Suddenly Need Pitching? NOT Jose Quintana

How quickly fortunes change in baseball. It seems like it was just hours ago when the Dodgers were rich in starting pitching, with manager Dave Roberts juggling seven starters by putting healthy pitchers on the ten-day disabled list here and there, and shuttling starters and relievers back and forth to Triple-A. Well, just guess what happened.

First, the inevitable happened with the team’s latest $48 Million Dollar Give-A-Way, Rich Hill. First it was missing time with his usual state of affairs, the blister, and then lo-and-behold, his lack of pitching ability caught up to him! As I’ve written so often, the journeyman walking injury, on the scrap heap for most of 2015 after an undistinguished career of demotions, releases and waivers among five major league teams, the then 35-year-old Hill was picked up by the Red Sox and pitched four solid games in September.

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That netted him a million-dollar deal in Oakland for 2016, and after his usual DL stints and all of 76 inning pitched through the first four months of the season, the Dodgers load up the truck and let the A’s steal the silver in a horrible deal for Hill and the totally non-productive free-agent-to-be Josh Reddick. Once he got off the DL, Hill managed a grand total of 34-1/3 innings for the Dodgers, for which he was rewarded with his three-year, $48 M deal, the sort of thing art thieves and incompetent cooked politicians dream of. Continue reading

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“Kike” Hernandez – And What If His Name Began With An “N”?

LA Dodgers utility player Enrique Hernandez chooses to use as his preferred nickname a disgusting religious slur, and no one cares.

Throughout “polite”, i.e. “white” society, the use of the “N” word is universally vilified, finding a place in today’s popular culture only among African-Americans who seem to have drawn a wide pass, in particular those who are entertainers, and among racists who as in the past use the term to leave no doubt about their bigotry and hatred.

Recently, popular comedian and political commentator Bill Maher, a fixture on late night television for over two decades, came under extreme fire for his use of the “N” word in a joke precipitated by an inadvertent straight line fed him by a republican US Senator. The

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comedian in him took over, and without thinking, Maher spoke the “joke”, and the word, and has spent more than a week being vilified and profusely apologizing.

Folks, there are other words that carry similar connotations that are just as racist, ignorant, mean spirited and bigoted out there, and there are some that apply to every racial, religious and cultural group. But as opposed to the use of the “N” word and knowledge of it’s effect on any and all African-Americans who may be victimized by the word, people are quick to ignore or minimize the use of some of these other words that are equally as offensive to other groups. Continue reading

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Red-Hot Kole Calhoun Making Up For Trout Loss

For the last three years plus, the Angels’ Kole Calhoun has been one of the top right fielders in the American League, playing solid defense, hitting for power, driving in runs and averaging in the .270s. As this season began, a big year from Calhoun was an absolute necessity if they Angels were to have a shot at the post season, given the state of their pitching staff, which today features two closers and four of their best five starters all on the disabled list for extended periods, several to be there for the rest of the season.

The Angels did get off to an ok start, bolstered by the best career start of baseball’s best player, Mike Trout. After the team’s first 53 games, they were one game under .500, which put them in contention for a wild card spot. And they did this despite a very poor start from Calhoun. Over those first 53 games, Calhoun hit only .209 with five home runs and

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16 RBI. But in that 53rd game, Trout injured his thumb sliding into second base, tearing a ligament, and putting him out of action for about two months.

Most people figured that the Angels would then tank, given the poor performances up to that point from several players, only one of whom was Calhoun. But a funny thing has happened: The Angels overall have played better since Trout’s injury, now posting a record in those games above .500, at 6-5. And a big part of that is due to the resurgence of Calhoun. Continue reading

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No, Mike, It’s NOT “Just a Freak Thing”

After suffering the first significant injury of his career, a torn thumb ligament that will keep him out of action for as long as two full months, the Angels’ Mike Trout stated that he would continue to slide head-first into bases and that the slide into second base which resulted in catching his thumb on the bag, ripping the ligament from bone, “was just a freak thing” and no reason to change his ways and slide the safer, feet-first way. I thought Trout was a lot smarter than that.

The head-first slide is among the most dangerous activities that can occur on the baseball field, and likely the most dangerous that can be totally avoided. Coaches and managers throughout baseball as a general rule tell players of the dangers of sliding head-first, but the blockheads they deal with seem to believe that are all invincible, that they will never,

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ever, suffer a serious injury on the play, and that that is just the way they do it and just the way they will continue to do it. History tells us that is just plain wrong, and that serious injuries will continue to occur so long as players believe that the perhaps split-second advantage of the head first slide is a necessary and needed element of their game. Continue reading

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No, NOBODY Today Can Hit the Ball

Follow up to yesterday’s “Can’t ANYBODY Hit the Ball?

As rookie Cody Bellinger and second-year man Corey Seager are developing into solid power hitters in the LA Dodgers’ lineup, one thinks back over the past few decades to three other power-hitting duos that the Dodgers featured for long stretches of time, duos that hit home runs and drove in runs, but that struck out at significantly lower rates than the average player of today, and at significantly lower rates that Bellinger and Seager do today.

Going back to the 1970s, the Dodgers’ lineup featured the play and the power of Steve Garvey and Ron Cey. Garvey was an everyday player in the team’s lineup for nine full seasons and over that time he seldom if ever missed a game, coming to the plate over 600 times season after season, and he averaged 21 home runs per season. But not once in all

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those years did he ever strike out 100 times in a season, averaging only 69 strikeouts per season, with a season high of 90. Cey played every day for ten years averaging 23 home runs per season, and hit the 100 strikeout figure exactly one time as a Dodger, as he averaged 83 strikeouts per season over that time.

