Down On The Farm Update: Games Of 4/8 – 4/14

pederson_joc ST 3.13.14

Sorry for the delay in this update, but basically Joc Pederson hits all of the baseballs.

April 8

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) stayed hot going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and a walk. Though I guess it’s not technically a hot streak if his entire year is a hot streak.

Pitcher Of The Day: Yimi Garcia (AAA) pitched two innings of one-hit ball and struck out four. I honestly think he’ll prove ready of a shot in the MLB sooner than later.

Notables

Chris Anderson (A+) couldn’t make it five innings, but did look better. Anderson struck out six and allowed just an unearned run on five hits and three walks in 4.2 innings.

Jesmuel Valentin (A) went 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. Bat is a question, but he’s off to a solid start.

April 9

Hitter Of The Day: Corey Seager (A+) collected four hits in six trips, along with two doubles. Almost three years younger than the league average, and he’s doing well.

Pitcher Of The Day: Victor Arano (A) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and is showing no signs that this level is too much for him.

Notables

Stephen Fife (AAA) lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits. I understand he looked okay in the MLB during his short stints there, but he looks atrocious right now. Whether that’s the constant shoulder injuries taking a toll or what, I dunno.

Julio Urias (A) gave up two hits, two walks, two wild pitches, and struck out two in just 1.2 innings of one-run ball. Urias was removed for precautionary reasons after being struck in the chest by a liner.

April 10

Hitter Of The Day: Joey Curletta (A) is on fire, going 3-for-4 with a double. The over-the-wall power is there even if it’s not showing right now, and he’s pounding doubles.

Pitcher Of The Day: Pedro Baez (AA) is serving as the closer and thriving so far, posting his second save and striking out one in his flawless inning of work. Baez isn’t far from being ready either.

Notables

Alex Santana (A) went 2-for-4 with two doubles but also struck out twice, and he’s off to a slow start.

Zachary Bird (A) … why? He gave up seven runs (six earned) in 3.1 innings on five hits and two walks. He struck out two but his ERA was over 11 after this start. Sigh.

April 11

Hitter Of The Day: Chris Reed (AA) struck out nine over six innings of work, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. When he can get ahead with his fastball, he looks like this. It’s a matter of how often he has command.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jacob Scavuzzo (A) goes 2-for-3 with two walks. The more he continues to produce away from Ogden, the more I believe in his tools.

Notables

Zach Lee (AAA) pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball, striking out three and walking one.

Corey Seager (A+) collected two hits in four trips, including a triple.

Tom Windle (A+) posted another quality start, surrendering just an unearned run in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Doesn’t quite have the upside, but he’s polished, and even if he doesn’t make it as a starter, he should have a future in relief.

April 12

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) went 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Of course.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jose Dominguez (AAA) took the loss in his inning, giving up a walk and two hits. But he struck out three, once again showing superior stuff.

Notables

*Yawn*

April 13

Hitter Of The Day: Alex Guerrero (AAA) wanted to remind you that he still exists, and he did so by going 3-for-4 with a double and homer in his season debut in the minors.

Pitcher Of The Day: Red Patterson (AAA) started and went six innings while only giving up a run and striking out four. Patterson may have a future as a reliever, and I liked him in that role during Spring Training.

Notables

Scott Schebler (AA) grabbed another goose egg in four trips, striking out three times. Off to a rough start against advanced pitching.

Chris Anderson (A+) only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on FIVE walks and four hits while striking out four.

Jacob Scavuzzo (A) and Joey Curletta (A) went 3-for-7 and 4-for-7, respectively, in the team’s doubleheader. Both had a double each, and Scavuzzo also had a walk.

April 14

Hitter Of The Day: Alex Guerrero (AAA) struck again, going 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk. However, he also made an error, which I think is the primary worry anyway. Personally, I’m not totally sold on his bat yet, but most think he’ll hit. It’s the glove that’s a question.

Pitcher Of The Day: Julio Urias (A) gave up five runs and eight baserunners in 4.1 innings but struck out six. Hitters are not intimidating him at all, as his strikeout rate is great. It’s just that his command so far has resembled more a typical teenager than what we’ve come to expect from him.

