Los Angeles Dodgers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-24T03:30:45Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Dodgers Activate Clayton Kershaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125635 2018-06-23T21:47:44Z 2018-06-23T21:33:56Z The Dodgers announced today that they’ve officially activated legendary southpaw Clayton Kershaw from the disabled list, optioning lefty Adam Liberatore to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

It was reported yesterday that Kershaw was set to forego a rehab assignment and start tonight’s game. The three-time Cy Young Award-winner has only made eight starts to date this season, which haven’t been quite on par with his usual standards; the lefty owns a 3.47 FIP in 2018 to go with 53 strikeouts against 11 walks in 49 innings. While still respectable, that FIP would be Kershaw’s highest mark since his rookie season in 2008.

The 30-year-old will finally get a chance to re-establish his value in advance of a potential bout with free agency. It’s widely-known that Kershaw can opt out of the remaining two years and $65MM on his contract in order to test the open market, but a hurler who has long been known as the most dominant in the game suddenly has an injury reputation after missing time in each of the past three seasons with back issues. How he performs the rest of the season and whether he stays healthy will both have an impact on whether the future Hall of Famer ends up a free agent at the end of the year.

Liberatore has spent his entire major-league career with the Dodgers, pitching in parts of each season since his debut in 2015. He owns a lifetime ERA of 3.55 in the majors to go along with 9.44 K/9 and 3.65 BB/9. His control appears to have gotten away from him this season, however, as that walk rate has spiked to 5.54 BB/9 (though in an admittedly small 13-inning sample size). Liberatore has pitched fewer than one inning in eight of his 17 appearances on the season.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers To Activate Clayton Kershaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125582 2018-06-23T06:09:15Z 2018-06-23T04:29:11Z In a surprise move, the Dodgers announced today that ace Clayton Kershaw will start the club’s game tomorrow, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times was among those to tweet. Kershaw, who is coming back from a lower back strain, had been scheduled for a rehab outing but evidently felt up to the task of jumping back to the bigs after missing about three weeks  of action. That’s promising news for the Los Angeles organization, which will hope that the southpaw can not only avoid a third trip to the DL this year, but return to form after a less-than-dominant (by his lofty standards, at least) start to the season.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Updates: Kershaw, Cingrani]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125363 2018-06-20T14:42:27Z 2018-06-20T14:42:27Z Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock is not healing quite as quickly as might have been hoped, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, though there has been some progress made. Given that he still hasn’t been cleared to swing, and will need some time on rehab assignment thereafter, it seems reasonable now to expect that Pollock won’t return until some time in early-to-mid-July. He’s set for a CT scan Monday. The slow progress, clearly, is not great news for the Snakes, though the club has halted an earlier slide in the standings. and played better baseball of late. They’re currently leading a resurgent Dodgers club by 1.5 games for the division lead.

  • Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is slated to return after one single rehab start, manager Dave Roberts told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (via Twitter). There’s more uncertainty surrounding Kershaw than ever before, just as he prepares for an offseason decision as to whether to opt out of the $65MM guarantee left on his contract, as Tim Dierkes discussed in his latest version of MLBTR’s 2018-19 free agent power rankings. Whatever Kershaw ultimately decides — to head onto the open market, work something else out with the Dodgers, or simply not opt out — will be dictated in no small part by his health the rest of the way. His showing over the next few weeks will also have a major influence over the club’s deadline efforts.
  • Meanwhile, there’s less promising news on Dodgers lefty Tony Cingrani, also via Gurnick (on Twitter). Cingrani felt something in his shoulder last week and has had his rehab efforts slowed down for the time being. There’s no timetable on his return to the L.A. bullpen, creating even further uncertainty on the Dodgers’ pitching staff. Cingrani was lights-out for the Dodgers following a trade from the Reds last season, and while he’s been less effective thus far in 2018, his overall body of work since donning Dodger Blue has resulted in a 3.89 ERA and an impressive 64-to-12 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Angels, Dodgers Pursued Kelvin Herrera Before Trade To Nationals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125356 2018-06-19T18:05:16Z 2018-06-19T18:05:16Z The Angels and Dodgers were among the clubs that pursued reliever Kelvin Herrera before he was dealt yesterday from the Royals to the Nationals, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (in an article and on Twitter). In fact, per the report, the two Los Angeles franchises were “in serious talks” about Herrera.

That information is not only of historical interest. For one thing, it may hint something about the process the Royals undertook to move Herrera. The veteran reliever was among the most obvious and the best rental trade pieces in baseball. Most often, teams holding such an asset will take the decision until the deadline approaches, hoping that’s the best way to maximize their return.

With multiple teams involved in serious talks, it seems that the Kansas City organization decided to oversee bidding in mid-June. Perhaps that was due to concern over what other relief arms might reach the market and/or a desire to minimize risk associated with a high-performing pitcher. It also may reflect a universe in which contenders see an advantage to moving aggressively.

That’s all open to interpretation. What is clear, though, is that both L.A. clubs have an eye on bolstering their bullpens — and a willingness to do so by pursuing a pure rental asset. Presumably, they’ll be among the teams to pursue other such hurlers that come available over the coming weeks.

According to Nightengale, the Halos in particular “remain immersed in talks with multiple teams for pitching.” That’s notable given the team’s recent fade and spate of injuries. There’s certainly still a path to the postseason, but it’ll take some internal improvements (including a return to health) and stumbles from one or more teams ahead in the standings. It seems, though, that the organization is willing to chase roster improvements even in this setting — a topic that Nightengale explores in greater length in the above-linked post.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tom Koehler Has Setback In Shoulder Rehab]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125207 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z
  • Right-hander Tom Koehler has had a setback in his recovery from an AC strain and isn’t expected back until August, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (Twitter link) and other reporters.  Koehler signed a one-year, $2MM deal with Los Angeles last winter but has yet to officially pitch for the club after suffering the injury during Spring Training.  He initially hoped to return by the All-Star break but will now have to wait longer to properly don the Dodger blue.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rich Hill To Return Tuesday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125166 2018-06-17T13:39:32Z 2018-06-17T03:34:29Z
  • Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill is set to come off the DL on Tuesday to start against the Cubs, per Kaelen Jones of MLB.com. Blister issues have bogged down Hill, who last took the mound in the majors May 19, when he exited a start after two pitches. The 38-year-old has combined for just 24 2/3 innings across six starts this season, and has managed a disappointing 6.20 ERA/6.33 FIP along the way.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dodgers Sign Drew Hutchison]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125140 2018-06-16T22:09:29Z 2018-06-16T22:09:19Z The Dodgers have signed right-hander Drew Hutchison to a minor league deal, according to Alex Freedman, a broadcaster for their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. Hutchison is likely to debut for OKC on Sunday, Freedman adds.

    Hutchison was previously with the Phillies, who inked him to a minors deal in the offseason. The 27-year-old did well enough in camp to earn a spot on the Phillies’ season-opening roster, but they ended up designating him for assignment in late May, and he then elected free agency. Hutchison came out of the bullpen during his Phillies tenure and pitched to a 4.64 ERA with 8.02 K/9, 5.48 BB/9 and a 50 percent groundball rate across 21 1/3 innings and 11 appearances.

    While Hutchison served as a reliever in Philadelphia, he’s best known for his tenure as a starter with the Blue Jays from 2012-16. During that 76-appearance, 73-start span, Hutchison tossed 406 1/3 innings of 4.92 ERA ball and notched 8.28 K/9 against 2.84 BB/9. Toronto shipped Hutchison to Pittsburgh in an August 2016 trade, and he hasn’t been much of a factor in the majors since. Now a member of the Dodgers, he’ll once again try to work his way back via the minors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Walker Buehler Lands On DL; Kenta Maeda To Return Wednesday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124867 2018-06-13T00:39:51Z 2018-06-13T00:39:51Z The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed right-hander Walker Buehler on the 10-day disabled list with a microfracture in his right rib and recalled left-hander Caleb Ferguson from Triple-A. Pedro Moura of The Athletic tweets that Buehler made three starts with the fracture before being forced to the DL and is playing catch today. Moura adds that the Dodgers are hopeful that it’ll be a matter of a couple weeks as opposed to an extended absence.

