Clayton Kershaw Returns, Dodgers Lose Strange Game, and perhaps Kershaw

the Dodgers Nation was energized by the speedy return of Clayton Kershaw from the Disabled List, a rare weekday afternoon start at Chavez Ravine and the chance to win their fourth series in a row. Alas, victory was not be had in this strangest of games, and Kershaw may be heading right back to the DL after pitching five innings and giving up only one run – which the Phillies literally never plated.

Clayton Kershaw’s latest time on the DL was due to left biceps tendinitis. He returned quickly, some felt too much so, and had a decent outing despite the fact his fastball sat at 87-88 most of the afternoon. He had the benefit of a high strike zone and a good curveball to get him through five innings. The only run scored against him occurred in the second inning, when Maikel Franco came home on a single to center field. Cody Bellinger‘s throw was on the money and reached Yasmani Grandal in time for the out, but Grandal muffed the catch and Franco breezed by him. Trouble was, he also ran right past home plate without actually touching it. The umpire called the runner safe, the Dodgers shrugged “Oh well”, and what turned out to be the winning run was on the board.

The Dodgers were easily handled by Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who went seven innings and only gave up one run.  Enrique Hernandez drove Yasiel Puig home in the fifth with a base hit, and that was all they had.

The tie was broken in the seventh when Jorge Alfaro doubled in a run on a hit that Yasiel Puig lost in the late afternoon sun. He never saw the ball and that was all the Phillies needed to plate their second (first?) run of the day. The Philadelphia bullpen shut the Dodgers offense down for the last two innings and the boys were forced to settle for a series split.

To pile on the bad news, Dave Roberts announced that Kershaw was suffering back tightness and would undergo an MRI tomorrow. The strange bright side of all of this Kershaw drama is the Dodgers don’t really seem to miss Clayton when he’s away, and actually fare better than when he is with the team. What a strange, winding road this season is.

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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50 thoughts on “Clayton Kershaw Returns, Dodgers Lose Strange Game, and perhaps Kershaw

  1. Can someone please let Grandmal know that you don’t have to “frame” the throw to the plate, just catch the damn ball, shit! That is so below average. Seriously, Grandmal must drop throws during light toss before games. Beyond horrible, beyond ridiculous, beyond acceptable. A true clown in a major league uni.

        1. That for all his foibles, his mediocre BA, his slowness of foot, he’s still an above average catcher in this league.

          Whether that’s an indictment on the state of the position or a precursor to “the grass is always greener” is a fun debate.

          1. I would tend to agree with Bluto. But, his caught stealing rate is way below average. Perhaps it is his slow motion to get the jump to throw the ball. He’s only thrown out 5 base stealers! But he’s impoved on passed balls, only 3. Grandal is not our problem this season. No reason to single him out and complain. He’s one of the few batters that has really helped this sluggish team this year.

          2. That’s a great point. Steals, however, are disappearing. I’d bet money the league leader is on something nowhere near a notable or record-contending pace.

            Who is the league leader? Hamilton?

            I’ll go look it up….

            Ender Incarte. Would NOT have guessed that.

          3. I’m of the belief that once teams stop valuing speed completely somebody will step forward and use it again. I know I would. I still don’t understand it to be honest with you. One of the 5 tools is speed. What? … now we only look for 4 tool players? Is there any sport where speed isn’t important?

            Yeah, of course, bowling and curling.

            I would think if there is anyone in baseball that knows the value of speed it would be Dave Roberts.

          4. I’m not sure speed is devalued. I think it undoubtedly is important in fielding and getting on base.

            Speeds =! steals.

            Another interesting read at The Athletic about Stripling:

            Ross Stripling has found an unusual path to success by deferring to the data

            “I don’t care about average,” Stripling said. “I just want to know where he pulls the ball at 100 mph. I’m a believer in limiting slug, which is basically limiting exit velocity.”

            This being 2018, Stripling is not unique in that regard. He knows other pitchers do the same, probably some in more advanced ways. He knows that hitters will catch up, perhaps whenever the long-discussed virtual-reality machines are able to simulate specific pitches and render a pitcher’s first time through the order more like his third.

