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Dodgers Dugout: Time for some random thoughts

Max Scherzer waves to the crowd after closing out the Astros in the seventh inning.
Max Scherzer
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it’s time for some random thoughts after the Astros series.

—Throwing things on the field is not cool. People thinks they are being clever when they do that, but they really aren’t. There were people in the third deck throwing foul balls back onto the field, but they didn’t have the arm for it and it landed in the field seats. So, all they’ve done is throw their own team out of sync when stuff lands on the field, and potentially injures a Dodger fan when it doesn’t.

Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser took a page out of Vin Scully’s book and stayed quiet while the boos rained down on Jose Altuve and others. There was no reason to spoil that by talking over it. Many announcers would try to narrate that, but sometimes the pictures and sounds of the fans are all you need.

—By the way, chanting F— Altuve? Dodger fans are supposed to have class. And the less said about the fights in the stands the better.

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—Last thing on the fans (most of whom were great, by the way): If you are going to sit near the field, think to yourself before the game “OK, I need to make sure I don’t interfere with any Dodgers when I am trying to catch a foul ball.” Hey, I get it. You’re at the game, a foul ball heads you way, so you race from your seat to the barrier and try to catch it. But be aware of what’s going on around you. And when you do interfere, costing the Dodgers an out that led to a home run, don’t high five people around you like you are Willie Mays making a great catch in the World Series. Read the room. If it’s Game 7 of the World Series and you cost your team a run, well, that’s not so good. Remember what happened to Steve Bartman.

—That being said, the fan just made a mistake. People cursing him and trying to out him on social media are worse than the fan. He didn’t lean into the field of play, Bellinger leaned over the barricade. He made a mistake, one most of us would have made. And, he didn’t cost the Dodgers a game. Let it go.

—I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this because I’ve brought it up twice recently, but Kenley Jansen needs to pitch in some low-leverage situations for a while. According to Brook Smith of dodgersnation.com, after the game Dave Roberts said “It’s easy to look at the base hit and the home run but I think that in the 22-pitch exercise what he did was pretty good. Like I’ve said all along, we need him to be good to be the best version of our ballclub.” Which is similar to saying “It’s easy to look at the nausea, diarrhea, headache, fever, chills, sore throat, coughing and sneezing, but I think overall the patient feels great.”

—Which of these is not like the other? Blake Treinen hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 23. Since then he has pitched 16.2 innings, giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out 16 with a 13% inherited runners who scored percentage (league average is around 28%). Since June 9, Joe Kelly has pitched 19 innings, giving up nine hits and five walks while striking out 24 and has a 1.42 ERA and an 8% inherited runners who scored percentage. Since June 15, Phil Bickford has pitched 21.2 innings, giving up 14 hits and nine walks while striking out 24 and has a 2.08 ERA and a 6% inherited runners who scored percentage. Since June 18, Jansen has pitched 13.2 innings, giving up 19 hits and nine walks while striking out 20 and has a 6.59 ERA and a 100% inherited runners who scored percentage (to be fair, he has inherited only one runner while the others have inherited multiple runners.)

—And it’s not like we haven’t been down this road before. Jansen lost his closer role last year in the playoffs.

—However, it’s possible something was overlooked in Wednesday’s game: Jansen didn’t come into the game in a save situation. You know who started warming up when it became a save situation? Treinen. If Jansen hadn’t struck out the last batter to end the game, Treinen was going to come in to face Altuve. So is it possible a switch has been made? Who knows, One game is not a trend. But it will be interesting to see who comes in during the next save situation.

—Another guy who was important last season but struggling right now: Victor Gonzalez. Since June 28, he has given up 13 hits and walked five in 7.1 innings, good for a 9.82 ERA. And his IRS% is 50%,

—It was nice to see Cody Bellinger batting in the eight slot. For me, the most important decision the Dodgers have in the next few days is who to bench when Trea Turner joins the team. I have looked at it a thousand different ways, and Bellinger is the logical choice. And bring him in late in games for defense when the Dodgers have a lead. But will the Dodgers make the logical choice? Will they bench Chris Taylor or AJ Pollock instead? Or rotate who sits on the pine each day?

—This Max Scherzer guy. He might turn out to be an OK pitcher.

—Scherzer on his first start with the team: “When the crowd is going nuts like that, you can definitely feed off it … really get some adrenaline from that, so to go out there and pitch well ... That’s the first curtain call for me. I’ve never had that happen. That was a really cool moment, something I’ll never forget.”

—Notable Dodger free agents after the season ends: Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, AJ Pollock, Albert Pujols, Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor.

—The Dodgers have 53 games remaining and are four games behind the Giants. They are on pace to win 97 games and play a one-game wild-card playoff against the Padres. Against winning teams they are 26-30. Against losing teams they are 39-14. They are 3-7 against the Padres, 8-8 against the Giants. They are 13-19 in one-run games, 1-11 in extra-inning games. They are 7-9 in their last 16 games. There are problems in some of those numbers. Problems that need to be solved if the Dodgers are going to be the 2021 World Series champions.

