Your first Dodger memory
If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at email@example.com. Thanks.
Michael Canup: I was 7 the year the Dodgers came to Los Angeles. That first year my Dad took me to see them at the Coliseum several times. I have vague memories of seeing Wally Moon hit a Moon Shot, watching batting practice and just the pure joy of being at a baseball game. My absolutely clearest memory is seeing this one player run by, fairly close, the number 4 on his back, and asking my dad who that was. “Why that’s Duke Snider!”, my Dad said. The Duke at that moment became my favorite Dodger.
Paul Hunt of Sierra Madre: Sometime during 1962 I started to become a baseball fan by listening to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett broadcast the Dodgers. That was the year that Maury Wills stole 104 bases, Tommy Davis led the league in batting average, and Don Drysdale won the Cy Young Award. But it wasn’t enough and the Dodgers and Giants tied for the National League pennant. They had a three-game playoff and the teachers had the radio on at my school. The Dodgers lost the third game of the playoff and I was heartbroken. I hadn’t learned that your favorite team doesn’t always win.
Betty True of Clovis, Calif: It must be about 80 or 81 years ago when I was a regular at the Saturday matinees in a very small town in southern Kansas. I’m not sure if I heard them called Bums in a movie or possibly a newsreel but at the tender age of 9 or 10, I felt sorry for them and I have been on their side ever since!
Ed Arvizo: In 1962, the Dodgers did a promotion with Farmer John (can still smell and taste the Dodger Dog as I am writing this) and some of the players would go and visit cities and hand out pictures and sign autographs. Not sure if they came to Buena Park where I lived or another nearby city but my Dad took me and I still have the signed pictures of Larry Burright and Ron Fairly. It was something as an 8-year-old boy I will never forget. The next year my dad said “Guess where you are going tomorrow? The World Series!” A friend had an extra ticket and they raffled it off at the bar and my Dad won. Game 4, Sandy Koufax vs. Whitey Ford. In the seventh inning we were getting a Dodger dog below the pavilion in left field as the Yankees batted. We heard this tremendous roar and the other kid from the family I was with comes running down the stairs shouting “Mickey Mantle just hit a home run!” Missed seeing that home run but remember Frank Howard’s blast half way up the stadium down the left-field line. Still have the program and the great Dodger memories my Dad helped create for me.
Today: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 4-0, 2.82 ERA) at Pittsburgh (JT Brubaker, 4-4, 3.74 ERA), 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Wednesday: Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin) at Pittsburgh (*Tyler Anderson, 3-5, 4.67 ERA), 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Thursday: Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 8-2, 3.48 ERA) at Pittsburgh (Mitch Keller, 3-6, 6.65 ERA), 9:30 a.m., YouTube, AM 570
Vin Scully appears on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Watch it here.
Until next time...
Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.
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