December 18, 2014

Wolf Down; Divison Tightens

WolfThis was the news the Dodgers definitely did not want to hear: Randy Wolf on the shelf for one game due to elbow irritation.  Ouch indeed.  From ESPN.com:

Wolf told the team he thought he hurt himself swinging the bat in a game. He reported discomfort in his elbow during a bullpen session on Tuesday.

“He really didn’t have a whole lot of pain, just a little bit of tightness,” trainer Stan Conte said before the Dodgers faced the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. “It doesn’t seem to be really serious.”

Phew.  With Wolf being one of the Dodgers most consistent starters and Kershaw missing a start (although claiming he’s ready to roll), having Randy out for multiple games would be a very big deal at this point in the season. 

And tonight, the Dodgers lost in Arizona in the bottom of the ninth when Troncoso gave up a bases loaded walk, while Colorado notched their sixth consecutive win when Seth Smith JUST eeks out a bases loaded infield single.  Colorado is definitely catching the breaks right now.  Time to man up, boys!

Photo Credit: Boston.com

Dodgers Get LeBlanc’ed by Padres Rookie

Wade LeBlanc

Rookie pitcher Wade Leblanc and the NL West basement dwelling Padres got one off the Dodgers last night. LeBlanc himself looked pretty strong, giving up only two hits in six innings pitched while the Padres offense got up 2-0 early in the game which turned out to be enough to hand the Dodgers a loss.

Kershaw looked OK overall, but racked up a lot of pitches early, needing 27 to get out of both the first and second innings.

Jim Thome finally got a chance to pinch hit for the Dodgers and managed a single in the 8th inning. The Dodger faithful are clearly glad he’s on board as they gave him a standing “O” as he headed to the plate.

The Padres (60-76) have won four in a row and 8 of their last 10 games after previously losing 8 of 11. Padres skipper Bud Black is clearly focused on racking up as many wins as possible despite not being playoff bound. “Even though we’re not headed toward the playoffs, the other team is playing with high intensity – and we’re going to match that intensity…It’s also important to play in these types of games against teams that are possibly headed to the playoffs, because it gives you the experience.”

Hopefully Dodger stalwart Randy Wolf will change things tonight as the Dodgers hit the field at 7:10 PM.

Jim Thome, Jon Garland Traded to Dodgers!

Jim Thome

Wow.  Was just watching tonight’s game when Vin Scully made the announcement: “The Dodgers have just announced that they have aquired Jim Thome for a player to be named later.  Big Jim with 23 home runs this year…wow, will he fit in.  Imagine the lineup with Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Jim Thome.  Whoa.”

This definitely was one move I  was not expecting the Dodgers to make.  I guess if you can’t get more starting pitching, the next best thing is add more power, right?  A free agent after this season, Thome must have waived his no trade clause.  Speaking of new Dodgers, Ronnie Belliard went deep in his first at bat as a Dodger (and fifth time this year!) while turning two double plays – very nice.

So where exactly is Thome (normally a DH) going to play?  It definitely sounds like more moves are coming…is Thome really a fourth or fifth outfielder?  A left hander off the bench?  Maybe.  Can  he play first base?  I doubt it…he hasn’t played in the field for nearly two full years.

UPDATE: Just learned that Jon Garland has also been traded to the Dodgers for a player to be named later.  Garland is 8-11 this year with a 4.29 ERA, but he is traditionally known as an “innings eater”, a guy who has won his last two starts and I believe is someone the Dodgers were considering making a run at before last season.  Interesting to note that Garland and Thome were teammates on the White Sox a few seasons ago.  Even more interesting to note that Garland was supposed to start against the Dodgers on Thursday, and now could start the same night against his old team that same night.

Ned Colletti on “Dodgers Live” after tonight’s game:

“Jim Thome is a great hitter, a home run hittter.  Is he in the twilight of his career?  No question…he’ll tell you the same thing.  He’s also a great leader and we felt that we needed as much leadership as you can have, especially late in the season.  He (Thome) called me about 8:30 tonight and said, ‘Look I wanted to call you.  I know you guys have interest and I want you to know that me playing first base is probably not going to be an option, but I’ll come off the bench and I’ll do everything I can to help this team win.’  I says, if you’re in, we’re in.  He says, ‘I’m all in.’  And I says, lets go do it.”

