Mending Dodgers Travel To Mesa To Face Former Dodger Yu Darvish and Chicago Cubs

Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen

As some of the flu-stricken Dodgers return to camp, the club has begun to play better (They’ve won four in a row). The Dodger clubhouse was recently hit by a nasty flu bug that knocked out nearly half of the team. The virus spread throughout the roster like a wild fire. Now that the boys in blue are nearly at full strength they’ll be ready for their next test of the spring, the Chicago Cubs.

On Monday afternoon the Dodgers defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-1. The Dodgers broke a 1-1 tie with seven unanswered runs after the seventh inning. Rich Hill looked sharp tossing three one-run innings with four punch-outs. He’s been focusing on his fastball and curves with different speeds, release points and arm angles and is able to give the opposing hitters different looks. His finger blisters seem to be gone as well, which is great to hear.

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On the offensive side, Matt Kemp smashed his third home run of the spring on Monday. He continues to look good and seems to be the front runner to take over the left field job on opening day. Of course anything can change from now until opening day, but the rest of the guys (Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo, and Trayce Thompson) seem to be behind Kemp on the depth chart. What Dodger blog would be without some highlights, and you can check out some of the Dodger’s best spring plays (including Kemp’s home run) on the front page.

The Dodgers are now 6-5-1 through 12 exhibition contests. They’ll travel to Mesa, Arizona and Sloan Park to take on the Cubs and former Dodger Yu Darvish on Tuesday afternoon. The Dodgers will send youngster Wilmer Font to the mound to counter. Font has pitched well this spring, allowing just one earned run on one hit across four frames with six strikeouts. He’s yet to walk a batter this spring too. That speaks large for him considering he had issues with his command last year during his late season stint with the Dodgers. Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia are also scheduled to pitch in Tuesday’s game.

Other banged up Dodgers are on the mend and progressing well. Catcher Austin Barnes will return behind the dish against the Cubs. He’s been fighting a sore elbow, as has Corey Seager who continues to heal. He’s getting close to playing defensively in a real game. The Dodgers are hoping he’s back manning the shortstop position by the end of next week.

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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75 thoughts on “Mending Dodgers Travel To Mesa To Face Former Dodger Yu Darvish and Chicago Cubs

  1. Well I would break camp with 4 outfielders, Kemp, Toles, Puig and Taylor. Plenty of playing time for all of them. Infield will be Bellinger, Forsythe Seager and Turner. Barnes and Grandal catching which leaves two spots on the bench. Right now I would say that there will be no surprises and Utley and Hernandez will be those guys. Starters will be Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Ryu and Wood, not necessarily in that order. Bullpen will be Alexander, Baez, Cingrani, Stripling, Jansen, Chargois, Fields, and out on a limb here, Venditte. Mainly because he gives you 3 lefty’s in the pen without using up another roster spot and he has pitched very well. Font and Thompson are gone and will be picked up by other teams. Buehler starts the season at OKC as the ACE. As for Darvish, I hope they score 10 runs off the bum today. Morrow is scheduled to pitch too.

  2. McCullough seems to think Font will make the opening day roster. I’d hate to lose him at this point in his career, I’m not sure if Trayce will get picked up off waivers.

    Brock Stewart is left out in the cold. Toles is playing better than Joc but with the FBZ you might have Toles in AAA just because they can stick him there. Unfair.

    The FBZ needs to do a couple of trades.

    1. I don’t understand the fascination with Font. He’s a 27-year old international rookie. He was signed back in 2006 and spent about 6 years in the minors putting up unimpressive numbers. He pitched well for OKC last year, but that’s PCL, not the majors. There’s a huge difference. With limited MLB experience can he translate that to big league success? I don’t know, but I wasn’t impressed with his lack of control last year. He looks a little better this spring, but again it’s spring training games. I would just let him go on waivers and if anyone claims him, no big loss. If nobody claims him you can stick him back in OKC. I would hate to see him waste a MLB roster spot that could go to someone better.

    2. YF

      Other then Kemp, I thought Joc would have to have a great spring training, to even be on the major league team.

