Dodgers @ D’backs Aug. 31, 2017: Maeda to avoid sweep; welcome Alex Verdugo

(Via)

The Dodgers have fallen behind early in the first two games of this series and have clawed back only to come up just short. They’re looking to avoid being swept in a 3-game series for the first time this season.

Dodgers
D’backs
12:40 p.m.
Arizona
SS
Taylor
LF
Blanco
CF
Granderson
C
Iannetta
3B
Turner
3B
Lamb
LF
Bellinger
1B
Goldschmidt
C
Grandal
RF
Martinez
RF
Puig
CF
Pollock
1B
Gonzalez 2B Descalso
2B
Forsythe
SS
Marte
P
Maeda (R)
P
Greinke (R)

The pitching matchup isn’t in the Dodgers’ favor, as they’re throwing Kenta Maeda against old friend Zack Greinke. But, Greinke’s lone loss at Chase Field this season came at the hands of the Dodgers just a few weeks ago.

I kinda like today’s lineup. I like Chris Taylor playing shortstop over Enrique Hernandez because, well, Hernandez has been bad in the second half. It does mean a defensive downgrade in center field with Curtis Granderson, which is why I’m hoping to see Cody Bellinger get a look there at some point. Logan Forsythe, he of the ‘No Swing Club,’ is perfect in the 8-spot. But the offense really needs Justin Turner to get going again. He’s hitting just .191/.309/.234 over the last two weeks. He’s been the anchor in this lineup in 2017, and this is first extended time struggling this season.

——

Alex Verdugo is on his way.

Alex Verdugo (Photo: Stacie Wheeler)

That’s Alex’s brother, and he broke the news of Verdugo’s pending promotion to the majors. If he were here today, he might very well be starting in center field. The 21-year-old hit .314/.389/.436 with a 118 wRC+ with more walks (52) than strikeouts (50) for Triple-A Oklahoma City this season. Eric Stephen had the best take about Verdugo and the possibility of being promoted: It’s going to be like when Joc Pederson was promoted in 2014. Pederson also came up on Sept. 1 and made his debut that night. It was a pinch-hit appearance against the Nationals. He struck out, but he showed what had the Dodgers and evaluators excited for his arrival. He ended up with 38 plate appearances in the month, and that even seems like a high bar for Verdugo to reach with all the outfielders the Dodgers have rostered, but if Andre Ethier‘s “neck thing” is more of a thing than they’re letting on, maybe he does get those extra PAs.

Verdugo isn’t going to displace Taylor in center. He probably won’t even displace Pederson out there (when he comes back). This is more a chance to get a brief look at what Verdugo can do against MLB pitching. It isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it’s always nice to get a cup of coffee.

Oh, hello Shohei Otani. He made his first start in seven weeks in front of a contingent of MLB evaluators. From Jim Allen of The Japan Times:

“‘My arm action was good,’ said Otani. ‘It was a small step forward from my last time. If I look only for perfection, then I’ll never get there. But at this stage, it was a good outing.’ Expected to throw around 60 pitches, Otani cruised through three scoreless innings. The 23-year-old right-hander, however, issued a four-pitch walk to open the fourth and his game crumbled. Though he continued to throw hard, Otani’s pitches were beginning to lose their life, with Yuki Yanagita lining a clean single off a straight 160 kph fastball. Designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne singled off a lazy 2-1 slider and light-hitting Shuhei Fukuda put a ferocious swing on a hanging splitter for his second career homer off Otani. ‘The biggest thing is that I failed to execute, so I’m not there yet,’ Otani said. Otani’s 64th pitch of the evening proved to be his last. Still, it was a vast improvement over his July 1 minor league rehab start in which he couldn’t command his breaking pitches, and his first-team season debut, when he couldn’t command his fastball. ‘He’s making progress, about what we expected,’ Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said.”

Andrew Friedman, Orel Hershiser, Galen Carr and others watched Otani hit and throw a bullpen session about a week ago. It’s not known who exactly from the Dodgers was in attendance for Otani’s start, but it’s safe to say they had some qualified scouts eagerly watching. This will surely be a story to follow throughout the winter.

Seems Corey Seager‘s “100 percent” healthy elbow actually isn’t. I’m shocked he’d be dishonest about that. If he needs to take a couple weeks off, then sobeit. Taylor can handle shortstop until Seager is ready to come back.

Lastly, today is the waiver trade deadline (9 p.m.). Unless something comes completely out of left field, don’t expect anymore trades on the Dodgers’ front.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.