    There’s good news for the Dodgers, however, as Buehler’s spot will be filled by an established face. Manager Dave Roberts revealed to reporters Tuesday night that Kenta Maeda will be activated from the DL to start on Wednesday (Twitter link via the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett). While he’ll be limited in terms of pitch count and innings, the return of Maeda serves as a welcome breath of fresh air for a Dodgers pitching staff that has been utterly hammered by injuries of late. Even with Maeda’s return, Buehler will join Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Julio Urias and Dennis Santana on the DL.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL West Notes: Buehler, Turner, Hand, Marte]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124612 2018-06-10T03:52:58Z 2018-06-10T03:52:58Z Walker Buehler left last night’s game before he was able to get through the sixth, but it wasn’t due to poor performance. The promising young right-hander left due to a side injury. Thankfully, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports that Buehler is describing his injury as “bruised ribs”. There’s no word yet as to whether he’ll need to land on the DL for a stint, but the news ought to bring a mild sigh of relief to Dodgers fans. Such a description would seem to eliminate the dread of an oblique or intercostal strain, if Buehler’s self-description holds up. Bruises seem far less likely to disrupt his excellent season thus far; Buehler’s been worth 1.7 fWAR across nine starts in part thanks to a 4.91 K/BB ratio and 54.5% ground ball rate.

    Other items out of the NL West…

    • The Dodgers have received news on Justin Turner that’s far less promising, however. Shaikin also reports that Turner’s performance could be diminished all season by lingering wrist issues. The slugger spent most of the season thus far on the DL after suffering a fractured wrist during a spring training game. Shaikin also points out that he’s been held out of the lineup in three of the last four games, and has managed just a .668 OPS since returning from the disabled list.
    • AJ Cassavell of MLB.com revisits the Brad Hand extension in his recent piece, reminding readers that it significantly reduced the likelihood of the reliever being traded any time soon. Hand has been one of the best relievers in baseball in recent seasons by metrics such as WPA, fWAR and ERA, and though he’d certainly fetch a hefty price for the rebuilding Padres, they now control him through 2021. That’s a season in which they could feasibly be contending for a title. For his part, Hand certainly had that in mind. “”When I signed the contract, that was the big part of it,” he said. “I wanted to be here, I wanted to help the young guys come up, and I wanted to win a World Series here.”
    • Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo believes Ketel Marte is “100% playable” in spite of a recent injury, says MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. However, Lovullo adds that he “created some tenderness” with a headfirst slide into third base this past Sunday. He was held out of the lineup on Saturday, but the move seems to have been largely precautionary; his manager reportedly wanted to give him a day to get ahead of the injury. Marte has struggled to produce offensively throughout his career, sporting a .258/.313/.364 line since debuting in 2015. However, his excellent defense has played him to 2.6 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs’ metric.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Dodgers Select Daniel Corcino, Transfer Dennis Santana To 60-day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124597 2018-06-09T22:46:14Z 2018-06-09T22:25:48Z The Dodgers have selected the contract of right-hander Daniel Corcino, the team announced today. To make room for him on the 40-man, they’ve transferred fellow righty Dennis Santana to the 60-day DL. The switch-pitching Pat Venditte was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the active roster.

    It’s been an impressive season thus far for the 27-year-old Corcino, who’s pitched to a 1.95 ERA thus far in 37 Triple-A innings this season. Things haven’t been perfectly rosy, as his 3.54 FIP and 4.62 xFIP might indicate, but he’s struck out almost a batter an inning and has a walk rate (3.5 BB/9) and ground ball rate (41.5%) that are at least passable. He’s made six starts in Triple-A and four relief appearances.

    As for Santana, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports that his rotator cuff injury could potentially sideline him until late August. That’s noteworthy considering he’d be eligible to be activated from the 60-day DL as early as August 8th. Concurringly, manager Dave Roberts has stated that while Santana isn’t a surgery candidate, he won’t even so much as pick up a baseball for at least a few weeks (h/t Bill Shaikin of the LA Times). The righty allowed five earned runs across 3 2/3 innings in his only MLB appearance this season, but carries a solid track record of run prevention and high strikeouts in the upper minors.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dennis Santana Diagnosed With Rotator Cuff Strain]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124486 2018-06-09T00:54:37Z 2018-06-09T00:53:43Z 7:53pm: The team is now calling Santana’s injury a right rotator cuff strain, Gurnick tweets.

    6:43pm: Dodgers righty Dennis Santana has been diagnosed with a torn lat, manager Dave Roberts told reports including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (Twitter links). In related moves, relievers Pat Venditte and Adam Liberatore are joining the active roster, while Brock Stewart was optioned.

    Roberts also provided updates on a few other hurlers (via Gurnick; all links to Twitter). Righty Kenta Maeda is on track for a potential return next week, while southpaw reliever Tony Cingrani has been diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain that isn’t believed to be serious. As for ace Clayton Kershaw, Roberts says his ailing back is currently symptom-free, which seems a promising note at an early stage of his recocvery.

    The most important news here involves Santana, the 22-year-old who was just brought up for his first MLB action. Entering the season, there was no real indication that he’d be called upon this soon to play a role in the majors. But even as he worked to a 2.54 ERA with 11.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in ten outings in the upper minors, the big league staff was beset by injuries.

    It’s not known how long Santana will likely be sidelined. Roberts indicated that there’s further medical assessment to be done before that will be clear. But it seems reasonable to anticipate a fairly lengthy absence. Santana will accrue MLB service time while he’s on the disabled list. He’ll also occupy a 40-man spot unless and until he’s moved to the 60-day DL.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Prior Discusses Use Of Relievers As "Openers"]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124442 2018-06-08T18:38:11Z 2018-06-08T18:33:20Z
  • The Dodgers recently adopted the Rays’ strategy of using an “opener” — that is, starting a reliever for a few outs before based on matchups — and in an interesting interview, bullpen coach Mark Prior chatted with Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik to discuss how that came about. Left-handed reliever Scott Alexander had taken note of Sergio Romo’s run in that role with Tampa Bay and approached Prior to simply express that he’d be open to it if ever needed. Prior took it to the coaching staff and, not long after, the Dodgers felt circumstances dictated experimenting with the notion. “He’s a ground-ball pitcher, and we’re in Colorado,” said Prior. “…It just so happened that we needed someone that day, and given Colorado’s lineup with the lefties at the top, it made sense to get him through the fourth or fifth hitter and then go to someone else.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Claim P.J. Conlon From Dodgers, Designate Phillip Evans]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124301 2018-06-06T21:33:52Z 2018-06-06T20:55:53Z The Mets have re-claimed left-hander P.J. Conlon off waivers from the Dodgers and designated infielder Phillip Evans for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the team announced to reporters following this afternoon’s game (Twitter link via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). Conlon has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

    Conlon’s time with the Dodgers, clearly, will prove to be abbreviated. Los Angeles only claimed him off waivers from the Mets last week, and the southpaw had yet to even pitch in a game with his new organization before being placed back on waivers. It’s nothing new for the Dodgers to claim a player and then try to run him through waivers themselves as a means of keeping him in the organization without committing a 40-man roster spot. It’s a move they’ve had a fair amount of success with in past seasons, though the Mets clearly didn’t see fit to let Conlon get away and seized the opportunity to reclaim the depth they lost last week.

    Conlon, 24, allowed seven earned runs in his first two big league starts with the Mets this season, spanning just 5 2/3 innings. His struggles weren’t contained to the MLB level, either, as he posted a whopping 6.58 ERA in 39 2/3 innings spanning eight starts with Vegas this year. However, Conlon possesses solid numbers up through the the Double-A level and turned in promising K/BB numbers in Triple-A this year even while struggling with his bottom-line run prevention numbers. He’ll now return to the organization that originally drafted him and continue on as a depth piece.

