Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Victorino is coming back to LA

The Phillies have officially declared themselves as sellers, and the Dodgers are more than willing to take advantage of that.

In the latest deal, the Dodgers have acquired Shane Victorino in exchange for Josh Lindblom and minor league starter Ethan Martin.  Victorino was originally drafted by the Dodgers back in 1999, and after playing with them off and on in 2003 and 2004, really took off when he went to the Phillies in 2005.

Victorino is hitting .261 this season with a .324 OBP, 14 2B, 9 HR, 40 RBI, and 24 SB.  His averages are a clear dip from his career numbers, which are .277 and .342.  He already has more stolen bases this year than last (24-19), but his power numbers are a bit down. 

What he still has going for him is his defense, which is excellent.  He's a three-time Gold Glove winner in center, and has a career .995 fielding %.  Over the last two seasons covering 536 total chances, he's committed only one error.  That's outstanding.

The Dodgers clearly wanted an upgrade at the top of their order, and Victorino is the best guy available.  Dee Gordon, who's still on the DL with a thumb injury, has been given every chance to leadoff, but he has a horrible .280 OBP.  The 30 steals are great, but when you're not on base, it's hard to steal and score runs.  Or so I've been told.

Victorino can switch-hit, provide a lot more pop, and steal bases at the top.  He's not as fast as Gordon, but who is?  While I've never been a big fan of his (see: NLCS, 2008), I do like this addition.  An outfield of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Victorino is really good, as each has a Gold Glove already, tallying six in whole.  Even Kemp has said he'll move to left if necessary, though I doubt that will happen.

Assuming there's no more impact hitters coming in, here's what the lineup could look like:

1) Shane Victornio - LF
2) Mark Ellis - 2B
3) Matt Kemp - CF
4) Andre Ethier - RF
5) Hanley Ramirez - 3B
6) James Loney/Juan Rivera - 1B
7) Luis Cruz - SS
8) A.J. Ellis - C

That's a much-improved lineup from the beginning of the year.  Now the bench will have Gordon, Jerry Hairston, Bobby Abreu, and either Loney or Rivera.  Those are some good options to turn to late in games.

While people can debate giving up on Lindblom and Martin for a rental, the Dodgers know they can win the West, or at the very least, get one of the Wild Card slots.  And when you're trying to make a good first impression after buying a team, Magic's Suits know they have to make an impact.  That's why they want to win now.

Dodgers add League to boost their bullpen

The Dodgers have had their bullpen issues as of late, struggling to hold leads during their last roadtrip.

In response to that, Ned Colletti has swung a deal to acquire former All-Star closer Brandon League from the Mariners.  In return, the Dodgers gave up minor league outfielder Leon Landry and pitcher Logan Bawcom.

League is now with his third team after spending the first part of his career with the Blue Jays starting in 2004, then moving onto the Mariners the last three seasons.  His best season was clearly last year, when he converted 37 of 42 save opportunities with a 2.79 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  Those numbers earned him his only All-Star berth.

This season, however, has been different.  He was doing pretty well through April, going 6-8 in saves with a 2.77 ERA.  May was awful, as two more blown saves that month along with a 6.48 ERA saw him being demoted from the closer's role.  He hasn't had a save since then.

To his credit, he's actually settled down quite nicely since losing the ninth inning spot.  His ERA after his last appearance as closer was 4.43, and now it's 3.63.  Take away his last appearance in which he gave up three runs and only recorded one out against the Royals, and his ERA is 3.05.  So there has been positive steps taken by him.

Colletti has said that they actually tried to acquire him last year and during the winter, but he wasn't available.  His struggles this year have changed all of that. 

I like this move for a couple of reasons.  One, the Dodgers clearly need better options late in games.  Ronald Belisario for awhile looked like the perfect setup man, with an ERA as low as 0.95 on July 5.  Since then, he's given up runs in 6 of his last 10 stints on the mound, upping his ERA to 3.03.  He just isn't the same pitcher anymore.

The other reason is because League has shown solid improvement these last two months.  Like I discussed before, he seemed to accept his demotion positively, as his numbers have only gotten better.  That's the kind of pitcher the Dodgers need right now.

Barring anymore deals, the bullpen looks like this: Jamey Wright, Josh Lindblom, Javy Guerra, Randy Choate, Belisario, League, and Kenley Jansen.  Scott Elbert is currently on the DL, and Lindblom looks to be involved in a possible deal for Shane Victorino.  So, there's still moves that could happen.

Stay turned all day Tuesday, as the Dodgers don't look to be done with the trade deadline at 4 P.M. Eastern.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A bunch of trade chatter

The trade deadline is tomorrow at 4 P.M. Eastern, and there's a whole lot of talk involving the Dodgers.  Let's break it down player by player.

(Note: all of the below rumors are courtesy of MLBTradeRumors.com, an excellent baseball site, especially this time of year.)

Ryan Dempster - I guess we all should have known not to declare a deal is done before all parties involved make it official.  Hence the case with Dempster last week when he nixed a trade to the Braves, mostly because he wants to be a Dodger.  So for that I say... good for him!  Ha!

Anyway, the latest reports say that the Cubs and Dodgers are trying very hard to make a deal happen.  The Dodgers did not want to offer pitching prospect Allen Webster in the deal before, which held everything up.  There's also talk of Alfonso Soriano being involved, which makes sense considering his massive contract.

As great as Chad Billingsley and Stephen Fife have looked the last couple of starts, there's no denying that Dempster would be a big upgrade in the rotation.  A playoff rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Dempster, and Harang would be sweet. 

Justin Morneau - There was some interest here, but the Twins no longer appeared interested.  The Dodgers moved Nathan Eovaldi in the Hanley Ramirez deal, and since the Twins want a starting pitcher, there's really no match anymore. 

Morneau has gone from budding superstar and AL MVP in 2006 to an injury-plagued question mark, all thanks to the dreaded concussion.  He combined to play only 150 games in 2010-2011.  This season he's played in 78 games, which shows that maybe he's finally OK, hitting .260 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs. 

No disrespect to Morneau, but I don't think the Dodgers should mess with him.  Even though he's been healthier this year, I think the Dodgers could do better.

Shane Victorino - Jayson Stark of ESPN stated that the Dodgers appear the favorite to land the Ex-Dodger Victorino.  Many teams have been attached to him, but with the Dodgers' willingness to take on money, they suddenly are the frontrunners.

This season hasn't been as kind to Victorino, who's hitting .261 with 9 homers, 40 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases.  It's not like he's been bad; he just hasn't been on base as much.  But as you see with the steals, he can still fly.  Plus, he has plenty of big game experience.

I'll state upfront that I'm just not a Victorino fan.  It probably goes back to the playoffs a few years back when he got upset when Hong-Chih Kuo threw at him, despite the Phillies throwing at Manny Ramirez before.  The dude has just always bugged me.  But with Bobby Abreu really slowing down and Tony Gywnn never getting a hit, he would be a clear upgrade in left.  So, reluctantly, I would take him.

Speaking of Gwynn, it looks like either he or Josh Lindblom are names that could go to Philly in return.  Fine with me.

Brandon League - The forgotten League has many teams calling up the Mariners for his services.  The Dodgers really need bullpen help, especially with Ronald Belisario bumbling in the setup role of late.

After going 37-42 in save situations last year, League lost his closer's role after blowing his fourth save in late May.  He actually was figuring things out quite nicely before getting hit around by the Royals on Sunday.  Still, since being demoted, he's lowered his ERA from 4.43 to 3.63.  Throw out Sunday's game, and his ERA was at 3.05.  So there has been clear improvement.

I think League has a lot to offer, so I would jump on a deal.  At this point, I'm willing to see anyone pitch in the eighth inning, and he would be the guy.  The Dodgers have already added Randy Choate on the left side, and if they get League on the right, that would be another good addition in front of Kenley Jansen.

Kershaw would like to remind you he's still the man

Put Clayton Kershaw in AT&T Park, and watch the wins and zeroes pile up.

Kershaw improved to 5-2 with a 0.66 ERA in eight career starts in San Francisco with another dominating performance on Sunday.  His complete game, five-hit shutout led the charge as the Dodgers beat the Giants again, 4-0.  That's two straight days with a shutout to go along with Friday night's extra-inning win, and the NL West is now deadlocked at the top.

Last season, it was all about Kershaw getting the better of Tim Lincecum, who was the reigning Cy Young winner at the time.  Flip the script to this year, and it's been Ryan Vogelsong just outpitching Kershaw the first part of the year.  Those two met up again in this one.

It took until the fourth for the Dodgers to strike first.  I never thought I'd say this, but Juan Rivera hit second in the lineup.  It worked in this inning, as he singled leading off.  Matt Kemp followed with one up the middle for two on.  Andre Ethier flew out to deep center as Rivera tagged to third.

Hanley Ramirez grounded one to third, forcing Kemp at second, but Ramirez hustled to beat the throw at first for the RBI and 1-0 lead.  James Loney then popped up to the infield, which should have easily been the final out, but newcomer Marco Scutaro dropped it to keep the inning going.  Luis Cruz came through again, stroking an RBI double to go up 2-0.

