Monday, May 27, 2024
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Dodgers Pitching Management and Game Tactics Have To Change

Dodgers Bullpen

I’ve been toying with the idea of shutting this site down and officially retiring from Dodger writing for a while now. Nobody comes over here and I don’t have much time to write anymore these days. But games like tonight are the reason why I keep going. Infuriating losses like tonight’s debacle against the Giants is the main reason I keep this site alive. Because when I see the Dodgers making bizarre mistakes and making the same tired mistakes over and over and over again, I have to comment on it. This site gives me a voice to get my thoughts out to the world. My home base and sounding board if you will. Here are my takes on the Dodger’s 7-5 loss to the Giants in 11 innings and the 2023 season.

Emmet Sheehan

The Dodgers made the right decision by calling up rookie Emmet Sheehan to make his Dodger debut. But they didn’t want to do it. Originally the plan was to have a bullpen game, which as we know would have been another unmitigated disaster. They couldn’t do it because the night before they had used that entire dreadful pen in their extra innings win over the White Sox. Sheehan rewarded us by tossing six no-hit shutout innings on Friday evening. He was spectacular. Even though he only struck out 3, he didn’t hang any pitches and allowed mostly soft contact.

What made Sheehan’s outing so impressive to me was that he gave the Giants hitters different looks every time they came to the plate. He mixes his arsenal well. Pitching isn’t just about velocity and movement, it’s also about keeping hitters off balance and working both sides of the plate. This kid did that and did it well. There were a few too many balls hit in the air for my taste, but only a couple were hit hard. Tremendous performance. Such a shame that he was not rewarded with the win because his teammates let him down. I look forward to watching his next start.


The bullpen

They were terrible again. Brusdar Graterol one of the most overrated relievers in the league immediately gave up a single and a two-run home run to Wilmer Flores in the seventh. What made that at-bat so absurd was that Flores had just fouled a pitch off of his leg and looked like he was going to be removed in mid-bat. Victor Gonzalez was brought into pitch the eighth and he gave up three earned runs on two hits and a walk. He retired just one batter. Alex Vesia continued his demise by giving up the go-ahead runs in the top of the eleventh. Only Nick Robertson and Caleb Ferguson pitched scoreless innings and only Ferguson had a 1-2-3 inning. I don’t know how the Dodgers keep going with these guys night after night, loss after loss, blown lead after blown lead. Anyone can do better. It’s not going to get better anytime soon. Maybe 1 or 2 make slight improvements, but as a whole they are not going to just magically turn back into Major League pitchers overnight.

Pitching strategies

Pitching and bullpen management, the bane of Dodger baseball these days. I’ve said so many times here at this site, I’m becoming a broken record. When your starting pitchers do not go deep into games, you put a huge strain and workload on the bullpen. It’s beginning to show. Innings count. Sheehan probably could have made another 20-25 pitches without risk of injury. He’s young, and has a fresh arm. Jerry Hairston Jr. was talking about this on the postgame show on Sportsnetla. You never want to overwork a young arm, but an extra 20 pitches is not likely to cause any harm. Now an extra 45-50? Sure. I think I speak for many fans when I say that I would rather watch a young pitcher like Sheehan go deep into the game, then a parade of below average middle relievers immediately enter the game and cough up the lead. If the Dodgers had allowed Sheehan to at least pitch into the seventh or later, their chances of winning would have increased by a lot. Instead of the bullpen having to get 9 outs, if Sheehan pitches another inning then they only have to get 6 outs. The path to victory is clearer.

Tactical errors

The Dodgers in general played a sloppy game, but the game management was horrible. I’ve usually defended Dave Roberts over the years because he’s not the one who builds the rosters. If the Dodgers have 7 relievers and 6 of them are terrible then it doesn’t matter how Roberts uses them. But there are times when I do understand some of the disdain that is thrown at him. There were several highly questionable calls and tonight I was hoping that for once Roberts would stop going with the same old game scripts and actually manage the team to a win. For a team that scripts entire games around matchups, the one time during the game that screamed matchup they didn’t use it.

