Author Archives: sguppies

New Dodger Bullpen Arm?

The Dodger bullpen could soon be cutting off one beleaguered arm and replacing it with that of the team’s hot #4 prospect. I’m talking about Frankie Montas, the 23-year-old flame-thrower the Dodgers acquired from the Chicago White Sox last winter.

Montas seems well-recovered from his February rib bisection surgery, and looks ready to make the jump from AAA Oklahoma City when he is eligible to come off the 60-day D.L. the first week of June. In nearly two weeks split between AA Tulsa and OKC, Montas has compiled a 0.88 WHIP, struck out 9, walked 1, and has throw some high 90s heat (even hitting triple digits a few times).

It has been a small sample-size of only 4 games and 5.2 innings, but with the way Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez have been throwing this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Dodgers cut one of these guys and give Montas a shot at helping revive the struggling bullpen. Hatcher should be on the chopping block first with his constant inability to get outs and his head looking totally out of order, but Baez is likely to get the bad news since he still can be optioned to the minors and Hatcher would have to be cut altogether (really, would this be so bad?).

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Is Justin Turner Playing Hurt?

With the first month of the season nearly behind us, I think we need consider that something might be wrong with Dodger third baseman, Justin Turner. In the early-going, we could go with “he’s just slumping” out of the gates; but now, 22 games in, you begin to realize you can’t keep making excuses for him. Something is not right with J.T.

To date, Turner’s slash line is way down (Now: .250/.333/.338 vs Last Season: 294/.370/.491). In 68 ABs he has not yet hit a home run, and he only has 5 RBIs. He’s also already made 2 errors at third base in only 20 games; last year, he made 9 total miscues there in 100 games.

So what’s up with J.T.? The Dodgers aren’t publicly saying anything about Turner’s health, but you can see he doesn’t look like himself at the plate or on the field…

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What Is Making The Dodgers Tick?

They’ve only been at it for about two weeks, but I really like the way the Dodgers are playing ball this season. Led by rookie manager Dave Roberts, the Dodgers look and feel and act like a TEAM. Pardon me if I am excited by something that should be a given in this sport, but the Dodgers haven’t played as a 25-man unit since the last time they won the World Series in 1988. What’s changed and why? Here are the main reasons so far.

The New Puig

As I mentioned in a Spring Training post, Yasiel Puig came to camp with a whole new outlook, thanks in part to Roberts wiping the slate clean, and also because he needs to prove himself this season. I also believe his command of English is much better and therefore he feels more a part of the crew. He shed 15 pounds and has that Bo Jackson-like speed back, running the bases like a bull and getting to every outfield ball. The difference is that he is playing with that fire again, but under control. He is hitting the cut-off guy, taking extra bases with a bit more care, and waiting for good pitches to hit. The result is just the kind of start the Dodgers needed him to have (.356 avg., .442 OBP, 9 runs scored, 5 RBIs) to spark the team like only he can.

Ki-ké, Ki-ké, Ki-ke

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Dodger ‘Pen Looking Ugly

Seven games into the 2016 season, and the Dodger bullpen looks ugly. Really ugly. The only reliever the team can count on is closer Kenley Jansen, who is his usual un-hittable self with two saves in two chances. The entire rest of the ‘pen came ripping apart in the San Francisco series, giving management a very disturbing preview of what could be lurking down there this season.

After a season-opening three-game sweep of the Padres where the Dodger bullpen wasn’t needed much, you knew its first real test would be against the Giants. Besides the third game of the series, which saw some decent late work from Chris Hatcher (more of an escape-act) and Jansen slamming the door, the relief corps couldn’t have looked more inept. Smells a lot like last season. Here we go again…

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Puig: No Bravado, Just Baseball

The Dodgers have come blasting out of the opening gates, and the “Wild Horse,” Yasiel Puig, is leading the charge. In the first two games, Puig has been on base in 6 out of 8 at-bats, including a Little League home run as well as an easy three-bagger, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch where he didn’t even so much as glance at the pitcher (first time ever?). He has also knocked in 3 runs and scored 4. Puig showed us this explosiveness when he first hit the scene in 2013, but there is something different about this Yasiel, and it could be the key to the Dodgers’ season…

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2016 Dodgers vs Giants

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Dodgers versus Giants. Long-standing, time-honored rivalry of blood. Which team holds the edge on the field in 2016? Who is the better player at each position? Time is running short before the season kicks off, so let’s break it down.

