I know many of you will read the title of this article and laugh. Some of you will get angry with me. The people who will get angry will think it is ridiculous, so allow me to explain the reasoning. As I write this the Dodgers are currently losing to the Dbacks in Arizona 6-3 in the second game of their three game series. The Dodgers are 8-9 on the season through their first 17 games and sit in third place in the National League west.
Honestly they should feel lucky to even have 8 wins this year and let me remind everyone that three of them were against the Padres in the opening series. They are unlikely to win tonight even more unlikely to win tomorrow, or the next day. Unless Clayton Kershaw is pitching of course and even then nothing is guaranteed even if Kersh throws a shutout. Kenta Maeda has gotten off to an absolutely miserable start to the season. He’s the starting hurler on the mound tonight, and unsurprisingly the Dodger bullpen has been taxed already.
The rotation is where I will begin with because it’s been another disaster thus far. Again I know it’s only been 17 games into the season, yet the problems from last year remain. None of the starters can pitch past the fifth inning in any of their starts, except for Kershaw. Maeda has been horrendous, and Rich Hill one again has another blister, and has pitched in only two games this year. Brandon McCarthy has been good as he returns from Tommy John surgery, but he can’t get past the fifth inning. The Dodgers rank 24 out of the 30 teams in starting pitcher’s innings. The starters have thrown only 91 innings. That means the Dodger starters are averaging only 5.3 innings per start.
If you don’t understand how important getting innings out of your starters are, then I’ll explain it to you. Innings are probably the single most important thing that your rotation can provide. If the starters can’t go deep into games it puts an unfair workload on your bullpen. So it’s not surprising to me when the Dodger relievers gave up 9 runs in a historically awful inning to the dbacks in Friday evening’s 13-5 Loss in the series opener.
You can’t expect your bullpen to pitch that many innings every night. I don’t care if the game is changing and starting pitchers are pitching less and less. It’s not a conducive strategy for winning and never will be. The Dodgers got away with it last year, but they might not be so lucky this year. Using 7 pitchers per game and making the bullpen toss 4-5 innings per night because management refuses to acquire actual starters that can go deep into games is a recipe for failure. Surprise, surprise, the Dodgers are already failing. The Dodger bullpen has been fantastic this year, but how long can that last when they are expected to pitch 5-6 innings per night? Their arms will be falling off by August.
It’s not surprising to me that the club is now going to rush youngster Julio Urias into the major league rotation. Their entire plan is and was a failure. As I have already written on this blog before deciding to leave Urias in Glendale for extended spring training and then send him to Oklahoma City to begin the season so that the walking wounded and incompetent could be in the rotation was a very foolish decision. Now with Hill sidelined, Maeda awful, Hyun-jin Ryu cooked, and Alex Wood unable to pitch more than 3 or 4 innings they have no choice but to call up Urias. Sure maybe you can say that it was better for his development, but you can still limit his innings at the big league level while he learns on the job. Otherwise the big league club continues to suffer, and continue to lose.
Oh and lose they will. Let me tell you. Because with their rotation an innings challenged mess, the bats aren’t much better. Most of the lack of offensive problems can be blamed on management. With the highest payroll in baseball and the richest resources in all the game, the Dodgers could have all-stars at every position. They very nearly do.
Corey Seager, and Justin Turner are two of the best hitters in the game at their position. Both are perennial MVP candidates. Yasmani Grandal, and Joc Pederson are power bats, and Yasiel Puig is seemingly off to a great start. Perhaps he is finally utilizing his delicious talent. Adrian Gonzalez may be getting old, but he’s still a dangerous hitter. So what did the lineup look like for tonight’s second game against Arizona? Let me show you….
Dodgers Lineup vs. Arizona-4-22-17
Van Slyke 1B
Andrew Friedman’s biggest fantasy has now become a reality. The Dodger lineup is now nearly entirely constructed with career minor leaguers, utility players, and journeymen. Now all they have to do is call up Bobby Wilson, and play Darnell Sweeney at third base and they’ll really be in business.
Management has decided that it’s far too easy to put your regular eight players in the lineup every night. It’s much smarter and clever to not play your regulars and instead play utility players and guys that are unable to hit water if they fell out of a boat.
The Dodgers are still unable to hit left handed pitching, but is that the fault of the regulars? The Dodgers rank 25 out of the 30 clubs against southpaws and are batting .215. Kike Hernandez is batting .238 against left handers this year, and batted .189 in 2016. Scott Van Slyke is batting .143 overall and is 3 for 18 (.167) against left handers this season. These are two of the “lefty mashing” crew the Dodgers are playing every other night which also consist of Chris Taylor, and now Brett Eibner. Kike Hernandez is now the lead-off hitter again. I knew it wouldn’t be long until he was batting lead-off nearly every game.
If the Dodgers are so bad against left handers, and the utility players play every game against left handers, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the problem is actually the utility guys and not the regulars? You should always put your best hitters in the lineup every game, no matter what. I don’t care what the “new data” says. If you do that you’ll probably win more often than you lose. The problem is the solution for the Dodgers.
I have no idea how long management plans on doing this for. They did this for the entire season in 2016. The Dodgers had some big time luck go their way in 2016 in order to get all the way to the NLCS. I’m not saying they weren’t a good club, but they could have been so much better. The Dodgers were lucky that the Giants suffered one of the worst second half collapses in MLB history. They were lucky to get Clayton Kershaw back when they did.
They may not have as much misfortune this time around. You can get mad at me all you want, but I think we all know this how it’s been going. It’s the same song and dance as last year. With a weak rotation, a gassed bullpen and management’s infuriating love for playing Mendoza line hitting utility bats don’t expect for the Dodgers to win many games in April, or May. Nope, the Dodgers are perfectly content with losing all of these April games.
With these failed strategies, they will keep on losin’