With Kershaw cruising, the Dodgers tacked on a couple more in the eighth.  Loney doubled with one out and went to third on a wild pitch.  That guy did it again, as Cruz's RBI single made it 3-0.  With two outs, Mark Ellis legged out an infield single to score Cruz, and the Dodgers were up 4-0.

About the only question now was whether or not Kershaw could seal the deal.  After setting the Giants down in order in the eighth, Don Mattingly gave him a chance to finish what he started.  Ryan Theriot flew out and Melky Cabrera struck out before Buster Posey singled.  Angel Pagan grounded out to Ramirez at third to end it.

Kershaw got up to 116 pitches, so it would have been interesting to see if Mattingly would've let him stay in had Pagan singled at the end.  Thankfully that wasn't a problem, as in addition to a mere five hits surrendered, he also only walked one and struck out seven.  He improved his numbers to 8-6 on the year with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.

Most importantly for Kershaw, he shook any bad feelings he may have had from his start in St. Louis on Tuesday.  We saw the worst of him (eights run in over five innings) and now the best of him with a complete game shutout.  He was still an All-Star this year, but he hasn't really been talked about as being one of the best pitchers in the NL.  Starts like his remind everyone just how awesome he is.  His 143 K's are behind only Stephen Strasburg and R.A. Dickey for tops in the NL.

Mark Ellis got his second straight start in the leadoff spot, and he responded again with two hits and an RBI.  That's his second straight two-hit game, so perhaps he's a temporary solution for the top of the order.  I wouldn't say he's your prototypical leadoff hitter, but right now, he's probably the best option.  Dee Gordon is still on the DL, and even when he's back, his playing time will be cut into thanks to the Ramirez acquisition and Cruz's impressive bat.

Every position player got at least one hit.  Mark Ellis, Kemp, Ethier, Loney, and Cruz all had two.  Want to know who probably had the best game at the plate?  A.J. Ellis, who finished with an 0-for-0 line with four walks.  That's the kind of stuff he was doing at the beginning of the season before falling off a little.  That's why he can be such a good #8 hitter.

Well, it wasn't all pretty at the plate.  Kershaw was 0-for-4 and struck twice with the bases loaded!  Glad he didn't carry that over to the mound.  Maybe it just made him pitch angrier, which obviously worked.

The roadtrip is now over with an excellent 7-3 record.  And to think, they actually had a chance to win all 10 games if the didn't blow three straight leads against the Cardinals.  Monday starts a nine-game homestand, starting with three against the Diamondbacks.  Aaron Harang will take on Trevor Cahill in the first game.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dodgers stomp the Giants behind Kemp and Billingsley

On a beautiful summer afternoon in San Francisco, the Dodgers could do no wrong.  The result is one step closer to regaining first place in the NL West.

Chad Billingsley pitched over seven innings of shutout ball, Matt Kemp was a triple away from the cycle, and the Dodgers crushed the Giants, 10-0.  The Giants' lead in the West is down to one game.

For the first time this season, Mark Ellis found himself in the leadoff spot, and he singled to start the game.  He actually was once quite used to leading off since he has 898 at-bats there.  Andre Ethier hit in the #2 hole, again for the first time, and he flew out.  Kemp stepped up in his usual #3 spot, and his two-run homer got the game off to a great start.  It was his 15th jack of the season.

Chad Billingsley and Barry Zito kept the score as is until the fifth, when the Dodgers started to add runs and make it a runaway.  Luis Cruz led off and singled, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.  A.J. Ellis doubled for runners in scoring position.  Billingsley increased his own lead with a sac-fly RBI, and it was 3-0.

An RBI double by Jerry Hairston, Jr. to score Kemp in the sixth got the score to 4-0 and chased Zito from the game.

The game wasn't a blowout yet, but it sure was after the seventh when the Dodgers scored three more.  A.J. Ellis started it with a solo blast to left, his eighth of the year.  With two outs, Ethier reached on an error by Brandon Crawford, which was costly.  Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, hitting cleanup for the first time, hit two straight RBI doubles, and it was a 7-0 game.

The final runs came in the ninth off of Brad Penny, who once started the All-Star Game for the Dodgers in 2006, but is clearly on the last legs of his career.  Mark Ellis singled with one out, and Tony Gwynn, in for Ethier after crashing into the fence on a fantastic catch, walked.  Kemp had a chance for the cycle, but settled for another RBI on a double.  Ramirez collected his third RBI on a two-run single, making it a double-digit advantage.

Javy Guerra got the final two outs of the eighth and a perfect ninth to finish it off.  Maybe he should get a crack at being the setup man, instead of watching Ronald Belisuckio... uh, I mean Belisario stink it up again?  I'm just sayin'.

While the offense was obviously terrific, scoring 10 runs on 13 hits while leaving only four men, it was Billingsley who really brought his "A" game.  He hurled 7 1/3 innings for four hits, no runs, no walks, and two strikeouts.  Even Bruce Bochy commented after the game how impressive he was at hitting his spots, something that has not been one of his strong points, to say the least.  On this day, however, it sure was.

In two games since returning from the DL, Billingsley has giving up only one run in 13 innings, lowering his ERA from 4.30 to 3.89.  So I'll give the devil his due - he's been great.  Can he keep it up?  Let's just say that I'm VERY skeptical.  I realize it would be hard for any pitcher to keep up numbers like those, but I'm not sure he can even be good enough going forward.  We've seen this song and dance plenty of times before - look great, then look awful.  Let's just hold out hope that maybe the rest has refreshed his arm and he's good to go.  We'll see.

The heart of the order of Kemp and Ramirez had a big day.  They combined to go 6-for-10 with four runs, seven RBIs, three doubles, and a homer.  I'd say this deal for Ramirez has worked out so far!  He's hitting .375 as a Dodger, raising his overall average six points to .252.  There's still plenty of work to do, but he does look like a new player so far.  And that's exactly what the Dodgers were banking on.

The Dodgers are certainly a team of streaks.  They started the road trip with four straight wins (five overall), then lost three straight, and now it's back to two wins.  I guess that means they're due for at least another win, and if it comes on Sunday, that would mean a tie for first in the West.  It would also mean a 7-3 roadtrip, which is awesome. 

It'll be a great matchup on the mound, as Clayton Kershaw takes on Ryan Vogelsong.  Kershaw loves pitching against the Giants, but I doubt many people realize Vogelsong has a 2.26 ERA.  This should be fun to watch.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

3 blown leads, 3 straight loses

Hey, at least the Dodgers didn't blow Monday's lead.

For the third straight day, the Dodgers had an early advantage over the Cardinals, only to flush it all away.  This time it was Chris Capuano who failed to hold onto a 4-2 lead in the fifth, as the Cardinals scored four and never looked back, winning 7-4.  The Giants were idle, so the Dodgers find themselves down three games in the NL West.

Capuano got through the opening three innings, then ran into trouble in the fourth.  It started with a double by Allen Craig to right.  David Freese put runners in scoring position with a single.  Two straight run-scoring singles came next, as Matt Carpenter and Tony Cruz made it 2-0.  It could have been worse, but Andre Ethier caught a liner in right, then fired home to nail Carpenter for the final out.

The Dodgers woke up in the fifth, scoring four runs on a bunch of small ball.  Ethier singled leading off, fresh off his great play in right.  New Dodger Hanley Ramirez beat out an infield single for two on.  Juan Rivera and Luis Cruz tied the game at two with consecutive RBI singles, respectively.

Matt Treanor then added his own infield single, and Rivera was able to score on Freese's error.  A sac-fly RBI by Capuano made it 4-2.  Capuano then stood on first, apparently dumbfounded by the fact that he was out, before the umps politely reminded him to take a hike.

I guess that brain fart extended into the bottom of the inning, as just like Clayton Kershaw suffered on Tuesday, Capuano was smacked around in the fifth.  Daniel Descalso singled with one out, and Matt Holliday walked.  Craig hit an RBI single to make it 4-3, and Freese a two-run single to go up 5-4.  Another single by Carpenter to put two on chased Caps for good.

Javy Guerra was summoned, and he immediately surrendered an RBI single to Cruz to put the Cards up 6-4.  At least Guerra got the last couple of outs before any further damage happened.

Not that it mattered at that point if there was further damage, because the offense went into full hibernation mode the rest of the game.  Ramirez walked and stole second in the sixth.  James Loney had a pinch-hit single in the seventh.  Matt Kemp and Ethier walked in the eighth, with Kemp stealing second.  Then Jason Motte struck out the side to end the game.

Capuano played with some fire last Saturday against the Mets, but still escaped with a win.  This game, not so much.  He lasted a mere 4 1/3 innings for 11 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout.  He drops to 10-6 on the year, raising his ERA from 2.81 to 3.13 in the process.  Considering he only had one strikeout, it's not unreasonable to wonder if his arm is a bit tired.  Consider again that he's had plenty of arm problems in the past, we just have to hope this was one of those starts, and not the beginning of a downturn.

What's most concerning about these three loses is that the Dodgers had leads in all of them.  Tuesday they had a 2-0 lead with Kershaw on the mound, then got pounded in the face.  Wednesday was a close 2-1 lead, only to lose in 12.  Not that horrible home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg did them any favors, because he was pathetic.  I don't blame Donny Baseball for blowing his top in that one.  Then there's the two-run lead today with Capuano on the hill, and he imploded.