    As for the 25-year-old Evans, this’ll be the second time he’s been designated for assignment by the Mets in the past calendar year. He’s just 1-for-9 on the young season but hit .303/.395/.364 in a tiny sample of 38 plate appearances in the Majors last year. Evans is a career .273/.337/.445 hitter in 671 PAs at the Triple-A level and has experience at every position other than center field, first base and catcher. If he clears waivers, he’ll have the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency, given that he was outrighted the last time he was designated by the Mets.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Yasmani Grandal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124274 2018-06-06T20:01:21Z 2018-06-06T18:52:42Z When Austin Barnes overtook Yasmani Grandal late last year, it seemed the latter was a potential offseason trade piece for the Dodgers. Despite quality production over his tenure in Los Angeles, after all, he took just 11 plate appearances during the team’s postseason run. Instead, the Dodgers held onto Grandal in his final season of team control.

    Now, more than a third of the way through the 2018 season, Grandal again seems like one of the game’s best backstops. He’s commanding the lion’s share of the time behind the plate, helping the club weather some devastating injuries and setting himself up for an interesting trip onto the open market. We’ll use this post to take a closer look at his free agent stock.

    Grandal is among the highest-rated catchers this season by measure of fWAR, with 1.3 wins tallied to this point. He’s slashing a productive .246/.346/.451 through 205 plate appearances, with nine home runs and an appealing combination of a 12.2% walk rate and 22.0% strikeout rate. Statcast likes his batted-ball profile, crediting him with a .362 xwOBA that exceeds the .343 wOBA he has produced.

    If anything, though, that WAR metric likely understates Grandal’s value, because it doesn’t account for his framing prowess. Baseball Prospectus’s measure, WARP, credits Grandal with 2.0 wins to date this year. But even that may undersell the backstop. He has drawn only slightly above-average framing marks from BPro this year, while StatCorner continues to grade Grandal as the best in the business. That was a shared assessment of both outlets over the past several years. And by measure of WORP, Grandal has contributed a whopping 17.2 wins over his first three years in L.A.

    Teams will make their own fine-tuned assessments of defensive value, weighing considerations — pitch calling, pitcher management, etc. — that are all but impossible to assess from the outside. But everything in the data suggests that Grandal is a top-quality catcher. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a switch-hitter who has historically been best against right-handed pitching but still reaches base at a quality clip against southpaws. Grandal is still 29 years of age, too, and has been plenty durable to this point in his career.

    So, how might that play in free agency? The catching market is something of its own beast, due in no small part to the fact that many of the best receivers have reached extensions before reaching free agency. Players such as Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Jonathan Lucroy, Francisco Cervelli, Tucker Barnhart, Devin Mesoraco, and Yan Gomes have all signed away their prime years recently (or in the not-so-distant past), without testing the open market.

    When premium backstops do hit free agency, they certainly can be paid. Brian McCann ($85MM) and Russell Martin ($82MM) have demonstrated that recently with high-dollar, five-year deals. Of course, the biggest contracts have still come between backstops and their existing teams. Joe Mauer inked his $184MM deal with the Twins when he was still catching, of course. And Mike Piazza worked out his massive deal with the Mets before technically becoming a free agent.

    Clearly, Grandal isn’t in the rarefied air of Mauer, Piazza, and Posey. But is there an argument to be made that he ought to be able to approach McCann and Martin levels of pay over a five-year term? Grandal is on par with McCann in terms of age (both entering age-30 seasons as free agents) and a fair bit younger than was Martin. And though Grandal has not reached the heights offensively that McCann did at times as a young player, there’s a case to be made that his bat is roughly as appealing at equivalent stages. In the three years prior to his deal with the Yanks, McCann compiled a composite 113 OPS+, while Grandal presently sits at 111 since joining the Dodgers. Martin turned in a 105 OPS+ in the three seasons immediately preceding his trip onto the open market.

    Whether Grandal will have a case for anything approaching that level of pay isn’t yet clear, but will surely depend upon still-unknown factors including how he performs the rest of the way and precisely how the demand side shapes up. It’s worth remembering that the Martin contract came in a fair bit higher than expected, when the Jays decided to add another guaranteed season. We’re also missing potentially relevant intermediate market markers, since several of the more anticipated possible recent free-agent cases have not been tested. Cervelli re-upped with the Bucs, Lucroy and Matt Wieters struggled in platform years, and Wilson Ramos was injured just before reaching free agency. At a minimum, though, Grandal seems clearly to be trending towards a contract that includes at least four guaranteed seasons and an annual salary in the $12MM to $16MM range. Of course, that also suggests he’s quite likely to receive a qualifying offer, which could dent his market somewhat.

    So long as he can sustain something like his current output for the remainder of the season — which certainly seems reasonable given his track record — Grandal could represent an interesting test case for the market’s current valuation of catchers. It’ll be particularly interesting to see how things turn out given the presence of other useful catchers (including Ramos and the increasingly interesting Tyler Flowers) on the 2018-19 market and the fact that there’s now a widespread appreciation of the value of framing. With plenty of teams likely in need of new backstops, the catching market ought to serve as a quality undercard to the premium class of free agents.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Matt Kemp Showing Improvements In The Field]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124275 2018-06-06T20:05:51Z 2018-06-06T15:23:15Z
  • What’s most amazing about Matt Kemp’s remarkable two-month run with the DodgersJeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes, is not the fact that he’s off to a .344/.374/.568 slash. (Indeed, it seems there’s reason to anticipate those numbers coming back to earth, given his .400 BABIP.) Rather, it’s the fact that Kemp is suddenly grading as a solid defender in the corners, allowing him to rack up an impressive 1.8 fWAR in just under two hundred plate appearances. Sullivan examines the defensive component in an interesting piece that’s well worth a full read.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Stripling On Role Of Data, Analytics In Breakout]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124105 2018-06-04T20:23:49Z 2018-06-04T20:23:49Z
  • Ross Stripling, who looks to be in the midst of a breakout season with the Dodgers, spoke to Pedro Moura of The Athletic about the role that data and analytics have played in his emergence (subscription required). The 28-year-old righty has turned in a ridiculous 1.68 ERA with 11.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.56 HR/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate in 48 1/3 innings for the Dodgers so far in 2018. Stripling’s success is derived in large part from advance scouting of opposing lineups and taking deep dives into hitters’ strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, Stripling discusses the importance of knowing the quality of contact a hitter will make against pitch types in various portions of the strike zone. “I don’t care about average,” said Stripling. “I just want to know where he pulls the ball at 100 mph. I’m a believer in limiting slug, which is basically limiting exit velocity.” Moura’s column takes a long look not only at Stripling’s sudden success, but also his amateur days, his childhood fascination with baseball statistics and his path to professional baseball.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers To Select Caleb Ferguson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124103 2018-06-04T19:06:40Z 2018-06-04T19:06:40Z The Dodgers are set to select the contract of left-handed pitching prospect Caleb Ferguson, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets. The news first got out, it seems, when Ferguson’s mother announced it on Facebook (though Hoornsta notes that he’s confirmed the promotion himself as well). The Dodgers have a full 40-man roster, so they’ll need to make a corresponding move to add him to the roster.

    [Related: Los Angeles Dodgers depth chart]

    Ferguson, 21, entered the season ranked 15th among Dodgers farmhands, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. Tommy John surgery in high school caused him to drop to the 38th round of the draft, but he’s steadily risen through the Dodgers’ minor league ranks as he’s mended and rebuilt his arm strength. After dominating Double-A opponents with a 1.38 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 10 walks through 39 innings, Ferguson was moved up to Triple-A for a brief eight-inning stint before now ascending to the game’s highest level.

    The addition of Ferguson will give Los Angeles an option to start on Wednesday this week. The Dodgers currently have an entire rotation’s worth of talent on the DL (and a very good rotation, at that) with Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Urias all on the shelf at at the moment. As such, if Ferguson is indeed called upon to start, he’ll step into the rotation alongside Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and fellow rookies Walker Buehler and Dennis Santana. It could be a simple spot start regardless, as the Dodgers have a pair of off-days next week that’ll allow them to skip the fifth spot in the rotation.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Dodgers Not Considering Demoting Cody Bellinger]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124067 2018-06-04T04:31:20Z 2018-06-04T04:31:20Z
  • The slumping Cody Bellinger hasn’t started two of the Dodgers’ last three games, as manager Dave Roberts talked to reporters (including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register) about how the reigning NL Rookie Of The Year is trying to adjust to being pitched differently as well as some bad breaks at the plate.  “He’s doing everything right as far as the preparation.  The results just haven’t been there,” Roberts said.  “So as a young player, he’s constantly trying to make adjustments. You get to a point where you wonder if you’re ever going to get a hit. All players go through that at some point in time.”  Roberts wasn’t ready to say that a brief minor league stint might eventually be in the cards for Bellinger, who is hitting only .225/.298/.413 with eight homers over his first 238 plate appearances.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Dodgers Claim P.J. Conlon]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123892 2018-06-02T20:52:07Z 2018-06-02T20:40:04Z The Dodgers have claimed left-hander P.J. Conlon off waivers from the Mets; the club announced the move. Conlon will be assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, and left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu has been transferred to the 60-day DL in order to make room on the 40-man roster.