      He has had over a thousand major league at bats, and he still hasn’t hit consistently.

      He was really lucky to even play in the World Series, after what he did at the major league level last year, and what he did in AAA after he was sent down.

  3. Well Scott I take your point. I was not sold on Font before spring training, but he’s pitched well with no walks. Other than today that is.

    I have always maintained that we needed three middle relievers that can go 2 innings once every two or three days, and Font is in the mix for that role. I am not sure flame throwers like Fields and Baez and Chargois can do it. I certainly don’t trust Baez for more than an inning. Guys whom I think can go 2 innings every three days are Stripling, Font, Stewart, possibly Yimi Garcia and maybe Venditte.

    It’s more the need for multiple 2 inning pitchers than any over-value of Font, and that’s also the point that Roberts brought up too, according to McCullough, when talking about Font.

    1. Yueh, Joc can be optioned to the minors as can Toles. Me, I keep Toles as the LH option in LF. They can rotate the outfielders to keep them fresh and since they most likely will keep Hernandez, he can play out there now and then too. Font blew his chance today. That was about as bad as it gets. Yimi Garcia is not a guy who I would consider more than a one inning pitcher. Venditte has been very good this spring. I would keep Stewart before Font since he at least has some experience in that roll. Losing Font is no big deal.

  4. I haven’t seen a single spring training game, if anyone here has can you share observations about Verdugo?

    He seems to be doing well offensively, 1.279 OPS (tops amongst those perceived to be competing in left.) And the beat reporters are bullish on him.

    How about defensively? Is his arm as good as advertised?

  5. Yueh must have missed my rotation above. Stewart is in it. Fangraphstic projects 15 starts and 98 innings. I don’t think he will get that many starts, maybe 10, but he can be used in relief too. There will be plenty of innings to go around.

    These spring numbers don’t mean a lot about who makes this team. At least I don’t think so. Utley and Hernandez make the team, Verdugo goes to okc to play everyday. Pederson and Toles are the same guy so one won’t be here. If the season started this week obviously Kemp starts in left. I’m still waiting on that one. I don’t see any youngin, or oldin, pushing out the guys who helped win 104. The pen will be churned again, and it will probably be good, and the rotation is set. Font? OKC or ok, see you later. I expect to see not a lot of surprises on the Opening Day 25. You can bet the roster will have a league leading number of moves over the course of the year as that is the FAZ playbook.

    1. I agree with a lot of Badger here, still think Kemp goes.

      But in last year’s great 104 win season the team ended with Granderson trying to help solve LF. If Kemp’s gone, will Verdugo finally get his shot…

        1. Dunno, good question.

          I haven’t thought it through. I figure someone has to be packaged with Kemp. So that’s one. Then a swing OF? Pederson’s probably ideal for that because of his power upside, but again I haven’t thought it through.

          1. I see where you’re going with that Bluto. Pederson might work as he is still arb eligible for 2 more years. $2.6mm this year is digestible. Pederson and Kemp for around $12 million might interest some team in the AL. Toles might be of interest too. He’s cheap for a few more years.

          2. I think I may underestimate how much prospect-baggage must accompany Kemp to make his salary palatable.

            Would the front office attach two prospects?!!!???

            Gosh that would suck.

          3. I don’t know how far they would go. We got plenty of left handed left fielders and none of the plenty are old nor are they expensive. Verdugo with Kemp and they pay more than half is salary? You’re the FAZ guy, what do you think they’re willing to do?

          4. I think this is the rare location (despite Package’s protests) where there actually are traces of the Tampa Bay mentality. That prospects are the lifeblood of a good org.

            I think the team is very frugal with prospects, they’ll trade them for talent (Hill, Darvish, Cingrani, etc.) but I’m not sure they’ll part with a lot just to dump salary.

            I dare venture they’d rather dump Kemp and eat the salary, than dump two prospects to off-load the salary.

            But they are much smarter (when it comes to baseball.)