The positive side is that they had the lead at least.  They just have to get better pitching in those middle innings.  Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley did pitch well in those spots, but Kershaw and Capuano did not.  Maybe it's just one of those things, but three straight loses like this is frustrating, especially since they're the ones looking up at the Giants now.

One good thing about this game was the play of Ramirez, who's had a good start to his Dodgers' career.  He's 2-for-6 over these two games, and has reached base an additional three times with walks.  He's also tripled, stole a base, scored twice, and has an RBI.  It's a small sample size, obviously, but still a good start for someone trying to turn around his career.  Best of all, he looks like he fits in very well in the #5 spot, and I'm sure can hit some cleanup against lefties as well.

Next up is a big three-game set in San Francisco.  Friday's game will be interesting, mostly because the Dodgers have yet to name a starter.  Remember, they had to give up Nathan Eovaldi in the Ramirez deal.  A logical guess would by young Stephen Fife, who threw a great game against the Phillies last week.  The Giants counter with Matt Cain.  Great...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cardinals rock Kershaw as win streak ends at 5

Dodger fans must have thought that Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley traded uniforms the last couple of days.

As great as Billingsley was on Monday, tossing six innings of one-run ball, Kershaw was quite the opposite.  After cruising to a 2-0 lead into the fifth, Kershaw completely fell apart, giving up eight runs over the next couple of innings.  The end result was an easy win for the Cards, 8-2.  It's no surprise that the Giants downed the Padres, so their lead in the NL West is back up to 2 1/2 games.

The game was scoreless through three, but the Dodgers struck in the fourth.  With one out, Andre Ethier took a walk and James Loney singled.  Juan Rivera cracked one into right for an RBI ground rule double, making it 1-0.  Luis Cruz has had some big hits in his brief career, and his RBI single made it 2-0.

That's all the fun the Dodgers would have on this night, as they went from confident in winning six straight with their ace on the mound, to watching the Cardinals parade around the bases.

It all started with two outs in the fifth.  Daniel Descalso singled to keep the inning alive, bringing Adam Wainwright to the plate.  Wainwright looked like Carlos Beltran, stroking an RBI double into deep center to make it 2-1.  Old friend Rafael Furcal's single up the middle brought in another run, and it was 2-2.

The sixth inning was pathetic to say the least.  Kershaw couldn't do anything right, and that's an understatement.  Matt Holliday walked on four pitches leading off, which was a negative sign if there ever was one.  Beltran doubled for runners in scoring position.  David Freese hit an RBI single to make it 3-2.

Kershaw still had a great chance to escape without much harm, as he struck out Yadier Molina and got Matt Carpenter to fly out.  With first base open, Descalso was intentionally walked to pitch to Wainwright.  I guess Kershaw was suddenly scared of him, as he walked him to force in a run.

Raffy followed with a two-run single to chase Kershaw.  Josh Lindblom entered and promptly gave up a two-run double to Allen Craig before Holliday struck out to mercifully end the inning.  Add it all up, and the Cardinals were ahead to stay at 8-2.

The Double Play Dodgers made a triumphant return, as Jerry Hairston, Jr. ended the seventh and Loney (shocking, I know) ended the eighth.  Matt Treanor struck out to end the game.

It's hard to believe just how badly Kershaw melted down in the middle innings, but that's exactly what happened.  I made the reference to Billingsley before, as this has been a staple of his for years.  Do great for four-five innings, then stink after that.  That's the way it went for Kershaw in this, as he finished with a line of 5 2/3 innings for seven hits, eight runs, three walks, and four strikeouts.

I know Kershaw hasn't put up the numbers of his Cy Young run in 2011, so I can see why people would be concerned about him.  But, I do think we should cut him some slack.  It would be really, really hard to continue the pace he established last year.  We expect perfection out of him because that's how good he could be, but even the best have clunkers.  I'm sure he'll bounce back from this, as he's too hard of a worker not to.

One guy who I am a bit concerned about his Mark Ellis.  I love the way he plays, which is hard all the time.  But, in looking at the bottom line, he's hitting only .241 in July with a .317 OBP.  That's just not going to get it done in the #2 spot ahead of Matt Kemp and Ethier.  The funny thing is, he's actually hit in 10 of the 14 games this month, but his numbers are still pretty low.  Let's hope he can start getting on base more.

The road trip is halfway over, and the Dodgers stand at 4-1.  That's very good, especially when you consider they were only 2-4 in their homestand before this.  Wednesday night will see Aaron Harang take on Kyle Lohse.  Thursday will be a day game before heading over to San Francisco for a big three-game series.

Dodgers make a splash by adding Hanley

The new Dodger management said they would be willing to take on big contracts to improve their club.

Adding Hanley Ramirez and his $40 million shows they mean business.

Hanley Ramirez will be heading to the Dodgers in a four-player trade with the Marlins announced on Wednesday.  In the deal, the Dodgers also get lefty reliever Randy Choate, and will move Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough to South Florida.

It's a bold move for the Dodgers in adding Ramirez, who was one of the best players in baseball just a couple years ago, but has mysteriously fallen off the radar ever since.  But make no mistake about it - if he turns things around, this is exactly the type of bat the Dodgers need for their playoff push.

Let's take a look at all of the players involved, starting with Ramirez.  His career stats in seven full seasons are great: .300 AVG, .374 OBP, 232 2B, 148 HR, 482 RBI, 230 SB.  This season?  Not so much: .246 AVG, .322 OBP, 18 2B, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 14 SB.  It's not like those numbers are bad, but for a player of his caliber, they certainly could be better.

Because of that past success, because he's only 28 and in his prime, and because the Dodgers have had success in the past with a guy with the last name Ramirez who turned out to be pretty good in LA, the Dodgers are all in.  Ideally, he'll play third base when Dee Gordon comes back and plays short.  The nice thing is that Ramirez can easily play short as well, and will now put some pressure on Gordon to up his game in all phases, or he won't be on the field as much.

On offense, Ramirez will hopefully be the #5 hitter, right behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.  But, he can also hit leadoff, as he's a career .309 hitter in that spot in 1,643 at-bats.  Again, this goes back to Gordon and how well he performs... or underperforms.  Things would be much better if the top five of the order is Gordon, Mark Ellis, Kemp, Ethier, and Ramirez.  We shall see.

What is somewhat lost in this deal is that the Dodgers made a solid addition to their 'pen by adding Choate.  The bullpen has definitely been a sore spot lately, so any new blood is welcome.  He's appeared in 44 games this year covering 25 1/3 innings, and has a 2.49 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.  It's good to know that Don Mattingly will now have another option from the left side along with Scott Elbert.  I really like this move.

As much as I like the additions of Ramirez and Choate, I will miss Eovaldi.  He's a solid, young pitcher who can only get better.  His two-year career numbers are just OK (2-8, 3.96 ERA, 1.44 WHIP).  But, and this is just a feeling from watching nearly all of his starts, I really do like his stuff and think he'll end up being a good pitcher.

The flip side is that I don't think Eovaldi will be a great pitcher, but a good one.  And that's what made him expendable.  No disrespect to him, but with Ted Lilly hopefully back soon, and with continued rumors of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, I think he can easily be replaced.  Hopefully he can find a groove in Miami, as they are clearly in rebuilding mode.

McGough was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2011.  He was at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and is 4-10 on his career with a 3.56 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.

Monday, July 23, 2012

With Dempster gone, Dodgers eye Garza

Ryan Dempster looks to have been traded, just not to the Dodgers.  He will be moved to the Braves today for starter Randall Delgado.  With Dempster and the emergence out of nowhere of Ben Sheets, the Braves have definitely upgraded their rotation.

Now the Dodgers have shifted their focus to another Cubs' starting pitcher, Matt Garza.  The difference between the two is that Garza can be retained next season as an arbitration-eligible player.  Dempster is a free agent after this season.  If the Dodgers do let go of Zach Lee, and it looks like they'd have to if they want Garza, then it's easier to pull the trigger knowing he'll be in the starting rotation next year, too.

This season, Garza is 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 93 K's in 103 2/3 innings.  In seven big league seasons, he's 57-61 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

I'll wait and see if this deal does go down before diving deeper into what it means for the Dodgers going forward.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big 12th leads to a Big Apple sweep

Down to their last position player available, Matt Treanor made sure his at-bat would count.

Treanor's two-run single in the 12th spearheaded a five-run inning, as the Dodgers got the sweep over the Mets, 8-3.  There was another 12th inning treat, as the Giants fell to the Phillies in extras, so the deficit in the NL West is down to 1 1/2 games.

Both the Dodgers and Mets were desperate for long starts from their starters, as the Dodgers were not going to use Kenley Jansen, and greatly wanted to avoid using Ronald Belisario and Josh Lindblom as well.  The Mets were even more desperate, as Johan Santana and freshly released Miguel Batista both couldn't go more than three innings.

Nathan Eovaldi and Jonathon Niese both got through three innings unharmed, but started to come apart in the third.  Matt Kemp singled leading off, and one out later, Juan Rivera hit his sixth of the season to go up 2-0.  In the bottom of the frame, a leadoff double by Daniel Murphy paved the way for Josh Thole's RBI single, and it was 2-1.

