The Dodgers just keep on going. After today’s 7-2 drubbing of the Rockies, they are, well, 7-2. This is much more fun than last year’s early season.
Earlier this week in his first start of the season, Walker Buehler ran out of gas after three innings. Thankfully for the Dodgers, today was not a repeat, as he made it through five (mostly) strong innings today and avoided a repeat performance. Unlike his season debut, Buehler was able to find the strike zone with his breaking ball, though he also partially solved that problem by throwing 75% fastballs today.
The only damage against Buehler was a home run by David Dahl on a fastball up and in, which was more of a testament to Dahl’s bat speed than a particularly bad location. Buehler’s fastball was not as sharp as we’re used to, though. His command wavered, and the velocity dropped from 96-98 at the beginning of the game to 94-96 by game’s end. However, his final line was a much-improved five innings pitched, one run allowed on three hits, with four strikeouts and two walks. With more stamina built up, he easily could have gone six.
The big story on offense today was, as ever, Cody Bellinger‘s torrid start. Bellinger doubled on a line drive down the right field line in the fourth inning, turning on a 96 mph Jon Gray fastball with ease. Bellinger then followed that up with a booming triple to the opposite field in the sixth inning. He came around to score both times. After nine games and 42 plate appearances, Bellinger is hitting .425/.452/.950. Seems good.
Not to be outdone, Alex Verdugo had a big day of his own. He tripled (his first in the majors) and scored a nice insurance run in the ninth.
He also hit a ball very far earlier in the game:
No chance that ball will Volver, Volver. pic.twitter.com/YFh9zDK3yO— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 7, 2019
Verdugo now has two homers in 16 plate appearances, after hitting 11 over 450 combined plate appearances last season. His prospect profile was hurt by wondering if he’d ever find power at the major league level. So far this season, he has found it. As Chris Taylor struggles, Verdugo is making his case for increased playing time.
Today’s bullpen results were mostly good. One run in four innings in Denver is certainly a result they’ll take, even though the path wasn’t smooth. It started well enough, as Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia combined to pitch scoreless sixths and sevenths. Garcia remained in to start the eighth and allowed a single to Josh Fuentes (making his major league debut) before being removed. Caleb Ferguson only pitched to Charlie Blackmon and walked him on four pitches. Dylan Floro was tonight’s fireman and retired Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado before allowing a Dahl line drive single to left, which brought the tying run to the plate.
That was enough for Dave Roberts to bring in Kenley Jansen for a four-out save, his first appearance in Denver since his heart issues flared up there last August. Jansen quickly struck out Ian Desmond to clean up the eighth and end the Rockies’ last look at this game. The Dodgers tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth, which led to Jansen getting a plate appearance. He looked thrilled about not being allowed to swing:
Kenley enjoying this whole hitting thing pic.twitter.com/aTysqg9J03— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) April 7, 2019
Jansen finished off his save easily in the ninth, working around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, capped off by a beautiful slider in the dirt. Jansen looked like he was throwing with a little extra energy today, and his pitches looked like they should. Other than the one iffy outing, he has looked like himself this year, which is wonderful to see.
The Dodgers will try to wrap up the series sweep against the Rockies tomorrow night at 5:37pm PDT on ESPN. Julio Urias will take the ball for the Dodgers, in what could be his last start for awhile. Chad Bettis will look to fend off the red-hot Dodger offense after being rocked his last time out.