          5. Well, I wouldn’t do it. I give Kemp his chance. Why not? They gave it Gutierrez. They gave it to Toles. They’ve given it to a number of players, both the unproven and the recently released from the hospital. Kemp’s getting paid so let him play. What if he’s really motivated and is really good. It could be the story of the year. Those other guys will sort themselves out. They aren’t that expensive and so far haven’t been all that. At least not consistently. Kemp and Toles works for me. Toles might could play some center too. At this point if this week, I trade Pederson.

          6. Great point on Gutierrez.

            To make someone take Kemp, you are going to have to give them a prospect with real value or potential value. Not sure that’s Joc anymore.

  6. Yes, Font may have blown his chances today – let’s see how he bounces back. He will get chances as a reliever. We have enough arms for 1 inning stints, I just don’t think we have enough 2 inning arms.

    1. We have pitchers who could do it. Stewart could. Stripling and Buehler could do it. There are a few that could be brought up later when guys need time off. But, when I look at our pen I think you’re right. Bullpens are built for 1 inning of maximum performance. Today’s pen is built with howitzers and LOOGY’s. Guys who throw 98 don’t go 2 innings. Neither do LOOGY’S. I don’t know what the new guys can do, Maybe the plan is we count on 6, and split the last 3 among 8 guys.

      With these days of short starts I would think a long reliever is at least as valuable as a LOOGY. But they aren’t. Long relief performances (3 innings) have gone down. I think I t would be beneficial to see a 3 inning hold once a week. Hill, Stewart and Jansen. Dodgers win 5-4.

      1. Counting on 6 is a pipedream. It’s going to be closer to 5 innings per starter. Filling 4 innings every game needs 3 arms capable of going 2 innings regularly. Just my opinion.

        1. Then they will have the same problem they have had over the last couple of years, I.E. an exhausted injury riddled bullpen by mid October. They squeezed a few extra innings out of their starters in 2017, which helped a lot. 2016 was the worst,as they led the majors that year in relief innings and were last in innings from their starting pitchers. Otherwise you better have 4-5 extra relievers on speed dial when the middle relievers have rubber arms by September.

          1. Yes. Same problem, no action in the off season to fix it. At least we don’t have fake fixes like McCarthy and Kamir anymore. But the problem persists, and the young starters prospects have never pitched 150 innings and are on tiny innings limits, so no help unless we sign proven innings eaters like Lynn or trade for Archer. Not likely with the FBZ.

  7. Turning to other prospects. I don’t think we will see much of Buehler or Urias this year. And I believe it’s better to build them up in AAA and wait for Ruiz to come up. I hope we delay both of them and build up theirs arms in lesser conditions. Buehler is 23. Urias is barely 21.

    It’s very strange actually. Our pitching coaches have really done a shoddy job of building up the arms and innings of our minor league aces. Those who have had their innings built up have been traded (like De Jong and Oaks). Or simply back end rotation players like Stewart and Font. One would think there are better plans for the potential top line rotation players. This is a major failing in my view.

    1. Did everyone see the interview with Friedman yesterday?

      He said they were going to work Buehler to become a pitcher that pitches 200 innings, every year.

      I thought everyone would like that, since most of our pitchers are not allowed to pitch much more then five innings, a game.

      They say they want to have Buehler pitch 140 to 150 innings this year, and to be able to pitch in the post season if we get there.

  8. Badger
    Referring to your 7:34P comment yesterday. This is what I have been saying about Kemp the whole time. I cannot seem to understand why they would want to move Kemp with a prospect or two just to get rid of him. To me it makes no sense. First, no one is going to do it if Kemp is truly no good. As you said they are paying him now. Also, he is a completely different animal than say a Crawford or Agon. He is a much better player than either based on his last 3 years production. Do some here think he is really that bad? If I own this team, he is my left fielder. We have no one any better right now. He had another double yesterday.

