2020 Dodgers (Real): Seager healthy, Bellinger adjusts, Kelly solves his 4-seamer + ‘In This Together’ & ‘The Alliance’

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers certainly seem to believe that Corey Seager is primed for a big year after getting to enjoy a healthy off-season for once, and so far in Summer Camp he certainly looks like he intends on living up to expectations.

“This is the first offseason I’ve really had to go right into strength training again and not have to worry about healing anything or worry about anything,” Seager said. “I guess the silver lining to this was I just kind of got an extended offseason.”

“This year, his body is in even better shape,” Roberts said. “Obviously it’s early, but he’s as locked in as I’ve seen him, and a lot of it has to do with he had a normal winter, a normal Spring Training — that albeit got abbreviated — and he worked really hard over quarantine.”

The extra time off might end up being a blessing in disguise for players like him, as healthy is always relative and it seems like this has given his body an extended period to truly heal instead off just getting to the point where he can play.

If he can turn some of his 44 doubles last year into homers, it’s not hard to imagine him having somewhat of a bounceback campaign to his Rookie Of The Year days (.877 OPS).

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In news that alarmed many but is kinda understandable, Cody Bellinger tinkered with the swing that won him the 2019 NL MVP.

Cody Bellinger, who turned 25 on Monday, spent the shutdown tinkering with his swing. It is a more significant change than Bellinger let on when speaking with reporters last week, and Roberts acknowledged it was fair to question why anyone would change anything after an MVP season. But the Dodgers deferred to him on the decision to make alterations. “He never felt really comfortable with his swing,” Roberts said. “That’s what, kind of, was the impetus to his swing change. Obviously, a player’s psyche and mindset is what matters most.”

His OPS fell from the first half of 1.124 to .917, and I understand the focus on that, but more importantly he has a history of making adjustments and coming out of them on the other side much improved (like his 2019 season, for example), so I’m not all that concerned.

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Speaking of adjustments, Joe Kelly feels like he got his four-seamer right, which hopefully sets him down the path of living up to expectations.

Kelly said the trick was getting the four-seam fastball to come off both fingers at the same time. Without getting that right, he couldn’t generate the spin he needed to throw the pitch effectively. It took a team effort to figure out the issue, talking to pitching coaches, front office members and teammates. As Kelly threw during his time off, it was more feeling than fact that he realized things were moving in the right direction, since he didn’t have the typical technology available to tell him so. But a clean inning during Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage demonstrated to him the strides he thought he was making were legitimate. The only fastballs he threw were four-seamers, and the instant feedback was positive. Kelly said it’s not going to be perfect immediately, but the comfort he feels now is a significant jump and marks progress. “Now, we’re going to see what happens when I’m able to throw a four-seam fastball for a strike,” he said.

Well, I guess that last quote would explain the ups and downs of his 2019 season.

It’s hard to have a ton of faith in a pitcher that was basically below replacement level last year, but his 28-inning stretch from late-May to late-August where he posted a 1.29 ERA provides a glimpse into his potential at least.

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As soon as the new rules about extra innings starting with a runner on second was announced, I immediately went to double check that the Dodgers still had Terrance Gore. Well, they do, and he has a real chance of having an impact this year.

“There’s obviously the runner on second base. But there are other situations, close ballgames, plus-or-minus type games in the seventh, eighth, or ninth, where he can steal a base and potentially get in scoring position,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of situations I think that a guy like Terrance, who’s done it, would make sense for any team, especially in these circumstances, so something certainly could happen in the next couple days.”

In six major league seasons, Gore’s role has been very well defined. He’s played in 100 big league games, and totaled 77 plate appearances. He has 13 starts in the outfield, all of which came last year with the Royals. His sprint speed ranks in the top one percent of MLB, per Statcast. Sixty-one of those 100 games saw Gore enter as a pinch runner, and with good reason. He’s stolen 40 bases in 49 attempts. Those gaudy totals were in a total of 85 stolen base opportunities, defined by Baseball-Reference as “plate appearances through which a runner was on first or second with the next base open.” Gore stole a base in 47 percent of his opportunities throughout his career. By comparison, only eight major leaguers stole 30 bases in 2019, and they stole successfully in a collective 16.5 percent of their opportunities, with the highest (Adalberto Mondesi) at only 34 percent. In nine playoff games, all entered as a pinch runner, Gore has five steals in six attempts.

Definitely feel like this gains importance with the shorter season as well. The margins are a lot thinner this year, so every advantage you can get is worth more, and Gore’s baserunning certainly seems to count.

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Hey, turns out Tommy Lasorda was racist towards Asians a couple years back.

A bunch of people let me know of this, expecting that I would be shocked and/or outraged, but if you know about Tommy’s history at all it’s not very surprising. As much as he’s meant to this franchise, the Dodgers would probably be best served by distancing themselves from him.

In lighter news, you can sorta be at Dodger Stadium during the games, at least if you are willing to shell out from $149 to $299. The upside? At least it’s for charity.

Net proceeds from the fan cutouts will benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, as they tackle the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos. Purchases are tax-deductible net of the fair market value of the cutout received by the purchaser (valued at $11.25).

Unfortunately, they will not allow you to put “FUCK THE ASTROS” on it or anything like that.

Party poopers.

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The Dodgers as a team have joined The Alliance, which sounds like it belongs in the WWE, but is for a good cause.

Just as important, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Gavin Lux, Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, Justin Turner, Enrique Hernandez, Ross Stripling, Walker Buehler, and Bellinger spoke out for In This Together and will match funds raised from the t-shirts for charity.

You can buy the shirt here for a limited time.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times