Wellemeyer staking claim on final rotation spot

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wellemeyer wind-up.JPGThe Giants inked free agent Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract this winter and told him he’d have a legitimate shot at making the team as a fifth starter or long reliever. 

Despite the promises, we considered Wellemeyer a longshot to make the team when he signed.  But he has shot out of the gate this spring with a 1.20 ERA over five spring appearances and is out-pitching Madison Bumgarner, his 20-year-old competition for the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation.  Bumgarner doesn’t have any experience above the Double-A level and has served up far too many runs in Cactus League play this spring while showing an inability to strike batters out.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Wellemeyer will indeed open the season as the Giants’ No. 5 starter and gathered this nugget from manager Bruce Bochy after the 31-year-old right-hander rattled off five scoreless innings Saturday against the Reds:

“He threw great,” Bochy said. “He attacked the zone and had command of
everything, and he threw strike one. He was on top of his game. He’s
thrown the ball well all spring.”

We can’t say for sure if the success will continue into the regular season.  In fact, we’d rather bet against it.  Wellemeyer owns a poor 4.74 career ERA and 1.51 WHIP, and went 7-10 last season with a 5.89 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 28 appearances (21 starts) for the Cardinals.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.