In the 1990s, the duo of Mike Piazza and Eric Karros Continue reading

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Can’t ANYBODY Hit the Ball?

Tonight, the LA Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers, two teams each occupying first place in their respective National League divisions, played a robust 12 innings of baseball, 12 innings that saw three runs scored while 42 batters struck out. Before this season, the record for most strikeouts by a team in an extra inning game stood at 26, set by the then California Angels 46 years ago on July 9, 1971 against the Oakland Athletics. It took Angels’ pitchers 20 innings to strike out 26 batters. In this day and age of the Rule of the Strikeout, that record has been tied twice in less than one month. On May 7, in an 18 inning game between the Boston Red Sox and the new york yankees, 26 new york batters


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struck out at the hand of Red Sox pitchers. Then last night, Dodgers’ pitchers struck out 26 Brewers’ batters. The May 7 game between the yankees and Red Sox also set a record for most combined strikeouts by both teams, 48, while last night’s Dodgers-Brewers game that lasted “only” 12 innings fell a few short at a total of 42, with Brewers’ pitcher striking out 16. That 42 strikeout total is the new National League record. At the rate Dodgers’ pitchers were striking out Brewers’ batters last night – 26 K’s in 12 innings – had the game gone that additional six innings, the Dodgers’ pitchers’ strikeout total would have reached 39.

Can’t anybody hit the ball? Continue reading

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The Best Pitcher in the Game?

Not quite one-third of the way through the 2017 major league baseball season, the LA Dodgers clearly have had the most dominant pitching in the National League. The Dodgers lead the NL in lowest ERA, 3.23, a full third of a run better than the surprising second-place Diamondbacks’, and NL batters have hit a league-lowest .232 against each of the two staffs. But, Dodgers’ pitchers have both struck out the most batters of any staff, 472, and allowed the fewest base on balls. They’ve allowed the fewest hits of any NL staff, the fewest home runs, and are tied for the most shutouts. They have the lowest WHIP in the league, 1.16, the highest strikeout-per-nine-innings rate, 9.48, and by far the best strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio, at 3.42.

Leading the way is perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, and no, I do not mean the obvious choice, Clayton Kershaw, but rather the guy whose 2017 numbers are mind-boggling.

Through June of last season, Kershaw was re-writing the record books when it came to control. Through June 20, he was 11-1 with a 1.57 ERA and in 105 innings pitched, he had

struck out 141 while walking an astounding total of seven batters. He was receiving constant adulation as he seemed to be setting standards for control perhaps never before seen, at least from a starting pitcher. But then came a back injury and the disabled list that derailed any chance of a career season. Continue reading

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Dodgers Key Starters Stepping Up But Toles Injury A Shock

With Kenta Maeda righting his ship with three straight solid performances including last night when he pitched into the ninth inning for the first time his major league career, with Julio Urias more impressive with each outing, with Alex Wood solidifying his starting spot, and with Hyun-Jin Ryu ready to return to the rotation this evening, the Dodgers’ starting staff is in fine shape without the always-injured and unreliable Rich Hill and with Brandon McCarthy also now on the disabled list.

Hill says he’s ready to return next week after somehow lasting through five innings and 68 pitches in his second rehab start. He was not really that sharp, though, walking three and hitting two batters. Will Dave Roberts just add him to the rotation, resuming that brief six-man staff he had going not long ago, or will one of the solid performers get screwed over to

appease Hill, the monumental $48 Million mistake? And what about McCarthy, who has pitched well above expectations so far this season? After a simulated game, he’s slated to return to the team next week. Depth of starting pitching is a luxury most teams seldom enjoy, and with the plethora of injuries that Dodgers’ starters have suffered over the past few seasons, the Dodgers are now, apparently, in an enviable position. But, Roberts needs to determine what is really the best for the team in determining who is in and who is out, and not base those decisions on who has a $48 Million contract (Hill, McCarthy, Scott Kazmir) and who is making $2.8 M (Wood) or $3 M plus incentives (Maeda). Continue reading

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It’s Raining Cody Bellinger RBIs in Los Angeles

Note: Today’s Dodgers-Padres game has been rained out

Following his late-April call-up to the Dodgers, Cody Bellinger began his major league career by going one-for-ten, with only an infield single over his first three major league games. Batting .100 and his continued presence in the bigs quickly fading, his next game, on April 28, saw Bellinger get two singles and score his first run. The next day, he showed off a glimpse of his power, hitting two solo home runs. And he hasn’t stopped since. Beginning with that April 28 game, Bellinger has gone 14-for-32, a .438 average, and over the intervening eight games through yesterday, he’s hit five home runs and driven in 14, including his second two-homer game Friday and capped off with his first grand slam yesterday against the Padres.

His 14 runs batted in over his first 11 major league games is the best ever for a member of the Dodgers since the rbi became an official stat in 1920. Playing against all comers,

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Bellinger has hit .367 against righties with ten rbi in 30 at bats, and .333 against lefties with four rbi in 12 at bats, though he is yet to homer against a lefty. When he and the Dodgers take the field this afternoon, Bellinger will have a chance to right the one stat that so far shows one weakness Continue reading

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