Eovaldi wasn't giving up lots of runs, but his pitch count was soaring nonetheless, so Don Mattingly gave the ball to Scott Elbert with two on and one out in the fifth.  Elbert got Ike Davis swinging and Murphy to fly out to end the threat.

An RBI single by Andre Ethier in the sixth put the Dodgers up 3-1.  The Mets cut into that on an RBI single from Murphy in the seventh.  In actuality, the inning should've been over before that, but a strikeout to Davis was overturned by the third base umpire, who called a foul tip.  His double led to Murphy's single.  Whatever.

Jamey Wright got through the eighth with help from a double play ball to end the inning.  Old closer Javy Guerra was called upon to rekindle some of his old magic in the ninth.  He hadn't recorded a save since May 1 in Colorado.

Well, he wouldn't get a save here either, as the Mets scored one to put it into extras.  Ruben Tejada singled leading off, went to second on a sacrifice, to third on David Wright's single, and scored on a groundout by Davis.

Each team certainly had their chance to score before the Dodgers busted it open in the 12th.  In the 10th, Ethier walked leading off, and was soon sacrificed to second by Clayton Kershaw.  Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis couldn't score him.  The Mets had runners on in both the 10th and 11th, but came up with blanks.

Then the 12th inning came, and the Dodgers finally put an end to it.  With Ramon Ramirez in, James Loney singled to start, and Tony Gwynn legged out a bunt single.  Mark Ellis and Kemp couldn't come through, so Ethier was put on intentionally to load the bases.

The only hitter left was Treanor, as the pitcher's spot in Josh Wall was due up.  With two strikes, Treanor knocked one through the middle to score two and go up 5-3.  It was on from there, as Cruz hit an RBI single, and Adam Kennedy stroked a two-run double, making it 8-3.

Lindblom did end up being used, tossing 23 pitches in a scoreless 12th to seal the deal.

It was another awesome win for the Dodgers, as they had every reason to accept a loss and still take the series.  Instead, they scratched and clawed their way to a victory, even after the letdown of blowing a lead in the ninth.

What was really cool about this game was the man who ended up getting the win, Wall.  Making his major league debut, he pitched a scoreless frame in the 11th, with some help from A.J. Ellis, who gunned out Wright on a steal attempt.  Wall will probably by sent back to Triple-A when Chad Billingsley is activated off the DL to start Monday, so it was fun while it lasted.  I'm sure we haven't heard the last from him.

Much like Saturday's game, this game was won thanks to some unlikely sources.  Rivera's two-run homer grabbed an early lead.  Gwynn's bunt single proved to be huge in the 12th.  Kennedy came in for Juan Uribe (who was back to normal with an 0-for-4 performance) in the 11th, took an intentional walk, then had a two-run double in the 12th.  Heck, even Kershaw got in on the act with a sacrifice bunt in the 11th.

The bottom line is that it's nice to see guys other than the Big 2 of Kemp and Ethier do some damage.  Those guys still combined for three hits and three runs, but it was the bottom of the order that broke it all open in that glorious 12th.  That was awesome to see.

All three games went much longer than I would have ever imagined, as this one went 4:45.  That was mostly due to some shoddy starting pitching, largely on the Mets' side.  The Dodgers certainly have some bullpen concerns, but nothing like the Mets do.  They can't seem to get anything going from those guys.

To say that Monday's start from Billingsley in St. Louis is huge would be an understatement.  Not so much huge as in he definitely needs to win.  It's more that he needs to get deep into the game to rest the arms in the 'pen.  That, however, has never been an easy thing for him, so we shall see what happens.  The Cardinals will counter with Joe Kelly.

Some pictures and praise for Citi Field

Like I said in my game recap, I was fortunate enough to attend Saturday's game at Citi Field.  I've been to Shea Stadium three times, and while I knew Citi would be an upgrade, I still wasn't sure what to expect.

Well let me tell you something: Citi Field is awesome.  I was blown away by how great of a ballpark it really is.

It doesn't matter if you are a Mets' fan or not (obviously, I'm not), if you have the chance, get to a game there.  The park is beautiful, clean, and has plenty of room to roam around.  For a 1 o'clock game, I got there right as gates were opening at 11, and had plenty of time to check out the scenery.  As I walked around the concourse, I able to take peaks at batting practice along the way. 

The gift shops are nice, but extremely overpriced.  Sorry, but even if I was a die-hard Mets fan, there is no chance I'd pay $50 for a t-shirt!  I mean seriously now!

The highlight, other than watching the Dodgers win, was the Shake Shack burger I had before the game.  Man that was good!  My only regret was that I got a single instead of a double.  By the time I was done, the line was already enormous, so my dream for a double went down the tubes.  It was fun while it lasted.

A big thumbs up the Mets and their awesome park.  It was a great experience.

Here are some pics from my visit.  I was on a bus trip and had no idea where I'd be sitting, so it was to my shock that I got first row seats in centerfield.  I'll take it!

Outside of Citi Field

A little BP before the game

Scoreboard right near me

Mr. Kemp warming up before the game

A shot of the action from center

Wish I got a better shot, but the guy in orange in the middle is holding up a "We Want Harvey" sign

Kemp and Ethier tossing it around in between innings

R.A. Dickey vs. Kemp

Kenley Jansen ready for the save

Jansen vs. David Wright

The victory jump

You're welcome, Mr. Met... I was happy to come and see the Dodgers win

Uribe on fire as Dodgers win 3 straight

Let me say this: as I rolled into Citi Field for Saturday's game between the Dodgers and Mets, never in a million years did I think that the difference would be Juan Uribe.  And in a good way.

But let's give the devil his due, Uribe had his best game in a Dodger uniform, hitting a two-run double, a two-run homer, and scoring three runs as the Dodgers won, 8-5.  The Dodgers have claimed three straight and the first couple in the Mets' series.

The Mets rolled out Miguel Batista for a spot start, rather than young phenom Matt Harvey.  Let's just say that as the game progressed and Batista got a little worse and worse, the guy with the "We Want Harvey" sign in the outfield summed up the feeling of the 33,000+ in attendance.

Batista got the first two outs, but then carefully pitched around Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for walks.  James Loney, who shockingly also played a big game, hit an RBI single for the 1-0 lead.  The Dodgers loaded the bases, but Luis Cruz struck out.

The Dodgers got their bats going in the third.  Adam Kennedy hit in the #2 hole, starting for Mark Ellis, and singled leading off.  After Kemp flew out, Ethier singled as well.  Loney reverted to old form by striking out for two down.  That's when Uribe doubled to right, scoring two for the 3-0 lead.  An RBI single up the middle by Cruz made it 4-0, and boy were the boo birds out in full effect.

Much like Friday night's game, the Mets chipped away to make a game of it.  In the bottom of the third, Jordany Valdespin hit for Batista and reached on a bunt.  Ruben Tejada singled next, but Chris Capuano got Andres Torres and David Wright for two down.  Scott Hairston popped up, but it found a spot just beyond Kennedy's glove to score a run.  Almost as shockingly as Uribe, Jason Bay got in on the act with an RBI single, and it was 4-2.

In the fourth, the Dodgers got a run back.  With Jeremy Hefner now in, Kennedy took a walk with two outs.  That was a big mistake, as Kemp lifted a fly ball just out of the reach of Hairston in right for an RBI triple, and a 5-2 lead.

Both teams traded single runs after that.  Matt Treanor hit an RBI double in the fifth to score Uribe, making it 6-2.  The following inning, Ronny Cedeno hit a long solo homer to left, cutting the lead to 6-3.

The Dodgers were in full control at this point, and Don Mattingly handed the ball over to Ronald Belisario in the eighth.  As has been the case lately, it wasn't pretty.  Hairston immediately singled, and he scored on pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy's RBI triple.  Another pinch-hitter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, collected an RBI on a groundout, and the Mets were within one at 6-5.

Citi Field got rocking even more as R.A. Dickey entered to pitch the ninth.  He easily got Kemp and Ethier on grounders.  Then those two much-maligned corner infielders of Loney and Uribe struck again.  Loney singled, and Uribe cranked his second homer of the season, giving the Dodgers an 8-5 lead.

Kenley Jansen came on for the save, and like Belisario, it wasn't exactly a thing of beauty.  The first two outs were recorded with ease, but walks were then issued to Torres and Wright, an inexcusable offense under those circumstances.  Jansen got Hairston swinging to put an end to it, claiming his 18th save.

Both Uribe and Loney came into this game with a combined 38 RBIs in 397 at-bats this season.  Needless to say, that's just brutal.  But, for one day at least, both were money in helping the Dodgers get a W.  Uribe had those two big hits, in addition to two walks.  Loney had two hits himself with an RBI and run scored.  Who knows how long these numbers will last, so let's savor the moment.

Capuano ended up with a good line, going seven innings for eight hits, three runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts.  He improved to 10-5 on the year.  I wouldn't say he was that dominating overall, as he actually could've had more K's, but had trouble putting some hitters away with two strikes.  Still, he made some big pitches when needed, as evidenced by wiggling out of trouble in the fourth when the first couple of hitters reached.

As for Belisario, I have to wonder if Mattingly won't be so automatic in giving the ball to Belisario when the eighth inning hits.  Perhaps he'll play it more along the lines of matchups.  If a lefty is due, give Scott Elbert a try.  Josh Lindblom and Javy Guerra haven't been great themselves, but maybe they'll get another look. 

