Kris Bryant shows why he is the MVP frontrunner

I tried to make a case for Corey Seager the other day for MVP but after watching Kris Byrant slug two important home runs on Friday Night, the road sure got tougher.

I was even playing with the idea of starting a daily checklist of who did what as we enter the last five weeks of the season, but it is probably best I don’t do that.

Not like Seager was a slouch tonight with two doubles, but a walk off in the 9th instead of foul pop up caught by none other than Kris Bryant didn’t do his case any help.

With those two doubles Seager is now tied with …………..AAA Right fielder Yasiel Puig and Steve Garvey for 9th place among LAD double leaders with 37.  Puig hit his 37 doubles in 2014.

Bochy throws wussification out the window

It can’t be an easy position to be in. Your pitcher is throwing a no-hitter but racking up the pitch counts. At some point, you have to say enough and go get him, but to Bruce Bochy’s credit, he let Matt Moore take it to the limit going 132 pitches before Corey Seager broke up the no-hitter with a bloop single to right field on the 133rd pitch.

According to Vin Scully, no pitcher had thrown more than 125 pitches this year, so those 133 pitches were easily the most thrown by any pitcher this year.

For Bochy,  Moore isn’t just some rental like Rich Hill, he’ll be under Giant control for a while yet, so the health of his arm is important to the future of the team. Add in that Moore had TJ surgery in the summer of 2014 and you can see what a tough decision he had to make.

We won’t know if the decision to let him go for it will have an adverse effect or not, but this is one fan who was glad to see him let Moore go for the no-hitter.

And yes, Vinny, I was with you hoping that he would get it.

A.J. will never score another run for the Dodgers

That seems sad that Ellis last scored for the Dodgers on May 1st.

[Update to this: David Young at TBLA pointed out to me that the last run that A.J. Ellis scored for the LAD was the 1 – 0 game Clayton Kershaw pitched on May 1st. The best part is that Ellis was driven in by his best friend Clayton Kershaw.

Single to CF (Ground Ball thru SS-2B); Ellis Scores; Kershaw out at 2B

How bloody cool is that?]

Even sadder is that Ellis has been shown the door by the Dodgers after a long career in the organization.

This season already looked like his swan song, it seemed inevitable that Austin Barnes would be the backup headed into next year but after this trade, I’m not sure that will be the case. Anyway, that is for another day, today is about A.J. Ellis.

Ellis is the only major league player I ever directly interviewed. It happened on the day that Mitch Jones was brought up and everyone was gathered around Mitch Jones because he had had this long minor league career and was getting his first major league start that night. A.J. Ellis had been brought up the same day, had the same career in the minor leagues, but no one seemed to pay him any mind. So I moseyed over and started asking him questions, I think I still have it on my recorder somewhere. Ellis said the same cliches that everyone ever says when they get promoted but I left the interview hoping he would have enough success to have a career. He only got into four games that year. Only ten games the following year. Forty-four games the year after that, and back to 31 games in 2011.

After four tuneups in four years that amounted to 89 games, no one ever envisioned that the 31 one year Ellis would be a full-time catcher for the Dodgers in 2012.  The most games he ever caught in the minor leagues was 110, every other year it was less than 100. Yet, not only was he the full-time catcher he had a great year and caught a remarkable 133 games. It was a unique season to be a full-time catcher for the first time at the age of 31. To his credit, Ellis delivered the goods and has been a mainstay on the team since 2012.

Seems no point in discussing his shortcomings now. I just want to think A. J. Ellis for being a big part of a team that won three Division Championships, and for his humor during that period.

Good Luck Mr. Ellis, and I hope the Dodgers can deliver a WS ring to you sometime next year, wherever you catch on.

 

Streaky catchers – Zunino on fire

Gary Sanchez may be smoking hot in NY, but Mariner Mike Zunino is not far behind and his story is even more unlikely. Gary Sanches is just starting his career, but last year it looked like Zunino was ending his.

