Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Bills gets the ball in Game 4.* END OF STORY.
Once again Chad Billingsley was solid through five innings (1 R, 1 H, 5 K, 2 BB) before faltering (referring to the three walks, not the lone run) in the sixth frame of tonight's loss to San Diego. Unfortunately that's been a recurring theme this season with Bills, as indicated by the following chart:
Split G PA AB R H BB SO SO/BB BA OBP OPS BAbip sOPS+
1st inning 31 126 112 14 32 8 22 2.75 .286 .323 .724 .333 90
2nd inning 31 126 114 11 27 10 24 2.40 .237 .304 .655 .284 77
3rd inning 30 119 103 9 21 12 29 2.42 .204 .293 .546 .284 49
4th inning 30 117 107 5 21 9 31 3.44 .196 .265 .583 .247 51
5th inning 29 111 94 10 15 15 35 2.33 .160 .273 .581 .211 53
6th inning 28 129 102 29 33 18 22 1.22 .324 .430 .949 .370 142
Note the large drop in K/BB, and the astronomical rise in every other stat including a horrendous slash line of .324/.430/.949. Simply put, that's never going to get it done. The trouble continued again tonight as Billingsley gave up a hit, which proved to be the eventual winning run, on the heels of three walks in the home half of the sixth inning. It was another almost for Billingsley, and for the Dodgers who failed to clinch the NL West for the third consecutive game. Don't give up the ship just yet, on the Dodgers or Chad Billingsley. There will be other chances for success in the near future for both of them.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
- The Dodgers can clinch the NL West Division with a victory, while a Colorado loss would also accomplish the same.
- Chad Billingsley's playoff role is on the line today, and so to are those of Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla. A solid start by Bills, on the heels of last week's six inning, one hit performance, would seemingly be enough for him to be named the fourth starter in place of Garland.
- Atlanta is putting together a mini run for the Wild Card, winning their last seven games and pulling within two of the Rockies. Wouldn't it be nice to see the Dodgers knock out Jim Tracy when the Rockies come to town to conclude the season?
- A Dodger win nets me $260 for my NL West Futures bet back in March. Playoff tickets here we come!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Losing three out of four to the Pirates will likely cause alarms to ring elsewhere, but not here. The Dodgers are 8-2-1 in their last eleven series' dating back to August 20th against Chicago. That, to me, says more about the current status of the team than the last four games.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Four hits off Jonathan Broxton, coupled with errors by Furcal and Ethier, made the journey home more frustrating than Renee, the blackjack dealer at the Golden Nugget, who forgot that dealer busting is a critical part of my blackack success.
Friday, September 25, 2009
That declaration represents more than a expression of my infatuation, it's a piece of who I am. Lately however, I've found enjoyment in more trivial endeavors. After 153 games I can honestly say I've had enough. I'd go as far to pronounce that if the Dodgers weren't playoff bound I'd have checked out on the season weeks ago. With the Divisional race seemingly all but over it's hard to stay focused. Where potential excitement once existed, complacency now resides. I find myself easily distracted by meaningless happenings around me. When the Dodgers make a rare appearance on my television screen my mind quickly finds itself awash in a mental parade of meaningless. It's as if I've been bitten by a vampire that's seeking out only the blood that bleeds Blue.
I find these feelings ironic as this is the most I've enjoyed any Dodger season in my twenty-something years. Winning does that to you I guess. But as the Dodgers find themselves banging on the front door of the playoffs, I find myself more content to admire from afar with an occasional glance through the window. Certain things register a blip on my radar screen (Matt Kemp's outside chance at 30 home runs, Randy Wolf's impressive year and James Loney's quest to hit a home run at Dodger Stadium this season, which finally happened last week) but for the most part the plane is on autopilot, cruising high about the clouds.