            There’s more obviously.

            And elsewhere, Jayson Stark has this thought starter:

            “The Dodgers,” says one rival exec, “are going to win that division by seven games.”

          5. “Not sure speed is devalued”

            Feels like it in LA. 28th in SB, 26th in SB%. We are 6th in triples, so we have guys who can run. Seems like we are waiting around for the 3 run homer …. or the GDP, which we are pretty good at, 6th in MLB

            7 games huh? Well, hope so. Overcome the dissolution and I could see it. Sure seems like a lot of potholes in our road though.

          6. Hey Badger,

            Again, speed does not mean steals.

            Bellinger is very fast. He can score from 2nd much easier than Kemp or Grandal.

            Similarly Locastro and Toles….

            But obviously, the trend is towards players who can use their speed to get on base by hitting than players who can steal. I mean Altuve and Broxton have great speed, but are valued for their hit tool predominantly..

            https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sprint_speed_leaderboard

          7. That baseball savant link is provided just to show that there are metrics to value speed without using SBs.

            Nothing more, nothing less.

          8. Hey Badger,

            Again, speed does not mean steals.

            Bellinger is very fast. He can score from 2nd much easier than Kemp or Grandal.

            Similarly Locastro and Toles….

            But obviously, the trend is towards players who can use their speed to get on base by hitting than players who can steal. I mean Altuve and Broxton have great speed, but are valued for their hit tool predominantly..

            https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sprint_speed_leaderboard

          9. Been on vacation for a couple of weeks.

            Don’t want to interupt the good discourse taking place.

            But Stripling’s comments are not new to sabermetrics. All pitchers want to know where a player prefers to hit a pitch. Are they pull hitters or do they go with the pitch? THIS IS NOT NEW.

            All pitchers since the beginning of baseball have attempted to not allow the hitter to square up on the pitched baseball ( a la exit velocity.) THIS IS NOT NEW.

            Trying to spin this as some new revelation is really quite remedial (unless of course you never played the game.)

          10. Chili,

            Welcome back.

            We can all try to find an email address for Stripling so you can tell him, but I’m pretty sure he has played the game before. I’m not sure he meant to imply he had invented something, more that he had changed the way he approached pitching.

            It’s a good article, feel free to read the whole thing.

    1. Badger

      Using speed is a good way to break those defensive line ups up, and give hitters, more wholes in the defense to get hits, through the defense.

      Because as you know Badger, the shortstop or second baseman, will have to go cover at second!

      And at third, it is even easier to do that!

      And just by doing that by surprise, you can get average runners, to the next base, at times too, with double steals.

      And that helps avoid double plays.

      1. Putting runners in motion is a way to create holes in the defense, that is true. What hitter on the Dodgers is capable of taking advantage of that? We are not a team of bat control hitters. We are built with exit velocity and and launch angles as our guiding principles.

  2. The game was entirely winnable before it started! Roberts knew his pitcher needed run support after coming back from injury and the lack of run support giving Kershaw his worst start maybe ever. So he doesn’t start 2 of the most productive players, Kemp and Taylor, and give us a weakened lineup. This doesn’t add up in my head. Right handed pitcher, Kemp hits righties. What’s going on here? And, why is Fields coming in before some of the other relievers? Roberts has no sense of orderliness and place amongst the pitching staff. Sending in Baez in a standoff is playing Russian roulette. He did okay, this time. No faith in Roberts, here. We need to win these games and we have to have the best set of pieces lined up to do that. He doesn’t get it no matter what he says.

    Bringing in Jansen to pitch the 9th in a non-save situation would have weakened us if we had tied the score in the bottom of the 9th. Was there no one else to bring in for the hold and keep Jansen for an extra inning save? He used both of his ‘bridges’ before putting in Jansen. What is this logic? Relievers should not be put into games randomly. They should have roles to play in the relief game.

    1. Jeff

      Your right, it doesn’t matter if the pitcher is a rightie or a leftie with Kemp!

      He is a better hitter, then anyone in the outfield, and on the team right now, since Turner has not caught up. yet!

