Padres @ Dodgers, September 4, 2016: De Leon’s Arrival & Kershaw’s Return

1:10 PM PST
Los Angeles
Arcia C Barnes
Friedrich (L)
De Leon (R)

Jose De Leon will make his major-league debut this afternoon, something I’ve already given my thoughts on. He’ll be the fifth rookie starter to debut for the Dodgers this year, joining Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, and Brock Stewart. De Leon will also be the first pitcher from Puerto Rico to make his MLB debut in a Dodgers uniform.

De Leon will not be on a pitch count, which makes sense due to his suppressed innings total (due to early injuries) and the fact that he’s been throwing seven inning or more in all of his recent starts.

No 40-man roster move will be necessary because they outrighted Shawn Zarraga.

As far as what to expect, I honestly don’t know. One can take a look at his stuff like Brendan Gawlowski and Scooter Hotz did at Baseball Prospectus

De Leon has improved just about every facet of his game over the last three years. He’s in better shape than he was in college, and just as importantly, his re-worked delivery has helped him throw strikes more consistently. De Leon’s mechanics are simple and repeatable: there’s not much extraneous movement, his arm action and landing are clean, and he doesn’t have a big head whack. Like many young pitchers, he’ll overthrow occasionally, and when he does, he falls off towards the first base dugout, which hinders his command. Stuff-wise, he sits 91-94 with the fastball, touching 96 and higher on the right day, and the pitch has plenty of life. His best offspeed pitch is a tumbling changeup that projects as a plus offering. He also has an average slider that isn’t quite as consistent as his other deliveries.

If De Leon has a weakness, it’s that he might be vulnerable to the home run. He fills up the zone, and if he’s not sharp or if his slider isn’t missing bats, big-league hitters will square him up. If he struggles at all initially, it’ll be interesting to see how his approach evolves; remember, this is not a pitcher who has experienced much failure as a professional. Ultimately though, De Leon is a relatively safe arm. His ability to pump mid-90s fastballs gives him wiggle room on days when he doesn’t have his best command, and both of his offspeed pitches will generate outs. He lacks top-of-the-shelf stuff, but he has all the ingredients necessary to be a good no. 3.

…but while that might be accurate over the long haul, in a debut start it’s hard to predict anything given nerves, unfamiliarity, and all sorts of other factors.

Just hope for the best, basically.

On the other side, Christian Friedrich takes the ball for the Padres. The 2008 first-round pick of the Rockies is 29 now and in his age-28 season, where he has posted an unimpressive 4.84 ERA/4.61 FIP/6.26 DRA. Friedrich generally uses a three-pitch mix of a fastball that now sits 88-91 mph with some sink, a slider, and a curve. Occasionally he’ll mix in a change, but 95% of the time he’ll be sticking with the heat and two breaking balls.

If that looks thoroughly mediocre, it’s because it is, but also mediocre (terrible) is the Dodgers offense against left-handed pitchers, especially when they are running out more reserves than usual with Corey Seager, Yasmani Grandal, and even Carlos Ruiz on the bench.

Should be … interesting.


Back to more important matters, Clayton Kershaw is starting against the Marlins on Friday.

Plus, he was sitting in his usual velocity range yesterday.

From people who were there, it seems like his off-speed stuff was sharp as well. My body is ready.

In the upcoming series against the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers will go with Maeda, Stripling, and Stewart.

Not sure what Urias’ status is yet (starter/reliever), but he’ll throw a pen late.

Maybe Dodgers pitchers should just never hit?

Scott Kazmir is close to returning as well.

People will bitch and moan about this, but he has eaten innings for this club and having the depth back will be nice.

Alex Wood is also on the comeback trail and is on pace for mid-September.

Another lefty arm in the pen would be nice, especially since Adam Liberatore looks shaky since he came back from the DL.

Andre Ethier is playing again for the Quakes down in high-A.

Confusing as to what his role might be when he returns, but it can’t hurt.


Let’s get the series win.

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