Notables

Joc Pederson (AAA) went 2-for-4. Another day at AAA for him.

Stephen Fife (AAA) lasted just four innings, allowing 12 baserunners, and four runs (three earned). That meant his ERA plummeted to 11.91.

Darnell Sweeney (AA) went 3-for-4 with a homer but is off to a slow start with the bat. That said, he has more walks than strikeouts, and plate discipline was a primary concern, so he should be fine if he keeps this up.

Dodgers’ prospect scouting report April 2014: Chris Anderson

anderson_chris_quakes_4.13.14

While Julio Urias is one of the most prized pitching prospects in the California League, the Dodgers also have the likes of 2013 draftees Tom Windle and Chris Anderson.

I was able to see Anderson’s April 13 outing in Modesto against the Rockies’ High-A affiliate, the Nuts.

The wind was blow out to right field for most of the afternoon, and he might have been aided by the wind. Anderson gave up quite a few hard-hit balls and fly balls, despite having a heavy fastball prime for getting grounders. That surprised me a bit.

Editor’s note: I am not a scout (#notascout). This is an amateur scouting report based on what I know about baseball and from following the sport all my life. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable (think an Aroldis Chapman fastball), and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

How he got here

Anderson, 21, was the Dodgers’ first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Jacksonville University. The native Minnesotan signed for the slot-recommended amount of $2,109,900.

Early in the draft season, Anderson was a projected Top-10 pick despite pitching for a relatively small college in Florida. However, overuse caused his performance to suffer, which also caused his draft slot to suffer.

He debuted at Low-A Great Lakes last season, and performed relatively well. He was elevated to High-A Rancho Cucamonga for the 2014 season.

Vitals

B/T: R/R
Height: 6’4
Weight: 215
DOB: 7/29/1992

Repertoire

4-seam fastball
2-seam fastball
Curveball
Slider
Changeup

If you like heat, this was the outing to see. Anderson threw primarily in his 90-pitch outing. He sat at 93-96 MPH, and topped out at 99 MPH. He struck out Rockies’ prospect Trevor Story on a 98 MPH fastball in the first inning that was awfully impressive. He threw only fastballs in the inning.

He didn’t throw the 2-seamer a lot in this outing, as his fastball was up in the zone a lot with just a little arm-side run. But he didn’t get a ton of movement as the Nuts squared up more fastballs than expected for loud contact.

Anderson’s bugaboo is his control and command. It came and went (mostly went) in this outing, as he walked five hitters in his 3 1/3 innings, including three in the fourth inning. Me missed his location a lot — up and away to lefties and outside to righties.

The first breaking pitch he threw was his curveball. It sat at 80-81 MPH and topped out at 83 MPH. He threw a couple of good ones — including one in a 1-1 count that stole him a strike. He threw it sparingly (seven times) and it flashed average potential. It featured a sharp 11-5 break, but it wasn’t to be confused with his slider.

His slider was an 85-87 MPH offering that topped out at 88 MPH. It had some cutter-like action, but the shape of it wasn’t always consistent. He threw one really sharp one, a few flat ones and a few that looked like cutters. On his first slider, his arm slowed noticeably — something he’ll have to improve as he moves up the ranks. It flashed solid-average potential, but it’s also been said it’s his best off-speed pitch. On this day, his curveball was the better of the two breakers.

He didn’t throw his changeup in this outing, which is somewhat surprising to me as it was supposed to be his clear No. 3 pitch. But his fastball was the star of the day — when he threw it well.

Delivery

Like many early-round Dodger draftees of recent years, Anderson’s delivery is clean. When he begins his delivery, his body goes a little off-balance (just slightly) — kind of a rocking motion — before he explodes forward toward the plate. That could be a hindrance when it comes to repeating his delivery and arm slot.

He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot that is almost over-the-top (but not Zachary Bird over-the-top). He’s able to get some good downward plane on his pitches that should lead to a good sinking fastball down the road.

He tended to fly open with his front side, leading to command issues. His arm also dragged a bit, also leading to command issues.

He’s a big guy with a strong base, so having a clean delivery will benefit him greatly throughout his career.

Video

Here’s some video I shot of Anderson’s outing.

