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Dodgers Dugout: Some thoughts ahead of the second half

Dave Roberts looks on in the dugout.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and, why were the players wearing pajamas during the All-Star game?

The All-Star game is over, but let’s talk about it briefly before moving on to the Dodgers.

—This uniforms were hideous.

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—Someone please tell Joe Buck that he doesn’t have to talk ALL THE TIME.

—Putting a microphone on the players while they were batting or fielding or pitching and having Buck talk to them during the game didn’t work.

—Why are they using the shift during the All-Star game?

—Smart of Dave Roberts not to use Walker Buehler and get him some extra rest.

—You can tell Roberts was managing the team because the bullpen was ineffective and the offense didn’t hit with runners in scoring position. Also, he pulled the starting pitcher even though he was throwing great (he had a no-hitter going!)

—The All-Star game used to be a big highlight of the summer. But once every regular-season game became available on TV years ago, and we could see the superstars from other teams on a regular basis, the thrill of the All-Star game was gone. When I was a kid, if I wanted to see Reggie Jackson or George Brett or Mike Schmidt, my only chance, usually, was the All-Star game. Now I can see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Shohei Ohtani whenever I want.

—By the way, all you kids get off my lawn.

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Second half

So what to expect from the Dodgers in the second half? Well, if they stop losing games because of errors and sloppy baserunning, that would be great. It’s amazing to realize that the Dodgers have the second-best record in baseball. Especially when you consider they went 5-15 at one point. It just shows how great they have been the last few years that this season seems so disappointing.

Starting pitching may become a problem. The MRI on Clayton Kershaw showed no damage, just left forearm inflammation. While that is good news, there is no timetable for his return. Which means it could be a week, it could be a month. Just have to wait for the inflammation to go down. Trevor Bauer‘s administrative leave was extended until July 27 (more on that below). Which means the current rotation is:

Buehler
Julio Urías
Tony Gonsolin
Bullpen game
Bullpen game

The Dodgers are expected to stretch out David Price so he becomes the fourth starter. “It’s a fair assumption, given where we’re at as far as the roster with starting pitching,” Roberts said. That still means there will be a bullpen game every five days. Top prospect Josiah Gray, coming off an injury, isn’t ready to help yet. Ryan Pepiot is putting up eye-popping numbers in double-A Tulsa (18 hits and 63 strikeouts in 45.2 inning, with 21 walks and a 1.77 ERA). But do you want to take a 23-year-old who is in his first season above A ball and throw him in the middle of a playoff race? So where does that leave us? A trade.

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Say what you want about Andrew Friedman, but he has never been shy about acquiring help at the trade deadline. Starting in 2015, he acquired the following around the deadline:

2015: Pitchers Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Alex Wood. Infielder Chase Utley.
2016: Pitchers Jesse Chavez, Josh Fields and Rich Hill. Outfielder Josh Reddick. Catcher Carlos Ruiz.
2017: Pitchers Tony Cingrani, Yu Darvish and Tony Watson. Outfielder Curtis Granderson.
2018: Shortstop Manny Machado. Pitcher John Axford. Second baseman Brian Dozier. Infielder David Freese.
2019: Infielder Jedd Gyorko. Pitcher Adam Kolarek.

Some of those acquisitions worked out great, some didn’t. And there’s not a player traded away that you really wish was still with the team. So, in my book, Friedman has done pretty well. I think we will see a trade of some sort, be it for a starting pitcher or reliever. But who? There are a lot of names floating out there, including:

RHP Max Scherzer, Washington (7-4, 2.66 ERA): Scherzer would be a great acquisition, but he is in the final year of his contract and would probably demand a new deal from any team he was traded to. Plus, Washington is playing better now and might want to keep him for a playoff push. In other words, don’t hold your breath.

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RHP German Marquez (8-6, 3.36 ERA) and RHP Jon Gray (6-6, 3.77 ERA), Colorado: I find it hard to believe the Rockies would want to trade either of these guys to a division rival. But if the package is right....

LHP Tyler Anderson (5-8, 4.35 ERA), Pittsburgh: Not the sexiest name on the list, but he is available.

RHP Kyle Gibson (6-1, 2.29 ERA), Texas: He made the All-Star team and could be a good fit. He was a below-average pitcher until this season, so the Rangers may want to strike now and unload him for prospects.

