Pirates @ Dodgers May 8, 2017: Wood starts; Bellinger bats cleanup

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers are back home to open a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night after rain postponed their series finale in San Diego on Sunday.

Pirates
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
3B
Harrison
LF
Toles
SS
Mercer
SS
Seager
CF
McCutchen
3B
Turner
LF
Polanco
1B
Bellinger
RF
Osuna
CF
Pederson
1B
Bell
2B
Taylor
C
Cervelli C Grandal
2B
Moroff
RF
Puig
P
Williams (R)
P
 Wood (R)

The Pirates have recently become a thorn in the side of the Dodgers for some odd reason.

The Dodgers’ luck against them can change if they can take advantage of the Bucs’ early-season struggles which have landed them in last place in the NL Central and three games below .500. Francisco Cervelli, Gregory Polanco and Jordy Mercer are all hovering around a .700 OPS, and they lost Starling Marte due to his 80-game suspension for a positive PED test. Coming off a down year, Andrew McCutchen is still struggling as well (.218/.298/.400/.698). He has hit five home runs, but his loss of athleticism has really hurt him both offensively and defensively.

As of Monday morning, the Dodgers still hadn’t announced their starting pitcher for the series opener. Brandon McCarthy, who was scheduled to start Sunday, was placed on the 10-day DL (retroactive to May 5). Apparently he feels fine after dislocating his left shoulder last week in the weight room, but management decided to skip his start anyways. Adam Liberatore was recalled from Triple-A OKC.

Alex Wood gets the call for the start, with Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda following him in the series. Rich Hill will pitch a rehab game on Wednesday with a possible return in San Francisco the following Tuesday.

Wood (2-0, 3.28 ERA, 2.43) hasn’t pitched since May 2 when he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts and a walk in five innings against the Giants. Wood’s line didn’t look pretty, but most of the damage came off of soft contact. The Dodgers’ offense picked him up in the 13-5 blowout. With injuries to Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and now Brandon McCarthy, Wood has pitched admirably as a so-called spot starter and long-man out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. He has a career-best 9.9 K/9 through six games (4 starts) and has only allowed one home run in 24 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Trevor Williams (1-1, 5.40 ERA, 5.31 FIP) will be making his second Major League start for the Bucs and first appearance at Dodger Stadium. He may only throw around 80 pitches, because he hasn’t been stretched out since Spring Training. He began the season out of the Pittsburgh bullpen, making six relief appearances. Williams will be slotted into the Pirates’ rotation for now with Jameson Taillon on the disabled list after undergoing surgery for suspected testicular cancer. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Jameson.

—–

Pitching matchups aside, we really just want to talk about Cody Bellinger, right? His first 11 big-league games have been astounding. Bellinger’s early success has catapulted him into the spotlight, and rightfully so. There’s no way he’s going to hit like this the entire season, but the way he handles himself and has adjusted to Major League pitching demonstrates his potential.

Bellinger is the first rookie to win Player of the Week since Yasiel Puig. Out of curiosity, I wanted to compare Bellinger’s first 11 games with Puig’s first 11 games in 2013.

Bellinger – .357/.413/.786/1.199

5 HR, 15 hits, 14 RBIs, 1 SB, 4 BB, 8 K in 46 plate appearances

Puig – .487/.512/.846/1.358

4 HR, 19 hits, 10 RBIs, 1BB, 7 K in 41 plate appearances

As you can see, Puig’s first month in the Majors is still mind-blowing, yet young Bellinger has also shown his ability to be more patient at the plate than Puig, something the Wild Horse is still trying to work on. Sarah wrote about Puig’s increased propensity to hit into double plays this season earlier today, and interestingly enough Bellinger has not grounded into a double play yet with the Dodgers. So far Bellinger has made the Dodgers’ do a 180° when it comes to the plan for him, and he’s not going to see Oklahoma City again should he continue this offensive blitz (Blitzinger?).

Cody bats cleanup tonight.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.