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Dodgers Dugout: Walker Buehler and Julio Urías suddenly become an issue

Walker Buehler is removed from Wednesday's game in the fourth inning.
Walker Buehler is removed from Wednesday’s game in the fourth inning.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I have two recurring visions. In one, the Dodgers get to the World Series and defeat the Astros. In the other, the Giants get to the World Series and beat the Astros, then their fans gloat about doing something the Dodgers couldn’t.

All of a sudden, the two most reliable Dodger starting pitchers all season are struggling.

The velocity on Julio Urías’ pitches have dropped his last two starts, with each type of pitch losing about two mph, which is a lot in the majors. His career high in innings before this season was 79 2/3 in 2019. This season, he has thrown 174 1/3 innings. But he insisted fatigue wasn’t a factor after Wednesday’s game.

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“I feel good,” Urías said in Spanish. “I feel strong. At the end of the game, I don’t feel tired or anything and I think that’s a good sign.”

But his last two starts have been mediocre, with Urías giving up six earned runs and 10 hits in 11 innings.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that Urías has an even worse stretch from June 10-21, when he gave up 11 earned runs and 18 hits in 15 2/3 innings (a 6.32 ERA). He bounced back from that to post a 1.96 ERA in his following three starts.

If this was a normal season where the Dodgers had a 10-game lead and were just waiting for the playoffs, they could give him some rest. But with the division on the line and a chance to skip the wild-card game, there isn’t a real opportunity to do that, unless there is evidence that he does have arm fatigue and they need to prevent a possible injury.

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More troubling than Urías is the sudden decline of Walker Buehler.

Buehler looked like a lock for the Cy Young Award until his start against San Francisco on Sept. 5, in which he gave up six runs in three innings. Counting that game, in September Buehler has pitched 19 2/3 innings, giving up 26 hits and 16 earned runs, walking five and striking out 13. That’s a 7.32 ERA, which is not ideal.

Buehler has also surpassed his career high in innings by throwing 195 2/3 innings this year, with the previous high being 182 1/3 in 2019.

You have to wonder if the short season in 2020, during which Buehler pitched only 36 2/3 innings and Urías 55 comes into play here. Neither pitcher would admit to a tired arm if they felt it, and neither pitcher is the type to own up to a sore arm, particularly at this point in the season. The Dodgers have no real options to replace them, so all you can do is hope this is a glitch and they bounce back. But if they don’t, then the odds of the Dodgers advancing far into the playoffs just got worse.

Then, after struggles by Buehler and Urías, Max Scherzer turns in his worst outing as a Dodger on Thursday.

And this underlines the fact the Dodgers might be better off not tying for the division and playing a game on Monday, giving Buehler and Urías even more rest. Or better yet, just winning the division outright.

By the way, unrelated to the above, since coming back from the minors, Gavin Lux is hitting .444 (16 for 36) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, nine RBIs and 10 runs scores.

Sad news

Jo Lasorda, 91, the widow of legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, died Monday.

From Steve Marble’s obituary:

While Tommy Lasorda had a room-filling personality and a deep fondness for profanity, Jo was homespun and classically Southern. She said she never heard him curse, though audiotapes of his expletive-laced tirades on the field were frequently-used soundbites.

“You couldn’t pay me to listen to it,” she told The Los Angeles Times when her husband was asked about a three-home-run performance by Chicago Cubs’ Dave Kingman. “It’s ridiculous someone doesn’t have enough adjectives that they have to use the same stupid word.

“I told him you have to have more words in your vocabulary than that,” she added, laughing.

Get well soon

Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday and is isolating at home. He has been vaccinated. Because he shares the same booth with Davis, Orel Hershiser is also isolating himself at home.

Hall of Fame: Left field

We continue our look at who the top Hall of Fame candidates at each position are in Dodgers history and whether they deserve entry or not. To determine the top candidates, we look at two stats, WAR (wins above replacement), which gives us a good idea of how players with long careers compare to each other, and JAWS (Jaffe WAR score system), which is their career WAR averaged with their seven-year peak WAR. It was created by Jay Jaffe and is detailed in his excellent book, “The Cooperstown Casebook.” It can be used as a way to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness by comparing him with players at his position who are already in the Hall, using advanced metrics to account for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game’s history. For example, of the top 10 left fielders in JAWS, eight are in the Hall of Fame. The other two are not in because of off-the-field reasons: Barry Bonds and Pete Rose. And again, like I always say, no one stat is perfect. But this gives us an easy comparison, and, this is supposed to be the fun part of the newsletter. Debating stuff like this should be enjoyable.