Grades

Tools Now Future
Fastball 50 65
Slider 45 50
Curveball 50 55
Changeup 50 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 50
Delivery 55 60

Here’s how I would grade Anderson, in the table at right. His mullet graded out at plus-plus, as he flashed a 70 on this day.

Conclusion

Anderson impressed with his fastball and his better-than-expected velocity. The radar gun may have been a bit hot, but the Nuts’ starter was working in the mid-80s with his fastball, so it couldn’t have been that hot. His off-speed pitches need some work, and I’d like to see him incorporate his changeup more and either choose his slider or curveball to be his No. 2 pitch. He can be a 4-pitch pitcher, but command/control issues could lead to him scrapping a pitch.

He has the upside of a No. 2 starter, but he’s more likely a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. He reminds me a lot of Chris Withrow, and he could very well follow Withrow’s path if his command doesn’t improve. If he continues to miss his locations on a consistent basis, he could end up in the bullpen. If he does, he profiles as a late-inning, power reliever with the ability to close. Makeup and poise will determine whether he could be a future No. 2 starter or closer. But Anderson definitely has a future in the majors in some capacity.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Exhale

gonzalez_hits_bummgarner_2014-04-07

In between Yasiel Puig doing all the things that make him great – and don’t forget the out-of-nowhere catch that may have saved a run in the eighth inning – there was actually a baseball game today. I know! And once again, Hyun-jin Ryu is making people notice that the Dodgers have more than two outstanding starting pitchers. Ryu shut out the Giants on 112 pitches over seven innings, walking one and allowing four singles. That’s it.

If this sounds familiar, well, maybe it should. Ryu has now pitched three times on the road, and he’s allowed exactly zero runs in 26 innings against Arizona, San Diego, Arizona again, and San Francisco. His one game at home? Two innings, eight runs. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Other than, you know, nothing, probably. (Eric Stephen notes that Ryu is now the second Dodger in the last century with four straight road scoreless starts, joining Orel Hershiser.)

Also as usual: the Dodgers really, really needed Ryu to be good, because the offense was underwhelming. The Dodgers did get 11 men on base, including three doubles, yet somehow managed to get only two runs in, one on a Tim Federowicz single, and one on the Adrian Gonzalez single you see above to plate Scott Van SlykeMatt Kemp, disappointingly, went 0-4, but at least he made a sparkling catch in deep center field; Dee Gordon, getting a shot against lefty Madison Bumgarner because Justin Turner was pressed into service at shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, also went hitless. In the three games in San Francisco, the Dodgers scored five runs. It’s hard to win like that, and for the most part, they didn’t.

After Ryu, Brian Wilson came on in the eighth for the first time since returning from the disabled list and proceeded to scare the hell out of all of us, needing 28 pitches to get through the inning, allow a double to Ehire Adrianza and a walk to Hunter Pence. He did, however, touch 97, which is a good sign for a guy who just missed two weeks with elbow trouble, but only 15 of those 28 pitches were strikes.

And I suppose we can’t ignore Kenley Jansen, who also made it interesting by letting a run in, despite allowing just about nothing hard-hit. Jansen started off by striking out Mike Morse, which is great, except Morse still reached when Federowicz couldn’t handle the pitch. Jansen then blew away Hector Sanchez, but walked Gregor Blanco before allowing Adrianza to dink a dink into left field, scoring Morse. Mercifully, pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford flew out to end it. The Dodgers and Giants are now tied for first, with the Dodgers headed back home to welcome the putrid Diamondbacks tomorrow night. It’s fun just to type that.

Oh, and just in case you still think that Puig is the only player in the game who does dumb things: Gonzalez led off the eighth with a double, and after Kemp struck out, Van Slyke grounded to Jeremy Affeldt… who caught Gonzalez inexplicably hung up between second and third. As Gonzalez was being tagged out in the rundown, Van Slyke tried to sneak into second, getting tagged out as well for your traditional 1-6-5-4 double play. Puig absolutely does dumb things, don’t forget. No one’s saying he doesn’t. But so do other players. Lots of them.

Yasiel Puig Just Had The Most Yasiel Puig Inning Ever

We don’t usually do in-game posts, but Yasiel Puig doesn’t usually do, well, this.

