Padres @ Dodgers July 8, 2016: Welcome Andrew Toles

With three games remaining in the first half of the season, the Dodgers look to snap a three-game losing streak on Friday night when they take on the Padres. They previously won five-straight games before Baltimore took the final two games of the series earlier this week. The 14-inning loss to the Orioles on Wednesday took a toll and further depleted their already tired bullpen, then they dropped the series opener against the Padres after getting shutout, and the Dodgers seem to be limping into the All-Star break. Their ace Clayton Kershaw is temporarily on ice, the starting pitching staff can’t go deep into games and offensively they still haven’t found their groove yet.

The pitching staff, especially the relief corps, has kept the team afloat. Dodger pitchers have a NL second-best collective 3.04 ERA in July so far, just shy of the Mets and their 3.00 team ERA. They have only allowed 23 runs this month, tied with the first-place Giants for second-lowest in the league. Dodger pitchers have also struck out 85 batters this month, well-ahead of the Mets (67 strikeouts), and opposing batters are hitting .209 off Dodger pitching.

7:10 p.m. PT
Los Angeles
CF  Upton 2B  Utley
1B  Myers SS  Seager
RF  Kemp 3B  Turner
3B  Solarte 1B  Gonzalez
C  Norris RF  Puig
SS  Ramirez  C  Grandal
LF  Dickerson LF   Kendrick
2B  Rosales CF  Toles
Cashner (R)
Kazmir (L)

The offense is still inconsistent. The Dodgers are hitting .250/.338/.386 this month so far, they have not stolen one base (the only team in the NL not to do so), they’ve hit just five home runs and accrued only 59 hits.

Even though they allowed 12 runs (six each) to the Orioles and Padres in their last two games, the bigger concern is the 20 men left on base during those contests. The offense went 2-for-11 on Wednesday and 4-for-13 on Thursday.

Looking for some reinforcements after playing with a three-man bench on Thursday night against the Padres, the Dodgers have recalled 24-year old outfielder Andrew Toles from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Carlos Frias was optioned back to Triple-A, and Cole Figueroa was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Toles.

Toles will be the second player to make his major league debut with the Dodgers after beginning the season at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, with Brock Stewart being the other rookie to break through after starting at the High-A level earlier in the season and getting quickly promoted.

Toles, a left-hand hitting outfielder and son of former New Orleans Saints linebacker Alvin Toles, was drafted by the Rays during Andrew Friedman’s regime in the third round of the 2012 draft. In 2013 he was Tampa Bay’s prospect of the year, but he never played above High-A ball while in their system. Hindered by anxiety problems, in 2015 he was working at a grocery store after the Rays released him at the end of spring training. Although it turns out the grocery store clerk turned major leaguer narrative has been a bit overdramatized.

The Dodgers signed Toles to a minor league free agent contract in the off-season. This year he hit a combined .330/.375/.507 with six home runs and 23 stolen bases in 73 games between time with Rancho Cucamonga, Tulsa and Oklahoma City where he played right and center field.

The Dodgers hope Toles can add some speed and pop off the bench as a left-handed batter at least until Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier return sometime after the break. Toles starts in center field and bats eighth in Roberts’ Friday night lineup.

“He can do a lot of things,” Drillers manager Ryan Garko said. “He’s a dynamic player.”

Having anxiety issues at times myself, I can see Toles as a great example of how one can overcome anxiety in order to reach their potential. Here’s hoping his success continues with the Dodgers.

Scott Kazmir (7-3, 4.37) hasn’t made it to the eighth inning since May 14, but the left-hander has not lost in his last ten games. The Dodgers are 7-3 in his last ten starts. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Rockies in his last outing, only allowing three hits while striking out ten. He is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Friars this year, and 1-0 with a 4.37 ERA in four career starts overall against San Diego.

Andrew Cashner (3-6, 4.42) has hit the disabled list twice already this season. He came back from a strained neck on July 3 to pitch six innings, allowing two runs on six hits to the Yankees. It was promising for the Padres who saw him go 3-5 with a 4.75 ERA through his first 11 appearances.

The Dodgers faced the former flame throwing reliever back on April 6 at Petco Park. The Dodgers won 7-0 after they roughed up Cashner to a tune of five runs on six hits in a four-inning start.

Cashner is 1-2 with a 3.03 ERA in nine games (four starts) at Dodger Stadium. Overall against the Dodgers, he is 1-6 with a 2.56 ERA in 22 games (11 starts). He’s struck out 70 Dodgers and allowed 73 hits to L.A. in 81 innings. Adrian Gonzalez has found much success off Cashner and has 11 hits including four home runs in 32 at-bats against the bearded right-hander.

The Dodgers also completed the Bud Norris trade.

He’s not especially good at baseball.

Closing out the first half with a series win against the Padres would be a positive way to segue into the second part of the season. 

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About 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, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. 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.