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Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! Time to freak out!

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! I feel nauseous!
 
For any True Blue fan out there, they each know that October merely brings heartache and anxiety. Nothing more, nothing less. I kind of have to hurl right now!
 
As always, my man Que-Ese and I were commiserating about the causes for the potential ulcers likely to befall us in the coming days and (hopefully) weeks. But, like a true friends (who will never ever ever leave each other), we’ve tried to serve as the salve to one another’s Dodger blues. Below is an e-mail exchange in which we’ve both finely laid out our biggest reservations, then a rebuttal why it might not be a big deal and finally, our predictions for the series.
 
KOBEsh: The bullpen. Duh.
 
Some writers have suggested that the Dodgers only have two reliable pitchers in their bullpen, which is a disconcerting thought all on its own. However, I think that may be outshooting the truth altogether.
 
Kenley Jansen has been pretty great this season, though I wouldn’t say absolutely dominant. Sure, he’s got 101 strikeouts and allowed just 55 hits in 65 innings pitched, but he also got himself into trouble unnecessarily. With no outs, Jansen allowed a .779 OPS, as opposed to .567 and .466 on the second and third outs. In other words, he’s letting a leadoff man on at an alarming rate and then relying on his dominant stuff to make up for it. Not the type of breathing room you want to give up to a fellow division-winning team.
 
The only other “reliable” bullpen pitcher has this stat line for September: 7 games, 5.1 innings pitched, 9 hits and 2 homers allowed and a 11.81 ERA. That’s J.P. Howell, who had emerged into the team’s best 8th inning reliever.
 
Other than that, we’re looking at Brandon League (a nice 2.57 ERA, but an ugly 1.46 WHIP) Brian Wilson (a nice K%, but giving up hits and walks by the boatload), 39 year-old Jamey Wright (72 hits in 70 IP), Chris Perez (who had a nice September, but still walked 4 batters in 7 innings) and rookie Pedro Baez.
 
Yes, I’m really worried.
 
Que-Ese: Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the bullpen:
 
Jansen is a stud. His premium pitch is a cut fastball. The thing about those, is that sometimes they get put into play. If they hit their spots, he’ll be fine.… Read more...

What the hell is wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

In my damn near interminable preview post series, 20 Days of Thinking Blue, I was equal parts optimistic that this Dodgers team would bring home the city’s first pennant in 25 years and concerned that they were headed horrific disaster. It’s still early in the year and neither has come to pass at this point. The Dodgers are merely…fine, bubbling around the .500 mark and playing uninspired baseball.

Why is this happening? At this point, what’s wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers? And can it be fixed?

Inconsistent hitting

The Dodgers were constructed like the New York Yankees of old—imported veterans with power hitting alongside homegrown players that had grown into All-Stars.  The center of the line-up was supposed to feature the spectacular Yasiel Puig and a resurgent Matt Kemp, with Adrian Gonazalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford forming a devastating front five. Waiting in the wings would be Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero and top prospects Joc Pederson. The line-up was supposed to be a tough 8 outs…make it 9 when Silver Slugging pitcher Zack Greinke was throwing.

Instead, many of the questions that I asked before the season have already come to fruition.… Read more...

Trade Analysis: Clayton Kershaw re-signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers get: SP Clayton Kershaw on a seven year, $215 million dollar deal
 
Let’s get this context out of the way right now: Clayton Kershaw is, hands down, the best pitcher on the planet. He’s better than the AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer or former winner and AL MVP Justin Verlander. He’s better than Madison Bumgarner, David Price, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez, Stephen Strasburg. Jose Fernandez…I could go on.
 
He’s got a 2.60 ERA for his career, including a 1.83 mark last season when he won the NL Cy Young Award. He strikes nearly a batter per inning, has cut down to less than half a homer per nine innings in 2013 and now can be counted on for a WHIP that’s right around 1.00. Kershaw does all this not just a dynamic hurler who throws less than 150 frames in any injury riddled season—he does this all while being a horse that can be counted on for over 230 innings a year. He is a monster competitor who cannot be stopped by injury, having made at least 32 starts for the previous four seasons.
 
But these are all just numbers that might mean nothing to you depending on your statistics savvy. The real magic of Clayton Kershaw is watching him start to start. It’s his gigantic 6’3” frame dealing a 94 mph fastball on a downward plane so its pick-up looks that much more devastating. It’s his 12 to 6 hammer curveball that breaks so hard even the great Vin Scully was left dumbfounded. It’s that look in his eyes and he sets from his windup that seemingly craves a strikeout. This feeling, tied to his statistical dominance, is why Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. And why he was just paid like it.… Read more...

What else could the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers have done to win a title? Not much

I still haven’t watched a pitch from Game 6.
 
