Dodgers Are Very Content To Lose in April

Kike Hernandez

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

Hernandez SS

Taylor 2B

Turner 3B

Puig RF

Van Slyke 1B

Pederson CF

Barnes C

Eibner LF

Maeda P

 

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’

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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43 thoughts on “Dodgers Are Very Content To Lose in April

  1. The three best Dodgers on the field tonight were Barnes, Taylor and Kike. Maybe the subs should start. The worst were Joc and Maeda. In fact I would include Joc in any trade package. It is Joc’s third year and I just do not see any improvement. Bellinger and Verdugo has to be better than Joc.

    1. And if you traded Joc you would be an idiot. You are basing this on 1 bad game after he had a pretty good game and his bad game is against a lefty? Get serious. He is one of the best young power hitters in the big leagues. We are less than 3 weeks into the season and you want to trade him. You had better package Gonzo, Grandal, Utley, SVS, and Toles with him. Nobody on the team save Turner and Seager are hitting anywhere close to what they should be. The onus on this team is on the starting pitching and the last 2 nights, the bullpen. He is hitting in almost a different spot in the order every night. Some continuity in the lineups would benefit everyone, but FAZ does not like that kind of baseball, he prefers matchups and graphs, and stats, and he likes his manager to be like minded.

  2. Oh I don’t know. Maeda held them to 6 after giving up 4 home runs. It could be worse.

    You ended a sentence with a preposition.

    Still in this one. 6-5 with 3 innings to go. Ok, 2.2 to go.

    As you know, I agree with most of what you’ve said here. The platoons are boring and our starting pitching is 80% flat. Not worth the price of admission on most nights.

    1. Good catch. I didn’t notice that. But then, I’m not a nit picker…

      I have no idea how long management plans on doing this for.

  3. Scott,

    What is so fantastic about our bullpen? Hatcher? Romo? They have done next to nothing. Okay, I agree that the starting rotation is feeble and puts pressure on them. But, come on, man, these guys are paid to play, and play well. They are pros, remember?

    It all comes down to the pitching choices made by FAZ & CIE who really don’t know much about pitching at all! Judging by the disasters this team has faced, they still have learned nothing about acquiring good pitching.

    1. Until this series the bullpen was pretty good. They were a top 5 pen with an ERA around 2.5. They will get worn out quickly at the rate they pitch. Good thing we have all that depth,
      eh?

  4. The Braintrust believes that starting pitching is overrated and overvalued so they don’t care if they have a 3rd starter who can throw 7 innings of 2 or 3 run ball – it’s quantity over quality. Or, as some put it, “depth”. So how is that depth?

    Kazmir – DL
    Stewart – DL
    Hill – 1 -1 3.38, 2 starts, 8 IP, 1.50 WHIP
    Ryu – 0 – 3, 5.87, 15 ip, 1.50 WHIP
    Maeda – 1 – 1, (so far), 8.05, 18 IP, 1.53 WHIP
    Urias – pitching his innings in the minors instead of the majors – minor league innings don’t count against arm wear and tear I guess.

    And Scott is correct – non-Kershaw starters are averaging 4.7 IP/start. The ‘pen won’t survive this. That’s why the likes of Hatcher has to pitch multiple innings in a 1 run game.

    1. Starting pitching being overrated and overvalued. That has to be one of the dumbest things ever said by a baseball executive.

      Here’s what should be said…..Friedman is overrated AND overvalued!

  5. Dodger starters going 6:
    2011 – 109 games
    2014 – 107 games
    2012 – 105 games
    2015 – 102 games
    2010 – 101 games
    2013 – 100 games
    2016 – 66 games

    1. And what does that show?

      When did Grienke leave the team?

      Hmmmm. Evidently he really wasn’t replaced.

      And since Grienke didn’t accept their 5 year offer of $170M, now starting pitching is overrated and overvalued.

      Can you say politician?

        1. Or do our starters get ‘participation’ points. If our starter actually starts the game, that’s a .1 WAR. If they make it through 5 innings, thats another .2 WAR. IF they pitch into the 6th inning and leave giving up 3 or less runs (yes, giving up 3 runs through 5 would equate to a pedestrian 5.40) that would be another .2 WAR…..I think MAYBE a few of our pitchers could do that 6 times this year….. 3 WAR, yep, thats the formula for success.

          1. There were a few pitchers around the league that pitched 120 innings or less and put up between 2.5 and 3.8 WAR. Rich Hill, 110 and 3.8. FAZ wants those guys because they sign 3-4 year contracts, or less, and don’t cost as much as the real horses around the league. I think they were happy with what the starters did last year – 29th in IP but 6th in ERA. They did nothing to improve the rotation because they didn’t think it needed to be improved.