    1. Just saw this post pack. Good morning. You’re up early.

      Kemp is an enigma to me. Looking at his stats I find it difficult to assess his value. Everything in today’s game is based on wins above replacement. In an incomprehensible way offensive WAR and defensive WAR are combined to create value. Many articles have been written attempting to explain “the value of WAR” but I can’t wrap my head around it, I just accept what the nerds tell me. In ‘16 Kemp hit 35 home runs and drove in 108 with an OPS+ of 126 and had 0 WAR. That’s because his dWAR, an evolving science in an of itself, was a negative 1.5. In ‘17 his dWAR was -2.2.

      And what is the cost of WAR? Depends on where you look. It too appears to be evolving. According to a fangraphs article dated July of last year the Dollars per WAR Using Actual Unadjusted WAR (whatever that means) and Dollars per WAR of Free Agent Market was $10.5 in ‘17 and is forecasted to be $11.1 this year and $11.7 in ‘19. Using those numbers for the Dodgers to break even on Kemp he needs to put up 1.7 WAR this year and 1.6 WAR next year. Seems apparent to me all he needs to do to accomplish that is be an average defender in left field. At one time, not that long ago, he was a tremendous athlete. He was a Gold Glove centerfielder who hit 39 home runs and stole 40 bases. What happened? Well, I think he first got distracted when his head landed in Rihanna’s lap and he then got fat and lazy with his enormous contract. And running head first into a centerfield wall didn’t help matters.

      I think anything is possible this year. Bluto may be right with his insistence on “zero value”. The FAZophants seem to believe that. I believe 1.7 WAR is achievable. I think 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s would be very provocative in the middle of our lineup.

      1. Cost of WAR is an odd metric for me. Because of limited space on a roster and variance of WAR from position to position.

        The Dodgers should get 6 WAR at catcher, which is awesome for C, but takes two regular occurring roster spots almost dedicated to that one position.

    2. Package

      Kemp hit another HR yesterday.

      And he is not going anywhere, especially with how slow the off season has been.

      And Kemp will be helping the team to
      much when the trade deadline comes around, so I don’t see him going anywhere, until next year, and I don’t know if that will even happen.

      Why get rid of Kemp, when we have had to trade for an outfielder, in the last two years, at, and after, the trade deadline?

      Those trades have not worked out at all, and they have just blocked players, already on the Dodgers, that could do a better Job.

  9. Interesting thoughts posted last night.

    I may be the only one here that believes Buehler is ready to step in. He’s 24 mid year and Roberts has already said he will pitch in the rotation this year. The goal is somewhere around 150 innings, and yeah, maybe some of them will be low stress shorter outings at AAA, but I still think at some point he will be put in there every 5th day until those 150 innings have been accomplished. I also believe Urias will pitch later this year. Those two are very important pieces in the FAZ puzzle. There are other young pitchers in the plan but none for this year.

    With this starting rotation, all veteran guys with mileage on their arms, I think it’s important they pitch to contact. They all need to pound the strike zone. In order to get 6 consistently until October they must keep the pitch count to 15 an inning. 90 pitches, 6 innings, and your day is done. It’s hard for an old school guy like to say that. I was around when Koufax competed 54 games in two years. Now the best of them don’t complete 6 in a year. It’s just how it is. To keep these guys ready for post season you just have to keep the pitch counts down. You do that with fewer starts, 25 max for everybody, and you do that by throwing strikes. If you get hit by doing so then maybe you’re just not that good. Our starters last year were first in MLB in ERA. They were 17th in IP. It’s the same group a year older. The pen will be challenged. I’m with Yueh on the 2 inning guys. I don’t know who they are, but I hope we have them.

    1. Good morning Badger – good to see you still get up early on your Birthday!!!
      Another year older, another year wiser….

      Been reading here as usual, but haven’t had much to add to the discussion, although totally concur with Package & yourself regarding Kemp.
      He appears to be desperately doing his best to
      Make the team, and his new found fitness & affability, added to his undoubted ability to hit,
      make it an easy call. He has made the position his, so let’s see what he can do for a couple of months.
      He makes our lineup very long, with lots of power.
      My question is where do we bat him?
      I know he isn’t as quick as Puig, but I slot him
      In at 5 to give Cody a bit of protection.

      Any way, enjoy your day. You got any plans?