And this just scratches the surface.

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Mike DiGiovanna take a look at 10 interesting trade candidates, so click here to read that. If you are really interested in trade rumors and candidates, I highly recommend mlbtraderumors.com. You can filter it so you can just see Dodgers rumors.

And that brings us to the bullpen. One of the biggest problems the Dodgers have had this season is they have had to rely on relievers who are filling roles they weren’t expected to fill. Instead of your 12 best pitchers on the staff, you have your eight best, plus your 20th, 23rd, 25th and 27th best (yes, I made those numbers up, but you know what I mean).

So why do the Dodgers keep relying on guys such as Alex Vesia, Edwin Uceta, Mitch White, Nate Jones (now gone) and Jake Reed, among others?

Well, injuries for one. Victor Gonzalez and Jimmy Nelson, both key parts of the bullpen, are on the IL, as is Corey Knebel. And the reason they turn to Vesia, et al, is because of the 40-man roster. To play in the majors, you have to be a member of a team’s 40-man roster. If a player is on the 60-day IL, he doesn’t officially count as being part of the 40-man roster, so here are the pitchers on the current 40-man roster for L.A.:

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Scott Alexander, Phil Bickford, Walker Buehler, Gerardo Carrillo, Garrett Cleavinger, Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol, Andre Jackson, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, Jimmy Nelson, Darien Nunez, David Price, Jake Reed, Jimmie Sherfy, Blake Treinen, Edwin Uceta, Julio Urías, Alex Vesia, Mitch White.

On the 60-day IL: Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle, Corey Knebel and Dustin May. Let’s say Knebel gets activated from the IL in August. When that happens, a player will have to be removed from the 40-man roster to make space for him. It’s all sort of complicated. And while some of you may be familiar with all this, some have asked for an explanation, so there it is.

The above pitchers are the pool the Dodgers have to pick from. If, say, they wanted to bring up Pepiot to start, they’d have to add him to the 40-man roster and remove someone else, meaning some other team would have a chance to sign the player removed.

But again, why keep going back to Vesia, etc.? Well, let’s look at the pitchers on the 40-man roster the Dodgers haven’t used:

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Gerardo Carrillo, RHP: A 22-year-old starting pitcher at double-A Tulsa with a 4.79 ERA.

Andre Jackson, RHP: A 25-year-old starting pitcher at Tulsa with a 3.78 ERA.

Jimmie Sherfy, RHP: A 29-year-old reliever who was released by the Giants last week and signed by the Dodgers on Tuesday. They made room for him on the 40-man by removing (designating for assignment) pitcher Bobby Wahl. Sherfy had a 4.22 ERA in 10 games with the Giants.

We will probably see Sherfy at some point, but not Carrillo and Jackson, who are starters.

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Why not bring someone else up from triple-A Oklahoma City and designate Uceta, Vesia or White for assignment? Well, the best relievers at Oklahoma City this season have been Edwin Uceta, Alex Vesia and Mitch White. Vesia has struck out 19 in nine innings. White has a 1.29 ERA. The one guy pitching fantastic at Oklahoma City is Kevin Quackenbush. He has not allowed an earned run in 23 innings. Bring him up! But wait, he’s 32-years-old, and the last time he pitched in the majors was 2018, when he had an 11.00 ERA for Cincinnati. The season before that he had a 7.86 ERA with San Diego. Do you really want to take the risk of losing a younger player with a promising future for a 32-year-old who has had little major league success? These are the questions you must ask yourself as GM.

So what will happen in the second half? Beats me. I believe the Giants, Dodgers and Padres will make the playoffs. I believe one of those teams will reach the World Series. But, if you force me to make a prediction here it is: the 2021 World Series will be the Dodgers vs. the Houston Astros. And wouldn’t that be an emotion-packed series.

For a second opinion, check out what Jorge Castillo has to say by clicking here.

No more runner on second in extra innings?

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave his state of the game news conference Monday, and had some interesting things to say as chronicled by our own Bill Shaikin, which you can read here. Some key takeaways:

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—He said seven-inning doubleheaders and a runner on second in extra innings are unlikely to “become part of our permanent landscape” beyond this season.