Well, say what you will about Ned, but he’s certainly going for it.  Frankly, he had to as the team in it’s composition yesterday was simply not good enough to advance far in the playoffs.  These moves were needed.  The Dodgers have only three pinch hit home runs all year, and craved power from the reserves.  Thome and Belliard are huge upgrades and veteran leadership.  Plus, what a DH the Dodgers have in Thome if they go to the World Series.

So what do you think?  Good moves for the post season or not the right moves?  Let’s hear your thoughts!

Dodgers Schedule About to Get a Whole Lot Easier

Joe Torre should sleep a little easier at night knowing that the scheduling gods have given him a fantastic end to the season – now all he has to do is get through August.  Check out the remaining teams and records the Dodgers face in August (a combined one game under.500):

3 games at Arizona (52-63)

3 games vs. St. Louis (64-52)

4 games vs. Chicago (58-54)

3 games at Colorado (63-51)

3 games at Cincinnati (49-64)

1 game vs. Arizona (52-63)

Not so bad, right?  Now let’s look at September and early October:

3 games vs. Arizona (52-63)

3 games vs. San Diego (49-66)

3 games at Arizona (52-63)

3 games at San Francisco (62-52)

3 games vs. Pittsburgh (46-67)

3 games vs. San Francisco (62-52)

3 games at Washington (40-74)

3 games at Pittsburgh (46-67)

2 games at San Diego (49-66)

3 games vs. Colorado (63-51)

That’s 283 combined games under .500.  Yes, that’s right, 283 games under .500, thanks to two sets with the Pirates, one with the Nationals and one with the Padres.  Seems almost unbelievable, doesn’t it?  Hopefully the Dodgers will use this time to get healthy and have their starting pitching develop some much needed confidence as they learn to go deep into each game, preserving the bullpen for the postseason.

Braves Chop Dodgers; Skid Continues

Braves Dodgers BaseballIt seems like a lot happened in last night’s 2-1 loss to the Braves in 10 innings.  Sure, Kershaw was brilliant once again, mixing up his pitches and throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while fanning 10 in the process.  Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami matched Kershaw by pitching the game of his life through seven innings.  Pesky rookie reliever Kris Medlen stopped the Dodgers with four strikeousts and no hits over two critical innings.  And the Dodgers offense continued to struggle, leaving nine men on base and going one for nine with runners in scoring position.

And while I love Joe Torre, I was slightly surprised to see him pull Sherrill, after an efficient seven-pitch 8th inning, for Broxton in the 9th.  I know it’s Torre’s style to go with his closer when the game is tied in the 9th at home (giving his team’s bats the chance to win the game), but it just seems that he would have allowed Sherrill to go a little longer, knowing we very well could be headed to extra innings.  At least that would have prolonged the entry of Mota into the game.  Sherrill is a former closer, and isn’t that why we got the guy?  Sherrill did throw 31 pitches the night before in one and 2/3 innings, so I understand the added rationale for pulling him on Saturday , but I still would have rather seen him stick around a little longer given that the big guy did not appear fatigued.

But it was that damn Yunel Escobar who clinched it for the Braves.  The shortstop was one of the heroes of Friday’s night game for the Braves with a huge hit in the 12th inning.  And then last night he did with his defense, diving for a Kemp infield shot, gettng up and making a spectacular throw to first to just nab the Bison.  Pretty spectacular stuff.  Given the Dodgers record at home in one-run games (which I think was 17-3 going into the game) and with 11 walk-off wins this season, you can understand the crowd’s shock at seeing Kemp thrown out at first to end the game.

The Dodgers now try and salvage a series split this afternoon, while ending a recent slide that has them losing three of their last four, five of their last eight and 10 of their last 16.  Ewww…

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lori Shepler