      1. Hey W. Good to see you. You remember my birthday. Thanks. I got nothing planned. Just another day in my life of Riley. If anyone is old enough to remember the tv show, Riley had his issues.

        I think most here agree about Kemp. He will prove something this year. What that will be is anyone’s guess. What’s best for him could be another 5 years as a DH. Who knows. But he’s still fun to watch. Stop by more often. This place needs more voices.

        1. I think it was you, Badger, who said earlier at the start of exhibition play that anyone who didn’t root for Kemp was not really a Dodger fan. It certainly rings true in my case. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much I’d like to see him redeem himself and retire as a Dodger. They guy has plenty left in the tank and we need his power and experience. What better way to go to the WS than with Kemp and Cody leading the team in HR’s and RBI’s.

          Happy B-day!

        2. TBH the World Series Rollercoaster & all the various Playoff games left me shattered, and all Baseballed out!
          Took me a while to get my Mojo back, but I’m really excited now, about the upcoming season.

          That was my 1st World Series, and to follow it from the UK involves a lot a sleep deprivation!
          Still let’s hope I’m doing it again come October.

          I remember your Birthday because you share it with my younger son.
          He’s 10 today. He has the Life Of Riley too.

          https://youtu.be/WCm3bS6wXvk

          1. Thanks MJ.

            Yeah Jeff, I think most Dodger fans would love the story of The Kemp Redemption. Like I mentioned, it could be THE story in MLB this year. It could also be fantasy. FAZ holds no lingering love for Matt. The magic he worked for this franchise was long before them.

            I think there 17 games left in Spring Training, then the Freeway Series. A lot can happen in 3 weeks.

  10. I am with everyone about Kemp batting fifth!

    Kemp is not only a better hitter then Puig, he is a much more experienced hitter, then Puig is too.

    And because of that, and the fact that Kemp is very experienced at hitting fourth in the line up, he will be much better protection for Cody in the line up, then Puig would.

    And Kemp hitting fifth, will take some of the pressure off Puig, while Puig is learning how to hit.

    Like I told Package, why would they get rid of Kemp, when they have had to trade for an outfielder, in the last couple years, at the trade deadline?

    And how did those trades work out?

    Who ever thought Kemp would be a Dodger again, sometimes things work out, even without the best laid plans, that helps a team get over that hump.

    1. Why would they trade Kemp?

      2 reasons:

      1. Money
      2. Mo Money

      An argument could easily be made that a left field of Toles and Hernandez platooning would put up more WAR than a left field that included Kemp. I won’t make that argument, but Bluto could. It wouldn’t be as exciting. You could slip out to take a leak when Toles or Hernandez is coming up. You won’t do that when Kemp is coming up. There’s also Verdugo. He can rake and may be the best outfield defender we have. It won’t really be that difficult to put him back at AAA this year. He’s 21. But by age 22 (in May) he’s gonna be ready.

      We have excess LH hitting outfielders. What shall we do about that?

      1. Badger

        Toles and Kike may do that, but I don’t think that would make as profound of a difference, as Kemp’s bat would, for this team.

        This team needed someone to hit fifth badly last year, to give Cody better pitches to hit.

        And Puig was not the answer last year, if you look at his numbers, when he was hitting fifth.

        And I think Verdugo is a hitter, but he didn’t hit with much power in AAA last year, although I know he hit a couple HRs in spring training this year, but that is not exactly a sample, to take seriously.

        And we still don’t know if Verdugo can hit major league pitching yet, for sure.

        Toles has speed that Verdugo doesn’t have, and Toles also has more power then Verdugo has, although Toles doesn’t have a big sample size, in the majors.

        But Toles almost hit as many HRs in the majors last year in just over a month, then Verdugo hit in the entire season in AAA last year.

        1. Thank you Scott.

          Toles just may be a legit Major Laegue player. I sure hope so, but there is no way of knowing. I’ve never seen him play, but everything I’ve read about Verdugo says he’s a baller. I like guys like that. He projects as an above average right fielder with 15-20 home run power. He’s a “better than average” right field prospect. He’s close to ready. If we don’t need him trade him for Archer.