With the season coming to a conclusion my steadfast admiration of the boys in Blue will no doubt regain the momentum seemingly lost over the past few series. The drama of October shall pour out, and with it my excitement, like a dam no longer able to hold back the water. For if there's one thing I like more than watching Dodger baseball, it's watching Dodger playoff baseball. Get ready for some magic.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley lost a no-hitter, a shutout and a possible win on one pitch Wednesday, but he gained something almost as valuable -- the confidence that he still had the stuff that made him the club's first-half ace and a National League All-Star.While it was nice to see Chad Billingsley begin the climb upward I'm waiting another start or two before claiming all is right within Dodgertown. It would be an honest effort on my part to write more on this, but when Jon over at Dodger Thoughts is flowing words so eloquently why even try?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
A quick glance at today's scoreboard reveals an offensive outburst by Los Angeles; however, the real story of day belonged to Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw.
Kuroda was impressive again since returning from the disabled list going six innings while allowing two runs, both unearned. In four starts since his freak accident, Kuroda's earned run line has dropped each game, and reads as follows: 3, 2, 1, 0. Is there any doubt who starts Game 2 in the NLDS?
Also impressive returning from a brief hiatus was Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw, as you all remember, hurt his non-throwing shoulder and hasn't pitched since Sept 4th. However, there appeared to be no lingering effects as the young left hander tossed two hitless innings while striking out four. Kershaw did throw more balls than strikes, but what else is new? (EDIT: Kershaw did indeed throw more strikes than balls. Golf clap for KempKershaw for pointing that out.)
Fortunately for the Dodgers the opposition did not fare as well. The three pitchers that tossed the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings for the Washington Nationals had ERA lines of 22.50, 10.80, and 10.09 respectively. Funny that last word, there's certainly nothing respectable about that.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
You're telling me Frank McCourt doesn't have a hand in this? Sure Belliard is playing better right now, but the only truck McCourt's backing up is the bribe train loaded with Bigelow Green Tea on it's way to Joe Torre's house.
Monday, September 21, 2009
A confidence builder? Some seem to think so.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
That line could have been a lot worse as Bills loaded up the bases in the ninth before being given the hook by Joe Torre. What was intended to be a short, no pressure, confidence building outing turned into a 47 pitch demoralizer. There will continue to be guesses regarding his mental/physical state, but tonight drew the conclusion that Chad Billingsley shouldn't get the ball in Game 1 or 2 if the Dodgers make the playoffs.
Friday, September 18, 2009
"The rivalry, for the most part, is a lot more for the fans than it is for the players," he says. "It's fun for the fans to root for a team and actually despise a team. It's fun to just hate them."There is a certain truth to that. In the modern era of free agency, players simply don't stay on one team long enough to have cross town hatred infused into their DNA. Rivalries exist, but by and large they're for the fans. As time passes, and players fade away, the memories of distaste are kept alive through recounted tales between friends, and by legends told to sons by their fathers. And so it was with me.
Up until I was twelve or thirteen I loathed the Giants simply because my Dad taught me to. Frankly speaking, he'll probably tell you it's one of the better things he's ever passed on to me! However, once I gained a further knowledge of the game, and of the players associated with it, I learned to despise the orange and black on my accord. And while I've never seen the on-field severity of Marichal/ Roseboro, a foul taste still lingers regarding the fatal shooting of a Giants fan after a game at Dodger Stadium in 2003.
As much as this spat between the teams might have cooled, I think anyone that sat in the left field pavilion whenever Barry Bonds came to town would disagree with that assertion. Additionally, parents might want to cover their children's ears when Brad Penny takes the mound tomorrow night. Sure, you don't see players swinging bats at each other anymore, but there are still numerous reasons to get amped for a Dodgers/ Giants series. In fact, when Nat and I are in attendance tonight it's safe to say we won't be aimlessly sitting on our hands. The rivalry might have cooled, but the embers are still glowing.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Factoring today's 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh, it's been three starts since Hiroki Kuroda took a line drive off his head. Immediately following the incident his physical and mental status were in doubt for the remainder of the season. So how has he fared since then?