I have a general theory on the potentially penultimate game in a series when your favorite team is down 3 games to 2: other than a general enjoyment of the sport, there is no upside to watching Game 6s. Zero.
 
Let’s say your squad is entangled in one of these such battles for their very postseason existence, looking on down at a long offseason abyss, proverbial fingernails scratching at the cliff. For most people, the excitement of a pressure packed game is genuinely the most exhilarating situation possible. But for the fans of that team, it’s absolutely excruciating. Before the starting tip, first pitch or opening kick-off, you’re already on edge. For a fan whose team is down 3-2, it’s even worse.
 
In almost every single case, there is no upside to watching that game. All that winning the contest means…is that there’s still another game to watch and win, with the stakes raised and the anxiety ratched up seventeen dozen notches. Winning that Game 6 ultimately doesn’t mean winning, but rather, just delays any shot at a satisfying feeling of finality. For the hardcore fan whose emotions live and die with the team, Game 6s are the worst. Which is part of the reason I wasn’t sitting in front of a television on Friday.
 
Though the Pearl Jam tickets I bought didn’t help, either.… Read more...

NLCS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers at St Louis Cardinals

National League Championship Series: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
 
Objectively, what a fantastic matchup in the NLCS. The Dodgers and the Cardinals are very clearly the two best teams in the National League, going damn near toe to toe in every single aspect of the game. No two pitchers in the playoffs have been as good as Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw…except for maybe rookie Michael Wacha, who could be countered pitch for pitch with Zack Greinke. This is the battle of the heavyweights in every sense, as the two most important franchises in the National League slug it out in what should be (spoiler alert!) a seven game classic.
 
Subjectively, this is the most harrowing situation any Dodgers fan could hope for.
 
But before we deep dive into a fan’s tangled bramble of accursed sports insecurity, we can’t understand where we’re going until we understand where we’ve been. … Read more...

NLDS Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates & Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

Should we even mess around with the narrative? The MLB Playoffs officially began on Tuesday with the first of two single elimination Wild Card play-in games, but starting our MAMBINO previews with those contests can be an exercise in futility. We’ve waited until the Elite Eight were set in order to unleash our full swath of previews onto an unsuspecting, undemanding, unrelenting public.
 
Now that at least the National League picture is settled, let’s take a look, MAMBINO style, on the matchups at hand. If you’ve been delinquent on your baseball watching for the first 162 (or 163) of the season, you’ve come to the right place to catch up. First, the best of five games National League Division Series.
 
Pittsburgh Pirates (Wild Card) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Central Division champion)
 
Why will the Cardinals prevail in 4?
 
Anything the Pirates do, the Cards can do better. Well, almost.
 
Starting pitching? Pittsburgh will have a fearsome trio in A.J. Burnett (3.30 ERA, 209 Ks in 191 innings), Gerrit Cole (3.22 ERA, 100 Ks in 117 innings) and Wild Card game winner Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 161 Ks in 163 innings). More than fearsome, maybe. Devastating.
 
To counter, St. Louis throws out a probable top-3 Cy Young vote getter in Adam Wainwright (2.94 ERA, 219 Ks in 241 innings) and a probable top-5 Rookie of the Year vote getter in Shelby Miller (3.06 ERA, 169 Ks in 173 innings). They’ll be accompanied by Lance Lynn (3.97 ERA, 198 Ks in 201 innings) and probably rookie Michael Wacha (2.78 ERA, 65 Ks in 64 innings), who merely threw a damn near no-hitter in his last outing. … Read more...

Alternate worlds: The ’13 Dodgers as a distortion of the ’12-’13 Lakers

On May 7th, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 13-19, in last place in the NL West and on a 6-game losing streak. Any time you’re talking about early May baseball, league trends are hooked up with more caveats than A-Rod has sinewy blonde women. To draw any conclusions based on games played before the summer solstice is usually a fool’s errand, and shouldn’t be taken seriously, no matter how objective the fan.
 
Even with all that in mind, there was still cause for alarm. It wasn’t that the Dodgers were losing–it’s how they were losing. It was dispiriting at times, and downright shameful during others. Here’s a snapshot of how this Disciple of Scully was feeling at the time:… Read more...

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview

Offseason moves
 
12 months ago, I wrote on this very blog that I hoped for a .500 season from a undermanned Dodgers team. Frank McCourt was either going to own the team for the forseeable future, or there would be a long, protracted ownership transition. Without an expedited sale, his awful stewardship of the Boys in Blue would continue into 2014. I looked at what manager Don Mattingly was working with and decided that with a tight budget, All-Stars that needed extending and a limited prospect pool, LA wouldn’t be shooting for October games. Rather, I thought that contending for a Wild Card spot late into August would be as eventful as the team got.
 