  11. My take is this. Kemp starts the season with the team. He proves he is healthy and can still do a decent job in the outfield. Then if a team shows interest, he gets traded. If no team shows an interest, he stays. It will be much easier to unload him at the deadline than now. Some AL team might be interested then. Right now there is absolutely no buzz what so ever about Kemp being traded which is one reason I think Bluto is totally off base in his assumption that he will be moved. Kemp hits both types of pitching, left and right, you cannot say that about Puig, or Pederson or even Hernandez. Thompson although he has played decently this spring will probably be released or traded at the end of spring. Font will be gone and that is no big loss. I still believe the 25 man roster I posted yesterday will be the one that breaks camp. Only surprise would be if Farmer pushes someone off the roster, but with them carrying 8 relievers, I doubt that will happen.

    1. Mr. Norris
      What about option 3. Kemp knocks the cover off the ball and FAZ has no interest in trading him unless it is some sort of blockbuster or the new team pays all of his contract and gives the Dodgers some prospects. Sorry Bluto, this is a reasonable option. It could happen. Also

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY BADGER!

      1. I could see that. Kemp is very capable of carrying a team on his back. He did it his last year on the team when he went on a tear in September. Me, I would like to see Matt make believers out of the non believers and have a monster year again. Jose Deleon has a torn UCL and will have surgery. Kershaw shaky, but so far no runs off him.

      1. Package

        I only was able to catch Kershaw striking Ohtani out, because I had to go to the dentist.

        I hope you enjoyed the game today.

        It will be March 29, real soon!

        1. MJ
          I did enjoy the game today. I wish Kershaw had been a little more overpowering though. Still it was fun to watch the Dodgers/Angels.

  12. Kershaw has pitched 2 innings so far today. Allowed a couple of hits but the Angels have hit the ball hard. Even the foul balls are hit very hard. It is 1-0 Dodgers at the end of 2

    1. That line fro Badger is actually from Kevin Cash in the article, the Ray’s manager.

      Short term money talks, old school and new school. By going with 4 pitchers, the Rays save money short term if all 4 pitchers hold up. Paying fair rates for proven pitchers like Lynn or Arrieta is for the birds. Long term, not a good strategy. But as always, in the hedge fund world, politics, alimony payments, sports, casinos, health care, you name it, short term money talks.

      1. If the impecunious teams can get by with 2-3 starters, they save even more money. I wonder how far we might be from 13 relievers, making a total considerably less than 2 starters.

        1. I think that it looks easier on paper, then it actually is.

          I still think you need at least 3 good horses, and a couple fours or fives to delve out the work amongst them all, to save the bullpen arms, for the post season.

          1. If you have several guys who can go multiple innings it might could be done. But you’re right, to make it work, it probably would require at least a couple 5 inning guys. It is an interesting idea. I don’t much care for it but if this experiment works, someone might expand on it.

      2. Thanks YF, I didn’t catch that, but I always know with the birthday boy, I have to look better, to catch his actual point.

        I actually think the starters that don’t go much longer then five innings, shouldn’t make that much more money, then our relievers.

        1. Yes. Agreed!

          It won’t be long until we expand the 25 man to 26 or 27, the way things are going. Might as well just scrap the 25 man and allow the full 40 man shuttle.

    1. Bluto
      Guess Otani is not real liked by the Dodgers. I can understand why, it sounds like his mind was already made up to play in the AL.

      1. Package

        I was kind of surprised that Taylor was one of the guys that was asked to be in those talks.

        He probably talked to both Maeda and Darvish, even before they ever had that meeting.

    2. The AL DH was always such an advantage and I for one am very happy he ended up an Angel. I grew up in Orange County.

      MJ has a fine sense. The real nugget in the article is Taylor’s involvement in the process. Not Seager, not Bellinger, not AGon, not Kenley (an elite pitcher and former position player). But Taylor. He’s the golden boy of our front office and the new glue guy after Turner. I’m perfectly ok with it. Just glad it’s not Hill or Hatcher or Grandal.

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