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.

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim
Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.