 

The Ace:

MadBum or Kershaw? Of course, Madison Bumgarner has three World Series rings and that is impressive. However, despite those three rings, MadBum has zero Cy Young awards to Clayton Kershaw’s three. More importantly, last year Kershaw’s numbers were better, proving the theory that his arm is far fresher; MadBum has pitched 352 more innings over their respective careers, and history has shown time and again that there is a finite number of pitches in a major league arm. 

Advantage: Dodgers (1 point).

 

Rest of Starting Rotation:

Numbers 2 – 5 are actually close for the two teams. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kasmir have had their ups and downs; if Cueto is back to the dominating pitcher of old (not his 2015 second-half self), he tops Kasmir. Dodger Japanese import Kenta Maeda looks to be making an excellent transition and figures to be better than Jeff Samardzija, who is coming off a terrible season (why did the Giants pay this guy so much money?). Jake Peavy and Alex Wood seem to cancel each other out with the 34-year-old Peavy on his way out and primed to get hurt again, and the young Wood still trying to find himself…

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Dodgers Closing In On 2016 Roster

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Who will make the final cut this season?

As the Dodgers are getting ready to break camp on Wednesday and head home to begin the annual Freeway Series with the Angels, it is a perfect time to speculate on the final 25-man roster. Team officials are surely losing sleep over all of the injuries the team has endured throughout spring training and are crossing fingers the blood-letting is over. The 14-car pile-up that is the Dodgers current injury list (yes, that many) could make for some interesting roster decisions.

 

Starting Pitching Staff (5 spots)

One through four is an easy call with ace Clayton Kershaw (great spring, raring to go as usual) leading the way, followed by Scott Kazmir (luckily his abdominal issue turned out only to be a dehydration cramp the other day), then a very solid looking Kenta Maeda, an ever-improving Alex Wood, followed by, drum roll, please…the insert-a-new-name-every-five-days-guy. I am only half-kidding. Due to injuries to #5 frontrunners, Mike Bolsinger (left oblique), and Brandon Beachy (left arm soreness), and no clearcut winner for the job between Carlos Frias and Zach Lee, it looks like we will get a combination of the two depending upon match-ups. Then when Bolsinger and Beachy are ready, they, too, will probably join the #5 parade. This sounds a lot like last year’s “drive to find number five,” which was pretty much a disaster…

 

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Dodgers Dropping Like Flies

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Dodgers are feeling the pain.

If you’re a Dodger fan and you’re squeamish, you might want to avert your eyes. As Opening Day approaches, the injuries are coming in at a freakish clip, which is not something a club wants to see this close to breaking camp. All the depth the front office has been stockpiling might very well get tested earlier than expected.

Candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation are on a downward spiral. 

Training camp barely began when the Dodger pitching staff started taking a hit. First to go down was Brett Anderson with back surgery. So Alex Wood moved up to occupy Anderson’s fourth slot, and then promptly felt tightness in his left forearm. He missed one start and then returned, but it’s hard to tell if he’s really healthy since he revealed he was secretly playing with a sore ankle pretty much from the day he arrived last season in the trade with the Braves. Fishy. Then the Hyun-Jin Ryu setbacks started up, and it’s deja- vu, you know, that feeling when the team keeps on pushing back his return timetable until it finally announces he needs surgery…again. Let’s hope not. The team says it will be at least June before Ryu sees a major league mound, so the fifth slot, just like last season, is a black hole.

In the early-going, it was fun watching guys compete for the #5, now it’s just scary. 

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