Anyway you look at it, Mattingly can't deny that eight appearances ago, Belisario's ERA was 0.95, and now it's 2.57.  Is it a tired arm?  Bad luck?  A little of both?  It's hard to say, but he's losing his grip as the sole setup man.

It's been since early June since the Dodgers have gotten a sweep (four straight over the Phillies), so they'll look to get another one on Sunday.  Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound against Jonathon Niese.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dodgers want Dempster, but will they part with Lee?

With the trade deadline approaching, the Dodgers appear to have made the first move to improve their starting pitching.  Reports have surfaced that they have reached out to the Cubs to acquire Ryan Dempster.  With Cole Hamels quite possibly extending with the Phillies, Dempster is arguably the top dog on the pitching market.

A couple of factors are unknown about this deal.  First, we don't even know which players the Dodgers have offered.  We do know that the Cubs value young pitching in return for any deal, which is understandable considering they are in the full rebuilding mode. 

The second question, and most important one, is if the Dodgers are willing to include Zach Lee in the deal.  You have to think that if that answer is yes, the Cubs would pull the trigger on this in an instant.

To start with, let's take a look at Dempster.  To say that he is putting it all together this year would be an understatement.  And guess what?  He currently has a scoreless inning steak of 33.  Talk about perfect timing!  On the year, he's 5-3 with a minuscule 1.86 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.  Teams are hitting only .204 against him.  Simply put, he's one of the very few bright spots in another dark season for the Cubs.  It's not hard to see why teams value him so highly.

For those of you unacquainted with Lee, he was the first pick by the Dodgers in the 2010 draft.  After last season, he already was rated the top-ranked prospect in the farm system, and #62 overall by Baseball America.  Not bad for a guy who was pitching in high school two years ago.

Lee started this season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA in 12 starts.  He's since made four starts in Double-A Chattanooga, and he's 0-2 with a 8.82 ERA.  Not exactly the greatest numbers, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still a highly sought after young prospect that a team like the Cubs would covet.

The Dodgers have already let it be known that they are willing to take on high salaries if it will improve their club.  Dempster in the final year of his four-year deal, making $14 million this season.  It's not like we can expect him to pitch to an ERA of sub-2 the whole season, but he's still a huge improvement over Chad Billingsley.  A rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, and Dempster would be great to start a playoff series with.

However, I'm not at all a fan of moving Lee in this deal.  Some people may look at Lee's numbers this year and wonder what the big deal is, but you have to understand that's he's still only 20, and already has been lauded for his control.  In other words, the guy appears to know how to pitch, and not just try to blow everyone away.  That's a guy you want in your system.

As much as I'd like to see Dempster replace Billingsley in the rotation, I think the Dodgers need a power bat even more.  I'll give you two reasons why: Juan Uribe and James Loney.  Enough said.  If the Cubs insist on Lee as part of the deal, then I would move on from it.  Give Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier somebody else who can consistently drive in runs to help protect them.  That's their biggest need.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kemp ends marathon with a walk-off blast

After nearly four-and-a-half hours of baseball, the Dodgers were looking for any way whatsoever to push across that winning run.

And after using his legs to plate the tying run in the 10th, Matt Kemp let his big stick do the talking in the 12th.

A huge, two-run blast by Kemp off of Jake Diekman ended a long afternoon in Dodger Stadium, as the Dodgers snapped their four-game skip by beating the Phillies, 5-3.  It's the final game of the six-game homestand (which they went 2-4) before hitting the road for 10.

The Phillies claimed the first couple of games by scores of 3-2, so Clayton Kershaw was looking to put the team on his back and get a win.  Of course, he happened to be opposed by Cliff Lee in a battle of former Cy Young Award winners, so runs would be at a premium.

Each man would only give up one run in eight innings.  The Dodgers struck first in the second.  Juan Rivera started at first and hit cleanup.  He lifted a long fly ball to left that was just out of the reach of John Mayberry to go up 1-0.  Actually, all Mayberry had to do was jump, but for some reason he didn't, so the ball just made it over the wall.

The heart of the Phillies' order got the run back in the fourth.  Shane Victorino led off with a single.  With one out, he easily stole second.  Carlos Ruiz singled up the middle, and Kemp's throw to home must have been a hair too late, as Victorino scored to make it 1-1.

The ninth inning featured both teams loading the bases... and having nothing to show for it.  In the top of the frame, Kenley Jansen relieved and struck out Ruiz, then watched Hunter Pence ground to short.  For whatever reason, there was more two-out drama, as Ryan Howard pinch-hit and singled, and walks were issued to Placido Polanco and Mayberry.  Jason Pridie pinch-hit and flew to left for the last out.

The only good thing about Jansen's wildness was that Lee was lifted for Pridie, as Lee was all set to keep going.  Antonio Bastardo came in instead and struck out Tony Gwynn before Mark Ellis singled.  Kyle Kendrick came on to strikeout Kemp on a bad call.

It was Andre Ethier's turn to pinch-hit, and on a hit-and-run with Ellis, singled into right off of Jeremy Horst for runners on the corners.  Jerry Hairston, Jr. was then put on intentionally to pitch to Juan Uribe.  Well, Don Mattingly lifted Uribe for James Loney, who would be facing the righty Michael Schwimer.  Bet you'll be shocked to know that Loney struck out!  Lifting Uribe for Loney is like trading food poisoning for a concussion.  It sucks either way.

Javy Guerra pitched the 10th, and boy was he bad.  He immediately walked Jimmy Rollins, and after a sacrifice by Victorino, walked Utley intentionally, and Ruiz unintentionally.  Pence bounced a double over third for two runs, and the Phillies looked to be in full command at 3-1.

The Dodgers didn't exactly scorch the ball off of Jonathan Papelbon, yet they somehow managed to tie the game anyway.  And guess what?  They don't feel bad about it all!  So there.

It started on a double by Luis Cruz.  A.J. Ellis struck out, but Bobby Abreu pinch-hit and blooped an RBI single into left to make it 3-2.  In a flashback to yesteryear, Abreu then stole second.  Gwynn only had one hit in six trips to the plate, and it came on a little nubber near the mound for runners on the corners.  After Mark Ellis struck out, Kemp grounded one to short in which he JUST beat the throw to first for the RBI, tying the game at 3-3.

Josh Lindblom and Jamey Wright combined to pitch the 11th and 12th, respectively, and put up zeroes.  On to the bottom of the 12th we went, and Mark Ellis walked with one down.  Kemp made everyone go home happy with a no-doubt, two-run shot to center.

There's no question that the Dodgers were thrilled to see Lee lifted in the ninth, as they only collected two hits and one walk off of him.  Kershaw was just as good, giving up five hits, one run, no walks, and seven strikeouts over eight.  Neither factored into the decision, but both once again showed why they're two of the best in the business.

Papelbon definitely didn't have Lady Luck on his side, as he was burned by a bloop, a nubber, and an infield hit.  Like I said beofre, considering how bad the bats have been, the Dodgers will take it.  They were due for SOMETHING good to happen after losing four straight, and it did in extra innings.

The Dodgers will now pack their bags and head to the East Coast.  They get an off-day on Thursday, which is a very good thing since they ran through practically everyone on the 25-man roster in this one.  They then open a three-game set with the Mets on Friday.  Aaron Harang will tangle with Johan Santana.

By the way, I will be attending the game on Saturday (I live in New York, keep in mind), so expect some pics up soon!

Fife impresses... but Belisario does not

With the Dodgers in a crunch, they called upon young Stephen Fife to provide a spot start.  He did all he could to earn a W, tossing six innings of one-run ball, exiting with a 2-1 lead.

Then Ronald Belisario came in and decided to rip away that feel-good moment.

Belisario was all over the place in the eighth, beaning two and walking one before Hunter Pence's two-run single put the Phillies up for good, 3-2.  That's two straight defeats by the Dodgers to the Phills, and four straight overall.  They're now three games in back of the Giants in the NL West.

That's pretty much how things have been lately.  If there's a chance something can go wrong, it will.

Fife was making the start in place of Chad Billingsley, who just hit the 15-day DL with a sore elbow.  In the first, Fife must have been doing his best Billingsley impersonation by giving up a run.  Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and went to third on Shane Victorino's sacrifice.  An RBI groundout by Chase Utley made it 1-0.

Roy Halladay was making his first start since being actived off the DL, and got through the first with ease.  But in the second, the Dodgers took the lead.  Andre Ethier singled and Adam Kennedy doubled for runners in scoring position and no outs.  Believe it or not, James Loney had a good at-bat with an RBI single to make it 1-1.  Luis Cruz followed with his own run-scoring single, and the Dodgers had the 2-1 edge.

Both Fife and Halladay were able to pitch blanks from there, as Fife got through six innings, and Halladay five.  Josh Lindblom relieved in the seventh and got the Phills in order.

Don Mattingly then handed the ball over to Belisario, who's been up and down lately.  Well, this one would certainly qualify as a "down" considering he completely fell apart with two outs.