Zunino was the 3rd pick in the 2012 draft and was in the majors by 2013 at age 22. He scuffled but in 2014 he slugged 22 home runs and seemed to be the Mariner catcher of the future. However, there were signs of trouble to come. He struck out 158 times in 2014 and those strikeouts proved to be his undoing in 2015. Zunino couldn’t make contact and found himself with an OPS below .600 and a ticket to the minor leagues.

Ove the winter the Mariners hedged their bet on their catcher of the future and signed Chris Iannetta. To prove their point they sent Zunino to the minor leagues to start the 2016 season. Mike had a great April in AAA but trailed off in May and June. With just a few minor league at bats in July, the Mariners recalled Mike and he’s been slugging every since.

Zunino is doing everything right with power, patience, and has cut down his strikeouts. In just 95 at bats, Mike has 9 home runs, 11 walks, and just 23 Strikeouts.

Maybe the Mariners do have their catcher of the future after all.

Gary Sanchez doing things never done in pinstripes before

No one can deny that the Yankee’s are baseball’s royalty with a long successful storied history that began when Babe Ruth first donned those pinstripes.

Yet in that long history, no Yankee has ever done what Gary Sanchez has done this month. Last night Sanchez slugged his 9th home in only his 18th game thus becoming the first Yankee to ever hit nine home runs in their first 21 games.

Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees. Sanchez hit his ninth homer in 18 games this month as the Yankees beat Seattle 5-0 on Wednesday. Sanchez’s nine homers are the most ever for a Yankee in his first 21 games.

Sanchez in just 75 PA is tied with Grandal and LuCroy for most more home runs by a catcher in the second half.

He has a wRC+ of 261.

All this from a guy with a fairly pedestrian minor league career

After the Rich Hill debut, which column will he fall into, Greg Maddux or Brad Penny?

When it comes to tradeline debuts Brad Penny is the one that always comes to my mind for several reasons. When DePodesta traded for Penny in 2004 it was a huge gamble as he traded the most popular player on the Dodgers (Paul LoDuca) without securing a proper backup catcher when Charles Johnson decided he didn’t want to play for the Dodgers. That left the young David Ross as the full-time catcher. The general thought was that Penny was going to be flipped for Randy Johnson but that part of the trade never happened.

Brad Penny made Depodesta look good by hurling a two-hitter on Aug 3rd, 2004 in his debut and going eight innings for the win. For a moment it looked like Depodesta had acquired the pitcher the Dodgers needed to help them in October. That moment didn’t last long because Penny would get hurt in his next start and only pitch 3 innings for the Dodgers the rest of the year.

Greg Maddux had his own memorable debut on August 3rd, 2006 by pitching a six-inning no-hitter. The cost for Maddux had been cheap enough with Cesar Izturis going to the Cubs. Maddux would go on to have an effective final two months with the Dodgers making 12 starts, and even pitch one lousy game in the postseason.

Notice that both of those debuts were on August 3rd, which makes sense given the players were acquired at the trading deadline of 7/31 and were needed ASAP to help the rotation.

Even though Dodger fans had to wait until August 24th, Rich Hill can now join Penny and Maddux with a memorable debut after his six shutout innings last night.

The question now remains which column does Hill end up in? The Penny column or the Maddux column?

That was worth waiting for

Rich Hill’s long-delayed debut for the Dodgers turned out to be an exceptional debut, as Hill blanked the Giants for six innings. That is not a misprint, a Dodger pitcher got 18 outs that was not a rookie.  Very impressive for a guy who hadn’t pitched an inning in any game since July 7th.

Justin Turner continued his Mike Schmidt imitation and blasted his 24th home run for the only run of the game.

Baez, Libby, Blanton, and Jansen finished off the spiraling Giants, and that is how you win a game 1 – 0.

Josh Reddick continued his impressive hitting picking up three more hitless at-bats.

Adrian Gonzalez did not drive in any runs thus ending his quest to tie or break Shawn Green’s 14 RBI in three games, but he did collect a hit to continue his hitting streak to 17 games.

Corey Seager did not get a hit, and his 14 game hitting streak has come to an end.

