Monday, August 31, 2020

Farewell, Chicken Strips

The Dodgers just traded Ross Stripling to the third-place Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for two players to be named later. If this trade was based on weight, one might think this was a sly attempt of Andrew Friedman to re-obtain Hyun-Jin Ryu. However, I think it will actually end up to be two separate players.

Across five seasons with the Dodgers, Stripling went 23-25 with a 3.68 ERA, however 2020 was his Dodgers' nadir: 5.61 ERA across seven games, and a 78 ERA+ (in no other year was he below 100, with a career ERA+ average of 110). His career WAR is 3.9 but that includes a -0.8 this season. Stripling made the All-Star Game in 2018.

All the best, Ross!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Series Thread (Games 34-36): August 28-30 @ Rangers

Fri 8.28 5p: May vs. Minor
Sat 8.29 4p: Stripling vs. Lynn
Sun 8.30 11.30a: Gonsolin vs. Gibson

This year, a new era for the Texas Rangers begins with the opening of Globe Life Field in Arlington. According to the Rangers' website, "the beautiful baseball-only facility serves as the centerpiece of a 270-acre complex which solidifies Arlington, Texas as an entertainment giant in the Southwest." Except no fan is able to attend a game this year! COVID-19 clearly threw a spanner in the works here, but to be fair, naming your new baseball park "Globe Life Field" when the "old", now multi-purpose field is called "Globe Life Park", is really frickin' confusing. All in the name of retractable roofs, and air conditioning.

The Rangers are 11-19 this season and sit two games ahead of the bottom-feeding Angels in the AL West. They're 1-9 over their last 10, whereas the Dodgers have won 10 of their last 12. And the Dodgers are gifting Texas with our presence on Jackie Robinson Day, which really should have been a home game for us. Everything just seems weird about this, right?

Words from Jackie Robinson Narrated by Mookie Betts

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Series Thread (Games 31-33): Aug 25-27 @ Giants

The Giants DFAd Hunter Pence on Sunday (.096 average), but he already hurt Johnny Cueto on August 8 by spoiling his no-hitter bid. On Tuesday, there will be no Hunter Pence. Is this Cueto's time for Cueto's first no-hitter?!

Tues 8/25 6:45p: Urias vs. Cueto
Wed 8/26 6.45p: Kerhsaw vs. Gausman
Thu 8/27 5p: Buehler vs. Webb

Halfway through the season, and the Dodgers are 22-8 (best record in baseball) with a league-high four game lead over their closest opponent. But those statistics are biased seeing how this year's geographically-managed schedule forbids us from playing anyone out of either the NL or AL West. So it's way too early to get cocky--thirty games in may be halfway through this insane MLB season, but there's still plenty of time for storylines to change.

Which brings us to this series in San Francisco, where the Giants play better (they're 8-6 at home vs. a 6-10 record on the road) and the seagulls can defacate on any of the few fans willing to embarrass themselves with a cardboard cutout (to be fair, they're only $99 each, a discount to the Dodgers' pricing). I'd like to get out of this series without getting shit on, either. In that way, at least, Hunter Pence is way ahead of everyone.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Series Thread (Games 28-30): Aug 21-23 vs Rockies

Fri 6.30p: Walker Buehler vs. Jon Gray
Sat 6p: Dustin May vs. Kyle Freeland
Sun 1p: Ross Stripling vs. Antonio Senzatela

The Rockies were leading the NL West for a while there, before being overtaken by San Diego (four-game win streak, coupled with Colorado's four-game loss streak). Meanwhile, the Dodgers, boosted by Clayton Kershaw's excellent performance yesterday, have now gone all nine series without a series loss. This one looks to be scary on paper, though, with both Buehler and Stripling struggling to delivery quality starts.

On the flipside, being back at home might be the perfect place for Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy to try and break the Mendoza line. Let's see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

"Series" Thread (Games 26-27): Aug 19-20 @ Mariners

Wed 6.30p: Julio Urias vs. Taijuan Walker
Thu 4p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Yusei Kikuchi

Come, as you are, to Seattle. The Dodgers come with the major's best win streak (at seven games), against the team with the second-worst loss streak (also at seven games), an opponent with whom we should be comfortable by now. The Dodgers have won both slugfests and pitching duels, and little brother Corey (4-for-8, 4 RBI) seems to be barely outplaying his brother Kyle (also 4-for-8, with 3 RBI).

Not to mention our lineup, carrying Mookie Betts in the outfield; swear, he don't have a gun. It just seems that way after outfield assists like these (July 31, 2020):

Dodgers have a four-game lead in the NL West and seem unstoppable. No grungy nightclubs while up there, boys.

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Series" Thread (Games 24-25): Aug 17-18 vs. Mariners

Surely all this has to come crashing down, right?

Mon 8.17 6.30p: Ross Stripling (3-1, 3.97) vs. Justin Dunn (1-1, 4.85)
Tue 8.18 4p: Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Gonzalez (2-2, 3.97)

The Dodgers have won five in a row, including this weekend's sweep of the Angels on the road. Sunday's win even overcame some early game baserunning blunders by breaking out the whupping sticks for another four home runs (Dodgers lead the league with 43 HR). The Dodgers' +60 run differential is almost twice as much as the #2 team (Twins and Yankees, both tied at +35). And even resident LAT grump Dylan Hernandez posted a nice valentine column on the impact of Mookie Betts.