The top of the order of Rollins and Victorino both grounded out to open the eighth.  The wildness took over from there, as Utley walked, and both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz were hit by pitches.  Needing to make some sort of change, Mattingly gave the ball to Kenley Jansen, who promptly allowed a two-run single to Pence to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

The only runner the Dodgers got on in the final two innings was a single by Kemp in the eighth.  And that would be all she wrote.

As you can tell, the margin of error is so small with the Dodgers.  It seems like every pitch they make is big since they find themselves constantly in these close games.  That's a good thing that they're being competitive, but they're coming up on the short end a heck of a lot more now compared to the beginning of the year.

Fife battled like crazy, especially considering the first hitter he faced doubled and he was down 1-0 pretty fast.  Over six innings, he gave up four hits, one run, three walks, and one strikeout.  With Billingsley saying he should be back soon, Fife may only get one more start at the most, but he showed he has some talent. 

The real culprits of this game was the lack of ability of the offense to score, and of course, Belisario, who gave it all away.  In the five games since the All-Star break, the bats have scored 14 runs.  Take away the six runs they scored last Saturday, and they've put up two runs in each of the other four games.  I know Kemp and Ethier are back, but they need help.  They aren't going anywhere with numbers like that.

I wrote the other day that I was concerned about Belisario's increased workload.  After Tuesday night, I'm even more concerned now.  I know he got two outs right away, but he still was way off the mark after that and couldn't put the finishing touches on it.  Over his last five appearances covering 4 2/3 innings, he's allowed five runs.  And just like the offense, that won't cut it either.  Throw in the fact that he's been used as the setup man, and that's even worse.  Ugh.

With the great start to the season the Dodgers had, the only good thing about losing now is that they still are well within striking distance of taking over first in the division.  The flip side is that now the Giants are the ones on fire, and that doesn't look to be changing.  Keep in mind that there's now two wild card spots, so that helps. 

Anyway you slice it, the Dodgers have to figure things out to start winning again.  Scoring two runs a game and suffering bullpen meltdowns will only further bury them.

Wednesday's game will be a doozy, as Clayton Kersahw goes up against Cliff Lee.  It's pretty hard to believe that both men have a combined eight wins on the year.  Granted, Lee only has one of them, but a 3.92 ERA shows he hasn't had much luck, either.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Padres unearn their way past Dodgers

If the Dodgers wanted to find another way to lose ugly after Saturday night, they did so on Sunday.

The defense committed five, count 'em FIVE, errors as the Padres scored six unearned runs to beat the Dodgers, 7-2.  The Padres took two of three in the series as the Dodgers fell to 1 1/2 games behind the Giants in the NL West.

The Dodgers actually had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 at different points, but that was before the defense went to hell.  They got a run in the first off of Jason Marquis.  Tony Gwynn hit leadoff and did the unthinkable - he actually got a hit.  Hooray!  He soon stole second with nobody out.  Mark Ellis drew a walk, and Andre Ethier collected his 60th RBI on a single to make it 1-0.

Just so you know, James Loney grounded into a double play to end the inning.  In similar news, the sky is blue and grass is green.

Anyway, the Padres tied it in the fourth.  Logan Forsythe and Chase Headley each singled to start.  Carlos Quentin grounded into a fielder's choice to force Headley at second, but Forsythe scored on an error by  Ellis, and it was 1-1.

In the sixth, the Dodgers regained the lead for the final time.  Loney doubled with one out.  Did I just type that?  Wait, I did, and it really happened!  Holy crap!  Jerry Hairston, Jr.'s RBI single made it 2-1.

Just so you know again, Juan Uribe grounded out and finished 0-for-4.  That lowered his batting average to .193.  That's better than I thought!

The seventh is when the defense just fell apart.  Three runs were scored, and all with two outs.  Cameron "Tiki" Maybin reached on an error by Hairston.  A single and a walk later, the bases were loaded.  Yasmani Grandal pinch-hit and grounded a hard one to third, which was gloved on a beautiful diving stop by Hairston.  Unfortunately, he turned a positive into a negative by sailing the ball into the stands, scoring two runs, and the Padres were up 3-2.  An RBI single by Alexi Amarista made it 4-2.

The Padres just poured it on from there.  A solo homer by Headley started the eighth.  Two more runs were plated in the ninth with aid from Jamey Wright's fielding error.  Quentin hit an sac-fly and Yonder Alonso a single for the RBIs.

The day started off on a bad note, as Chad Billingsley said he had a sore elbow, so he was scratched.  It's not like the Dodgers were worse off without him bumbling away on the mound, but you never want to see a pitcher claim his elbow hurts.  We'll see where that goes.

So, Chris Capuano stepped up and started, as he already was on six-day's rest because of the All-Star break.  He battled but got no support from the gloves, as he lasted 6 2/3 innings for five hits, four runs (all unearned), one walk, and three strikeouts.  He took the loss to drop to 9-5, though no fault of his own.

I'd like to think the Dodgers play good defense, especially considering they have two Gold Glove winners in the outfield (Matt Kemp and Ethier), have two good corner infielders who can't hit even Little League pitching (Uribe and Loney), and good hands at second (Ellis).  The numbers, however, tell a different story.  They have the 5th most errors at 65, and are 26th in fielding % at .981.

Granted, Dee Gordon is leading all of the majors with 17 errors, so that obviously makes the team numbers look worse.  If he alone cut those errors in half to about 8, then the Dodgers would be about middle of the pack in errors.  It still could be a whole lot better, and in a pitching-rich league like the NL, definitely needs to get better.

After dropping this series to the lowly Padres, the Dodgers open a three-game set against the Phillies.  The Dodgers pulled off a four-game sweep in Philly in the beginning of May, so hopefully they have similar luck this time around.  Nathan Eovaldi has been bumped up a day to pitch the opener on Monday.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A steal of home, and a stunner for the Padres

There's a lot of ways you can lose a ball game.  A walk-off homer, single, error, sac-fly.  Or just a good, old fashioned win by more than a run.

But losing the lead when someone steals home, and then the runner right behind scores on a wild throw?  It's safe to say that could be a first.

Kenley Jansen went from being within one strike of getting a save to watching the lead vanish without actually throwing a pitch.  Everth Cabrera stole home with two outs in the ninth, and on the wild throw home, Will Venable scored as well to lead the Padres over the Dodgers in a wild one, 7-6.

Sure enough, the Giants beat the Astros in 12 innings on a walk-off single by Hector Sanchez, so the Dodgers now trail them in the NL West by a 1/2 game.

Both teams scored in the first.  Logan Forsythe singled with one out, and Chase Headley reached on an error at first by Juan Rivera.  Carlos Quentin gathered an RBI on a fielder's choice, and it was 1-0.

The Dodgers have to love getting their 2-3-4 part of the order back, and it showed in the bottom of the frame.  Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp both singled with one out.  Andre Ethier hit his 56th RBI with a single to left to tie the game.

The story from here on out was that the Dodgers would take a lead, only to watch the Padres claw back.  The first three hitters for the Dodgers reached in the third, as Bobby Abreu walked, and Ellis and Kemp singled again.  Ethier hit another RBI single to make it 2-1.  Rivera walked with the bases juiced to force in a run, and it was 3-1.  There was still nobody out, but Adam Kennedy, A.J. Ellis, and Luis Cruz all failed to bring in another run, something that proved costly later in the game.

A solo homer by Quentin in the fourth cut the lead to 3-2.  But, the Dodgers got that run right back in the fifth.  Rivera hit a single with one out, then went to third on an error by catcher Yasmani Grendal.  An RBI double by Kennedy (yes, really) put the Dodgers up 4-2.

And just when you thought the Dodgers might cruise from there, Headley smacked a two-run homer to start the sixth off of Aaron Harang, and sure enough, it was now 4-4.  But fear not, said Mr. Ethier, as his two-run homer with two outs gave him 11 on the year and put the Dodgers back up a couple at 6-4.

Don Mattingly has had much success lately with the combination of Ronald Belisario in the eighth and Jansen in the ninth.  Simply put, it didn't work on this night.  Belisario escaped with the lead, but not before Quentin's RBI single with two down cut the score to 6-5.

Then came the ninth, and boy did things unravel for the home team.  Two straight singles greeted Jansen, first by Yonder Alonso, then by Venable.  It looked like Jansen would be able to wiggle out of trouble as he next struck out Cameron "Tiki" Maybin and got Mark Kotsay to pop up after an 11-pitch at-bat.

Then with a 2-2 count on Alexi Amarista and the crowd on their feet, Cabrera, who was pinch-running for Alonso, broke for home.  A good throw would've nailed him judging by the fact that home plate umpire Greg Gibson initially called him out.  But when it was discovered that the ball sailed all the way to the backstop, that call was quickly changed.  Venable hustled around to score as well, and the Dodgers went from a high one second to a low the next.

Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save.  He got James Loney grounding to second for the first out.  Shocking!  I swear, even in his young career, Loney has grounded out to second more times than anyone else in the history of baseball.  Well, to be fair, he also grounds out to first a lot, too.

This was obviously a disappointing loss for the Dodgers, who scored 6 runs on 11 hits, but their two big errors cost them two runs.  The Padres deserve plenty of praise, as they truly never quit in this thing.  A healthy Quentin to hit in the cleanup spot makes a nice 3-4 combination with Headley.  Together, they drove in five runs, which just killed the Dodgers.