    Conlon hasn’t exactly impressed in his first taste of big league action; he’s allowed seven earned runs in his first two big league starts spanning just 5 2/3 innings. The Mets apparently didn’t need to see much more, as they designated him for assignment on Thursday in order to clear room to add a pair of right-handers to the roster. Juan Lagares was also transferred to the 60-day disabled list at that time.

    Even in Triple-A last season, Conlon pitched to a whopping 6.58 ERA in 39 2/3 innings spanning eight starts. A mid-round pick of the Mets back in 2015, Conlon rocketed up the minor league ladder to make his MLB debut while spending no more than one year at each level of the minors. It’s almost curious that the Mets gave up on Conlon without ever giving him more than ten starts above the Double-A level, particularly given his serviceable results at Double-A in 2017.

    The Dodgers have some rotation issues of their own, and Conlon could provide some decent minor-league depth. After all, they just learned they’ll be without fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw for another month (though obviously Conlon wouldn’t be much of a consolation prize in that regard).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Place Clayton Kershaw On 10-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123821 2018-06-01T23:08:03Z 2018-06-01T23:06:50Z 6:06pm: Manager Dave Roberts suggests that there’s at least a preliminary expectation that Kershaw will miss over a month of action, Moura tweets.

    5:22pm: Star Dodgers hurler Clayton Kershaw returned from the disabled list to start yesterday, but he’s now headed right back to the shelf, as Pedro Moura of The Athletic was among those to indicate on Twitter and the team has now announced. Kershaw has been diagnosed with a lower back strain, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

    It’s really not surprising to hear that Kershaw will need at least at least a brief additional respite. He reported a tight back yesterday that required an MRI and kept him from traveling with the club. During his five innings of action, Kershaw never topped 90 mph with his fastball, which is hardly a promising sign.

    At the moment, there’s no firm indication as to the seriousness of Kershaw’s new injury concern. His prior DL stint this year was for biceps tendinitis, but he has dealt with back troubles in the past two years, including a five-week absence last year for an injury with the same description as this one. Until we learn more, though, there’s no way to know how long Kershaw will be down. And the length of the absence will surely be tied to his progress.

    Kershaw is hardly the Dodgers’ only injured starter, which complicates matters in the near term. The club just brought up youngster Dennis Santana for his first taste of the majors to help account for the missing arms. Now, righty Brock Stewart will be recalled to take the open spot on the active roster.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Marlins Acquire Peter O’Brien]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123785 2018-06-01T18:17:29Z 2018-06-01T18:16:11Z The Marlins have acquired first baseman Peter O’Brien from the Dodgers in exchange for cash, tweets Matthew DeFranks of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It’s a homecoming of sorts for O’Brien, a Miami-area native, though he’s been assigned to the team’s Double-A affiliate in Jacksonville for the time being. He wasn’t on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, so no corresponding move is necessary for the Marlins.

    O’Brien, 27, came up through the Yankees minor league system as a catcher noted for his tremendous power, but he’s bounced all over the diamond thanks to questionable defensive skills and has ultimately settled in at first base. He’s had a rough start to the season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, hitting .150/.241/.390. While he’s shown his typical brand of impressive power, clubbing seven homers in 112 plate appearances, he’s also struck out at a 38.9 percent pace so far.

    The Marlins will be the seventh organization for O’Brien, who went from the Yankees to the D-backs in the 2014 Martin Prado trade and has since bounced from the D-backs to the Royals, Reds, Rangers and Dodgers in a series of smaller trades and waiver claims. He’s a career .176/.228/.446 hitter in 79 Major League plate appearances and has slashed .254/.306/.495 in 1162 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw To Undergo MRI On Back]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123771 2018-06-01T15:41:18Z 2018-06-01T02:59:40Z Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw five useful innings today in his return from the DL, but the outing did not end quite as hoped. He’s headed for an MRI after experiencing back tightness during the outing, skipper Dave Roberts tells reporters including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

    Though the outlooks remains entirely unknown, it has already been decided that Kershaw will not accompany the team on its upcoming road trip to Denver. That’s not surprising given the nature of the problem, to be sure, but neither would it be a shock to see Kershaw end up going back on the DL if there’s any concern at all about his health.

    This sort of uncertain, early injury news arises with some frequency, but the backdrop here is hardly common. Kershaw, who had been out with biceps tendinitis, has dealt with back problems in recent years. The health of his back was, entering the present season, perhaps the only real question facing the game’s greatest active pitcher.

    The stakes are high for all involved. For the Dodgers, the presumption of a healthy Kershaw was a key factor in the team’s pre-season designation by many as a favorite to return to the World Series. With a middling start to the season, he’s all the more important. Meanwhile, baseball’s preeminent southpaw is pitching in advance of an anticipated first entry onto the free-agent market at season’s end. He has long been expected to opt out of the final two years and $65MM of the extension he signed back in 2014.

    Clearly, the full picture is not yet known. But there are signs both concerning and somewhat promising. Kershaw had already shown reduced fastball velocity before hitting the DL, averaging 92.1 mph with his four-seamer to open the year. Though he mustered five innings of one-run ball this evening, he was topping out at just 90 mph — quite a notable drop-off. That said, the balky back offers something of an explanation. In his comment after the game, Kershaw suggested that the back issue is more comparable to the less-serious problems he dealt with last year than those that set him back for a longer stretch in the prior campaign, as DiGiovanna notes on Twitter.

    For now, it’s enough to say that there are more questions facing Kershaw than anyone hoped for when the season got underway. Even before tonight’s outing, he was allowing more homers than usual (1.43 per nine) while his swinging-strike rate sat at 11.7%, well off the level he had worked (14.1% or better) over the prior four seasons. The results have still largely been there, as they were again tonight, but it is certainly concerning that he’s again headed in for an examination after only just making it back to the majors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Activate Clayton Kershaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123736 2018-05-31T20:29:33Z 2018-05-31T20:15:54Z The Dodgers announced that they’ve reinstated left-hander Clayton Kershaw from the disabled list and created a roster spot by optioning switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Kershaw, who’s been out since May 1 due to biceps tendinitis in his left arm, will start tonight’s game against the visiting Phillies.

    The three-time NL Cy Young winner and five-time NL ERA leader will return to the Dodgers’ rotation just one day after right-hander Kenta Maeda landed on the disabled list with a right hip strain. It’s been an ongoing struggle for the Dodgers to keep their starting staff healthy so far this season, as Maeda is joined on the disabled list by lefties Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Kershaw’s absence proved to be shorter than his DL trips for back injuries in each of the past two seasons.

    Kershaw will step back into the starting mix alongside Alex Wood, rookie sensation Walker Buehler and the breakout righty Ross Stripling. While that may not be a rotation mix the Dodgers anticipated having to lean upon in 2018, the quality of that group serves as a testament to the depth that the Dodgers seem to have a knack for cultivating on a yearly basis.

    While the Dodgers’ early struggles garnered plenty of national media attention, they’ve quieted the narrative that their season was on the brink of being lost by rattling off 10 wins in their past 13 contests. Los Angeles is still three games south of the .500 mark, but the collapse of the former NL West-leading Diamondbacks has opened a door for the Dodgers, who now sit 3.5 games back from the Rockies, who suddenly find themselves in first place.