The top 10 left fielders, with their JAWS score:

1. x-Barry Bonds, 117.7

2. Stan Musial, 96.7

3. Ted Williams, 95.1

4. Rickey Henderson, 84.4

5. Carl Yastrzemski, 76.0

6. x-Pete Rose, 62.2

7. Ed Delahanty, 59.1

8. Al Simmons, 56.9

9. Tim Raines, 55.9

10. Goose Goslin, 55.0

x-not in Hall of Fame

There are 22 players in the Hall of Fame as left fielders. Here’s where the other 15 Hall of Famers rank in JAWS:

12. Billy Williams, 52.5

13. Fred Clarke, 52.0

14. Jesse Burkett, 50.0

16. Willie Stargell, 47.7

17. Zack Wheat, 47.7

18. Joe Medwick, 46.9

22. Ralph Kiner, 45.4

24. Joe Kelley, 43.4

28. Jim Rice, 42.1

30. Heinie Manush, 41.9

38. Lou Brock, 38.7

40. Jim O’Rourke, 38.2

60. Chick Hafey, 29.6*

64. Monte Irvin, 28.8

Technically, Hafey is in the Hall of Fame as an outfielder, but we are listing him in left.

A quick note here: The Hall of Fame has a lot of left fielders who played in the majors approximately a million years ago.

Now, let’s look at the top 10 highest JAWS totals for left fielders not in the Hall of Fame, other than Bonds and Rose:

11. Manny Ramirez, 54.6

15. Sherry Magee, 49.0

19. Minnie Minoso, 46.7

20. Bob Johnson, 45.7

21. Lance Berkman, 45.6

23. Jose Cruz, 45.4

25. Bobby Veach, 42.9

26. Ryan Braun, 42.9

27. Luis Gonzalez, 42.7

29. Roy White, 41.9

If you count Minnie Minoso‘s Negro Leagues stats, you can make a serious case for him being in the Hall of Fame. And Jose Cruz was one of the most underrated players of all time, with his stats held down by playing half his games in the Astrodome for so many years.

And now, the top left fielders not in the Hall who spent some years with the Dodgers:

11. Manny Ramirez, 54.6

27. Luis Gonzalez, 42.7

45. Carl Crawford, 35.7

49. Frank Howard, 33.3

50. Pedro Guerrero, 33.2

55. Dusty Baker, 31.6

82. Wally Moon, 25.3

We’ll stop there.

The best left fielder in Dodger history was Zack Wheat, and he’s in the Hall. Ramirez has Hall of Fame numbers, but his performance-enhancing drug use leaves him out, as he has never received more than 28.2% of the vote. Pedro Guerrero was one of the best hitters in Dodger history, even more impressive when you consider Dodger Stadium was a pitcher’s park when he played there.

In short, the Hall has it right.

Next week: Center field.

NL West standings

x-San Francisco, 99-54,
x-Dodgers, 98-55, 1 GB
San Diego, 77-75, 21.5 GB-e
Colorado, 71-81, 27.5 GB-e
Arizona, 49-104, 50 GB-e

x-clinched playoff spot
e-eliminated from division title

Wild-card standings

Top two qualify for the wild-card playoff game. Winner of that advances to NLDS.

y-Dodgers, 98-55, +14.5
St. Louis, 83-69, —

Philadelphia, 79-74, 4.5 GB
Cincinnati, 78-75, 5.5 GB
San Diego, 77-75, 6 GB

y-clinched at least the top wild-card spot

The rest of the schedule

Who do the Dodgers and Giants play the rest of the way? Let’s take a look.

Dodgers

Home (6)

Tuesday-Thursday: San Diego (9-7 against Padres this season)
Oct. 1-3: Milwaukee (1-3)

Away (3)

Tonight-Sunday: Arizona (14-2)

San Francisco

Home (6)

Tuesday-Thursday: Arizona (14-2)
Oct. 1-3: San Diego (9-6)

Away (3)

Friday-Sunday: Colorado (12-4)

Fun stats time

Dodger runs scored-allowed in each inning this season

First inning: 105 runs scored-61 runs allowed
Second: 83-39
Third: 97-55
Fourth: 83-59
Fifth: 78-41
Sixth: 70-55
Seventh: 94-73
Eighth: 89-72
Ninth: 52-44
Extra innings: 23-28

Top 12 Dodgers ranked by WAR

Walker Buehler, 5.8
Max Muncy, 5.1
Mookie Betts, 4.6
Julio Urías, 4.0
Will Smith, 3.9
Justin Turner, 3.6
Chris Taylor, 3.0
Max Scherzer, 2.8
Clayton Kershaw, 2.7
Trevor Bauer, 2.6
AJ Pollock, 2.6
Corey Seager, 2.5

Scherzer’s 2.8 is only from his time with the Dodgers.

In case you missed it

A trade for the ages: 37-year-old Max Scherzer has been the perfect fit for Dodgers

Up next

Tonight, Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 3-1, 2.93 ERA) at Arizona (Humberto Castellanos, 2-1, 4.11 ERA), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday, Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 10-7, 3.27 ERA) at Arizona (Zac Gallen, 2-10, 4.53 ERA), 5 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday, Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 18-3, 3.10 ERA) at Arizona (Humberto Mejia, 0-2, 7.20 ERA), 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully talks about the time he managed the Dodgers. Watch and listen 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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