Instead, the Dodgers were sold for $2 billion dollars in April, and in late August completed the most expensive trade in US professional sports history. This wasn’t just a 180 degree turn—Dodgers fans everywhere got inverted into the 4th dimension, flipped backwards and deposited into China. That’s the type of turn we’re talking about.
 
Even though the offseason began in November, the LA offseason actually started with that very trade. With half the 2012 Boston Red Sox now in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers couldn’t gel quick enough to secure a postseason spot, unable to shed that new trade smell and get everyone comfortable enough. Thus, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Carl Crawford and SP Josh Beckett are essentially new additions, playing just their second month in a Dodgers uniforms.
 
For the Yankees West, this wasn’t quite big enough. After all, the Guggenheim Partners purchased the team for $2 billion. What’s another $200 million? They could spend that in a weekend.
 
Which they did.… Read more...

2013 Free Agency for the newly-bought LA Dodgers

We can’t wipe the smiles off our faces over here at MAMBINO. The reign of Frank McCourt has come to it’s unofficial end, with the paperwork ready to be drawn up and stamped. We will all breathe easier knowing that the autocratic rule of one of the most disgraced owners in professional sports will soon be a but a bad memory. I’ve truly never wanted to move past anything more than this, ex-girlfriends included.

That last sentence obviously was untrue.

For weeks this winter, the chatter on the interweb was that the Dodgers were secretly in the running for first baseman Prince Fielder, a power-hitting whale (of a human), whose massive presence both on the field and in the line-up was the exact addition LA so desperately needed. The offer never turned into anything more than that, sadly, as Fielder and his agent Scott Boras signed a massive 9-year, $214 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers, a deal that I don’t necessarily think makes the Tigers into a title contender. Nevertheless, Prince is now a Tiger, and my dreams of a make-good 1-year deal is off the table.

As we stated in our 2012 Dodgers Preview, the team just can’t be considered a contender this year. They face deficits in their starting rotation, every infield position and at least 1 corner outfield spot. Playoffs are simply out of the question for this October. Except for aiming at a .500 record retaining our dignity, the 2012 season will largely be the Dodgers’ front office holding a 162-game audition for the 2013 edition of the boys in blue. GM Ned Colleti and company will see which players would be able to impact a championship-caliber team going forward, and which men should be sold off for prospects and future considerations.

That all being said, let’s look towards winter 2012-2013, when the Dodgers will ride Guggenheim Partners checkbook in landing the big players on the free agent market. Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, and of course, Magic Johnson know they have to make a big national splash, one that says “THE DODGERS ARE BACK”, which will sadly be the next major LA marketing campaign (just envision that Billboard on the 10 Freeway – I’d put even odds on it happening).

Who will the free agents be? Who will be the next Los Angeles Dodger? Here is the list of 2013 free agents so far, courtesy of MAMBINO-approved superblog mlbtraderumors.com. From it, we’ve cherry-picked the very best free agents that the new and improved Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be after:

1). Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
With a bullet. The fastest bullet that’s ever existed. Like, one of those talking bullets from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” One of those.

His deal: Cole Hamels is going to be, without a doubt, the most sought-after free agent on the market. He’s one of the 10 best pitchers in the league (CC-Verlander-Halladay-Felix-Clayton-Cliff Lee-Lincecum-Weaver-Wainwright-Hamels? Challenge!) and everyone is going to be after him. I’d say the likely suitors are the Phillies, Yankees (just because), Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Texas, Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers.

Why the Dodgers want him: Because he’s one of the 10 best pitchers in the league. LA has a rotation of guys that are chock full of 3, 4 and 5 starting pitchers, rather than a potential 1 or 2 type of guy. NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw has finally come into the ace we all thought he’d be one day, but behind him are guys like Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Cole Hamels would give the Dodgers a 1-2 … Read more...

State of Chavez Ravine: 2012 LA Dodgers Preview

Oh boy. Here it is. Strap in and put on your positive thinking caps Mambinites. I hate to do it, but we’re about to take a ride to Negativetown, the air conditioners are broken and we only have a Lou Diamond Phillips spoken word CD in the car. Sorry everybody.

Always the best part of Dodger baseball…but especially in 2012

Never before have I been so apathetic about a Dodger season. We’re on the precipice of a major change in the organization, but this transition time has paralyzed the team, and locked them into a holding pattern until a new owner is decided upon. The most exciting part of the season might be that we get another year of the ever-immaculate play-calling of the legendary Vin Scully.

And thus, the half-hearted Dodgers squad you see before you. This offseason, Ned Colletti filled the team with stopgap solutions full of retreads, scrap heap finds and cheap veterans. Quite frankly, there’s not a lot that inspires you outside of the reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp.  Let’s take a closer look at the team through its various components:… Read more...