In the third inning, with one out and Brandon Belt on first, Brandon Hicks lifted an easy fly ball to right field, where Puig lazily tried to one-hand it and let it drop. But before a million columnists could register a billion articles worth of “HE’S RUINING THE GAME!” outrage, Puig made up for it by firing to second and getting Belt on the force.

But still! The laziness! The insolence! The… very next play!

Good… lord.

I get that Puig is infuriating sometimes. I get that he acts a fool out there, and I get that although his strong arm and talent allowed him to salvage his mistake, it would have been better if he’d just caught the damn ball in the first place. But come on, now. Baseball is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. And is there anyone more fun in the sport than him right now? Is the game not more entertaining and exciting because a guy who can do this on back-to-back plays — sadly, he only singled in the next inning, rather than hitting a nine-run homer — exists?

Register your displeasure, stodgy old columnists. No one cares. This was great. (The Dodgers currently hold a 1-0 lead in the fourth.)

Dodgers @ Giants April 17, 2014: No Hanley, And Bad History For Ryu

attparkThe Dodgers are looking to salvage this series — much like the last series against the Giants — in the final game of a 3-game set. They turn to Hyun-jin Ryu to be the “stopper.”

Normally, I’d feel pretty confident (even going up against Madison Bumgarner), but for whatever reason, Ryu struggles against San Francisco.

In six career outings — including the disastrous April 4 home opener when he gave up six runs on eight hits in two innings — Ryu has been less than stellar against the Giants:

Dodgers
Giants
12:45 pm PT
San Francisco, CA
2B
Gordon
SS
Arias
SS
Turner
RF
Pence
RF
Puig
3B
Sandoval
1B
Gonzalez
C
Posey
CF
Kemp
LF
Morse
LF
Van Slyke
1B
Belt
3B
Uribe
2B
Hicks
C
Federowicz
CF
Blanco
P
Ryu (L)
P
Bumgarner (L)
  • 3.89 ERA
  • 1.58 WHIP
  • 3.4 BB/9
  • 5.2 K/9
  • 1.54 K/BB
  • .300 BAA

If you take out his numbers against the Giants, Ryu looks like an even better pitcher than he already is against the rest of baseball:

  • 2.77 ERA
  • 1.11 WHIP
  • 7.8 H/9
  • 2.2 BB/9
  • 7.9 K/9

The only thing that hasn’t done (knock on wood) is give up a lot of homers to the Giants. Ryu’s biggest problem has been the walks. In fact, 22.8 percent of the walks he’s issued in his career have come against the Giants. The Giants’ plate discipline won’t be confused for the Red Sox or A’s anytime soon, which makes the higher-than-optimal walk rate against SF rather surprising.

The hitters who have given him the biggest problems are Angel Pagan (5-for-8), Andres Torres (5-for-11, 1 2B), Hunter Pence (6-for-15, 2 2B, 2 BB), Marco Scutaro (5-for-12, 1 BB) and Pablo Sandoval (4-for-14, 1 2B, 3 BB)

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Ryu has fared better in San Francisco against the Giants than he has in Los Angeles.

  • 3 games
  • 3.20 ERA
  • 19 2/3 IP
  • 16 H
  • 7 R
  • 7 ER
  • 1 HR
  • 6 BB
  • 11 K

The Dodgers have struggled against the Giants so far (1-4), and a win on Thursday would do a lot to stop the bleeding. I’ve said it on the podcast, but I think the Dodgers and Giants will be fighting for the majority of the season for first place, with the Dodgers ultimately pulling away in August or September. But, as is always the case, the Giants will be a tough draw for the Dodgers.

=====

Yet another story detailing Yasiel Puig‘s journey from Cuba to the United States was published. ESPN has it this time with some additional details than the article that came out on Sunday in Los Angeles Magazine.