5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 K, 3 BB
8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 7 K, 0 BB
His eight inning, two earned run performance back on the 11th of September is certainly the gem of the bunch, but note the drop in runs and walks issued, and the subsequent rise in strikeouts, over each consecutive start. While the above stats were posted against smaller teams (San Diego, San Francisco, Pittsburgh) they loom large in my eyes, considering the odds stacked against such a favorable return. The above evidence seems to proclaim Kuroda healthy, confident and ready to take the mound with no reservations come October.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Are there really any words to describe what just happened? Sure it's only mid September, but with Colorado losing again tonight it feels like the Dodgers officially punched their ticket to the playoffs.
Andre Ethier came through again.
Ethier knocked his sixth walk-off hit of the season with a two-run home run to lead the Dodgers to a 5-4 win in 13 innings over the Pirates on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
With the win and Rockies' loss to the Giants, the Dodgers increased their lead in the National League West to five games.
He did manage to fire off a few quick emails and texts, so for now that will have to suffice.
My trip to the Dodgers/Giants series in San Francisco was a success. The "meet and greet" included Ethier, Furcal, Billingsley, Loney, and Kemp...Others brought balls, caps, and cards and got them autographed...I'm not into the autographs, I just took pictures. I have always enjoyed watching people, so I really had fun doing that.
I watched these guys just get surrounded by seekers. If you don't sign for everyone, you're a jerk. Ethier and Loney and Kemp signed everything they were asked. Billingsley signed three balls and left, and Furcal just a few. I saw Loney and Kemp outside the stadium and they stayed there about 10 minutes signing also. Luckily it was early, so they covered everyone. The only thing that Torre signed was his book. Manny didn't even look at anyone.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I don't "hate" Chad Billingsley, and I still feel he's one of the handful of difference makers for the playoffs, but today's start (4 IP, 8 H, 3 ER) did nothing to erase the curiosity that has been lingering for months. Billingsley wasn't awful today, after all he struck out six while walking zero. It is obvious however that something is askew. What to make of all this, who knows? But I wouldn't be surprised if something leaked in the offseason confirming our very suspicions.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
You see what we did to your friends right? 10 runs on Friday, followed by 9 on Saturday. You're in our crosshairs big boy.
Speaking of big boys, a lot of people, myself included, were against the acquisition of Vicente Padilla at the end of August. I think it's safe to say we've been proven wrong thus far.
4 starts, 22.1 IP, 3-0, 2.02 ERA, 7.73 K/9, 1.17 WHIP
Perhaps a fresh start in a new city is all that was needed.
When Kershaw ran into the outfield wall shagging fly balls at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, he did more than bruise his non-throwing shoulder -- he separated it.Think how long it took Doug Mientkiewicz to return from his separated shoulder, and he's still not 100%. I'm tempering my optimism on this one.
"Bruise, sprain, separated, it's all the same," Kershaw said.
Kershaw, who was scheduled to pitch the final of the three-game series in San Francisco, said he is hopeful of throwing a bullpen session and returning to the rotation next week.
The Dodgers are less concerned about Kershaw's ability to catch the ball than they are about the possibility of him altering his mechanics to deal with the pain, which could cause him to hurt his prized throwing arm.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's the most hotly debated topic this side of health care reform: Will the Dodgers blow it? If they let this one get away, it will be the worst collapse since Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951, when Brooklyn's 13-game lead disappeared.All this talk of "collapse" is really misguided and misinformed. The 2009 Dodgers, with a record of 27-26 since the All Star Break, aren't exactly cracking at their foundations, any more than simply being c-blocked by a 63-32 run at the hands of the Colorado Rockies. Admittedly, .500 ball isn't good enough to get it done, but it's certainly not the "monumental collapse" that the media is making it out be.
And as for the "worst collapse" of the aforementioned 1951 Dodger team? Well they went 34-28 during the last two months of season, and fell victim not to their own failure, but to the 42-15 streak the San Francisco Giants posted during the same stretch.
