After three pitches, it looked like we were getting the Same Ol’ Dan Haren tonight. The first two pitches to the Mets’ leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson missed the plate, then Granderson hit the third pitch about 380 feet into the right field bullpen. The Mets were up 1-0 before the seats were warm.
…and that was it. The Dodgers ended up winning the game by a score of 6-2.
After the first batter, Haren cruised through the rest of his seven innings of work. Aided by a couple of strange double plays (a pop fly double play to Justin Turner and a 3-6 double play benefiting from a questionable call even after review), he didn’t allow another run. He only allowed two more hits while striking out six batters and walking none.
Even though Haren pitched well, the warning signs were still there. Four of Haren’s strikeouts were looking and he only induced four swinging strikes. He also came within about a foot of giving up a two run home run to Wilmer Flores in the fifth inning, but Scott Van Slyke mercifully caught it with his back to the left field fence. Too many balls were hit in the air, and he wasn’t missing bats either.
And yet, it’s hard to worry about that on a per-start level. Haren got the job done after a rocky beginning. Maybe it wasn’t in a sustainable way, but it worked for tonight. In the meantime, Haren’s team option becomes a player option in 30 innings and counting. It’s going to be close.
If Dan Haren’s night pitching the ball wasn’t strange enough, his night with the bat was even stranger. There’s a stat which I rarely use called Win Probability Added (WPA), which perfectly sums up Haren’s batting tonight. I don’t like it because it’s a team stat (kind of like RBIs), but it works here. The impact of each play in terms of the odds of the Dodgers winning the game are recorded with WPA. If you multiply WPA decimal value by 100, it’s a percentage.
Haren came to the plate with runners on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the third inning; the Dodgers were trailing 1-0. Haren was asked to sacrifice, but he bunted into a 1-5-3 double play. The WPA for the play was -0.138, or a 13.8% reduction in the odds of the Dodgers winning the game.
Haren came up to bat in another high leverage situation in the fifth inning. This time, runners were on first and third with one out, and the score was tied 1-1. On the second pitch of the plate appearance, Justin Turner broke for home – a suicide squeeze. Haren missed the bunt, and Turner was caught in a rundown. To Turner’s credit, he was able to extend the play long enough for Erisbel Arruebarrena to get to third base. The WPA of this play, caused by Haren’s inability to make contact was a very buntable pitch, was -0.111, or a 11.1% reduction in the odds of the Dodgers winning the game.
The plate appearance continued, and Haren smashed a single past a diving Daniel Murphy. That hit put the Dodgers up 2-1 and gave them the lead for good. The WPA of that play was +0.156. Redemption.
The Dodgers tacked on insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, added by a triple from a more-crouched Dee Gordon, a double from Matt Kemp, and some quality Metsing. Brandon League and J.P. Howell (who has seemed a bit more wild lately) pitched a scoreless eighth inning, then Jamey Wright finished the game off with a bit of a struggle, which necessitated warming up Kenley Jansen. However, the Dodgers escaped without actually needing to use him.