    A healthy Kershaw will go a long way toward continuing their recent success, though there are clearly some longer-term implications here for both Kershaw and the team. Kershaw has the ability to opt out of the remaining two years of his contract at season’s end, and he’s all but certain to do so. While the Dodgers clearly possess the financial firepower to match or top virtually any offer another team can make to Kershaw, the price of a new contract with the Dodgers or another club will be impacted in no small part by his ability to put this injury behind him and return to his status as one of the game’s elite arms.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Release Danny Espinosa]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123679 2018-05-31T01:15:47Z 2018-05-31T01:15:47Z The Dodgers have released veteran infielder Danny Espinosa from their Triple-A club, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. He’d signed with the organization on a minor league pact back in early May.

    Espinosa, who turned 31 last month, has bounced all over the league since opening the 2017 season with the Angels. The longtime Nationals infielder was released by the Halos last July, and has since had brief stints with five other organizations: the Rays, Mariners, Yankees, Blue Jays and Dodgers (though he only appeared in the Majors with Tampa Bay and Seattle).

    Espinosa’s time with the Dodgers organization will prove to be brief, as he appeared in just 19 games with their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City and batted .150/.203/.267 with a pair of homers but a 36.9 percent strikeout rate. Espinosa has long carried a strong defensive reputation and did slug 24 homers for the Nationals as recently as 2016, but he’s struggled mightily at the plate both in 2017 and again so far in 2018.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Promote Dennis Santana, Place Kenta Maeda On Disabled List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123638 2018-05-31T00:01:29Z 2018-05-30T23:55:58Z 6:55pm: Maeda has been placed on the 10-day disabled list after an MRI confirmed that he has a mild hip strain, per a club announcement, which also confirmed Santana’s promotion. The Dodgers did not provide a timeline for Maeda’s return from the DL.

    2:05pm: The Dodgers are slated to promote young righty Dennis Santana, as the pitching prospect announced on his own Twitter account. He was already on the 40-man roster but has never previously appeared at the MLB level.

    Santana, 22, originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as an infielder but has long since worked exclusively as a pitcher. He was placed on the MLB roster over the winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

    Already an increasingly intriguing name to prospect hounds before the start of the current season, Santana has increased his stock with a good showing in 2018. Through ten starts — eight at Double-A and a pair at Triple-A — he carries a 2.54 ERA with 11.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

    At present, it is not entirely clear how the Dodgers will utilize the live-armed youngster. He could conceivably make a start or two, fulfill a rotation spot for a lengthier stretch, or step into the bullpen. His performance will obviously help dictate those decisions, as will health developments regarding the rest of the staff.

    The Dodgers, of course, have dealt with some rather significant injury issues with their rotation. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Hyun-jin Ryu are already on the DL, and they could soon have additional company.

    Veteran righty Kenta Maeda is set for an MRI today on his ailing hip, which forced him out of yesterday’s start early. It’s possible that Maeda will need a trip to the DL, per skipper Dave Roberts. (Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register was among those to tweet the news on Maeda.)

    Clearly, the Dodgers will be hoping for a quick bounce back from Maeda, who has recorded 11.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in his 52 1/3 innings on the year. While his ERA edged north to 3.61 after yesterday’s shortened effort, fielding-independent metrics value him as a rather dominant starter (2.84 FIP / 3.06 xFIP / 3.19 SIERA).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Maeda Exits Start With Hip Strain]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123615 2018-05-30T03:57:46Z 2018-05-30T03:57:46Z
  • The Dodgers pulled Kenta Maeda from tonight’s start in the second inning due to a right hip strain, tweets Alanna Rizzo of SportsNetLA. The Dodgers trainers checked on Maeda on two separate occasions in the second frame, and he was pulled on the trainer’s second trip to the mound. Los Angeles is already without Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu, each of whom is on the disabled list, though Kershaw is likely to return this week. Maeda, who owns a 3.61 ERA and a 68-to-18 K/BB ratio in 52 1/3 frames this season, would represent another costly loss at a time when L.A. was hoping to see its rotation begin inching toward better health with the return of Kershaw.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw To Start Thursday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123411 2018-05-27T20:23:10Z 2018-05-27T20:22:27Z
  • Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will come off the disabled list and start against the Phillies on Thursday, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report. All told, Kershaw will miss just under a month after going on the DL on May 7 with biceps tendinitis. He’ll rejoin a team that has won seven of nine since reaching a season-worst 10 games under .500 on May 16, though LA still entered Sunday just 23-28 and 3.5 games out of the NL West lead.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rich Hill Still "A Ways Away"]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123331 2018-05-27T02:42:49Z 2018-05-27T02:42:53Z It’s possible Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has played his last game with the team, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports California observes. The Giants have to make a decision on Pence’s future within the next six days, when his minor league rehab assignment will end. In the event San Francisco releases Pence, who helped the club to two World Series titles as a younger player, it’ll have to eat the remainder of his $18.5MM salary. But if Pence gets another shot with the Giants, he’ll return having undergone some offensive adjustments with the help of private instructor Doug Latta – whose students also include Mac Williamson and the Dodgers’ Justin Turner – Pavlocic details. Pence feels “way better” after working with Latta, and has hit well in the minors since making the changes. The respected veteran got off to a rough start in the majors this year (.172/.197/.190 in 61 plate appearances) before going on the disabled list April 19 with a thumb issue.

    • There was optimism about injured Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill earlier this week, but manager Dave Roberts suggested to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times and other reporters Saturday that his return’s not exactly imminent. Hill’s still “a ways away” from returning from his long-running blister issues, per Roberts. The 38-year-old went back on the DL last Sunday, when Roberts estimated he’d miss at least four weeks. Fortunately for the surging Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw seems to be nearing a return from his own DL stint, and Hill replacement Ross Stripling has been brilliant this season. In a win over the Padres on Friday, Stripling struck out 10 and didn’t issue any walks across 6 2/3 innings of six-hit, one-run ball (unearned).
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Nearing Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123308 2018-05-27T01:15:01Z 2018-05-26T23:22:56Z Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said Saturday that he’ll be ready to rejoin their rotation in five days, though it’ll be up to the team whether that happens, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Kershaw’s four-inning simulated game on Saturday went well enough that he may be able to avoid a rehab assignment, despite having been on the disabled list since May 7 with biceps tendinitis. The left-hander is part of a large group of important Dodgers who have missed significant time this year, thus helping to explain the reigning NL champions’ 23-27 start. LA has won seven of its past eight, however, and is within a manageable 3.5 games of first-place Colorado in the NL West.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Colon, Bibens-Dirkx, Odor, Rangers, Anthopoulos, Bae]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123274 2018-05-26T14:41:11Z 2018-05-26T14:22:27Z Timeless right-hander Bartolo Colon celebrated his 45th birthday this week, so he’ll soon become just the 18th player in major league history to pitch in the majors beyond that benchmark. Colon is also the oldest to hurl a pitch since Jamie Moyer back in 2012. Value metrics are divided on his effectiveness so far this season; Baseball Reference pegs his contributions at 1.6 WAR, while Fangraphs believes his 2018 production to be exactly replacement level. In any case, it would have been difficult at season’s outset to imagine Colon exceeding his current results. A 3.51 ERA and 7.20 K/BB ratio are welcome numbers to a Rangers rotation that sports the sixth-highest combined ERA in major-league baseball.

    It’ll be fun to see just how long Colon can keep up this pace. But in the meantime, here are some minor notes from last night…

    • In other Rangers news, Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram examines the job security of a pitcher and a position player in Arlington. Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched well on the whole in his last start (though he was a victim of some bad fielding behind him), Wilson notes that the club is more likely to give Matt Moore a longer look before ceding his spot in the rotation to Bibens-Dirkx. Meanwhile, Wilson notes that struggling second baseman Rougned Odor has two options remaining. With Jurickson Profar putting together quality at-bats of late, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa producing at a better clip than Odor, there’s a chance the club might consider letting the latter work out his issues in the minors.
    • In a subscription-only piece for The Athletic, Bill Shaikin examines the storyline of Alex Anthopoulos leaving the Dodgers organization to run a Braves club that’s currently leading the NL East. While Anthopoulos felt like he had “as good a job as there was in baseball” with the Dodgers, his reshaping of the Braves’ payroll has helped to set them up for success as they near the end of a lengthy rebuild. Trades of Jim Johnson, Matt Kemp and some international bonus pool money shipped to the Angels has set the stage for Atlanta to complement its young core through free agency and perhaps even the midseason trade market.
    • Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides an update on Pirates prospect Bae Ji-hwan via Twitter. Bae is reportedly on his way back to the United States after cooperating with police in South Korea on suspicion of a domestic violence incident. He’ll be allowed to participate in baseball activities pending the outcome of an investigation into said incident. Bae was one of a few players that the Braves reportedly offered “extra-contractual compensation” recently and were thus barred from signing in the last international signing period.
    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[Knocking Down The Door: Alcantara, De Los Santos, Fletcher, Jimenez, Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121825 2018-05-23T21:04:35Z 2018-05-23T21:04:35Z “Knocking Down the Door” is a regular feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.

    Sandy Alcantara, SP, Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans) | Marlins Depth Chart

    In this rebuilding season, the Marlins are taking the opportunity to evaluate several young starting pitchers at the Major League level. Dillon Peters and Trevor Richards are back in Triple-A after getting an extended look. Jarlin Garcia made six starts before being moved to the bullpen. He was replaced in the rotation by Rule 5 pick Elieser Hernandez. Triple-A starters Zac Gallen and Ben Meyer have both been good enough to warrant a promotion, and 22-year-old Pablo Lopez (1 ER in 31 2/3 IP) has been one of the best pitchers at the Double-A level. Next in line, though, should be Alcantara, the prized prospect acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason trade of Marcell Ozuna.

    After tossing eight shutout innings in his latest start, the 22-year-old right-hander’s debut with the Marlins has to be on the horizon. Alcantara doesn’t have the high strikeout rate that you’d expect from a top prospect, but he throws in the mid-to-high 90s—he averaged 98 MPH in eight relief appearances last season—and has been a strike-throwing machine as of late. Since walking 16 batters over his first six starts, Alcantara has been in control over his last three outings with only one walk in 20 innings, including back-to-back starts without issuing a free pass. As a comparison, he walked a batter in all but one of his 22 Double-A starts last season.

    If the Marlins hold off and give Alcantara two more Triple-A starts, he could make his ’18 debut when they face his former team in St. Louis between June 5th-June 7th.

    Enyel De Los Santos, SP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley) | Phillies Depth Chart

    The Phillies’ rotation is on a roll—they have the sixth-lowest ERA in the Majors and the third most quality starts—and currently have no weak link in their five-man rotation. But despite lacking a clear path to the Majors, De Los Santos is making it obvious that he’s ready when needed.

    After allowing a run in each of his first three Triple-A starts, the 6’3″ right-hander stepped it up a notch with three consecutive scoreless outings, a quality start on May 16th (6 IP, 3 ER) and another gem yesterday (7 IP, ER, BB, 5 K). At just 22 years of age, De Los Santos is dominating at the Triple-A level (1.39 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 9.7 K/9) and also has a 150-inning season under his belt at the Double-A level. With the Phillies primed for a playoff run, it’s almost certain that the young workhorse will figure into their plans at some point.

    David Fletcher, INF, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake) | Angels Depth Chart 

    Replacing an accomplished 12-year veteran who is struggling mightily at the plate with an unproven prospect who is putting up huge numbers in Triple-A is not an easy decision. While the 35-year-old Ian Kinsler is no longer the hitter who slashed .288/.348/.484 with 28 homers back in 2016, he’s probably not as bad as he’s looked through his first 149 plate appearances of 2018, either (.197/.275/.288). Regardless, the Angels have to at least be considering whether it’s time to give the 23-year-old Fletcher a chance.

    After a subpar performance during his first full season in the upper minors in 2017 (.655 OPS in 111 games between Triple-A and Double-A), the former sixth-round draft pick has taken a huge step forward in 2018. He already has 20 multi-hit games and 28 extra-base hits—he had 24 total extra-base hits in 2017—while striking out just 13 times in 193 trips to the plate. A rare 0-fer on Tuesday has his slash line down to .356/.401/.599 in 192 plate appearances. Capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop, Fletcher could be used in a utility role while taking at-bats away from Kinsler, who is currently in a 5-for-34 rut.

    Eloy Jimenez | USA Today Sports Images

    Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham) | White Sox Depth Chart

    It’s not surprising that 19-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been the most impressive and most talked-about prospect in Double-A since the start of the season. But Jimenez, who began the season on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, is quickly making up for lost time. The 21-year-old debuted on April 19th and, after going hitless in his first 11 at-bats, is now hitting .328/.360/.608 with eight homers and 11 doubles.

    While he doesn’t have the plate discipline of Guerrero or Juan Soto, another impressive 19-year-old who made his MLB debut with the Nationals this past weekend, Jimenez doesn’t strike out a ton. He has 21 total strikeouts (a 15.9 percent clip) and has gone without a strikeout in 15 of his 31 games. When he does put the ball in play, it’s often very loud. There’s also a clear path to the Majors on a rebuilding White Sox team with one of the least-productive group of outfielders in baseball.

    Dennis Santana, SP, Dodgers (Triple-A Oklahoma City) | Dodgers Depth Chart

    Digging deep into their starting pitching depth is nothing new for the Dodgers. They’ve been doing it for years and, for the most part, their second wave of starting pitching has done an excellent job. This year has been no exception with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list and Walker Buehler (2.38 ERA in six starts), Ross Stripling (3.26 ERA in four starts) and Brock Stewart (one run in four innings in his lone spot start) doing their part to hold down the fort. Next in line could be the 22-year-old Santana, who threw six shutout innings with only three singles allowed and 11 strikeouts in his Triple-A debut over the weekend.

    After he struggled badly in seven Double-A starts last season (5.51 ERA, 6.3 BB/9), an MLB debut in 2018 did not appear to be in the cards despite being added to the 40-man roster over the offseason. But that’s changed after eight impressive Double-A starts (2.56 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 11.9 K/9) and, probably even more so, after whiffing 11 hitters without issuing a walk over six shutout innings in his Triple-A debut. Like Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez, Santana started his professional career as a position player—he was a shortstop for one season after signing in 2013—so he should feel at home in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Rich Hill]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123049 2018-05-23T02:51:38Z 2018-05-23T02:51:38Z Rich Hill’s latest blister problem was originally estimated by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to require a four-week DL stint, though the southpaw threw a full bullpen session today.  As Roberts explained to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick and other media, Hill was keeping his arm in shape while wearing protective tape over the injured middle finger of his pitching hand.  Hill told reporters yesterday (including The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya) that is hopeful of a quicker return from this injury, though he is still looking for a more long-term answer to the blister problems that have plagued his career in recent years.  Hill even raised the idea of petitioning the league to allow him to wear the tape on his finger during a game — MLB rules prohibit a pitcher from wearing an “attachment to his hand, finger or wrist,” though Hill argues that it wouldn’t be any different than a hitter wearing a batting glove.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Dodgers Had Offseason Interest In Lorenzo Cain]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122872 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z
  • Speaking of winter what-ifs, Heyman adds the Mariners, Braves, and Dodgers to the list of teams that had interest in signing Lorenzo Cain before the center fielder inked a deal with the Brewers.  Seattle had a clear need for center field help prior to the Dee Gordon trade, though the other two wouldn’t seem to be obvious fits on paper for Cain’s services.  The Braves already have Ender Inciarte in center, plus they needed to trade Matt Kemp to make room for Ronald Acuna’s eventual promotion; potentially, Cain could’ve been a fit if Atlanta had managed to trade Nick Markakis (and then convince Cain to shift to right field).  For the Dodgers, signing Cain would have run counter to their plan of getting under the luxury tax threshold, plus L.A. would’ve had to give up two draft picks and $1MM in international bonus pool funds as compensation for signing Cain.  It’s also possible, of course, that both the Braves and Dodgers merely had a due diligence-type of interest in Cain given that his free agent stint stretched into late January.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Making Progress]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122812 2018-05-20T18:28:38Z 2018-05-20T18:28:42Z
  • The Dodgers’ rotation took another hit Sunday when left-hander Rich Hill landed on the disabled list, but ace Clayton Kershaw seems to be nearing a return. Kershaw, on the DL since May 6 with a biceps injury, threw a bullpen session Sunday and could be one away from going on a rehab assignment, Pedro Moura of The Athletic was among those to report. Kershaw may even be able to rejoin the Dodgers as early as next weekend, manager Dave Roberts suggested to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rich Hill To Miss At Least Four Weeks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122784 2018-05-20T15:24:47Z 2018-05-20T15:15:52Z Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill is likely to miss “significant time” after slicing open a blister during his start Saturday, Pedro Moura of The Athletic tweets. “This is as bad as I’ve seen it,” manager Dave Roberts said of Hill’s long-running blister issues. Roberts added that the 38-year-old Hill will require a rehab assignment before returning to LA’s rotation, which indicates that a stint on the disabled list is a foregone conclusion. Prior to Saturday, when he exited after just two pitches, Hill had already gone on the DL multiple times in recent years on account of blisters. Hill’s injury – not to mention the absences of Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu – should keep righty Ross Stripling in the Dodgers’ rotation, as Roberts noted (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register) that “to have Ross as your sixth starter or whatever is a huge luxury for us.” Stripling has been highly effective as both a starter and a reliever this year, having combined for a 2.08 ERA/2.37 FIP with 10.34 K/9 against 2.34 BB/9 in 34 2/3 innings (15 appearances, four starts). [Update: Hill will miss at least four weeks, Roberts told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times and other reporters.]

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dodgers Notes: CBT, Hill]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122730 2018-05-20T02:28:18Z 2018-05-20T01:20:28Z With the Dodgers trying to stay under the $197MM competitive-balance tax threshold and unsure if they’ll contend this year, they’re not in position to act aggressively on the trade market, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). Given that the athletic Cody Bellinger may be a better fit in center field than at first base, Rosenthal notes that Los Angeles looks like a fit on paper for White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. However, Abreu is making $13MM – a salary which would be problematic for the tax-minded Dodgers, whose payroll is just above $186MM – and Rosenthal points out that the club may be more focused on bolstering its pitching if it does look to upgrade its roster via trade. The Dodgers’ staff might have taken yet another costly hit Saturday when left-hander Rich Hill exited his start after throwing a mere two pitches, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report. Hill’s longstanding blister issues may have led to his departure, McCullough suggests.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Designate Henry Owens]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122641 2018-05-18T19:21:48Z 2018-05-18T19:21:48Z The Dodgers have designated lefty Henry Owens for assignment. His roster spot will go to Erik Goeddel, who was claimed off waivers today.

    Owens was once viewed as a significant prospect, but never really took the final steps in his development. The Dodgers claimed him over the winter from the Diamondbacks, who had previously nabbed him off waivers from the Red Sox. Owens is still just 25, and will surely receive further opportunities to put it all together, but he has yet to pitch in the 2018 season.

    In his 85 innings at the game’s highest level, Owens carries only a 5.19 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. The results had been better at Triple-A, despite middling K/BB figures, until a disastrous 2017 campaign. Owens dished out 115 walks to go with his 121 strikeouts in 126 frames split between Double-A and Triple-A, then was tagged for 21 earned runs (with a 15:13 K/BB ratio) in his 21 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Claim Erik Goeddel From Mariners, Sign Tyler Goeddel]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122635 2018-05-18T19:13:26Z 2018-05-18T18:16:22Z The Dodgers have claimed right-handed reliever Erik Goeddel off waivers from the Mariners, reports J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). He was designated for assignment earlier this week. Because he’s out of minor league options, he’ll be added to the MLB bullpen. It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers signed Goeddel’s younger brother, Tyler Goeddel, to a minor league contract yesterday, as reflected on the league’s transactions page.

    The elder Goeddel, 29, had previously spent his career with the Mets organization before landing in Seattle this offseason. The righty was off to a nice start in the Seattle ’pen, tossing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts, though he also issued five walks and threw a pair of wild pitches. His average fastball velocity, too, was down about a half mile per hour from 2017 and a mile per hour from its peak levels.

    Erik entered the 2018 season with a lifetime 3.96 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 104 2/3 MLB innings, though the majority of his best work came in 2014-15. Over the past two seasons, he struggled to a 4.87 ERA at the MLB level, maintaining his penchant for missing bats but also demonstrating shaky control and a proclivity for surrendering home runs. Walks have been an ongoing issue for him throughout his minor league tenure (4.2 BB/9 in 131 Triple-A innings), but home runs haven’t plagued him in the minors.

    As for the younger of the two brothers, the 25-year-old Tyler was the 41st pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. The outfielder struggled with the Phillies in his lone big league season, though, hitting just .192/.258/.291 in 234 trips to the plate. He’s a career .263/.344/.358 hitter in 310 Triple-A plate appearances and had been with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate to open the year before being released.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Sign Logan Bawcom To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122538 2018-05-16T22:24:48Z 2018-05-16T22:23:29Z
  • Right-hander Logan Bawcom is back with the Dodgers organization for a third stint after having his contract purchased from the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. The Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa announced the move, and Bawcom started for them today (two runs on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings). Now 29 years old, Bawcom was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 17th round back in 2010, and he also spent the 2016 season in their system. Bawcom, still looking for his first call to the big leagues, has pitched rather well in the upper minors throughout his pro career. In 346 innings at the Triple-A level, he owns a 3.38 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 and ground-ball rates that typically sit in the 41 to 44 percent range.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Activate Justin Turner, Logan Forsythe]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122456 2018-05-15T22:08:29Z 2018-05-15T22:08:29Z The Dodgers announced Tuesday that they’ve reinstated infielders Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe from the disabled list today. Fellow infielders Kyle Farmer and Tim Locastro were optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to create room on the 40-man roster.

    [Related: Updated Los Angeles Dodgers depth chart]

    Turner will take the field for the Dodgers tonight for the first time this season after missing a quarter of the season due to a broken wrist suffered late in Spring Training. In his absence, Dodgers third basemen have combined to post a woeful .209/.291/.374 batting line in 158 plate appearances. Forsythe, Farmer, and Max Muncy have combined for all of the Dodgers’ activity at third base in lieu of Turner this season, and the largely futile results have played no small role in the team’s 16-24 start to the year.

    Forsythe, meanwhile, will be returning to the club after landing on the disabled list exactly a month ago due to inflammation in his right shoulder. He’ll slot back into the mix at second base and share time with veteran Chase Utley there, though he’ll be looking to rebound from a slow start that saw him bat just .174/.224/.283 in 49 trips to the plate before his own placement on the disabled list.

    In other Dodgers health-related news, Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times tweets that Clayton Kershaw played catch once again today, though it doesn’t sound as if the lefty is nearing a return to the active roster. Via McCullough, manager Dave Roberts indicated that Kershaw isn’t expected to pitch off a mound on the current road trip. It’s been reported that Kershaw will miss a matter of weeks rather than months, though a specific timeline hasn’t yet been put in place on his return to a Dodgers rotation that will also be without lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu until sometime after the All-Star break.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Andrew Friedman Discusses Dodgers’ Poor Start]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122360 2018-05-15T00:08:14Z 2018-05-15T00:08:14Z While the Dodgers had hoped to put an ugly April behind them, they’ve now lost seven of eight games and sit just a game up on the cellar-dwelling Padres. Clearly, it’s not too late for the club to get back into the division race; they sit eight back of the Diamondbacks, a large but hardly insurmountable gap at this stage of the year. But the questions and the pressures are only increasing in Los Angeles, where fans had hoped for a strong follow-up to a 2017 campaign that ended agonizingly close to a long-awaited World Series win.