—He said the league might discuss other rules changes with the Players Assn., such as a DH in the NL and banning the shift.

—He said that “Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a Major League club, and there are other viable alternatives that I haven’t even turned the A’s loose to even exploring at this point.”

Trevor Bauer update

Bauer’s administrative leave has been extended until July 27. He continues to accrue service time and is paid while on leave. On July 23, Bauer and his accuser are set for a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing in which a judge will consider whether to keep the restraining order in force.

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The Pasadena police department continues to investigate Bauer for felony assault, and the Los Angeles County district attorney has made no decision whether to file criminal charges against him. He has not been arrested.

MLB is conducting a separate investigation. The league has not met with the woman making the allegations.

As I said at the beginning, this newsletter is not the place to determine guilt or innocence before all the legal proceedings take place. When things happen, we will talk about them. I certainly have my opinion on it, but it feels wrong to discuss it, so I won’t.

However, Bill Plaschke definitely has ideas on what the Dodgers should do: No more waiting, Dodgers, you need to cut Trevor Bauer right now

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Also, check this out: Q&A on sexual assault case involving Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer

The draft

The Dodgers selected Alabama high school left-handed pitcher Maddux Bruns in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft on Sunday. Bruns was named Alabama’s 2021 Mr. Baseball and Gatorade player of the year after he struck out 102 and gave up six runs across 49 innings for UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile.

Bruns, 19, was named after Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux. He has committed to Mississippi State. “We’ll see what happens,” Bruns said in a conference call Sunday. “I mean, I think I’m gonna be a Dodger, but if things don’t work out we’ll go to school.”

You can view every player the Dodgers picked by clicking here.

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Joc Pederson

The Cubs traded Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for a minor-league prospect. Not really Dodgers news, but Pederson is still a fan favorite so it seemed worth mentioning. The Braves needed outfield help after losing Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season because of a torn ACL.

Fernandomania @ 40

The next episode of our docuseries, “Fernandomania @ 40" is now available for viewing.

Fernandomania took baseball and its fans by storm. The media also became infatuated. Throngs of reporters followed his every move, through every city. Though Valenzuela didn’t himself speak English and didn’t reveal much, his impact nevertheless prompted publications like the Los Angeles Times to reassess its coverage of underserved communities in Southern California.

You can watch this episode by clicking here.

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Coming soon

With the yearly Hall of Fame induction coming soon, starting next week we will look at the best Dodgers candidates at each position and their chance of eventually making the Hall of Fame (and whether they should or not). At the end, we’ll set up polls for newsletter readers to vote on whether those Dodgers should make the Hall.

These names look familiar

A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through the All-Star break):

Pedro Báez, Houston, On the 60-day IL with shoulder soreness

Dylan Floro, Miami: 2-4, 3.00 ERA, 2 saves (36 IP, 31 hits, 17 walks, 33 strikeouts)

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Kiké Hernández, Boston: .237/.316/.430 (19 doubles, 1 triple, 11 HRs, 30 RBIs, 100 OPS+)

Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 8.00 ERA (9 IP, 15 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts), in minors

Jake McGee, San Francisco: 3-2, 2.72 ERA, 19 saves (36.1 IP, 25 hits, 7 walks, 41 strikeouts)

Joc Pederson, Atlanta: .230/.300/.418 (11 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 39 RBIs, 96 OPS+)

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Josh Sborz, Texas: 3-3, 4.32 ERA, 1 save (33.1 IP, 27 hits, 18 walks, 44 strikeouts)

Ross Stripling, Toronto: 3-5, 4.34 ERA (74.2 IP, 69 hits, 23 walks, 78 strikeouts)

Alex Wood, San Francisco: 8-3, 3.67 ERA (83.1 IP, 69 hits, 27 walks, 87 strikeouts)

Up next

Tonight, Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 9-1, 2.36 ERA) at Colorado (Antonio Senzatela, 2-8, 4.58 ERA), 5:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

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Saturday, Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 11-3, 3.64 ERA) at Colorado (Chi Chi Gonzalez, 3-5, 5.51 ERA), 5 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Sunday, Dodgers (TBA) at Colorado (*Kyle Freeland, 1-3, 5.48 ERA), Noon, SportsNet LA, AM 570

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully discusses the Giants using “trick dirt.” Watch it here.

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Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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