          2. RICH hill had a career year last year. I wonder why. I wonder why he would say the blister last year was ‘nothing.’ Who would be dumb enough to listen to that and ignore the previous 12 years?

            Hmmm.

    2. Bluto

      I would like to see the figures on only the top three starting pitchers, during that same time.

      And I would also like to see the numbers on four and five pitchers, during this same time.

      And I would like to know how deep in games, did the number one, two, and three pitchers averaged during that same time too.

  6. With all of our SP studs, have they drew sticks yet to see who is going to take the ball tomorrow. With all of this SP depth assembled by this Championship front office it really should not be an issue as to who takes the ball.

    With this Championship constructed staff the challenge is outperforming the other stud SP’s on the roster, not the opposing teams lineup.

  7. Maeda and A-Gon are problems. I don’t think it’s too early to say that, as they are clearly off their game by a lot. Maeda was pitching on extra day’s rest too. I don’t know what the fix is, but I don’t think letting them play out of their funk is the answer.

    1. What else can they do? I doubt there is anyone coming to the rescue. I’m sure the wires, the infirmaries, the Mexican Leagues, the international market, the semi pro leagues, the trade market are all being scoured, but anybody that might be better is already working. Urias has thrown 14 of his 150 already so if he’s to be ready in October he has to nev treated gently. Jurrjens has a 3.76 ERA against minor leaguers, is averaging 5+ innings per outing, also leads the team in giving up home runs with 3. I think he’d get clobbered in the bigs.

      This is our team. For better or worse, this is it. McCarthy today. Maybe he can squeeze out a quality start. We are 28th in the league in that stat, which should come as a surprise to nobody. By the way, we have taken a serious hit in in sortable team pitching stats dropping to 26th in team ERA. This MUST improve. And if it doesn’t we must hit better. Currently we are 12th in runs scored, 11th in avg. We have third place stats across the board. So far a rather pedestrian performance for the highest paid team in MLB.

    2. YF

      I would call Hill a problem too.

      Because he is questionable, and because of that, we mainly have only number four and five pitchers, that can’t pitch beyond five innings.

      And Maeda isn’t pitching well at all, so he isn’t even like a number five pitcher right now, because of this.

      But I would like to see how he pitches next time, against a different team.

      Because I noticed last year, that the Dbacks hit him harder, then any other team, he faced.

      McCarthy has pitched decently, but he is no pitcher, to count on, with his injury history.

      And McCarthy won’t pitch like a number three pitcher, all of the time.

      I thought Hill was suppose to be pitching in AAA, to see how he will hold up, with his blister problem.

      But I saw him in the dugout, last night.

  8. Michael

    One good night (2 hits) and you think Joc is an all star. A good hitter like Seager and Turner hit lefties and righties. Joc cannot hit lefties. Therefore, at best he is an average hitter. This is Joc’s third year in the majors. I see very little improvement in three years.

    I have said before on this thread that I do not think SVS and Utley should be on this team. Taylor and Segedin are better options. This is basically Toles first year. At least give him some time to improve. I have also said Hatcher and Romo would not be on the team if I was the GM. Both have lost it and other teams do not want them. When you give contracts to players like Utley and Romo, who other teams have let go, you are hoping for one more good year. It usually does not happen. When you keep guys like Hatcher and Avilan because they hav no options, you are putting together a very bad team. When you have two starter who have not pitched on two years, and blister boy, you are hoping a lot of things will go right. Roberts will not put the game in motion. He will not run nor will he hit and run. Sorry, this team does not look good. I am to old for all the stats. I just use my eyeballs.

    1. Utley has been a very productive player on this team. He’s not as good as was during his prime, but his bball IQ is high, and so are his skills. As a backup utility player, he is solid. If he continues to not show up this season, bench him. Taylor, I agree should be given some serious time on the field. He was hot in exhibition and continues to impress during the season. OTOH, i have no solid feeling regarding Segedin and wouldn’t put him in the same category as Taylor. This guy produces. I also feel that Toles should see consistent playing time against both RH & LH pitchers.

    2. Idahoal

      As eveyone knows, I agree with you, about Toles.

      The reason I like Toles for this line up, is because he makes consistent contact, and Grandal and Joc don’t.

      But Grandal is actually hitting righties well this year, so it looks like the hard work, that he put in, in the off season, has really paid off, up to now.

      The thing that frustrates me about Joc, is that he almost never shortens his swing, when runners are on base, or when he has, two strikes.