That and he leaves relievers in way too long. For example, in the eighth inning it was clear that Victor Gonzalez did not have it. That’s the thing about relief pitching, it doesn’t take long to figure out if a reliever has it or not. You can tell after one or two at-bats. That’s why you have to get them out quickly or they’re going to just die on the vine, give up a bunch of runs. Gonzalez was all over the plate. He couldn’t find the strike zone if you gave him directions. You have to get him out immediately and always have at least one reliever warming just in case. I would have removed Gonzalez after two hitters and brought in Evan Phillips. With the Dodgers up two runs in the eighth, he could have pitched the rest of the game. If you can’t pitch on consecutive days and you can’t pitch multiple innings then you don’t belong in the majors in my opinion. Getting back to that matchup, in that inning The Giants had right handed hitter Austin Slater up with a runner on. Slater is hitting .484 against lefties this year. That was the time to hook Gonzalez and bring in Phillips if you want to win the game. But Roberts left Gonzalez in and Slater singled. Then Joc Pederson singled, and finally Taylor Scott (an equally horrible pitcher in 23 the season of the awful pitching) was called into relieve Gonzalez. It was too late by then, and the game was already lost.

Other mistakes included two costly base-running blunders by Mookie Betts. I appreciate the aggressiveness but the attempted steal of third was too risky. The second boner in the last inning was unacceptable. The worst error of the game came in the bottom of the tenth. With the game tied, the Dodgers had runners at first and third. A base hit wins the game. With Jason Heyward due up against lefty Taylor Rogers, Roberts had .111 hitting backup catcher Austin Barnes come up and pinch-hit. There were two reasons for this and both as asinine as the other. One was due to that there was nobody else on the bench to pinch-hit after several Dodgers (David Peralta, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy) either got hurt, or were already hurt. The second reason was because the Dodgers believe that Heyward can’t hit left handers. The third reason is because there was a lefty on the mound and they wanted to play a matchup. The common sense thing to do is just to let Heyward hit and keep him in the game. Barnes is one of the worst hitters in baseball and the odds of him getting a hit there were about the same as me winning the lottery. Roberts has done this several times this year, using Barnes as a pinch-hitter. The potential matchup is negated when you have a guy at the plate who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.  The Giants must have been laughing all the way back to the dugout. What do you think the outcome was? Barnes struck out on a called third strike.

That’s another issue. The Dodgers are predictable. They deploy the same strategies again and again and again expecting different results. Sometimes you just have to let the game unfold and react accordingly, instead of scripting pitching matchups the entire game. If the Dodgers want to win the World Series this year they are going to have to start doing things differently. The pitching and game management has to change.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

10 thoughts on “Dodgers Pitching Management and Game Tactics Have To Change

  1. Heh, so very disappointing start to the Gnat Series. Bad baseball all around. Seems the players just gave up after that two run blast in the 7th. All of a sudden, their 4-0 lead was cut in half in an instant. Players knew their goose was cooked and the relievers would forfeit the game again. I have always said, the Dodgers are way too predictable. That, I can only blame DR. Sloppy play, brain farts on the basepaths, , RISP, piss poor bullpen,… what else can I possibly add? Oh, Sheehan robbed of a ML debut victory.

    DR pulling his old tricks. Pulling pitchers from a possible no-hitter. Sheehan was pitching well. 6 no-hit, shutout innings! Yes, you don’t want to have a young arm, or any arm to overthrow, but when a pitcher is not laboring, there is little chance of injury. His pitches are working, his mechanics are spot on, no strain on arm. J-hair is right. Another 20 pitches would not have been too much to ask. At least let him go until he gets himself in trouble. DR should not yank a pitcher “Just Because”, especially when his bullpen is in a shambles. How can DR get length from his starters if he pulls the plug “Just Because” (pitch count?, match-up?, he does not expect pitchers to go more than 6?). How can DR have so much faith in his dreary bullpen to get hi 6-9 outs? To me, the bullpen should only be used to put out fires, not to come in every game just to burn innings. The way DR uses the relievers, he turns every game into a bullpen game.

    Scott, if the Dodgers continue to play subpar sandlot baseball you will have to keep this sight alive so you can vent your frustrations. What do you think keeps me here? I to have to admit that I sound like a broken record, and it gets old after a while. Maybe I should make it easy on myself and create a template for my posts and just fill in the blanks…. Oh, You and Bluto probably thought I did that already? Maybe your followers were tired of all the negativity, and the constant bickering between Me and Bluto?

    Well, I got banned from Twitter, so maybe I’ll hang it up and quit LADodgerReport. Maybe it was my fault that participation in your site has dwindled… way too much negativity on my part (but sometimes truth hurts). Maybe your “Dodger Faithful” readers will return, and Bluto can declare victory. It has been fun, but it just feels like I’m just talking to a wall (Bluto) sometimes…. I think I was!

    One thing we can all hope, is that these Dodgers do something positive for a change. The players are getting paid way too much to fail. The owners are making too much to let them fail. The Fans are to paying way too much to watch them fail.

    Hang in there Scott. Things will get better… Hard to believe they can get any worse.

    1. It is definitely not your fault that nobody comments over here anymore. There were other circumstances at play. Do not quit. Honestly I think the banter between you and Bluto is fun.