I know not every closer is perfect (especially from years of watching Jonathan "Blown Save" Broxton), but I still can't help but worry about Jansen in that role.  He's now 16-20 in save opportunities.  Good numbers, no doubt.  But what concerns me is that he really only throws one pitch, the cutter.  While it's a nasty pitch, everyone knows it's coming, so they're ready for it.  And I know Mariano Rivera does the same thing, but please don't ever compare anyone to him.  He's too good, and that's just not fair.

I also have to wonder if maybe Belisario is a little tired.  He's already appeared in 7 of the 10 games in July.  Granted, there was the All-Star break of four days thrown in there, so I'm sure he had plenty of time to rest.  Still, for a guy who didn't pitch at all in 2011 and missed the month of April this year, his workload has gone way up.  That's partly due to Matt Guerrier being injured, and because when he's on, he's just plain nasty.  I just hope that giving up runs in two of his last three outings is the exception and not a trend.

While this loss no doubt sucks, the Dodgers can at least be happy that the Ellis-Kemp-Ethier part of the lineup went 8-for-14 with four runs, four RBIs, a homer, and a walk.  Lord knows we've missed seeing those guys hit, and this shows why.  Then again, maybe the Dodgers shouldn't be happy since those guys dominated and they still lost.  Oh well.

In a way, even Dodger fans have to admit this may have been a bit of a karma game.  Remember the triple play they turned on April 15 when home plate umpire Dale Scott appeared to signal for a foul ball?  If not, then look it up.  The Dodgers got a break there, so maybe this was their way of giving it right back.

The Dodgers still can take this series with a win on Sunday.  Then again, they have Chad Billingsley on the mound, so good luck with that!  The Padres counter with Jason Marquis, who was a good pitcher... 10 years ago.  I forgot he even had a job until now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Mid-Season Report Card

The All-Star break is here, so it's time to take a look at how the boys in blue have performed during the first half of the season.


Andre Ethier - 'Dre has made the most out of some quirky lineups, as he has 55 RBIs.  For much of the season, he led the NL in that category, only to let the lead slip away at the end.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. - Mr. Versatility has played all four infield position and left field, and is hitting .297.  He's made some great plays at the hot corner as well.

A.J. Ellis - Who would've thought he would be even somewhat of a threat at the plate?  His .404 OBP ranks him fifth in the NL, and his 22 men caught stealing puts him fourth in all of baseball.

Clayton Kershaw - While the numbers aren't quite as eye-popping as last year's Cy Young campaign at 6-5, a 2.91 ERA and 119 K's is still awesome.

Chris Capuano - Signed to anchor the bottom of the rotation, he's pitched like an ace by going 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 100 K's.

Kenley Jansen - Took over the closer's role from Javy Guerra and has looked better and better with each appearance.  Has 15 saves, including 9 straight, and hasn't blown once since the end of May.

Ronald Belisario - Went from the forgotten man to a filthy setup man.  In 29 1/3 innings, has 10 holds and 24 strikeouts to go along with a 1.53 ERA.

Scott Elbert - Just slips into this column thanks to numbers that have consistently improved as the season has worn on.  Plus, has the tough job of being the only lefty in the 'pen, which adds to the pressure a little more.


Matt Kemp - It's almost unfair to say that anything he does isn't "A" worthy, but he's only appeared in 36 of the 87 games thanks to hamstring issues.  But with numbers like a .355 AVG, 12 homers and 28 RBIs, it's easy to see why he'll be back on top in no time.

Bobby Abreu - The old man deserves lots of credit.  Signed after being castoff by the Angels, he's already played in 55 games and is hitting .272 with a .371 OBP.  With all of the outfield injuries, he's been huge, really.

Mark Ellis - Another one who would've been an "A," but a leg injury has limited him to 41 games.  He has Abreu-like numbers at .271 and .371, and is invaluable in the #2 spot in the order.

Elian Herrera - His numbers have really taken a hit lately, but he's come out of nowhere to be practically be an everyday player.  Has already played every outfield position, and second, third, and short.

Josh Lindblom - Went from being nearly sent back down after Spring Training, to being the top setup man, to slipping a little lately.  Still, a 3.07 ERA and 13 holds is great for a guy who wasn't considered even an option in the bullpen to start the season.

Ted Lilly - A shoulder injury has limited him to eight starts, but is 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA.  Hopefully will be back in action soon now that he's throwing again.

Aaron Harang - His numbers might not be worth this spot, but as someone who was looked upon to be the #5 starter, is 6-5 with a 3.51 ERA.  Not too shabby.

Nathan Eovaldi - Was practically robbed of a win, any win, through his first five starts.  Got rocked in two starts after that, but rebounded for his first win against the Diamondbacks on July 5.  Has filled in quite well for the injured Lilly after starting the season at Triple-A.


Juan Rivera - Is close to an "A" since he can play both outfield and first base, but in 179 at-bats, only has 11 extra-base hits (3 homers, 8 doubles).  Plus a .257 average isn't that great.

Dee Gordon - Take away his speed, and he's pretty bad.  Has a .229 AVG, .280 OBP, and 17 errors.  But those 30 stolen bases lead the majors, and those can't be ignored.

Javy Guerra - Came into the season as the closer, but lost that spot thanks to a rough end of April and beginning of May.  Missed most of June with a knee injury, but has since returned and will look to be a top setup man.

Jamey Wright - Has toggled between long reliever and regular reliever with mixed results.  Hasn't been terrible, but not exactly good either with a 3.79 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 29 games.


Adam Kennedy - Plays many different positions, which is always good.  But, with a .228 average at the plate, hasn't given much of any help on that side of the field.

Matt Treanor - Granted, has only played in 19 games since A.J. Ellis appears in so many, but is still only hitting .224.

Scott Van Slyke - Another one with a small sample size.  Did have an awesome go-ahead, three-run shot to defeat the Cardinals back in May.  Other than that... not much.  .167 with 2 home runs and 7 RBIs for a big guy like him needs to improve.

Tony Gwynn - For a guy with good speed, only has a .240 AVG and .288 OBP.  He's also 10-16 in stolen bases, which isn't awful, but not very good either.

Chad Billingsley - Gets an "F" for the way he constantly blows leads in the middle innings.  His 100 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings shows he can get it done, but at 4-9 with a 4.30 ERA, reminds us all how he can't be relied upon.


Juan Uribe - I'm a firm believer that he's the worst starter in all of baseball.  True, he does play good defense at third, which nobody is taking away from him.  But with a .194 AVG, 1 homer, and 13 RBIs in 45 games, has to be in serious danger of being DFA'd.  And that wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

Todd Coffey - Gave the Dodgers practically nothing out of the 'pen, other than watching small deficits turn into big ones with a 4.66 ERA.  Is now lost for the season and then some with Tommy John surgery.

Mike MacDougal - Remember him?  Had great numbers last year, signed a one-year deal, and proceeded to absolutely suck with a 7.94 ERA and 2.65 WHIP in seven games.  I think it's safe to say the Dodgers made the right call in releasing him and bringing Belisario back.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kemp bombs in the Derby again

Matt Kemp might be the best player in baseball... but certainly not in the Home Run Derby.

For the second straight year, Kemp recorded nine straight outs before finally put one over the wall.  Last year he had two, this year he had one.

With a total of three dingers in two years, I think it's time for Kemp to officially Mike Piazza the Derby.

Piazza, if you recall, also participated in the Derby two consecutive years during his Dodgers' tenure, and was miserable.  So bad, in fact, that he literally hit zero home runs.  That's right - 20 swings, 0 homers.  Thankfully he tapped out after that and chose to become an announcer for it instead.

Kemp wasn't THAT bad, but make no mistake about it, it's time for him to move on from this competition and enjoy the scenery with the other players.  He'll have many more years of being an All-Star, so I'm sure the temptation will be there.  Hopefully it's one that he can overcome and avoid!

We love ya, Matty, but let's call it quits at this point!  Get your homers during the season instead.

Dodgers end first half with a thud, but still in first

The Dodgers came into their final series before the All-Star break looking to extend their lead in the NL West.  After Nathan Eovaldi got the win in the first game, things were looking good.

Then they blew two straight leads, and got blown out on Sunday.  Not exactly the perfect way to go into a break.

Chris Capuano suffered his worst start of the season as the Diamondbacks won big, 7-1.  Still, even with the loss, the Dodgers finish the first half 47-40 and in first place by a 1/2 game over the Giants.  We can all thank the Pirates for slapping around the Giants on Sunday for that.

Unlike the previous games, it was the DBacks who got on the board in the first.  Willie Bloomquist singled leading off.  An out later, Justin Upton smoked an RBI triple to go up 1-0.  After Jason Kubel struck out, Paul Goldschmidt hit an RBI ground rule double, and it was 2-0.

Capuano settled down the next few innings, putting up blanks.  Unfortunately, that's also what the Dodgers' offense was doing.  Juan Rivera led off the second with a double, but it went nowhere.  Even Capuano doubled to start the third, but the top of the order did nothing with it.

The fifth inning is when the game got away for good.  The frustrating part was that it all happened with two outs.  Upton and Kubel both singled.  After a visit to the mound for some encouragement, Capuano responded... by giving up a three-run bomb to Goldschmidt.  Just like that, it was 5-0.