I honestly don't know what to think here. Years of disappointment have me steeled to what's to come. But here we are, almost halfway through the shortened season, and the Dodgers actually look...pretty good. I know this can't last, and honestly, I'm a little scared to even have a shred of happiness over what's transpired so far.

I guess you can say, I've been Gonsolin, being down don't bother me.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Series Thread (Games 21-23): Aug 14-16 @ Angels

Congrats on your latest Silver Slugger, Mookie! (Better make a macro for that line.)

Fri, 6:30p: Clayton Kershaw vs Patrick Sandoval
Sat, 6:30p: Walker Buehler vs Andrew Heaney
Sun, 1p: Dustin May vs Julio Teheran

So, Mike Trout. Best player in baseball. Hands down. I'm a certified Mookiehead and in awe of Aaron Judge, but Trout's dominance is indisputable.

The rest of the Angels? Well, put it this way: Arte Moreno didn't think adding Ross Stripling to his team "would make much of a difference." The Angels' pitching staff has a 4.54 ERA, 22nd in MLB.

But! Do the Dodgers play the Angels well? They do not. I'm not going to look up stats to back up my totally irrational hunch; just trust me on this one. But we have our top three pitchers going and Mookie and A.J. Pollack (!) carrying the offense. But, Mike Trout HEAD EXPLODES

Monday, August 10, 2020

Series Thread (Games 17-20): August 10-13 vs. Padres


The Dodgers are mashing like it's Home Run Derby (which is canceled this year--probably a good thing until they figure out how to manage those insanely wide fan sections down the first base line (field level is especially absurd))

Mon 8/10: Dustin May (1-0, 2.63) vs. Garrett Richards (0-1. 4.60)
Tues 8/11: Ross Stripling (3-0, 4.00) vs. Luis Perdomo (0-0, 5.40)
Wed 8/12: Julio Urias (1-0, 2.40) vs. Zach Davies (2-1. 2.87)
Thu 8/13: Clayton Kershaw (1-1, 3.60) vs. Chris Paddack (2-1, 3.18)
All games @6.30p

Two late-inning bombs on Sunday afternoon not only won us the game and series against San Francisco, but they extended the Dodgers' streak of games with a HR to 11 straight games, which the radio post-game show said led the majors. Despite their vaunted mashing, the interesting thing is that the Dodgers, with their fifth-best record in the majors, still haven't clicked on offense yet: Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Austin Barnes all sit with batting averages below .200, and only A.J. Pollock has an average above .300. Jack Harris of the LAT notes that the Dodgers are tied for the major league lead in HR, but are 14th in team batting average.

Is this a sign of fluky swinging for the fences giving us some positive breaks, while we wait for the engine to start firing on all cylinders? Will we be even more potent once the bats come back, and we're not so reliant upon the longball for victories? With over a quarter of this "season" already complete, there's not a lot of margin for much more error.

In positive news, we've seen Mookie Betts get his swing back, inching up from that .200 average in late July closer to .300 now (Mookie had a three-run HR yesterday, to match Pollock's three-run shot). I can't imagine Muncy and Bellinger bottom feeding for much longer (Barnes, on the other hand, gives me less hope). This four-game series with San Diego is due for one of those guys to break out.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Series Thread (Games 14-16): August 7-9 vs. Giants

Couldn't find a gif with the incredible CT3 throw to nail Padre tying run Trent Grisham at the plate for the final out. Instead, here's the happy aftermath celebration from his game-saving 93.3mph cannon shot.

Fri 8/7 6.30p: Julio Urias (1-0, 2.45) vs. Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 9.31)
Sat 8/8 6p: Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 0.00) vs. Johnny Cueto (0-0. 4.97)
Sun 8/9 1p: Walker Buehler (0-0, 5.19) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-1, 5.27)

What would normally be a weak series between a powerhouse and punching bag, suddenly tees up with some excellent pitching matchups all weekend long. Kershaw vs. Cueto is the heavyweight title bout on the card, but it will also be interesting to see if Urias can go a little bit deeper than his five-inning start vs. SF in July; as well as if Buheler can shake his early-season jitters (5 ER in 8.2 IP).

This would normally be a perfect weekend series that I'd attend at least two games. Alas, I'm watching at home again. At least the beer is cheaper.

Let's go, Dodgers!

Monday, August 03, 2020

Series Thread (Games 11-13): Aug 3-5 @ Padres

Mookie sends love to you! And the Dodgers! But not to John Henry!

Mon, 6p: Walker Buehler vs Chris Paddack
Tues, 6p: Dustin May vs Dinelson Lamet
Wed, 6p: Ross Stripling vs Garrett Richards

Let's get the bad news out of the way: Commissioner Rob Manfred, who previously derided the World Series championship trophy that bears the title of his office, recently implied that players choosing to opt out this season for safety reasons were "quitters".

Also — brace yourselves — we're still stuck in the hellscape that is 2020.

The good news: The 2020 Dodgers (7-3) appear to be coalescing into a powerhouse. They lead the NL in home runs (17); the bullpen, while not perfect, has shown encouraging consistency; and Clayton Kershaw impressed in his season debut yesterday, which gives us hope that he and Walker Buehler can lead the rotation.

But let's not sleep on the Padres (6-4), who feature rising superstar Fernando Tatís Jr. and old friend Manny Machado. Not to mention starters that generally own us, although I can't understand for the life of me why they traded Dodger-killer Eric Lauer (to the Brewers).

In any case, Game On! Enjoy baseball (while it lasts)!