  3. What’s going on here? He’s resting his players so they have a chance to be on the field later in the season. I think he may be aware this roster is made of glass.

    Kershaw not traveling to Colorado. Wood needs an extra day rest, a bullpen day coming up, and Santana will make his debut. We are 6-4 in our last 10, best in the West and a pace that if kept up will keep us in it. But it sure feels iffy doesn’t it.

      1. Package

        I didn’t know Nola was the Phillies best pitcher, or I would have been as adamant as you were yesterday, about that line up!

        You were right to be upset yesterday, about Kemp not being in the line up!

        Like I told Badger when we were facing Arrieta, non of these average 250 hitters and below, are going to hit good pitching, and Nola is suppose to be better then Arrieta, so Kemp should have been in that line up!

        He just had a day off, earlier this week.

    1. They’ll rest with the all-star break. Time to kick ass, pedal to the metal. They get paid to perform. Let’s rock & roll, Dodgers!!

      1. Just checked 538 odds. Not what I expected. We are 33% to win the Division. (Arizona is 36%). Projected 84 wins, only 40% to make playoffs, 5% to win W.S., which puts us 7th, 3rd in NL tied with Brewers. So I ask, at what % come July 31st do we become sellers?

        1. IMO 20% or less and they become sellers.

          But I think the Dodgers with their ‘money and resources’ will win this Division. Now if the Rockies would sweep this weekend I might have a change of opinion but I dont see that happening.

          Both the Rockies and D-backs have squander an opportunity to put the Dodgers away. When you do not knock out the Champ when you have the chance, that usually doesn’t bode well.

    2. Badger

      That was one heck of a way, to lose a game!

      First the umpire should have never gave the safe sign, and now I just heard that Grandal asked the umpire if Franco ever touched the plate, and the ump said yes.

      And of course the Dodger film guy should have seen that Franco missed the plate, and got on the phone to Roberts and his bench coach, so Kershaw didn’t throw his next pitch, until that play was reviewed.

      But I don’t know if that is a reviewble play, but I would think it is, because it is about scoring.

      And then Puig doesn’t see the ball, and I only question that, because Puig is use to playing in LA during that time, and we didn’t see anyone the Phillie outfielders, having trouble seeing balls, hit into the outfield yesterday.

      And since Grandal did ask the umpire if Franco touched the plate, that game should have been under protest.

        1. Badger

          The eye in the sky, only has one job to do, what happened to him?

          Talk about a kick back job, at least until the eye in the sky, misses a play.

          1. Roberts happened. It’s his job to challenge. Also the ump blew it. He signaled safe. You don’t do that if the guy doesn’t touch the plate

            Bluto, I disagree about speed not being steals. It’s been accepted knowledge (until recently maybe) that a base stealer on first changes the the dynamics of the defense. The pitcher can lose focus paying attention to that guy on first. Stealing puts a single, a walk, a HBP, FC, on by error….. in scoring position. Maury Wills scored 130 runs the year he stole 104. I wonder how many of those runs were scored from second after a steal. I remember that year. It was exciting anticipating Maury stealing. Add that excitement to the list of things today’s young Dodgers fan will never experience.

          2. I wouldn’t argue any of that. Except for maybe the distraction of pitchers. That, to me, would be an extremely rare occurrence to really matter.

            But, I’d say that excitement doesn’t excite the current decision makers. I’m not sure exactly why steals are so down (so too is the pitch-out, the sacrifice, etc.) but I wouldn’t be surprised if the risk wasn’t worth the reward.

            What I was trying to say Badger is that speed still has value in baseball, while the value of steals seems to be waning.

          3. I just read in an artist “how to calculate baseball WAR” and speed was mentioned….

            “Speed: You can judge an individual player’s speed against the league average by measuring several different categories. Stolen bases, caught stealing, ground ball double plays, and extra bases taken all factor into this figure. You will have to examine play-by-play records to determine a player’s effectiveness in taking extra bases. Compare the player’s statistics to the league average in the other categories. The results yield a figure above or below the league average that you add to the batting runs number.”

