Tag Archives: National League

Dodgers Pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke, Ryu

Dodgers Postseason Pitching

The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the postseason with their second consecutive National League West title and arguably the best one-two starting pitching punch in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Kershaw will win his third Cy Young in four seasons after putting together one of the best overall seasons by a starting pitcher in decade. In his second season as a Dodger, Zack Greinke put together another solid season, winning 16 games with a 2.74 ERA. When it comes to the top two starters, who’ll start four of the potential games in the NL divisional round series, the Dodgers are in good shape. It’s who comes after Kershaw and Greinke that has Dodgers fans concerned. Due to injuries in the starting rotation and an up and down year by the bullpen, the Dodgers enter the postseason with major concerns in the back half of their starting rotation and among the bullpen set up men.

There’s no question that the Dodgers are in good hands with Kershaw, Greinke and closer Kenley Jansen. The big question is whether or not the rest of the staff will hold up. Here’s a look at back half of the Dodgers rotation and the bullpen as they enter the opening round of the playoffs versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Here are three big questions the Dodgers will have to answer as they enter the postseason:

Dodgers Pitcher Dan HarenWho is the number three starter? For the majority of the season there was no question who the Dodgers third starter was. Hyun-Jin Ryu put together a solid regular season and the second year left-hander from Korea gave the Dodgers as good a top half of the rotation as any team in baseball. Since Ryu went down with late season arm soreness the Dodgers rotation depth is now a big question. The Dodgers are cautiously optimistic that Ryu will be back for the postseason. What they don’t know is how healthy he’ll be and what he can give them. If Ryu can’t go veteran Dan Haren is thrust into the third spot. Haren started the season strong, had a brutal stretch in the middle, and has now pitched better of late. In Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn the Cardinals have an outstanding top of the rotation duo, two starters who can match Kershaw and Greinke pitch for pitch. The Cardinals series will be a tight one. In order to prevail and prevent last season’s outcome the Dodgers need a strong performance from Ryu, if available, and Haren.

LA Dodgers Brian WilsonWho is the set-up man? Last season the Dodgers found a strong set-up man in former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson. The Beard resurrected his career after arm injury and put together a solid regular season. The year Wilson has struggled, with pitch location and velocity. As a result the Dodgers have been scrambling all season to find a consistent set-up man. They have a solid left-hander to match up with opposing lefty batters in JP Howell, but Howell can be relied on to be the consistent 8th inning setup man. Brandon League, Pedro Baez, Chris Perez and even Paco Rodriguez have had opportunities in the setup spot. League, who failed as a closer a year ago has had a solid season. Perez, who the Dodgers acquired to supplement Wilson, has pitched better since coming off the DL on September 1. The Dodgers still have the option of Wilson, who can be an effective setup man provided he’s hitting his spots. Whoever claims the setup spot, the Dodgers will need a strong performance to win tight postseason games.

Can Kershaw out-duel Wainwright? After a strong performance in the opening series versus the Atlanta Braves a year ago, Kershaw was out-dueled by Adam Wainwright in last year’s Cardinals series. In ten innings pitched versus the Cardinals, Kershaw gave up seven earned runs in ten innings pitched. A big story this postseason is whether or not Kershaw can cement his legacy and carry his dominant performance into the postseason. Many have compared Kershaw to Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax, especially with his incredible season. The Dodgers need Kershaw to pitch like Koufax to bring home their first World Series title since 1988.

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Dodgers stand pat at trade deadline

Dodgers Tickets Field BoxWhile several contenders made dramatic moves to increase the depth of their pitching staff the Los Angeles Dodgers largely stood pat in the non-waiver trade deadline, opting to hold on to their prospects and resist the urge to deal Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias. The good thing for the Dodgers is that the majority of the big moves took place in the American League, where the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics made major moves to trade for David Price and Jon Lester. Over in the National League the St. Louis Cardinals moved to improve their pitching staff, trading for Justin Masterson and John Lackey—not flashy moves but trades that could impact the National League playoffs should the Cardinals qualify.

In the midst of deciding to not make a move at the trade deadline the Dodgers are in the best form of the season, winners of six consecutive games including three game sweeps of the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves. Like over the weekend in San Francisco the Dodgers starting pitching was dominant in their sweep of a very good Braves team. Thursday night Clayton Kershaw was masterful on the mound again, with another complete game victory. Kershaw has now won ten consecutive decisions, lowering his ERA to a miniscule 1.71. He’s well on his way to another National League Cy Young Award, potentially his third in four seasons. The Dodgers welcome the Chicago Cubs this weekend, a team depleted by the trade of their top two starting pitchers to the Oakland Athletics on the 4th of July.