Instead of easily focusing on the negative, sometimes you have to give credit where it's due. Even if it's to the team on the other side of the tracks.
While the free agent market for pitchers will be pretty light this summer, that might play into the hands of both Randy Wolf and Joel Pineiro. How light is the market? Well, consider that ESPN.com's Jayson Stark rates those two as the second and third best purchase options in the crop respectively, behind John Lackey.
Of Wolf, Stark writes, "Wolf's stock has risen faster this year than IBM's. He'd be 18-6 if the Dodger bullpen hadn't blown EIGHT saves for him. He's ripped off 14 straight starts of six innings or more. And only four pitchers in the whole sport can beat his 19 starts of no more than two earned runs allowed."
It's too early to start talking about contracts for free agents but it'll be interesting to see how Wolf pitches this postseason, and how it helps or hurts his value.
But not in a team spirit kinda way. In no particular order...
- Randy Wolf has "a little hitch in his elbow."
- Ramon Troncoso's inability to throw to first base after fielding a routine comebacker.
- The Dodgers give up a walk off walk to lose the game.
- The Diamondbacks won tonight's battle, despite going 0-9 with RISP.
- Dodger hitters struck out 11 times tonight, with only a single walk to offset their whiffing.
- The Rockies walked off winners despite trailing in the bottom of the ninth.
- The Dodgers lead over Colorado has shrunk to 2.5 games.
- The Dodgers no longer possess home field advantage for the playoffs.
- Matt Kemp is batting .171 in September.
- I have to go to work tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
...but the Dodgers are in the same spot they were a year ago: thoroughly dependent on Manny Ramirez.In actuality, the Dodgers, and their struggling offense, are much more dependent on their pitching to keep them in games than they are on Manny Ramirez. If the Dodger pitching staff wasn't, oh I don't know...THE BEST IN ALL OF BASEBALL, then yes, we might be more reliant on a player that could put big numbers up on the scoreboard. As it sits now however, I'm much more inclined to say that the Dodgers will only go as far as their pitching staff carries them, more so than a player like Manny Ramirez. But alas, much like Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, and Steve Phillips sadly exemplified during ESPN's recent Sunday night broadcast, all anyone outside of LA seems concerned about is Manny Ramirez.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Up until the 8th inning of tonight's game the Dodgers were beating the same dead horse, and little of anything else. Literally GIDP'ing themselves out of the game the Bums appeared to finally realize that Colorado may never lose again, and promptly shifted into high gear scoring four runs in the 8th frame on their way to victory. Sure a throwing error and an infield grounder contributed to the cause, but when your offense isn't firing on all cylinders you have to take advantage of what you're given. The Dodgers certainly did.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It wasn't all high fives in Arizona today however, as both Colorado and San Francisco won earlier in the day negating the possibility of the Dodgers padding their divisional lead, and news leaked about Clayton Kershaw doing his best Andre Ethier impression. Things didn't quite work out as well for Clayton though...
Clayton Kershaw will miss his next scheduled start, Friday in San Francisco, with a bruised right shoulder. He injured the shoulder during batting practice on Sunday, running into the outfield wall while trying to catch a fly ball.It was his non-throwing shoulder, so that's a sigh of relief, but really? Can we not have one of our best pitchers shagging balls in the outfield from now on please? Next thing you know, Mark Loretta will require Tommy John surgery after practicing for possible relief appearances. Come to think about it, I guess that wouldn't be a total wash.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I couldn't help but notice James McDonald giving up three hits almost immediately to the Padres last night. It sure does seem he's doing that a lot recently, but I had no idea why. So I went to the numbers.
From the onset of the season through August 4th, James McDonald had posted an average against slash line of .231/.350/.693, and a hits/9 ratio of 7.54. Not great numbers, but serviceable. However, since August 4th those numbers have headed in the wrong direction.
