Observations from the Dodgers/Mariners Series


The starting rotation tip-toes along a very thin line.

I’m not the first to make note of the fragility of the Dodgers rotation with an injury prone Hyun-Jin Ryu. That message was made all the more clear with each home run the Mariners hit off of Brandon McCarthy (4) and spot starter David Huff (2) in the first two games of this series.

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Ryu had back, hip, and shoulder issues in 2014. He missed the last three weeks of the season with a sore shoulder before returning for Game 3 of the Divisional Series versus the Cardinals on October 6 where he pitched 6 innings giving up only 1 run. I mention this because it was his last game of the season and we never had a chance to see if he could take the mound again a few days later.

Flash forward to 2015 spring training and we still haven’t seen consistent, repeating starts from the big Korean which makes me a little nervous. Is it possible that there is more going on with his shoulder than a brief stint on the DL can fix? And if he continues to miss starts, will the Dodgers have anyone within the organization ready to be called up and contribute, or will the offense and bullpen be needed for more bailouts?

This team has more grit than a Stieg Larsson novel.

We’re only three series into the season, but I’m already noticing a level of resilience and depth that was lacking at times last year. As Ken Gurnick noted after Game 2 of this series, eight games into the schedule “the Dodgers already have as many comebacks as they did all last season. Trailing after six innings last year, they were 2-54. This year, they are 2-2.”

In an interview with David Vassegh on LA’s AM570, Carl Crawford agreed that guys are “not giving away at bats…[they] got that winning spirit, just not giving up. That’s a good trait to have early on.”

Apr 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford (3), left fielder

Joc Pederson

(31) and right fielder

Yasiel Puig

(66) jump in the outfield after the last out of the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the intended side-effects of Andrew Friedman’s off-season personnel changes. The Dodgers now have less reliance on select sluggers and more options with skilled hitters sprinkled throughout the lineup who can adapt to a variety of situations.

Howie Kendrick appeared to struggle at the plate for parts of the night during Game 2, striking out in the 3rd and the 7th. But watching both of those at bats was like watching a trained marksman find his bearings. The strikeout in the 3rd inning was a 9-pitch battle including four foul balls. Kendrick wasn’t up at the plate in the 9th only looking for something to drive. He took what pitcher Fernando Rodney gave him, an inside fastball Kendrick broke his bat on but was still able to punch out to right field. Hitting 101.

That reminds me, remember when people used to wonder where all the runs would come from this year? I know we’re only 9 games in, but the numbers are striking.

2014: 718 runs, or 4.43 per game with a team batting average of .265.

2015: 43 runs in 9 games, or 4.78 per game with a team batting average of .272

Mattingly is a regular David Blaine with the bench, making you see things that aren’t really there.

Justin Turner, Juan Uribe, and Alex Guerrero each bring their own unique skill sets to every game. The problem is that they are all jockeying to play third base meaning it’s difficult to have more than one of the three in a game at any given time. Don Mattingly has apparently solved this conundrum. With the manager’s constant rotations, pinch hitting, some pixie-dust and double-switches (along with some unlucky injuries) it almost feels like all three men have been playing all along.

Going back to Game 2 of the Diamondbacks series:

Turner started at third base, was injured in the 2nd inning and replaced by Uribe who injured himself a play later and was replaced by Alex Guerrero.

Game 1 of the Mariners series:

Turner pinch hit for Darwin Barney while Alex Guerrero started at third base and hit the walk-off winner in the 10th inning. No appearance for Uribe in this one.

Game 2:

Uribe started at third base. Guerrero pinch hit in the 4th inning for David Huff and crushed a home run. Turner pinch hit for Chris Hatcher in the 8th and remained at the plate in the 9th since Joc Pederson was caught stealing to end the 8th. Turner also took over for Uribe at third base.

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  • Game 3:

    Uribe again starts at third. Guerrero and Turner don’t play…or did they?

    I’m still waiting for the inning where Uribe and Turner both single before Guerrero drives everyone in with a walk-off homerun.

    Other random observations:

    To paraphrase the little kid in the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” Alex Guerrero, you’re a bad man. You’re a very bad man.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could have seen Jackie Robinson play in person at least once.

    Vin Scully says so much by saying so little. When Kyle Seager came up to bat in the top of the 9th of Game 2, the Dodgers announcer filled a pause in the action by saying “Seager had a baseball scholarship to the University of North Carolina. He majored in Exercise and Sports Science.” He waited a beat and then repeated, “Exercise?” He then went on with the game call, leaving the question hanging. I could just imagine Scully putting his hand over the mic, turning to whoever was sitting next to him and asking, “Who the heck majors in exercise?”

    Andre Ethier will not go gentle into that good night.

    Just going to leave this one here:

    Dodgers Bullpen vs Seattle

    Game 1: 3IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB, 5K, W

    Game 2: 5IP, 3H, 1R, 3BB, 10K, W

    Game 3: 4IP, 2H, 0R, 1BB 4K

    Totals: 12IP, 5H, 1R, 5BB, 19K, and a well-earned sweep of the M’s.

    Day off for the Dodgers today. Tomorrow brings in the Rockies with Kyle Kendrick matching wits with Clayton Kershaw. Let the battle for first place begin.