Did the Dodgers make the right move in standing pat?

lexus dugout club tickets dodgersIf Los Angeles goes on to not reach the World Series, or loses to a Tigers or Athletics team in the World Series many may point to their decision to not deal for Jon Lester or David Price. Hindsight is always 20/20 in professional sports, but the types of players the Dodgers would have had to deal to get either ace starter just weren’t worth it. The Red Sox received slugger Yoenis Cespedes for Lester while the Tigers had to deal outfielder Austin Jackson and starting pitcher Drew Smyly. Cespedes had huge value due to his reasonable contract, while Jackson and Smyly are proven major leaguers. The Dodgers decision to hold on to their prospects and resist the urge to deal for a potential rental player reflects a long-range vision for the franchise. It also likely reflects confidence in the current roster. Sure it would have been nice to pick up an extra starting pitcher, but the Dodgers top three starters are as good as any group in baseball. Postseason baseball often requires a number four starter and Josh Beckett, based on his performance this season, may be up to the task.

If Matt Kemp continues is recent production the Dodgers may very well receive the jolt of energy that a deadline trade can bring a franchise. His recent tear, specifically from a power standpoint, indicates that the former superstar may be returning to form at the right time. A productive Kemp adds another element to a Dodgers lineup that doesn’t have many holes right now.

After the short term rental Price and Lester should still be out there after the season, with Los Angeles in a financial position to sign them long-term, avoiding dealing a major prospect for them.

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Chris M.

Dodgers in the All-Star Game

PUIG

PUIG

The Los Angeles Dodgers, currently in first place in the National League West will have a four-man contingent representing them at this year’s All-Star game, July 15th at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yasiel Puig was named a starter in the fan voting while Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Dee Gordon were also selected to the team. The Dodgers will have four players representing them in the summer classic for the first time since 2010. Puig, the dynamic second-year outfielder from Cuba, finished third in fan voting among National League outfielders. He’ll join Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League outfield. Puig is the first Dodgers position player to be elected to the All-Star game since Matt Kamp in 2012.

KEWSHAW

KEWSHAW

Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw is a leading contender to start the game. After missing 45 days with a muscle injury, Kershaw has been incredible since he returned, with ten victories and a 1.85 ERA in just 13 starts. Kershaw is in the midst of a 36 inning shutout streak that includes a no-hitter versus the Colorado Rockies in which he struck out 15 batters. Kershaw has a remarkable 115 strikeouts and just 12 walks this season. He’ll be making his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Kershaw is the sixth Dodgers pitcher in history to be named to four consecutive All-Star games, joining the select company of Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Don Drysdale. It’s Koufax, the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history, that Kershaw is most often compared too.

GORDON

GORDON

The Dodgers most surprising selection is second baseman Dee Gordon, who deservedly made the All-Star game at second base. Gordon earned the second base job in Spring Training and has been an outstanding lead-off hitter all season. The son of former Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon leads the National League in stolen bases and triples, with 42 and 9. In a major showing of respect from his fellow players, Gordon was selected as a reserve by his fellow players. He’ll back up Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies at second base and should be an outstanding pinch running option for manager Mike Matheny. Gordon is the first Dodgers second baseman to be selected to the All-Star game since Orlando Hudson in 2009.

GREINKE

GREINKE

Kershaw will be joined on the National League roster by fellow ace Zack Greinke, who leads the National League with 11 wins. Greinke has put together another outstanding season in his second year as a Dodger, with just a 2.66 ERA and 119 strikeouts. Amazingly this season marks just the second All-Star appearance for Greinke, who has an outstanding career record of 117-86. This year’s All-Star game will mark the first time the Dodgers have had two starting pitchers in the All-Star game in over twenty years, all the way back to 1991.

The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is Tuesday, July 15th from Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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BY: Chris M.

Is Greinke the early favorite for Cy Young?

LA Dodgers

Zack

Clayton Kershaw gets the majority of the attention nationally when it comes to the Dodgers starting rotation, and rightfully so. At the age of 26 Kershaw has multiple Cy Young Awards with a second place finish sandwiched in between. Over the past three seasons he’s been the most consistent starting pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. Kershaw’s greatness helps elevate the Dodgers starting rotation, when completely healthy, to arguably the most dominant group in all of baseball. This season though, Kershaw has been injured. In his absence the Dodgers rotation hasn’t skipped a beat. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke all boast ERA’s below three, with both Haren and Greinke among the lead leaders in earned run average, to go with a combined 9-0 record. After sweeping the Minnesota Twins the Dodgers are now just a half game behind the San Francisco Giants for the top record in the NL West. This performance owes greatly to the success of the rotation, particularly Greinke. Zack Greinke is no secret amongst national baseball fans. The thirty-year-old right-hander, who the Dodgers signed to a massive free agent contract prior to last season, has a Cy Young Award of his own. With Kershaw out Greinke has been the dominant starter the Dodgers needed.