Over the past month McDonald has been hit much harder, allowing a .328/.395/.842 average against, and has seen his H/9 ratio swell to 12.38. Additionally, his line drive percentage is up from 13% to 18% over the same period of time. An increase in stats like this can mean any number of things ranging from poor mechanics, a hidden injury, less effectiveness, and even physical and mental strain. But in McDonald's case it might be something entirely different.
A big complaint against McDonald earlier in the year was his propensity to allow too many walks. During April and May he registered 16 free passes over 18 innings, or 8 BB/9. Sent to the minors in late May to work on command, McDonald has seen his BB/9 ratio drop to 3.42 since his call up in mid June. Allowing less walks usually means you're throwing more strikes, and McDonald certainly is. Take a look at the following date ranges, and McDonald's corresponding percentage of strikes thrown.
April 10th - May 13th: 55%
(McDonald sent to the minors to work on command)
June 24th - July 31: 61%
August 3rd- September 6th: 64%
Unless you can hurl the ball 100mph, or drop a 12-6 curveball over the plate, it's very likely that the more strikes you throw the more hits you're bound to give up. After all, you're simply giving the hitter a better chance at making decent contact and driving the ball. The numbers above seem to indicate that this is what's happening to McDonald. More strikes are simply equaling more hits.
In the end this just goes to show you what a fickle game baseball really is. A pitcher gets sent down to AAA, and is told to throw more strikes. He does, and ends up getting hit harder upon his return to the majors.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Unfortunately that is all the awesomeness we have to report as the Dodgers were blanked, going 0-11 with runners in scoring position, in a 2-0 loss to 9.58 ERA'er Wade LeBlanc. Even Steve Lyons nailed this game on the head during his post game analysis on Dodgers Live...
You look at [Kershaw's numbers] since July 1st and his ERA is 2.00. That's fantastic. [Tonight's loss] is not about Clayton Kershaw. This is about the Dodgers not being able to find a way to score runs when he's on the mound. Guess what, tonight they scored a big fat ZERO, and that will never, ever get it done. When [Kershaw] struggled through the first two innings and only gave up two..there's no way against a guy like Matt LeBlanc that you should have that stand up.0-11 with RISP is pretty embarrassing, and better elicit a tongue lashing from Torre and Mattingly after the game. Back at it tomorrow with the Wolfman taking the mound.
Nice trades...and just might end up with Tony Abreu in return. I think it would be fair to watch Garland pitch more than seven innings, against a crappy team no less, before announcing to the world that Colletti did the right thing. Garland's performance last night was very respectable, and hopefully that trend continues into November, but lets not hang that Mission Accomplished banner over Dodger Stadium quite yet.
It was Newcomers Night at Dodger Stadium Thursday, as Jon Garland pitched seven innings against the team that traded him away...
Oh, and the other player we recently acquired? None other than team lover, Jim Thome...
Jim Thome did his job too, waiting in the dugout to give a hug to his former Cleveland teammate when Manny Ramirez returned from a home run trot. Thome was acquired to be an occasional pinch-hitter and a full-time team leader.Ain't life for a DH in the NL grand?
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Apparently still thinking about the home run that got away in Tuesday's game, Brandon Allen got his revenge Wednesday night against Chad Billingsley.
Allen sent the first pitch [in the fifth] from Billingsley into the right field pavilion a night after he was robbed of a pinch-hit, potential game-winning two-run homer on an outstanding catch by right fielder Andre Ethier.Those runs proved to be enough as the Dodgers rolled over on themselves with Furcal, Ramirez, Loney, Kemp, Martin and Hudson going a combined 2-19. Normally that would be enough to set me off, but Brad Penny (8 IP, o R) took care of that hours earlier. Douche.
Back to Bills. He's been taking a beating recently from all the haters, but any complaints surrounding tonight's performance would be misguided. Perfect through four innings, Billingsley was in line to escape the fifth with limited damage until Rafael Furcal decided it be a good time to throw the ball into right field, ultimately allowing two more runs to score. The fifth inning wasn't pretty for Chad Billingsley, but it was a lot uglier than it should have been.