    President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman chatted with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times about the rough start and what he intends to do about it. It’s well worth a full read, but these are a few of the highlights:

    • Manager Dave Roberts does not appear to be at risk of losing his job, with Friedman saying that “[t]here is no doubt in my mind that [Roberts] is the right guy to lead this team going forward.” At the same time, Friedman did not make any express guarantees of job safety for Roberts, who can be retained via club option in 2019. More broadly, Friedman said the preference is to focus on improving rather than assigning blame for a middling run to date. But “if we had to assign blame at this point,” he added, “it should be me who is taking that, and not [Roberts].”
    • As Shaikin explains, the Dodgers’ lineup and starting rotation have actually produced at decent rates. While more might have been expected from those units, it’s a fairly short sample and injuries (to Justin Turner and Corey Seager, in particular) have certainly played a role. As Shaikin rightly notes, though, the bullpen has been a major problem for Los Angeles. Friedman acknowledges that issue, and generally expressed ample openness to seeking mid-season upgrades. But significant trades, just aren’t realistic at this point, he says, so the organization’s collective attention is on internal improvement. “When you’re evaluating things in May, the outside is not really a viable option,” says Friedman. “So all of your focus is on helping your own guys to perform up to their ability.”
    • Of course, the relief unit lost some key pieces (most notably, Brandon Morrow) over the winter, with the Dodgers choosing to prioritize financial efficiency in finding replacements — due in no small part, it seemed, to the fact that the club preferred to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold. Shaikin pressed Friedman on the question whether the luxury line would continue to constrain the organization’s options as they weigh deadline maneuvers. The Dodgers’ top baseball executive did not commit to a willingness to go past the line, but did say that the competitive balance tax situation will generally be treated “just like trading prospects,” in that the club will need to “optimize the current year while putting [itself] in a position to sustain it.” It certainly sounds, then, as if the club will not be drawing any firm lines in the sand when it comes to taking on salary (versus parting with other resources) in mid-season trade talks.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rosenthal On Dodgers' Early Struggles]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122320 2018-05-14T17:50:22Z 2018-05-14T17:49:31Z
  • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to Dave Roberts, Kenley Jansen, Chris Taylor and others about the Dodgers’ early struggles (subscription link). While the losses of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jun Ryu have hurt the club immensely, Rosenthal also contends that the Dodgers’ approach this offseason didn’t do the team any favors. The Dodgers were known to be avoiding the luxury tax threshold — an important factor as they prepare for next offseason’s impressive free-agent class — and thus sought bargain options to replace quality contributors such as Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson (namely, signing Tom Koehler and acquiring Scott Alexander). Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Morrow and Watson were low-cost acquisitions themselves, and Rosenthal notes that the current front office has had success in building bullpens on the fly in the past. With Turner nearing a return and Kershaw expected to be out for weeks, rather than months (per Rosenthal), there’s help on the horizon, however, at a time when the division-leading D-backs are struggling with some of their own injury losses.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Rich Hill Leaves Game With Blister Problem]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122270 2018-05-13T23:58:47Z 2018-05-13T23:58:47Z
  • Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill was removed during the sixth inning of today’s start due to a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, manager Dave Roberts told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times (Twitter link) and other reporters.  Roberts is still hopeful Hill can make his next start, though another blister is an ominous sign given Hill’s long history of similar issues.  Hill has already spent time on the DL this season due to a cracked fingernail and infection on that same finger.  Though Hill has just a 6.20 ERA over 24 2/3 IP this season, the Dodgers can ill-afford yet another notable injury, especially with the rotation already missing Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Olney On Clayton Kershaw's Opt-Out Decision]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122173 2018-05-13T17:47:47Z 2018-05-13T17:30:38Z
  • Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will choose whether to opt out of the remaining two years and $65MM on his contract after the season ends, and Buster Olney of ESPN looks at several factors that could play into the process. Health is chief among them, which isn’t surprising considering Kershaw’s recent injury issues. The 30-year-old is currently on the DL with biceps tendinitis after missing time during the previous two seasons with back and hip issues. If Kershaw does opt out, Olney wonders if his legacy with the Dodgers will help influence them to give him a megadeal. They’ve shied away from overly long commitments in recent years, including when they allowed Zack Greinke to sign with the rival Diamondbacks for a six-year, $206.5MM guarantee in December 2015, Olney points out.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Will The Dodgers Make The Playoffs?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122183 2018-05-13T14:10:17Z 2018-05-13T14:10:23Z With a major league-best 104-58 record, a National League-high plus-190 run differential and their first pennant since 1988, the Dodgers were a juggernaut in 2017. Because most of that great roster returned this year, expectations were that the Dodgers would once again rank among the majors’ so-called super teams. Instead, as the season nears the quarter pole, Los Angeles’ record places it in company with the dregs of the league.

    LA dropped to a stunningly poor 16-23 on Saturday when it lost its third straight game to lowly Cincinnati, which at 13-27 is one of just three NL teams with a worse mark. The Dodgers will have to fight Sunday to stave off an embarrassing four-game home sweep and perhaps an even larger deficit in the NL West, a division they already trail by eight games. Not only have the rival Diamondbacks gotten off to the NL’s best start (24-15), but they’ve manhandled the Dodgers in the process, winning eight of 12 matchups. The two teams won’t see each other again until the end of August, and if they maintain something resembling their current pace, the Dodgers will be out of both the division and wild-card races by then.

    Given the talent on the Dodgers’ roster, it stands to reason they’ll at least push for a wild card, though they’re already 6.5 games back in a crowded race. Ten of the league’s 15 teams are over .500, and eight of those clubs have posted positive run differentials. LA is among those clubs, having scored one more run than it has allowed (168 to 167) en route to an above-.500 Pythagorean record (20-19). It seems the Dodgers have been the victims of bad luck in the win-loss department, then, and they’ve definitely had poor fortune on the injury front.

    LA’s laundry list of ailments began in earnest late in spring training when elite third baseman Justin Turner suffered a broken left wrist and hasn’t subsided since then. Along with Turner – who hasn’t yet debuted in 2018 – Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Logan Forsythe, Tony Cingrani and Tom Koehler are among key Dodgers who have spent time on the DL this year. Kershaw has been out for a week with a biceps issue, and it’s unclear when he’ll return. Meanwhile, the groin strain Ryu suffered earlier this month will keep him out until after the All-Star break.

    The injuries to Kershaw and Ryu, not to mention the 2017 shoulder surgery young lefty Julio Urias is working back from, have dented an LA rotation that isn’t blessed with as much depth as it had during the team’s NL-winning showing last year. To their credit, Dodgers starters still rank toward the top of the majors in ERA (ninth) and fWAR (sixth), thanks in part to the much-needed emergence of rookie Walker Buehler.

    The team’s relief corps has been ineffective, on the other hand, owing to closer Kenley Jansen’s shockingly rough start, a lack of help from offseason acquisitions Koehler (who hasn’t pitched) and Scott Alexander, and the loss of now-Cub Brandon Morrow in free agency. Only nine bullpens have posted a worse ERA than the Dodgers’ 4.49, while just two are short of the unit’s minus-0.1 fWAR. No Dodgers reliever has been a greater source of concern than the 30-year-old Jansen, who was utterly dominant from 2010-17 but has seen his velocity drop this year en route to career-worst numbers in the run prevention, swinging-strike, strikeout, walk and home run categories.

    A revival from Jansen would obviously help key a Dodgers turnaround, as would a healthier squad. Fortunately for LA, Turner and Forsythe could return during the upcoming week to bolster a position player group that has actually managed respectable numbers thus far. The Dodgers rank middle of the pack or better in runs (14th), wRC+ (13th) and fWAR (ninth) despite having gone completely without Turner and largely without the excellent Seager, who racked up 115 plate appearances before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery in late April.

    The loss of Seager was and still is a devastating blow to the Dodgers, who could attempt to fill his shoes via trade (there has been Manny Machado speculation, for instance) if they’re in position to make a splash around the July non-waiver deadline. Any move(s) the Dodgers make may be partially geared toward keeping them under the $197MM competitive-balance tax threshold, which they seemingly worked to avoid during the offseason.. Thanks in part to a low-key winter in which Koehler, Alexander and a seemingly reborn Matt Kemp were their only noteworthy major league acquisitions, the Dodgers sit an estimated $10MM-plus under the CBT after blowing past it in previous seasons.

    For its part, Dodgers management insists staying below the CBT isn’t a must, though that’ll be worth monitoring as the season progresses. Of course, the $197MM figure may not matter for the team come late July if it doesn’t do a 180 over the next two-plus months. There’s plenty of work ahead for the Dodgers to get back to .500, let alone firmly in playoff position, but it’s possible we’ll end up looking back on their first-quarter woes as a blip. Last year’s version did lose 16 of 17 games from late August to mid-September, after all, though they’d already banked an incredible 91-36 record prior to that slump. The current Dodgers would need to go 75-13 over their next 88 to match that pace. Not happening. But will the team rebound to earn its sixth straight playoff berth?

    (poll link for app users)