      Joc is in his third year, but he has struck out, twice as much, as Toles has, in his first year,

      And Joc has not hit with much power yet this season, so he shouldn’t be striking out, at that rate.

      And Toles has actually hit two more HRs then Joc has, at this point in the season.

      What I like about Toles, is that he will adjust his swing, to the different situations, in a game.

      But Joc who is in his third year, still isn’t adjusting his swing much at all, in the different situations in games, and that is, frustrating.

      Two of Toles three HRs, have made a big diffence in games this year, one tied the game, and the other one he hit out, won a game.

      And the team has only been able to get a two out hit, three times, when a runner has been on third base, this year.

      And Toles was the player, that was able to get the two out hit, in two of these instances in a game, when a runner was on third base, with two outs.

      And Toles isn’t starting every game, and he isn’t really, getting consistent at bats, but I think if he did, he would get even better.

      But I don’t think these platoons, are good for most of the players on the team, because not many players, are getting consistent at bats.

      And lately, Kike and the platoon team, are getting more at bats, then both Joc, and Toles are.

      Because teams, are now throwing any leftie pitcher they have, at us.

      And because of that, Kike and company, just recently, started three games in a row.

      And they also started one of the next two games, after those three games in a row, yesterday.

      And during that time period, I believe Joc only started one game, and both Joc and Toles, only got at bats, late in those games, so they are not getting many consistent at bats.

      So it is hard for Joc to start hitting with no consistent at bats, from day to day, and that isn’t helping Toles, or most of the other players, either.

      I wouldn’t put to much in to what Kike has done lately, because he did well early, last year too.

      And it is a fact, that he has been getting more consistent at bats lately, then some of the everyday players, that are platooned.

      And because Kike has hit those two HRs now, pitchers will adjust on him, like they did all last year.

      And it already looked like in yesterday’s game, that the Dbacks pitchers had already made an adjustment, on Kike.

      Because Kike wasn’t getting to many fastballs after he hit that HR, and he didn’t do much in his other at bats, after that.

      And that is how pitchers shut Kike down last year, but Kike never made the adjustment he needed to make last year, and that went on, all season long.

      And that was after he had a pretty good start last year, when he hit those HRs against Bumgarner, early in the season.

    3. So do I Al, and no, I do not think Joc is an All Star, although he made the all star team his first full season in the big leagues. I just think it is way too early in the season to call him a bust and trade him. He started off slow last year too, and had a pretty good second half. I do not like analytics nor saber metrics and I use my eyeballs too. What I have seen is a kid trying to get his head wrapped around all the new things that Turner Ward is having him do. He does not hit lefty’s because he is hardly ever in there against them. Actually this year he is hitting LHP better than he is RH. He is hitting .286 against lefty’s and .182 against RH. He is also hitting much better on the road, .304 than at home, 125. And the AB’s are almost the same. Turner is hitting LHP THIS YEAR, last year he was abysmal. He only hit .204 against lefty’s. But Turner was not a great hitter to begin with, he was a journey man utility player and he has transformed himself into an every day player. Seager is a contact and line drive hitter, totally different skill set than Joc. If you did not see improvement, then you did not watch the second half of last year. He hit .206 in his rookie year, and .240 last year. That’s 36 points which is pretty good for any player and he did that without sacrificing power. This year he is using a whole new batting stance and approach. Puig is having the same growing pains that Joc is because he is doing the same thing, New stance, new approach. Joc is not the problem with the offense. It is the dead weight they are carrying. SVS, Utley, neither is playing well. Gonzo is having a major power outage. He is not supposed to be a singles hitter. He has 2 doubles among his 15 hits. He is actually hitting lefty’s at a .250 clip. The guys who are supposed to be hitting LHP, SVS, is hitting less than .200 against them, Puig is at .107, but hitting .371 against RH, and Kike is at .265. So Pederson is actually hitting lefty’s better than any of them. As far as the pitching goes, I totally agree with you, Romo at this point is worse than Hatcher, and up until the first game of this series, Avilan had pitched pretty good. He is the only lefty in the pen until they get a starter back, so we are stuck with him. Dayton should be back by Thursday according to reports, and there are rumors that Urias will be up by the next home stand also. The starters, save Kershaw and McCarthy, (big surprise) have been, since I can think of no other word, CRAPPY> . Maeda has totally lost it, Ryu can’t get past the 5th except once, Hill is on the DL, and Wood, well he seems to lose it after 75 pitches, up until that point he seems pretty competitive. My biggest beef is there is no continuity. He shuffles the lineup every night. Pederson hits leadoff on Friday and the next game he is hitting 6th. Gonzo has been doing the same thing. The only constants are Seager in the 2 hole and Turner at 3. And you are totally right about Roberts not putting the game in motion. Well, changes are coming, some will happen this week. Most of them with the pitching staff. Gutierrez is just about ready to come off the DL too. So another move will come when that happens. He is another of FAZ’s un needed signings. As for Utley, well he definitely is not playing well, but the players wanted him back more than management did. Seager pressed to have him back on the team, and it may have been they see him more as a LH bat off the bench, trouble is, he is not adjusting to that role well at all. Have a great day AL.