“Sometime after 1 in the morning, the knock came. Two men dressed in burglar back stood silently at the door. Somehow, there were no guards that night. (Yunior) Despaigne is at a loss to say why. Regardless, Tomasito had chosen an inopportune moment to relax his grip on his captives. Following the two men in black, Despaigne, Puig, his girlfriend and the padrino crept out of the hotel and down a few dark streets and into a marina and onto a waiting boat that ferried them across the water to Cancun. No violence, no Tomasito, no Leo, no guards. The heist had worked. But the Rubio group had also just ripped off a criminal gang whose highly lucrative underworld ventures required the sanction of Los Zetas. They had now motivated some darkly uncompromising individuals. In plotting the heist, they hadn’t really even discussed the dangers; they were just that obvious. But so too were the rewards, and they’d come to an unstated consensus: For a chance to get Yasiel Puig, they were willing to risk their lives.”

So, the next time you run into someone who’s badmouthing Puig for “not playing the game the right (white) way,” show them these articles. It might be a waste of time because there are just some folks with tiny brains and a complete unwillingness to open their minds to the other side.

=====

Hanley Ramirez is out today after taking a fastball off his hand/wrist last night. X-rays were negative, which is encouraging. Ramirez says he plans to play tomorrow, which is nice, as though we all haven’t heard that one before. But the Dodgers can really ill-afford to lose Ramirez for an extended period of time. Justin Turner gets the nod in his place.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Life Is Pain

I’m sorry Chad made these GIFs. I’m even sorrier I have to show them to you. But you know that I do, right? This is what happened to Hanley Ramirez leading off against Ryan Vogelsong in the 7th inning:

Looks fun, right? Except, oh:

You know how we’re always complaining that Coors Field swallows up Dodger outfielders, not only essentially ruining Matt Kemp‘s career but also banging up Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier? That’s how I’m starting to feel about Ramirez in San Francisco. Last year, he destroyed his thumb there in the WBC, then blew out his hamstring there days after returning. I hate that place. But then, between Coors, and the pool in Arizona, the NL West isn’t really friendly these days. Heart you, Petco?

* * *

Oh, and there was a game, I guess, and before Ramirez was injured, it was actually an interesting one, if not necessarily a well-played one. Vogelsong and Paul Maholm each made it through six full innings allowing just one run, with the Dodgers doing their best to help with endless dumb errors. (Kemp & Carl Crawford couldn’t figure out who was going to catch a ball that Kemp eventually dropped; Adrian Gonzalez was called out on batter’s interference; Kemp was picked off first; Juan Uribe, inexplicably running, was thrown out stealing easily.)

Maholm wasn’t exactly dominant, striking out two against three walks, but did induce two double plays and allowed only a Buster Posey single to drive in Hunter Pence. He also drew a walk and came around on Dee Gordon‘s triple, which is a real thing that happened.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much all the offense we saw, since the Dodgers managed just six hits, three by Gordon. The inning that began with Ramirez’ hit-by-pitch turned into a bases loaded, one out situation, but then Uribe ended any hope there with a double play.

* * *

I was going to continue, but let’s reserve a separate section for the Mattingly-bashing, of which there were two specific items on the agenda. The first, I’ll be honest, I didn’t dislike nearly as much as many others seemed to. In the bottom of the 7th, the Giants had two outs and a man on second. Mattingly intentionally walked Pence to get to Pablo Sandoval. That added a force play, and Sandoval was hitting .164/.270/.309 entering the night. That Sandoval singled in the run didn’t help, but I at least understood that.

But… holy good lord, the top of the eighth. Gordon singled with two outs, and moved to second when Javier Lopez threw away a pickoff. Lopez exists in this sport only because of what he does to lefties, against whom he has a .211/.293/.299 line in his career. Righties tag him for .303/.387/.429. You’d think that would be a situation where you absolutely wouldn’t want any lefty batter against him, but especially not Crawford, who has a .259/.305/.373 career line against lefties. This is why Scott Van Slyke exists. This may be the only reason that Van Slyke exists Unless we find out that Van Slyke got run over by a trolley on the way to the park or was otherwise unavailable, there is just about no rational reason to let Crawford hit. But since we saw him on deck with two outs in the ninth, it sure seemed like he wasn’t dead. And not that I wanted him to be dead — he seems like a nice guy — but man, it sure would have explained a lot.

Mattingly let Crawford hit, for reasons I cannot comprehend. He grounded out to first. You might as well have just ended the game there.