Is Greinke the early favorite for the National League Cy Young Award?

la dodgers pitcher

Greinke

Greinke is not the only player off to a fast start. Jose Fernandez, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, Johnny Cueto and Dan Haren are all off to impressive starts. None of the aforementioned list has accomplished what Greinke has over his last 18 starts. Including the postseason Greinke has won 18 of his last 21 decisions. In his last 21 starts the right-hander has pitched at least five innings and given up two runs or less. This streak is the longest in nearly a century, since 1917. It’s indicative of the incredibly consistency that Greinke has displayed during his time as a Los Angeles Dodger. In two seasons as a Dodger Greinke has a combined record of 20-4. Baseball writers often refer to top starting pitchers as “stoppers”, not in the sense of that they are closers, but pitchers who can be relied on to provide a quality start, often in the midst of a team’s losing streak or coming off of a loss. Greinke has been a true stopper this season. Of his five wins, four have come following a Dodgers loss. His ability to consistently turn around potential losing streaks has increased his value and should be a real factor in the early ranking of Cy Young contenders.

zack g

CY Young?

The Dodgers should get Kershaw back soon, after a second minor league rehabilitation start. When Kershaw returns Los Angeles will once again have the lefty/righty combination that harkens back to the days of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. When Kershaw returns he’ll join a starting rotation that’s been firing on all cylinders of late. Dan Haren, who’s signing many questioned, has been tremendous and seems to have reclaimed the form that made him a top starter over the past decade. Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to evolve into an elite left-hander, while Josh Beckett is showing signs of the form that made him a perennial Cy Young Award candidate in the American League.

They’ve all pitched well but the ace so far this season for the Dodgers has been Zack Greinke. If he keeps up his form the Dodgers may have another Cy Young Award winner to add to the long list of great Dodger starting pitchers.

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Diamondbacks Drop Five to the Dodgers

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THINK BLUE

It was another successful weekend in Phoenix for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who ran their record versus the Arizona Diamondbacks to a perfect 5-0. The victory gave the Dodgers a 9-4 record and first place in the National League West. The loss sent the reeling Diamondbacks to 4-11 and last place in the division. For a season that started with big expectations the Diamondbacks have the look of a potential 90 loss team. With the San Francisco Giants having the look of contenders once again the Diamondbacks will face an uphill battle in the division. The Diamondbacks have the New York Mets coming into town, with three must win games, before they head back to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in an extremely important weekend series. If the Diamondbacks struggles continue manager Kirk Gibson may find himself on the hot seat.

The three game sweep was marked by solid pitching by the Dodgers, specifically Hyun-Jin Ryu, and an offensive tear by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The Dodgers first baseman hit another home run on Sunday, a tape measure shot, giving him five on the season. Gonzalez has now hit twenty-seven home runs at Chase Field, tops among visiting players. Gonzalez, in a performance that will surely win him National League Player of the Week, hit three home runs and drove in ten during the weekend series. The Dodgers outscored the Diamondbacks 22-11 over the three game series.

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The Dodgers roughed up the Diamondbacks pitching staff, a common occurrence this season. After losing Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery during spring training the Diamondbacks are moving forward without their ace. Fellow starters Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill have been pedestrian at best, leaving a huge hole in the Diamondbacks rotation. The Diamondbacks pitching struggles are confounded by the fact that they traded young lefthander Tyler Skaggs to the Los Angeles Angels as part of the Mark Trumbo trade. A move designed to add power to the roster, Trumbo’s acquisition came at a high cost. The Diamondbacks traded two of their top three prospects, Adam Eaton and Skaggs for Trumbo. The big power hitter had a strong start to the season before cooling off over the weekend. He has tremendous power numbers, but is a marginal player at best on defense. Eaton is off to a strong start in Chicago, hitting .354 with nine runs batted in, while Skaggs has put together two solid starts with the Angels, giving up just four earned runs in fifteen innings pitched. Arizona then traded third base prospect Matt Davidson, off to a strong start in Chicago, for White Sox closer Addison Reed. Reed is a solid young closer, but in the long run giving up Davidson may turn out to be a mistake.

The moves were predicated on the belief that the Diamondbacks are a contender this season, a belief held by GM Kevin Towers and the rest of the Diamondbacks front office. The truth is the Diamondbacks are at best a .500 team (which they have been each of the past two seasons), who just lost their top starting pitcher. With an inconsistent batting lineup, a middle-of-the-road starting rotation and a league average at best bullpen the Diamondbacks could be in for a long season. This past weekend was another reminder of the uphill battle the club continues to face in Phoenix. The weekend crowds were large, but that included a massive number of Dodgers fans. Judging by the applause of the fans it was difficult to tell at times who the home team was.

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DODGER STADIUM

Arizona will head to Los Angeles next weekend needing to turn things around versus the Dodgers. Arizona had their way with the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in 2013, largely due to the performance of slugger Paul Goldschmidt. Since then the series has been extremely one-sided. If the Dodgers manage another convincing series win next weekend you have to wonder if manager Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat.