From K to shining K

September 20, 2011

50 years ago today, Sandy Koufax pitched in the last regular season game played at the LA Coliseum.  You could call it a quality start.  He went 13 innings to get the complete game win.  Today, a quality start is considered six innings.  Back then, pitchers regularly pitched complete games.  Today’s pitchers pitch 25% less innings that their 1950’s and 60’s counterparts notes Fred Poulin in dobberbaseball.com.  I was thinking that the amount of innings that Koufax pitched might have aggravated his arthritic arm and led to his early retirement.  Fred’s article suggests that the opposite may be true and today’s pitchers may not be throwing enough innings to prevent injury.

Today’s K – Kershaw will try for his 20th win today in his 4th matchup with Tim Lincecum.  In games against Lincecum this year, Kershaw is 3-0 with no earned runs allowed in 23 innings, racking up 30 strikeouts against just three walks.  I hope he makes it 30 scoreless innings tonight.  If that happens, he will take another step toward the Cy Young award.

Dylan Hernandez has an article comparing Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw on the LA Times web site.

This Day in Dodgers History

September 20, 1961 – In a 13-inning contest, Sandy Koufax goes the distance beating the Cubs, 3-2, in the last regular season game to be played at the LA Memorial Coliseum, which was originally built for the 1932 Olympics. The Dodgers are leaving the only home they have known since moving from Brooklyn four seasons ago to play in a brand new stadium in Chavez Ravine, located a few miles from downtown Los Angeles.

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Welcome Back Stephen Strasburg / The Mind of Mattingly

September 6, 2011

Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals fireballing phenom, will make his season debut today against the Dodgers.  Last year, Strasburg went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA before undergoing the Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in September.  He was on a rehab assignment by August, going 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in six games.  Tuesday’s start, against Ted Lilly, will be Strasburg’s first big league game since Aug. 21, 2010.

If Strasburg can pick up where he left off, last year he routinely posted a close to triple digit fastball and a wicked curve, the currently struggling Dodger offense will face quite a challenge.

Lilly, who had a 2.35 ERA in August after a mediocre June and July, is looking for his first three-game winning streak of the season.

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Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly wants more offense for 2012.  Mattingly says the team needs to boost its offensive production, but that could deplete the team’s pitching, one of its few strong points.

More from Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:

…Don Mattingly said that if he had to decide between the Dodgers‘ adding a quality bat or a quality arm over the winter, he would take the bat.  “A solid bat is something we’ve got to have or we’ll right back to where we were,” Mattingly said.  By that, he means before their mid-July acquisition of Juan Rivera, who has helped transform the Dodgers’ offense from abysmal to respectable.  “It tells you what one bat can do to your lineup,” Mattingly said.

But at what cost?  With the Dodgers in bankruptcy and their ownership situation in limbo, adding offense could force them to subtract pitching.  Starting pitching has been about the only part of the organization that hasn’t appeared compromised by its financial troubles.

Anchored by Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ rotation has the third-lowest earned-run average in the National League behind the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.  The Dodgers were designed this way. They went into spring training with six established starters — Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, who was sent to the bullpen.

When Garland and Padilla went down because of season-ending injuries, they called up top prospect Rubby De La Rosa, who was armed with a 100-mph fastball. When De La Rosa was lost to an elbow operation, they replaced him with another top prospect, Nathan Eovaldi.  “Every time we walk out there, you feel like you have a starter who’s going to keep you in the game and give you a chance to win,” Mattingly said…

This Day in Dodgers History

September 6, 1981 – With his seventh blanking, Dodger lefty Fernando Valenzuela ties the major league rookie record for shutouts beating the Cardinal, 5-0.


Loney Getting Lonely on Bench

August 5, 2011

With the emergence of Juan Rivera, who has the second highest batting average on the team, James Loney has been starting a lot of games on the bench.  Once a steady hitter who averaged 90 RBI’s the last three years, Loney has struggled in the last month batting .176 and driving in 5 runs.

Loney’s future in LA is at risk according to Tony Jackson of ESPN/LA.

“…Loney is making $4.875 million this year, and he has one more winter of arbitration eligibility. Simple logic would suggest that the Dodgers won’t go there with him this year, that if he doesn’t agree to a salary for 2012 far below the roughly $5.5 million he would stand to make through arbitration, they will simply bid him adieu. …”

LA Times writer Dylan Hernandez says that Loney must play in order to prove himself.

“…They have a decision to make, and I want it easy on them to bring me back,” Loney said. “But I have to play well; I have to play up to my talent level.”

First, he has to play, period. …”

MLB.com Dodger beat writer Ken Gurnick has a story pointing to a telling offseason for James Loney.

“James Loney is having his worst season after a bad second half last year, and he’s not even the everyday first baseman anymore, manager Don Mattingly saying Loney will continue to share time with Juan Rivera when Rivera isn’t playing left field.

All of that means Loney is at the top of the list of likely non-tender candidates come December, as the Dodgers are unlikely to pay him a raise from the $4.875 million he receives this year. …”

All of this negative attention does not bode well for Loney.  We can hope that he will turn it around but it looks like the Dodgers may not tender him a contract this fall unless he agrees to a pay cut.

This Day in Dodgers History

On August 5, 1979 – In an 8-1 win over the Giants, Dodger right-hander Don Sutton becomes the team’s all-time strikeout leader with his 2,487th career strikeout.