* * *

Back to Ramirez, the Dodgers announced that initial X-rays on his hand were negative, which is great news, if only because there’s no immediate indication of a break. (And good on Stan Conte for forcing him to come out, since it sure seemed like he wanted to stay in.) Until we learn more, we can stand down on the “will Gordon play short!” and “is Alex Guerrero coming up?!” business that came up on social media within literal seconds of the pitch. Unfortunately, the Dodgers have exhausted their ridiculous run of days off, and assuming Ramirez needs at least some down time, we’re looking at Justin Turner and Chone Figgins at shortstop. For a team struggling on offense, this is not appealing.

* * *

Oh well. There’s always this:

Dodgers @ Giants April 16, 2014: The Problem With Juan Uribe’s Offense

attparkJuan Uribe has been getting a lot of praise for his offense so far this year. And rightfully so: Uribe currently leads the Dodgers’ batters in wRC+. However, he’s taken an unusual path to get there. So far this season, Uribe has not drawn a single walk. Including last year’s postseason (when he didn’t draw any walks either), Uribe has gone 101 plate appearances since his last free pass.

Walk rate takes about 120 plate appearances to stabilize, and so far this season Uribe has 58. It’s too early to declare this as a big problem; so far it’s a statistical curiosity. At this point last year, Uribe’s walk rate was 23.9% and he finished the season at 7.0%. When Uribe’s .476 BABIP inevitably regresses, he’ll need the walks to keep his offensive contribution at a respectable level. Luckily, he still has his defense, which will help maintain his value.

Dodgers
Giants
7:15 pm PT
San Francisco, CA
2B
Gordon
CF
Pagan
LF
Crawford
RF
Pence
SS
Ramirez
3B
Sandoval
1B
Gonzalez
C
Posey
CF
Kemp
LF
Morse
RF
Ethier
1B
Belt
3B
Uribe
2B
Hicks
C
Butera
SS
Arias
P
Maholm (L)
P
Vogelsong (R)

Paul Maholm gets his second start for the Dodgers tonight. His first start was, well, bad. He gave up five runs in 4-1/3 innings, striking out one and walking two. Given how hard the bullpen worked during yesterday’s marathon, Maholm will need to last longer than that tonight.

Maholm’s season has been rocky so far. He gave up a run in relief on Saturday, so his ERA is currently 8.10 (and his FIP is 7.78). He’s only struck out two batters as a Dodger. Despite the rough start, it’s too early to bury him. Maholm has been a league average starter for most of his career, and less than seven innings isn’t enough to outweigh that. If he’s as good as his career numbers, or even slightly worse, he’ll be good enough for a back of the rotation starter.

Since the Dodgers need Maholm to start right now, that means that without him they’d be relying on Stephen Fife or Matt Magill. So far this season, Fife has allowed 16 runs (15 earned) in 11-1/3 Albuquerque innings, so he isn’t doing much to shake off his late-season slide. Magill is doing a bit better, allowing 8 runs (6 earned) in 14 innings.

While Fife and Magill’s samples are small (and in Albuquerque), they don’t currently seem like pitchers who should be in the majors over Maholm, or at the very least it doesn’t make a very big difference. You could probably make a valid argument for Zach Lee, but the Dodgers don’t seem interested in starting his service time clock. With Clayton Kershaw on the mend, we might see Maholm out of the rotation sooner rather than later, anyhow.

In other starting pitcher news, the results of Chad Billingsley‘s MRI are back and aren’t as bad as they could have been. Elbow tendinitis isn’t great, but it’s better than “needs Tommy John surgery.” There’s still a chance that we’ll see him this year.

The lineup is more or less the standard one for right-handed pitching, though Puig is getting the day off because he has never faced Vogelsong. The reasoning isn’t the best, but at this point it probably doesn’t have to be.

Dodgers’ prospect Chris Reed throws six no-hit innings

chris_reed_spring_greencapEver since Chris Reed was overdrafted by the Dodgers in the 2011 MLB Draft, I haven’t been on his bandwagon. Last year, I noticed his solid performance and ate just a small serving of crow.

Well, if his start to the 2014 is any predictor, I might be in line for huge plate of crow before too long. But I’m still skeptical about his long-term success.

