Dodgers’ bullpen nearly coughed up the lead in 7-5 victory over the D-Backs

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Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill couldn’t overcome his control issues and the Dodgers took advantage in the second and final game played at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia, winning 7-5. They fly back home having swept the D-Backs in the two-game overseas set.

The Dodgers rallied for a two-out run in the first inning when Andre Ethier hit a line drive single to right-center to drive in Yasiel Puig.

In the top of the third, Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu singled to lead off the inning, then advanced to third base on a Dee Gordon double to right-center that was just a few feet short of the fence. Puig then singled Ryu home, but got caught in a rundown for the first out of the inning. After Hanley Ramirez walked to put runners at first and third, Adrian Gonzalez brought Gordon home on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 in favor of the Dodgers.

Cahill was finally chased in the fifth inning after walking Gonzalez and Ethier consecutively to start the frame. Manager Kirk Gibson brought in reliever Josh Collmenter, but he too issued a walk to A.J. Ellis, loading the bases with no outs for left fielder Mike Baxter. Baxter grounded into a double play, but Gonzalez scored to make it 4-0. Juan Uribe followed up with a double to make it 5-0. Cahill’s final line: four innings pitched, five earned runs allowed on eight hits and four walks and a hit batsman, while recording only one strikeout.

Collmenter took the mound in the sixth inning, but the Dodgers continued to score. Leading off, Gordon bunted in front of catcher Miguel Montero, who made an error attempting to throw out Gordon, who scampered to second base. Puig doubled to left to drive in Gordon. Finally, Collmenter walked Hanley Ramirez before Gibson took him out for lefty Joe Thatcher. Thatcher stopped the bleeding, striking out Adrian Gonzalez. Puig was thrown out trying to advance on a wild pitch, then Ethier lined out to end the frame.

Meanwhile, Ryu was nearly unhittable on the mound. The Diamondbacks were only able to scrape together two singles and a walk over five innings. The lefty struck out five in the effort.

Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow took over in the sixth inning, but immediately got into trouble, issuing a walk to Aaron Hill and a single to Paul Goldschmidt to put runners on first and second with no outs. Martin Prado killed the momentum, however, grounding into a 6-3 double play. Montero grounded out to end the inning.

The Dodgers kept the pressure on, scoring their seventh on the seventh when Dee Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded. In the bottom half, Paco Rodriguez and Jamey Wright teamed up to load the bases, but narrowly escaped with the shutout intact as Hill lined out to right field to end the inning. Wright stayed in for the eighth, got into trouble, and couldn’t escape. A one-out walk followed by two consecutive singles by Montero and Mark Trumbo led to the D-Backs’ first run. Lefty J.P. Howell came in and extinguished the fire.

The Dodgers asked Jose Dominguez to close out a 7-1 ballgame but the young right-hander got himself into trouble with back-to-back walks of A.J. Pollock and Hill. Paul Goldschmidt then hit a fly ball to deep right-center that would have been out of most MLB parks, but Ethier caught it on the track with but a couple feet to spare. Pollock advanced to third. With Prado at the plate, Hill took second base on defensive indifference. Prado knocked both runners in with a single to right-center, chasing Dominguez from the game with a 7-3 score. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought in lefty Paul Maholm, who struck out Montero. Don Mattingly then made his seventh and final pitching change of the night, bringing in Kenley Jansen, who immediately served up a two-run home run to Trumbo to make it 7-5. Jansen struck out Gerardo Parra at long last to seal the deal.

Dee Gordon finished 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and a hit-by-pitch, along with an RBI and a run scored.

Adrian Gonzalez went 0-for-2 with two walks. In the fifth inning, Gonzalez stole second base off of Cahill and advanced to third on Montero’s throwing error. It’s just the sixth stolen base of his career, but he’s five-for-five in stolen base attempts since the start of 2010.

After a tough 0-for-5 game in the opener, Yasiel Puig went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and a run scored.

Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth, but D-Backs closer Addison Reed struck him out.

Juan Uribe went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Paul Goldschmidt singled twice in five at-bats.

Mark Trumbo went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI.

Overall, the game featured 12 runs, 21 hits, 16 walks, and four errors. The two teams combined to use 14 pitchers.

The Dodgers will fly back home and resume spring training with three games against the Angels before traveling to San Diego to open up the regular season in the United States on the 30th.  The Diamondbacks will play three against the Cubs as well as split-squad games against the Reds and Indians before their home opener against the Giants on the 31st.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.