    2. This single line is chef’s kiss perfect.

      “Hang in there Scott. Things will get better… Hard to believe they can get any worse.”

      This is how good we Dodger fans have it. Second place, pre-all-star game is now considered the nadir of fanhood.

          1. Come on, Bluto.

            Bullpen sucks, that is a given.

            As far as starters, Kershaw is still the GOAT but has his weaknesses. At least he can most times give some length, and keep the Dodgers in the game through 6-7 innings. Gonsolin has repeatedly struggled to make it through the second round of batters, and is apt to throw too many pitches, limiting him to 5 innings at the most. After that, it is up to the kids to diss the diapers, tighten their jock straps, and prove they belong. The remainder of starters are struggling with injuries, and all the Dodgers can do is just hope and pray they can return and contribute. You should know that that is tough thing to ask.

            Half the bullpen’s struggles can be attributed to the quality of starters they have, and wether or not they can give 6-7 innings… even Kershaw comes up short. Also, the inability of the offense to establish a substantial lead to help the starters relax feel comfortable. Without length, the bullpen is taxed, and the relievers cannot establish their roles. They are pressed into battle every game trying to stop the bleeding, rather than developing their roles to finish the game. With a well established bullpen, they should only need two relievers at the most, per game, giving the relievers time to recover between calls.

            Scott, you are absolutely right, they need some drastic changes. And without pitching, they will not win the West….the World Series is out of the picture.

            Offense and defense need to change their approach to the game, and play smart baseball. Cut down on defensive mistakes and make thing happen offensively. Tough task, if defense is weak, and offense is focusing on hitting every pitch out instead of just putting the ball in play, and moving runners.

            Playing longball don’t mean squat, if all you can do is manage to produce weak flyouts and popups, routine groundouts, or strike out chasing, and leave tons of RISP.

            Face it Bluto, the Dodgers are not the team you think they are.

  2. I was enjoying a Father’s Day dinner at San Laurel, in the Conrad Hotel. Unfortunately in direct view of Dodger Stadium. No flashing lights, so I knew something was wrong. Needless to say when I got home, I just had to laugh…. Actually had a very good laugh! My kids told me, “no looking at your phone tonight”. Good thing I did not look at the score on my phone. Figured we better enjoy our dinner, which we did. Glad I did not see the final score until I had time to digest my awesome meal! Chef Jose Andres is amazing!

    Sloppy play AGAIN, Offense MIA AGAIN. Poor Pitching AGAIN. Bobby Miller is human after all. Disappointing return for Hudson.

    Could not think that things could possibly get worse, but they did. Sorry Scott. Sorry Bluto. Sorry Dodger Fans…. Wait, I really am a Dodger Fan too, believe it or not!

    Believe me now, Bluto? When you gonna burn those spreadsheets and Stats from the Past, and see the real picture? No way to sugar coat it Bluto. Dodgers are sinking faster than the Titanic!

  3. Scott, I agree with you regarding the Dodgers game plan and approach to the game. I have been saying this for way too long. We see it way too many times, game after game.

    We all know DR’s management of the pitching staff, starters and relievers sucks. That’s on DR. But, there is no excuse for the Dodgers lame performance at the plate, trying to compete with just the long ball, leading to K’s, weak pop outs, routine fly balls, GIDP, simple, non-productive fielders choice outs, and most of all the dreaded RISP. All the while, the opposition just puts the ball in play, and lets the Dodger defense trip over their own feet. Dodgers need to do the same. Put the ball in play, let the opposition beat themselves, steal bases, get out of double play and force out situations. Put pressure on opposing pitchers and catchers, and move runners. Just play clean/smart baseball, not just long ball. Don’t just stand flatfooted on the basepaths, picking their noses, waiting for the hitter to knock it out.

    Their game is way too predictable and they just set themselves up for failure. Things have to change, and fast!

    I do sound like a broken record, don’t I? I just can’t help it! I can’t make this crap up!

    Gnats just 1/2 game behind. Pads closing fast. Dodgers will soon be sleeping in the West cellar, fighting over the “baby blankie” with the Rockies.

    Oh yeah, “Hi Bluto!” You still there? “Sis, Boom, Bah” is not working. More like Christmas in June, “Bah Humbug!”.

  4. Ugh… no comment. Don’t need to repeat myself.

    At the end of the day, another starter fails for contribute some length and gets hammered in the process. Offense sputters. Wasted opportunities.
    Dodgers humiliated by the Hated Ones and get swept in the process.
    Gnats leapfrog over the Dodgers and takeover 2nd place.

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