Reed threw six innings of no-hit ball in Chattanooga on Wednesday for the Lookouts. He struck out nine batters while he walked three. He also posted a 6-3 ground out-to-flyout ratio. On the season, he has a 1.02 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 3.63 FIP and has 22 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. Last season, he started getting more ground balls (2.19 GO/AO) and fewer strikeouts (10.0 K/9). Yes, his ERA is out-performing his FIP significantly right now, but he’s still off to a solid start.

If Reed has indeed found his strikeout stuff again, coupled with a solid groundball rate, there’s a chance he could make it as a starter. There aren’t a ton of sinkerballing lefties who can strike hitters out (Chris Sale — a player Reed was lazily compared to by draft pundits and Internet folk — comes to mind). It’s a small chance, but a chance nonetheless.

Reed is anchoring the Lookouts’ rotation, along with Carlos Frias and Andres Santiago. They’re performing relatively well, and they’re going to need to because there isn’t a ton of offensive potential at Double-A right now.

The odds are against Reed making it as a starter — as they are against a lot of minor-league starters who have reliever profiles. We’ll see if he can keep it up. If he does, then he becomes a valuable trade chip come July — something that would probably work out best for all parties involved.

Kenley Jansen Is Suddenly The Worst Closer In Baseball, Or Something

jansen_sanfrancisco_2014-04-15Oddly — or, I don’t know, maybe it’s not — the tenor of discussion following last night’s extra-inning loss is less about Brandon League being terrible than it is about Kenley Jansen being unable to hold onto a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.

For clarity, here’s what Jansen did. He struck out Hector Sanchez on four pitches. Then, he got Angel Pagan to hit a grounder, which is fantastic. 80 percent of the time (-ish), that’s an out. This time, it happened to bounce off Jansen’s foot, from where he was unable to make the play. This is a nothing play. It happens a million times a season:

Then Brandon Belt grounded one down past third base, where Juan Uribe was unable to get to it since he had been playing off the line against the lefty hitter. Pagan wasn’t going with the pitch, but he did have a substantial lead, and since the ball bounced off the bullpen mound and the short wall, delaying Andre Ethier from retrieving it, he was able to score all the way from first:

Jansen then struck out Pablo Sandoval, and (after an intentional walk to Buster Posey) got Hunter Pence to fly to center. The Dodgers didn’t score over the next few innings while Jamey Wright locked it down, and then League coughed it away.

But of course, in the box score this morning, what you see is that Jansen allowed two hits, including a double, and blew the save. I’m hoping I don’t need to tell you how ludicrous “blown saves” can be — hell, Chris Withrow got slapped with one in the sixth inning for giving up an unearned run on a sacrifice fly, thanks in part to a Hanley Ramirez throwing error — but that completely ignores the truth of what happened. Jansen gave up two groundballs. With better luck or positioning, one or both are outs. With better luck, the ball in left bounces in a way that Ethier gets to it more quickly and gets Pagan at the plate. None of those things happened. This does not make Jansen a bad closer.

I’m not trying to be an apologist. I’m not totally blind to the fact that this has happened in a few games for him already, and that there’s a certain point where you have to ask some questions. But really, BABIP is one of the simplest, easiest to understand tenets of sabremetrics. Sometimes a grounder goes where you want it to, and sometimes it doesn’t. The pitcher really has little control over that. Those same balls could have been 1-3 and 5-3, and suddenly we’re not talking about any of this. Those who complain about it have a completely unrealistic expectation of what a closer should be, that he is required to be 100 percent perfect at all times and never allow a bat to make contact with a ball. That’s never happened. It never will happen. Nor will Jansen carry a .556 BABIP on him all season long.

Now, as for why League still exists on this roster…

Dodgers 2, Giants 3: Baseball Is Dumb

BrandonLeagueSad

Baseball is a dumb, dumb sport.

Kenley Jansen blew a save on two hits that went 10 feet in the air and now his BABIP is .556. He is the worst and grab the pitchforks or something. Whatever, no energy to deal with dumbasses.

The Dodgers kept Brandon League over Paco Rodriguez because … who cares? So of course it comes back to matter in the end and League loses.

I didn’t know I had the game recap today, so this is what happens.

Baseball. I slept two hours last night. What is life?