Justin Turner
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Dodgers set MLB home run record in five-game span

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While the Twins remain unchallenged at the top of the league’s home run leaderboards, they’re not the only team setting home run records these days. In an 8-3 win over the Braves on Friday, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Will Smith combined for four homers, boosting the club to 22 bombs in their last five games — a new all-time MLB record in such a short stretch.

Cody Bellinger was the first to strike. In the second inning, he saw a 92.2-m.p.h. fastball from Atlanta righty Mike Soroka and dropped it over the wall in right field for a leadoff solo shot, his 41st of the season. It’s the fourth home run he’s managed in his last five games, keeping him atop the leaderboard with Mike Trout, who also happened to register his 41st of the year on Friday.

In the seventh, now down 3-2 to the Braves, the Dodgers tacked on another pair of homers to regain the lead. Max Muncy and Justin Turner went back-to-back against lefty reliever Sean Newcomb — Muncy with a three-run blast, Turner with a 415-foot solo homer — to give the team a cushy three-run advantage. Per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, it marked the 14th time the Dodgers have gone back-to-back this year: another franchise record.

One inning later, rookie slugger Will Smith followed the home run hit parade with his own, taking Jerry Blevins deep to left field for his 10th dinger of 2019. He’s the eighth Dodgers player to reach double-digit home runs so far this season, following still more impressive feats by Bellinger, Muncy, and Turner, as well as Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernández, Corey Seager, and Alex Verdugo.

Not only did the club set a new five-game home run record, but they also extended their streak to five straight games with four or more home runs. They’ll try for a sixth on Saturday, when they’re scheduled to take on Braves’ right-hander Mike Foltynewicz at 7:20 PM EDT.

What do the losers of the Gerrit Cole derby do now?

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Gerrit Cole is now a New York Yankee. Nine years and $324 million make that so. But though the Yankees are the only team who gets him, they weren’t the only team interested in him. So let’s take a look at what the losers of the Gerrit Cole derby — the Dodgers and the Angels — can do now that they know they’ve lost.

Dodgers

The Dodgers were hopeful they had a shot due to Cole’s Los Angeles ties. Welp, that didn’t pan out. Which is not a shock. I’m struggling to think of the last time that whole “he’s from [place] so he’ll want to sign with [team near place]” thing worked out. It didn’t happen with CC Sabathia in the Bay Area. It didn’t happen with Mark Teixeira in Baltimore. It didn’t even work out with Brandon Webb in Cincinnati. Money talks, geography walks.

But the Dodgers wanted Cole. They wanted to bolster a pitching staff that has relied on an aging and now free agent Rich Hill and on free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu. There’s a hole to fill, and without Cole available to fill that hole, they’ll have to do something. What is the something they can do?

How about sign their chief rival’s last big pitching star?

It’s certainly a decent plan. But it’s one that might get expensive for Los Angeles. USA Today reported on Monday that Bumgarner was seeking five years and $100 million-plus. Some raised their eyebrows at that report, but given how much Stephen Strasburg and Cole commanded, it seems downright reasonable now. That’s especially the case given that the Giants — despite being on the brink of a rebuild — probably don’t want to see their franchise hero sign with the hated Dodgers:

So it’ll be a bidding war. A war that will make Madison Bumgarner a very large amount of money.

 

Angels

The Angels made no secret of their desire to land Cole. Joe Maddon talked openly about him in his press conference here at the Winter Meetings on Monday. Cole talked openly during the 2019 season, and since it ended, about his connection to Orange County and the Big A.

But the Angels didn’t have the talent to entice Cole and to make him believe that they could contend like the Yankees can. If they made a competitive offer — and we don’t know if they did — they still would’ve had to convince him that they could win. And, really, there is no real basis to believe that they could make a credible case for that.

So where do the Angels go?

General Manager Billy Eppler said on Tuesday that the Angels did not have Gerrit Cole tunnel vision and that they could spend in excess of $20 million a year on multiple players, none of which had to be Cole. On Tuesday the Angels shed the contract of Zack Cozart and, with his $12 million+ and roster spot opened up, the Halos are said to be interested in third baseman Anthony Rendon or, as a fallback, Josh Donaldson.

As for pitching, the Angels will likely prove to be competition for  Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and perhaps free agent Dallas Keuchel. They could also pursue trade options such as affordable pitchers like Miami’s Caleb Smith or Detroit’s Matthew Boyd or less-affordable — but less-costly in a trade — options like David Price, who the Red Sox were rumored to be shopping in the name of salary relief. Which is to say, the Angels have options, even if their top option is off the table.

But both they and their counterparts up in Los Angeles County, now have to go back to the drawing board now that Gerrit Cole is New York bound.