The rest of the game didn't much matter.  It was good to see Javy Guerra get in a scoreless inning.  Ronald Belisario struck out the side again in the eighth, but also surrendered a two-run single to Miguel Montero.  Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.

The lone run of the day came in the ninth.  Bobby Abreu, Rivera, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. all singled to open the inning.  Juan Uribe pinch-hit, and of course he didn't get a hit, but a sac-fly RBI to make it 7-1.  Luis Cruz flied out and Matt Treanor struck out to end the game.

I know Capuano had to be disappointed when he wasn't named to the All-Star team, so I was hoping he's have a dominant start to prove he should be there.  Goldschmidt's homer in the fifth took care of that thought.  He lasted five innings for nine hits, five runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Even with this negative start, he still ends the first half at 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.  All outstanding numbers.

Let's hope this day marks the last one without Matt Kemp, as all signs are pointing to him finally coming back after the All-Star break.  For that matter, with Mark Ellis back and Andre Ethier close behind, let's also hope the screwy lineups are over with.  It's not like Don Mattingly has had a choice in the matter, as everyday there seems to be someone new going down.  Just take a look at Dee Gordon's thumb injury a few games ago.  That's the way it's been.

And all of that considered, if you're a Dodger fan, you have to thrilled that they are somehow still in first place considering all of the injuries they've been through.  They certainly weren't picked to finish in first by any baseball "experts," so that's even more satisfying.  Sure, these last few weeks have been rough, but now that the big guns are coming back, they should start to get rolling again.  And that's bad news for the rest of the West.

The Dodgers will now get a nice four-day vacation for the All-Star break.  Kemp will take part in the Home Run Derby on Monday as the captain of the National League.  He'll sit out the All-Star Game itself, but Clayton Kershaw should get an inning in at some point.  Matt Cain has been named the starter as the NL looks to get their third straight win.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pitiful Billingsley loses 5th straight

For the second straight night, the Dodgers built an early lead in Arizona, only to have it slip away.

And for the fifth straight start, Chad Billingsley proved why the Dodgers desperately need to trade him.

The Diamondbacks got four runs in the fifth and sixth to overcome a 2-0 deficit, and went on to defeat the Dodgers, 5-3.  Old friend James McDonald overpowered the Giants, so the Dodgers still have a 1/2 game lead in the NL West.

If there's one thing the Dodgers have been great at this season, it's scoring in the first inning.  Surprise, surprise... they did it again.  Luis Cruz has been a mainstay in the lineup, and he doubled with one out.  Jerrry Hairston, Jr. hit in the #3 spot again, and he cranked a two-run shot to left to make it 2-0.

In six games hitting in the #3 spot this year, Hairston's average is .333 with two homers and four RBIs.  That's ususally Matt Kemp's spot, so it will be interesting to see if Hairston stays there for some games and Kemp hits cleanup instead.  Or at least until Andre Ethier returns as well.

That's about it as highlights go.  It's not like the Dodgers didn't have a chance to win.  In fact, it was quite the opposite considering Billingsley was scoreless through four.  His only blemishes were a pair of doubles surrendered: Paul Goldschmidt in the second, Aaron Hill in the fourth.  Both were stranded.

Then came the fifth, and with it came the big old wall that Billingsley ALWAYS hits in the middle innings.  Seriously, was there ever any doubt?  Uh, no.

Miguel Montero started things with a double.  A single by Geoff Blum put runners on the corners.  Gerardo Parra then stepped up and stroked a two-run double down the left field line to tie the game.

Things weren't over yet, as after a grounder got Parra to third, Stephen Drew lifted a sac-fly RBI to put the DBacks up 3-2.

The Dodgers went down in order to start the sixth, and Billingsley wasn't done giving up runs yet.  Justin Upton, who's been the victim of the home boo birds lately, doubled leading off.  Two fly balls got him in, with Goldschmidt collecting the RBI, and it was 4-2.

A.J. Ellis tried to jumpstart a Dodgers' rally in the seventh, as he found just enough room in left for a leadoff homer.  It was his seventh of the season, and put the Dodgers down by one.

Josh Lindblom relieved Billingsley and got through the seventh unscathed.  He then got the first couple of outs in the eighth before Jason Kubel hit a solo shot into right, and it was now 5-3.

J.J. Putz came in for the save opportunity, but Adam Kennedy greeted him with a walk.  Ellis then grounded one to short in which Hill made a terrific catch and turn to complete the double play.  Bobby Abreu's pinch-hit single went nowhere as Juan Rivera struck out to end the game.  It was Putz's 16th save.

Billingsley continued his regression even more with his fifth straight loss.  During this span, he has a 6.21 ERA.  It's not like he's giving many free passes, as his strikeout to walk ratio is 29:5.  But, when hitters make contact, it's usually bad news, as he's giving up 41 hits in 29 innings.  And needless to say, that's just not going to get it done.

I know the offense hasn't exactly scored a bunch of runs for him (14 runs in 5 games), but they have given him leads that he continues to bumble away.  And that's been the story all along - good for the start of the game, awful once the middle innings hit.  And it will continue to be that way until the Dodgers decide they've had enough.

Speaking of the offense, it's probably the last time we'll see James Loney in the cleanup spot.  I know he's hit better lately, but Don Mattingly made an awful decision to put him there considering he was 0-for-4 with three K's, dropping his average to .247.  The returns of Kemp and Ethier can't come fast enough!

For the Dodgers, the goal is simple on Sunday: win and finish the first half in first place.  They've got a great pitcher on the mound for that to happen in Chris Capuano.  He'll be looking for his 10th win of the season already, one shy of the 11 he had all of last season with the Mets.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The funk is over for the Dodgers and Eovaldi

With four wins in the past five games, the Dodgers have mercifully broken out of their bad two-week stretch to end June.

And with his first win of the year, Nathan Eovaldi is looking to build a winning streak of his own.

Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera homered, Eovaldi went six strong, and the bullpen was untouchable.  Tally it all up, and it was another win for the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks, 4-1.  The Giants blew a lead against the Nationals, so the lead the NL West is up 1 1/2 games.

Much like the Fourth of July against the Reds, the Dodgers got on the board in the opening inning.  It all started with the returning Mark Ellis, who doubled in his first at-bat since May 18.  Three straight hits came after that, as Jerry Hairston, Jr. singled for runners on the corners.  Juan Rivera's RBI double made it 1-0.  Luis Cruz has been a big lift in his brief time, and his RBI single put the Dodgers up 2-0.

The DBacks cut the lead in half in the second, though it could have (and probably should have) been a whole lot worse.  The bases became loaded right away on a walk to Jason Kubel, a double by Paul Goldschmidt, and a walk to Miguel Montero.  Aaron Hill has had a good year, but he grounded into the 1-2-3 double play, pretty much the perfect thing to happen for the Dodgers. 

Stephen Drew got something out of the inning at least, as an RBI single to right made it 2-1.  Wade Miley grounded out to end the inning.

It was all about the longball and pitching from there.  Yes, the Dodgers actually hit multiple home runs in a game.  Van Slyke has been struggling at the plate to say the least, as he came into this game hitting .170 in 46 at-bats.  But, he put one out into deep left to make it 3-1 in the fourth.

Eovaldi got through the fifth and sixth thanks to a couple of inning ending double plays.  He must have done something right with runners on considering the DBacks grounded into three of those.

The seventh was interesting, as Tony Gywnn walked leading off.  Eovaldi was lifted for Juan Uribe to pinch-hit.  As Vin Scully was going on and on about how Don Mattingly has been working with Uribe on his hitting... Uribe grounded into the easy double play.  Wow does he suck.  I mean he's really, REALLY bad.  And that's just all there is to it.

Herrera, however, stepped up next and hit his first career homer, just sneaking over the wall in left, making it 4-1.  He hasn't hit a lick lately, but with Dee Gordon out six weeks and options limited, Mattingly stuck him in the leadoff spot and he got on a couple times.

The bullpen made sure the DBacks looked even weaker from there.  Scott Elbert pitched the seventh and got a strikeout.  Ronald Belisario did the same in the eighth.  Finally, Kenley Jansen shut the door in the ninth by striking out the side.  Three innings, no hits, five strikeouts.  That's some great stuff.  And that's an understatement.

It's good to see Eovaldi rewarded for a good start.  Through five starts, he was 0-3 with a 2.35 ERA.  He got hit around his previous two starts to raise those numbers to 0-5 and 4.61.  After going six innings for five hits, one run, no walks, and three strikeouts, he finally gets that elusive first win with a 4.21 ERA.

The DBacks only have one All-Star representative this year, and that's Miley.  So it was good to see the Dodgers get to him at first to make the home fans even more disgruntled.  What are they mad about the most?  The fact that Justin Upton is hitting only .266 with 7 homers and 34 RBIs.  Not terrible numbers, but certainly not ones you'd build a franchise around.  He's still very talented, so maybe we should enjoy his slump while it lasts.

With three games left before the All-Star break, the Dodgers have a great opportunity to not only stay in first place, but increase upon it as well.  The Giants have to go to Pittsburgh starting tonight, and those games are suddenly tough, thanks to a resurgent Pirates squad.  Clayton Kershaw will get the ball tonight against Josh Collmenter.