November 24, 2014

The Bison Delivers!

Two nights, two walk-off wins for the Dodgers!  Rather than recap the night’s festivities, I thought I’d let the photographs of Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo do the talking.  But it’s safe to say, a huge night for both John Ely and Matt “Bison” Kemp!

I’ll be in the press box for tomorrow’s day game against the D-Backs when Edwin Jackson returns to Chavez Ravine!  Email any questions you would like me to ask of Joe, Edwin or any of the Dodgers starters to chris@dodgerfan.net

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo / LA Dodgers 2010

John Ely and Cliff Lee: An Unlikely Duo

One is a Cy Young winner and one has never pitched above Double-A before this season.  But after reading a Bloomberg Sports article on Cliff Lee, there is reason for comparison.

From Bloomberg’s R.J. Anderson:

Lee is averaging a little over seven innings per start, which totals 36.2 innings pitched. He’s struck out 32 batters and walked one. That would be a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 32, which is simply unheard of. The best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history (for pitchers with at least 100 innings in a single season) is 11 – posted by Brett Saberhagen in 1994. Ben Sheets’ 2006 season is the only other case of a double-digit strikeout-to-walk rate for a starting pitcher with at least 100 IP.

Wow.  Saberhagen and Sheets defined what control is all about, and Cliff Lee is on pace to place himself in some elite company.  So outside of Lee, what other starters in the major leagues has a commanding strikeout-to-walk ratio?  After looking at the top 50+ strikeout pitchers in 2010, here are the current leaders:

Pitcher        Strikeouts         Walks         Ks/Walk Ratio

Cliff Lee                   32                        1                       32.00

John Ely                 32                         6                         5.33

Carl Pavano           41                         8                         5.125

Jamie Shields        71                        14                       5.07

Dan Haren              76                        15                        5.06

Now that’s fantastic company for John Ely at this point in the season.  There’s obviously a long, long way to go this year, but given that we’re 29% of the way through the season, it’s worth pointing out how Ely’s success on the mound compares to his fellow starters.

Here’s a little more from A.J. Anderson on Cliff Lee, and his phenomenal strikeout-to-walk ratio:

Aside from Saberhagen and Sheets, Curt Schilling is the only other pitcher to break the 9 K/BB barrier, which is fitting. During Schilling’s later years with the Diamondbacks, ESPN would always joke about whether Schilling’s win total would exceed his walk total. Now, Schilling never actually accomplished the feat, but Lee very well could. In fact, Lee actually has more wins (two) than walks at this moment – and given his performance to date, should have more wins, if not for lousy run support and other factors beyond his control.

Thinking ahead to the trading deadline, what better role model could a young John Ely have than a true ace that is also known for his control?  Food for thought.

Dodgers Ask About Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee

All I have to say is, thank god!  I believe it’s an encouraging sign that, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers placed a couple calls to the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners about the availability of Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee, respectively.

Frankly, there’s no better way for Frank McCourt and the Dodgers organization to overcome the perception that the divorce is having a negative impact on the team’s cash flow then by trading for one of the two biggest names rumored to be on the trading block.  Both guys do have significant salary issues, with Oswalt due $39.5 million over 2 1/2 years (assuming the Dodgers pick up his 2012 option) and Lee is due $4.5 million for the remainder of this season.  Then, of course, there is the price in terms of players both clubs would want in return.

And let’s be realistic, for the Dodgers to make a serious run at a World Series title, they absolutely, positively need a veteran starting pitcher.  I love the up-and-coming tandem of Billingsley and Kershaw along with the surprising duo of Carlos Monasterios and John Ely, but as Bill Shaikin notes, none of these guys are older than 25 and the elder statesman of that quartet is Bills, who was struggled with his confidence in the playoffs and was left off of the NLCS roster by the Dodgers.  And yes, the Dodgers do have Vicente Padilla coming back soon, but while he and Hiroki Kuroda are solid starters, they’re not #1 starters that can make the Dodgers a truly elite team.

In other positive news, Ramon Ortiz has finally left the Dodgers, after being designated for assignment today.  Reliever Justin Miller thankfully takes Ortiz’s spot on the roster.  Miller has a 2.22 ERA in 22 games for the Albuquerque Dukes.