Hill is the fourth pitcher this year to pitch 6.0 or more scoreless innings in his Dodger debut, joining Scott Kazmir (6.0 IP, April 5 at SD), Kenta Maeda(6.0 IP, April 6 at SD) and Bud Norris (6.0 IP, July 1 vs. COL).

When Kenley Jansen struck out the final two batters of the game he tied Jim Brewer’s franchise record for strikeouts as a reliever with 604 career Ks. 

Dodgers go at Giants with short bench

Rich Hill needed to be activated and they conveniently used Rob Segedin paternity leave as the lever for getting Hill onto the rotation. In so doing they have shorted their bench which now consists of four players and one of those is the backup catcher who rarely gets used outside of catching.

This leaves the Dodgers Kike Hernandez, Andrew Toles, Charlie Culberson, and the aforementioned A.J. Ellis to man the Dodger bench.

Have to imagine a few pitchers will hit for themselves tonight even if they don’t remain in the game, and we will probably see a pitcher on the roster used as a pinch runner if the game is close.

That is right, Andrew Toles will be sitting today after hitting home runs on Monday and Tuesday in favor of the red hot Josh Reddick.

I’m sure that will work out, everything Dave Roberts seems to do somehow works out.

Adrian Gonzalez on a RBI mission

Gonzalez has driven in 11 runs over the last two games. Going into tonight’s game he’ll be trying to become the 7th LAD player to drive in at least three runs in three straight games. Strangely enough Andrew Toles will be trying to accomplish the same thing even though Toles has only driven in three runs per game.

The last player to drive in three runs in three straight games was James Loney, the other five were:

Name Strk Start End Games HR RBI ▾
Ron Cey 4/23/1977 4/25/1977 3 4 12
Frank Howard 7/27/1962 7/29/1962 3 3 12
Eric Karros 6/2/2002 6/4/2002 3 1 10
Dusty Baker 7/11/1983 7/13/1983 3 3 10
James Loney 9/16/2011 9/18/2011 3 2 9

What is great about Adrian is that his 11 RBI would give him more than anyone but Howard and Cey over a three-game period and he did it in two games.

But Shawn Green is the king of RBI over a three-game span. At least he is the king I found, if someone has more than 14 over a three-game span please be sure to correct me.

Shawn Green drove in seven runs the day he hit four home runs. He then drove in one run the next day giving him eight in two games. He followed that up with six RBI, so over a three-game span, Shawn Green drove in 14 runs.  If Adrian can drive in three runs today, he can at least tie Shawn Green for most runs driven in over a three-game span.

Add Walker Buehler near the top of the plethora of Dodger pitching prospects

The Dodgers number one pick of 2015 pitched his first professional game last night and everyone came away raving about his stuff. He only pitched two innings but his stuff showed why the Dodgers didn’t shy away from making him their top selection last year even with the arm concerns.

Baseball America checks in on Walker Buehler:

Walker Buehler, rhp, Dodgers. The former Vanderbilt star had Tommy John surgery shortly after the Dodgers made him the 24th overall pick in 2015. He got back on a mound in earnest on Tuesday, making his pro debut in the Rookie-level AZL against the White Sox. Buehler struck out three in two scoreless innings, and according to BA’s Bill Mitchell, who was on hand, Buehler’s fastball ranged 95-97 mph with a cutter in the low 90s and a tight curveball with plenty of spin. With the trade of Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas to Oakland, Buehler could be looked at as the Dodgers’ No. 2 pitching prospect behind Jose De Leon, with Julio Urias graduating.

Dodger fans have already gotten a good luck at the future with 20-year-old Julio Urias and the future could be even brighter with at least three top arms still in the system. Jose De Leon is currently top dog but it doesn’t take much imagination to foresee that either Yadier Alveraz or Walker Buehler might have more upside than the talented De Leon.

Sometimes you hear the minor league mantra “grow the pitchers sign the hitters” or maybe the mantra is “grow the hitters sign the pitchers” but in either case, the Dodger farm system is doing very well at growing both.

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