            The first thing mentioned after Speed was steals. Some of that other stuff sounds subjective. How do apply an algorithm to subjective thought?

        2. Badger
          On that play, did the umpire see it? I would have thought he was out of the baseline and out. Why would it have to be reviewed unless they did not see it. Was he called safe? I did not see them call him safe.

          1. He was about 5’ from home plate staring right at it. The runner missed home plate by a foot, so he wasn’t out of the baseline. By rule the runner isn’t safe until he touches home plate, so the ump was wrong. He either didn’t see it, which is hard to believe, or he screwed up, which is easy to believe.

  4. I think we are talking past each other.

    I like steals. Dave Roberts helped break the curse with a steal. I loved Tim Raines!

    I just think steals are a diminishing presence in the game and there are other ways of valuing speeed.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  5. That’s my beef with sabermetrics, a lot of the individual metrics are subjective, and then they are combined for the sabremetric.
    It looks a lot like CDO’s, CDS’s, CBP, FNO’s. Remember those? That was what all the Ivy League whiz created for the financial meltdown. To me it sometimes seems like they left Wall Street with their money and decided to play baseball, but not actually play it, just manipulate it.

    1. Tim
      You are a man after my own heart. Yeah, it does sound like they decided to manipulate baseball. You say manipulate, I say ruin. They are definitely aggravating.

      1. I didn’t just allow Santana to start this game.

        Having our reliever starting the game, doesn’t take the nerves away, and at least he would have started in a clean inning, with no one on base.

    2. I went to an Ivy League school!

      Watch it.

      But seriously, trying to compare advanced analytics in baseball to debt obligations is stupid and foundation less.

      1. But seriously, if you went to any school, and that would include an Ivy League school, you would know you can compare and contrast anything. Your comment tells me no matter what school you may have attended, they didn’t teach you any manners.

        By the way, I believe foundationless is one word.

        1. CDOs are amalgamations of collateral and debt used in finance. They were openly traded and led to a recession.

          Analytics are simply that analytical devices used to evaluate performance.

          Go ahead and show me how to make that comparison.

          Fair comment about my manners online.

          I stand corrected on that word, thanks!

          See? Some manners.

      1. Friedman did not play college baseball.

        Not 1 game.

        He was an ‘average’ high school player and in the fall of his freshman year decided to walk on the team to see how he rated. College baseball is played in the Spring. He was never on the roster.

        1. He subsequently attended Tulane University on a baseball scholarship, where he played center field for the Green Wave but was hit by a pitch that broke his left hand in the fall of his freshman year, and then after returning from that injury the following year separated his left shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base.[5][6] He earned a B.S. in management with a concentration in finance at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business in 1999.[5][7]

          1. Of course thats in his bio….gotta make it sound good.

            Here’s a direct quote from Andrew Friedman. “When I got to college, I quickly realized that everyone else on the field was a lot better than I was. …

            That really sounds like a scholarship player.

            Here’s another quote that supports my claim. His HS coach even clarifies that as a senior he started in CF.

            “His senior year, he started in center field,” Russ said. With no stats provided just generalized statements made.

            Most college scholarship baseball players are starting multiple years in HS.

            Of course he got hurt. I’ve seen that story play out before. Not good enough, time to blame it on some other reason.

            Do you know how many baseball scholarships are awarded at the D-1 level?

            And you really think that he received one coming out of HS?

            Based on his position alone I can tell you that is BS.

            So how many games did this highly touted, scholarship baseball player play at Tulane, you know, real games?

            Please tell me.

            And its interesting how this article never mentions a baseball scholarship.

            http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-andrew-friedman-20141106-story.html

    1. Badger

      Don’t put yourself on the line, but I think he is pitching pretty well, considering everything.

      I remember when Mattingly had Frias make his first start at Coors.

      And Mattingly didn’t send anyone in to talk to Frias, until six runs had scored, in the first inning.

      Is Charlie talking to himself, or us?

      1. Yeah, I’m sure I might have said something along those lines.

        Santana has some wicked stuff. The Rockies succeeded in clobbering mistakes. Note to Dennis: don’t throw it over the middle of the plate.

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