I’d like to apologize for some misinformation that was written in my last post. With Friday’s game being postponed last week, it threw a monkey wrench into the whole plan of this weekend. Kenta Maeda didn’t start, Saturday’s game was moved back to a later time with Rich Hill pitching and Clayton Kershaw got the start on Sunday afternoon. Like I said, Friday’s game was postponed and will be made up on April 28th as part of a double-header when the Dodgers come back to San Francisco.
This week, instead of starting a game, Kenta Maeda will spend his time in the bullpen. Personally, I think this is where Maeda really shines. When he was moved there late last season, he gained more confidence and dominated hitters. Although normally a starter, maybe Maeda could reinvent himself to be a dominant set up man or eventually a closer with another team. Speaking of closers, Kenley Jansen has not looked like his normal self. His location on the cutter and his velocity are almost nonexistent. However, he did pitch a solid 10th inning in yesterday’s 2-1 victory over the Giants. We all know that Jansen is one of if not the best closer in all of baseball. You could compare him to Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox or Cody Allen of the Cleveland Indians. Anyways, I think Jansen may have taken it a little too easy during Spring Training and therefore he hasn’t gotten to his peak performance yet. Jansen only pitched four innings during Spring but this was because he was dealing with a minor injury. Nonetheless, it is showing that Kenley needs more time to ramp up his velocity and control his pitches.
Saturday’s game was started by Rich Hill who was only making his second start of the season. Hill was only able to go four innings while allowing three earned runs, he was taken out because his pitch count was getting high. This would set up yet another bullpen game for the Dodgers. Once again, every reliever was used to finish this game but only two of the relievers surrendered any runs. I know it’s easy to judge when we watch the game from TV but most players or analysts and even managers will tell you that managing a bullpen is one of the hardest things to do. I’m going to be judgmental and say that I think the way Roberts manages his bullpen is not effective. He uses numbers and analytics for match ups instead of using the pitcher for one or two innings. He’ll bring in a lefty for one out and then take him out to put in a righty for another two outs. It’s a confusing concept but I feel like this is going to gas the bullpen in the long run. Using all of your relievers shouldn’t be the goal of the game and I know it’s not Roberts’ intention, however its not a good sign so far.
The offense was a little bit better during Saturday’s game, at least they scored and scored more than once. Chris Taylor had an RBI single, Seager scored on a passed ball and Puig scored on a groundout. To add some more offense, “The Man”, Chase Utley belted a Home Run to right field! Heading into the fourteenth inning of a tied game, Logan Forsythe came up with a big RBI single to score Yasiel Puig. Unfortunately, Wilmer Font would surrender a walkoff three-run Home Run to Andrew McCutchen to seal the game. This is an instance in which you should be mad. Instead of having the closer, Kenley Jansen, pitch the bottom half of the inning with the Dodgers leading by one, Roberts brought in the guy that has already blown a game earlier last week against the D-backs. Roberts brought in Jansen to pitch the thirteenth inning of the tied game instead of using him for his actual job, to close games! Oh well, what can we do?
Sunday’s game was a real sight to see. With Clayton Kershaw on the mound to face the Giants, he came out firing and shut down the Giants through eight innings. Kershaw struck out six and was charged with one earned run. That run came in the eighth inning after Kershaw gave up two singles in a row which was all Roberts needed as an excuse to go to the bullpen. JT Chargois came in the game to get Buster Posey but Posey shot a single into right field to tie the game at one a piece. Then, Chargois got Austin Jackson to ground into a double play. BACK TO THE BULLPEN. Dave Roberts then brought in Tony Cingrani to get Joe Panik on a flyball to left fielder Joc Pederson. In Clayton Kershaw’s three starts this season, he has only given up four runs. Four. Yet he remains winless because of the inconsistent offense. Kershaw is winless in his first three starts of the season for the first time since 2012.
After going into extra innings once again, pinch hitter Cody Bellinger hit a double down the left field line. Corey Seager was intentionally walked. Then came clutch hitter, Kyle Farmer. A player that doesn’t have many big league at bats, Farmer never feels the pressure of a big situation. Remember last season when he hit a walk-off double in his first Major League at bat? This time was no different. Farmer doubled to right field to score Cody Bellinger from second. When the bottom half of the inning rolled around, Kenley Jansen was called on to do what he’s there to do, close baseball games. Jansen went to the mound and struck out Pablo Sandoval, gave up a single to Hunter Pence, struck out Brandon Crawford and capped the day by striking out Brandon Belt. Earning his first save of the year, Jansen looked like his ordinary self.
Although the Dodgers have had a rocky start to the season, let’s not forget that the regular season is a marathon and the playoffs are a sprint. The Diamondbacks have beaten the Dodgers eight times in a row dating back to the regular season last year, however the Dodgers swept them in the first round of the playoffs. The only thing I’m waiting for is the return of Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw’s first win. These two things are bound to happen.
This week the Dodgers will host the Oakland A’s for two games as part of their interleague matchup with the AL West. I’ll be attending the Tuesday night game and I’m anxious to see if Hyun-Jin Ryu will bounce back from his terrible outing last week. The Dodgers play the A’s again on Wednesday and then have yet another off day on Thursday. This weekend the Arizona Diamondbacks will be in Los Angeles where the Dodgers look to snap their regular season losing streak against them.