  9. Roberts just came out and put the pressure in the starting rotation. Starters overrated? Not in his book. He says the starters are the backbone to sustained winning. Good for him. I think he’s putting the notice out that we will be seeing the next wave soon once they heal up/stretched out. By that I mean the young arms. Stretch out Stripling. Let Oaks come up. Cut Kazmir and Hatcher already. Too bad we no longer have Cotton and De Jong, or even someone like Zach Lee who could not have been worse than Kazmir. Zach did get us Taylor but I was just point out that workhorses have their uses.

  10. Your eyes are seeing the same thing mine are al. I said early I thought our starting pitching would be an issue. It is. And like I just mentioned above, I don’t see anybody in our system that will step in and stop the bleeding. We’re just not that deep in ML ready starting pitching talent. I agree they might as well give Oaks a shot. He’s 24 so maybe it’s time. So far he’s another 5 inning wonder at AAA, actually averaging just under that, so maybe he can do that with the big club. I hear Urias is coming, and my gut tells me he may not be ready.

    I watch Pederson and I just cringe. He looks lost against left handers. His approach, bail and flail, is just heartbreaking at this point. I believe the key for him is to shorten up and go with the pitch but he just looks incapable of doing it. It’s pathetic, he’s embarrassing himself up there. Maybe he is exactly what he looks like – a platoon squirrel.

    Like everyone who is a Dodger fan, I’m hoping for a turnaround. Obviously it’s still very early.

    1. You see Badger, Idahoal, Michael and many others,
      the mistake you are making is that you are judging the Dodgers on what your see on the field and not the hype you were reading about our depth. Please try harder to look at the real important things, like hype about depth and hype about winning a WS this year. Stop judging this team by the results and what you are seeing on the field. Geez. The Catcher, aka, The Stench had it pegged, this is a very good team with tons of depth, this is the Dodgers year. When will you “morons” ever learn?

      1. We’re slow True, but when the Dodgers bring home the trophy, we will give credit where credit is due. We’ll do the same thing if they fizzle like a cheap bottle rocket.

    2. Pederson has been this way since the get/go. He’s all power, not a hitter. No brains. Trade him. The sooner the better before he loses all worth.

      1. You are sooooooooooooooooo wrong. He is still baseball wise, a kid. He is working with a totally new stance and approach. He improved the 2nd half of last year. He will come around. 3 weeks into the season and you want to trade one of the Better CF in the game. That is DUMB.

        1. Trading is all about ‘upgrading’, not getting rid of a player unless he is truly a bust. Joc is not a bust, per se, he is just not a good contact hitter and has no consistency in the time he has been a pro. He and Puig, yes, my man until now, should be packaged for a major trade that nets us a real starting pitcher or a proven slugger/hitter with a track record. This team needs to make adjustments to call it a contender. This is what real sports leaders do, they refine continuously till they get it right. Look at the Warriors. They define the word ‘team’.

          The only thing apparent about the Dodgers is that FAZ do not know how to put together a ‘team’ that has consistency, chemistry, and baseball ability. Ability is a catch-word that defines a player’s skills and body package that keeps them on the field and producing. Nothing too clever here. Basics to the max.

        1. No, just saying I think it is a little early too drop the guillotine on his neck. No power there, but none from Gonzo either. Nobody is really crushing the lefty’s.

  11. For some reason I could not post a comment after about 2PM yesterday. I don’t think I’ve been banned, at least nobody told me if so. I wonder if it could have something to do with leaving my computer on all day, generally 14 to 16 hours every day? Heat build-up? Even this comment may not be accepted…. I’ll soon know.

  12. Right now, could a super team constructed from the Dodgers and Giants defeat either the Rockies or DBacks in a 7 game series?

    This season is off to a very interesting start as the Giants are god-awful and the Dodgers are pretty bad too. And those are the prohibitive 1-2 division favorites with the top of the ladder payrolls. Good things going on in Arizona and Colorado. Those two finishing 1-2 would be something.

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