Cole Hamels

The Dodgers signed Cole Hamels to a one-year, $1-million deal, plus he gets $200,000 for each start he makes. Hamels, 37, will report to the team’s training complex in Arizona to build up arm strength before joining the Dodgers. A shoulder injury limited Hamels to one game with the Atlanta Braves last season. Before that, he was a quality starter with a 123 career ERA+. No way to know if this is a good deal or not. He could be great, he could be horrible, he might not pitch at all. It’s worth the risk though.

However, the signing did raise red flags about the condition of Kershaw. Roberts said “Neither one is playing catch,” referring to Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin. “We have to get the pain to dissipate, and when they pick up a baseball and start their throwing progression, it will be news. But right now, we’re in a holding pattern.”

J.R. Richard

James Rodney Richard, who died Thursday at 71, never pitched for the Dodgers. But he struck fear in the hearts of Dodger fans everywhere. Richard was one of the best pitchers in baseball with the Houston Astros in the latter half of the 1970s. He struck out more than 300 batters in a season twice and led the league in ERA (2.71) in 1979. But he was particularly dominant against the Dodgers, with fans pretty much expecting the Dodgers to lose any time they faced him.

In his career, he was 15-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 24 starts against L.A., pitching 14 complete games, five shutouts and striking out 218 in 208 innings. From 1977-80, he was 11-0 against the Dodgers, with a 1.54 ERA with 136 strikeouts in 117 innings. He was dominant. Steve Garvey hit .247 against him, Dusty Baker hit .157, Ron Cey hit .148, Bill Russell .183, Davey Lopes .159, Rick Monday .125, Steve Yeager .083, Reggie Smith .208. No Dodger could hit the guy.

In 10 seasons with the Astros, Richard was 107-71 with a 3.15 ERA and 1,493 strikeouts. He ranks tied for second in team history for career ERA, third in strikeouts -- behind only Nolan Ryan and Roy Oswalt — and fifth in wins and shutouts (19).

Baker, who now manages the Astros, told reporters Thursday that “We had a couple of catchers, one came with his arm in a sling and another came on crutches. There was something called J.R.-itis which was an incurable disease when you’re scared of J.R. Richard. It was like J.R. was only throwing from about 50 feet. With his reach and he was all legs, you didn’t have much time to make up your mind. ... You didn’t really feel comfortable at the plate. He was the toughest guy I ever faced.”

Richard suffered a stroke during the 1980 season and never pitched again.

While I realize this is a lot to write about a guy who never wore a Dodger uniform, if you were a Dodger fan during that time, you’ll never forget him, and his passing earned a note in this newsletter.

Hall of Fame: the first basemen

Our Hall of Fame Series, where we look at who the top Hall of Fame candidates at each position are in Dodger history and whether they deserve entry or not, took a bit of a break because of the crazy Dodgers news the last several days. It returns Monday, with a look at first base. My question for you is: Which Dodger first baseman do you think is most deserving of the Hall of Fame, Gil Hodges or Steve Garvey? Or both or neither of them. Click here to vote.

Fernandomania @ 40

A new episode of “Fernandomania @ 40” comes out next week. In the meantime, here’s a scene we couldn’t fit into the docu-series in which former Dodgers player Jerry Reuss talks about how Fernando Valenzuela’s fame actually helped the other pitchers by taking the limelight off of them.

You can watch Reuss talking about Fernando by clicking here.

In case you missed it

Bill Plaschke: It’s an instant love affair with Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer for fans

MLB releases 2022 schedule: Dodgers-Padres rivalry highlighted; Angels open in Oakland

More text messages released involving Trevor Bauer and woman accusing him of sexual assault

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 Thursday):

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

Dylan Floro, Miami: 3-4, 2.64 ERA, 4 saves (44.1 IP, 37 hits, 18 walks, 40 strikeouts)

Kiké Hernández, Boston: .253/.333/.471 (25 doubles, 3 triple, 15 HRs, 41 RBIs, 115 OPS+)

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

Jake McGee, San Francisco: 3-2, 2.18 ERA, 24 saves (45.1 IP, 27 hits, 7 walks, 48 strikeouts)

Joc Pederson, Atlanta: .250/.318/.441 (16 doubles, 2 triples, 14 homers, 52 RBIs, 103 OPS+)

Josh Sborz, Texas: 3-3, 4.78 ERA, 1 save (37.2 IP, 35 hits, 20 walks, 48 strikeouts)

Ross Stripling, Toronto: 5-6, 4.43 ERA (91.1 IP, 85 hits, 27 walks, 91 strikeouts)

Alex Wood, San Francisco: 9-3, 4.03 ERA (102.2 IP, 93 hits, 34 walks, 110 strikeouts)

Up next

Tonight, Angels (*Patrick Sandoval, 3-5, 3.38 ERA) at Dodgers (*David Price, 4-1, 3.55 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, Bally Sports West, AM 570, KLAA 830

Saturday, Angels (Jaime Barria, 2-0, 4.12 ERA) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 13-3, 3.40 ERA), 6 p.m., Sportsnet LA, Bally Sports West, AM 570, KLAA 830

Sunday, Angels (*Reid Detmers, 0-1, 12.46 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 11-2, 2.16 ERA), 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA, Bally Sports West, AM 570, KLAA 830

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully receives the Icon award at the ESPYs. Watch it here.

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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