Elymania continues as well, with the rookie starter going 7.1 innings, giving up just four hits, two walks and one earned run on the road in Chicago (his hometown).  Are you kidding me?  The kid threw 98 pitches with 68 of them being strikes.  Ely continues to show excellent discipline and control of his pitches.  Pretty remarkable stuff, and undoubtedly, a lot of the credit for Ely’s development goes to Russell Martin and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.  Unfortunately the Dodgers lost the game due to a complete lack of offense, but Ely’s continued development should not be overlooked.

Roy Oswalt Photo Credit: UPI

John Ely Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Ely & The Beard

Sounds like a sitcom, doesn’t it?  Today’s game played like a television show, with a consistent story line (the Dodgers winning 12 of their last 13 games), a little drama (a rocky 1st inning by John Ely) and one of the team’s heroes giving the fans a happy ending (Jonathan Broxton delivering his third consecutive save).

And today, we also learned that John Ely is, indeed, human.  After pitching to 89 consecutive batters without giving up a walk, the 24 year-old starter finally succumbed, walking one batter in a rough first inning before rebounding and putting together another quality start against the Detroit Tigers.  In the end, the kid pitched through just over six innings, giving up eight hits, to go along with the one walk and three strikeouts.  His ERA for the season stands at 3.41.  Not bad for a kid who never pitched above Double A in his career.

Casey Blake continued his torrid hitting as of late, going 3 for 4, including a solo bomb.  Matt Kemp also went deep, DeWitt trippled (he leads the club with three) driving in two, with Loney and Manny contributing RBI to the cause.

Things started to get a little dicey after Torre gave Ely a quick hook in the 6th inning.  Kuo was in a bit of a jam with the bases loaded in the 6th, but rebounded with a fantastic throw to end the inning.  In the 8th, Troncoso simply looked worn out and needed Weaver to help keep the damage to a minimum.  Broxton also went threw a few struggles in the 9th, but closed the door with two strikeouts (swinging and looking, respectively) to record what was his third consecutive save – not bad when you consider how slow the season started for Brox.

In my opinion, one of the plays of the game was a diving stop made by Casey Blake to save a sure single.  Throwing from his knees, The Beard had a fantastic throw to second to record a critical out and give Broxton some much needed breathing room.

All in all, a solid win by the Dodgers.  For the majority of the game, the Dodgers looked very, very solid, combining great offense, solid defense and quality starting pitching.  The club goes for the sweep against the Tigers on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PT with the Dodgers’ most consistent starter, Hiroki Kuroda (5-1, 2.87 ERA), taking on Rick Porcello (3-4, 5.93 ERA).

Elymania Arrives at Chavez Ravine!

It’s hard not to get too excited about young John Ely, the 24 year-old starting pitcher who led the Dodgers to their eighth consecutive win with another strong pitching performance…this time over the Houston Astros, going 7 innings, and giving up only 5 hits with 0 walks.  Oh, and he had eight strikeouts.

The kid doesn’t throw hard, but man, is he percise!  As noted by Jon Weisman, Ely has faced 84 consecutive batters without walking one.  How crazy is that?  And better yet, he’s made it through the sixth inning in his last three starts…for a Dodgers club that couldn’t find a quality start earlier in the season, Ely has been a truly surprising find.  Who would have thought that a kid who had never pitched above Double A ball could arrive and be 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA?

Vin Scully mentioned during tonight’s game that through the first 30 games of the season, Dodger starters were 7-11 with a 5.14 ERA.  Their starters went an average of just 5 innings during this span.  Before factoring in tonight’s game, over their last seven starts, the Dodger starters were 6-0 with a 2.00 ERA and have averaged 6.1 innings per start.  Quite an improvement!

And as Eric Stephen notes, it’s hard to not get too worked up over the success of John Ely.  As he makes his way through the National League a second time, he’s sure to stumble a little, but for now, Dodger fans can simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and if you want to read some great Dodger fan/blogger humor, be sure and search #Elymania on Twitter.  Here’s a quick sampling of what you will find:

The only reason Andre Ethier’s pinkie hasn’t healed yet is because John Ely hasn’t touched it (@truebluela)

John Ely killed the electric car. The only green Ely needs is the grass surrounding the mound (@MrLASportsFan)

Jon Ely could plug the oil pipeline leak with a single pitch (@dodgerfan_net)

John Ely struck out Chuck Norris… with 2 pitches (@russaldo13)

Janet Jackson actually made her album “Control” as a tribute to John Ely’s impending birth (@LetsGoNico)

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP