On a night that the Dodgers honored former LAD CY Award winners, Orel Hershiser, Eric Gagné, and Fernando Valenzuela, we were about to be thrilled with a great Dodger victory.
This game had everything, and most of it GOOD. This was the first Opening Day (Night) game for 27 year old, Julio Urías, an honor he richly deserved. It started out like a lot of Julio Urías’ games, with a shaky 1st inning. I can’t say that it was the specter of Opening Night, as he struck out Kyle Lewis. But he hit Ketel Marte and that was followed by a pair of singles, with the RBI coming from Dodger Killer, Christian Walker. Evan Longoria helped out Julio with a 5-4-3 DP.
In the bottom of the 1st, Mookie and Freddie strike out before Will Smith hits a double down the right field line for his first of what will become 3 hits on the night. Max then started what will be the most forgettable game of his career with a called strike three…and contrary to what Nomar and others have said, it was a strike.
Nick Ahmed doubles and will come around to score on a sac fly for an Arizona 2-0 lead after 1 ½.
Julio then went on to face the minimum over the 3rd thru the 6th inning. Miguel Rojas made an error in the 3rd but that was ended with the 2nd 5-4-3 DP, this one by Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.
Marte reached 1st for the third time with a single to RF in the 6th. He decided to test Mookie’s arm, and lost. Mookie bare hands the ball and fires a 2 bouncer to Rojas waiting for Marte at 2B.
He got the final three in the 6th, and his night was over. He threw 79 pitches, 57 for strikes. He faced 21 batters and got 13 first pitch strikes.
The offense took over in the third. James Outman drew a walk to lead off which was followed by a Rojas double to RF. Runners on 2nd & 3rd with nobody out and Mookie, Freddie, and Will Smith coming up. You have to feel good about your chances, right? Mookie struck out and Freddie hit a soft line drive to Ahmed at SS. Zac Gallen looks to get out of the inning and gets two strikes on Smith before Fresh Prince stroked an opposite field 2 out single to tie the score.
That was followed in the 5th with a few clutch 2 out singles from new Dodgers. With one out, Mookie walked and that was followed by a Freddie Freeman single to right, moving Mookie to 3rd. Smith follows that with a bloop single into RF on a pitch way off the plate. He stayed back and went with the pitch. After Max struck out, JD Martinez stroked a 2 strike, 2 out single. That was followed by David Peralta’s first hit as a LAD against his former team. Unfortunately, JDM thought he was Trea Turner on the bases and got thrown out by a bunch trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single into LF.
In the 6th, Miguel Vargas drew his 2nd 4 pitch walk. That was followed with a 2-run James Outman HR, his first of what will undoubtedly be many at Dodger Stadium. It was an oppo 390 foot, 105MPH exit velo, 25 degree launch angle HR.Outman was at the fore of the Dodgers 8th and final run. He led off the inning with a sharp line drive single that was bobbled by Jake McCarthy, and Outman took advantage and steamed into 2nd. Rojas got his second hit of the game that should have been his second double, except it hit the 3B umpire. After a Mookie K, Freddie walked to load the bases. Smith followed with a sac fly and his 4th RBI of the night.
The first of many at Dodger Stadium for James Outman! pic.twitter.com/sktqSYz5dr
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 31, 2023
After Julio Urías’ good start, the bullpen took over. Last year’s bullpen piñata, Phil Bickford pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning with a K. He threw 12 pitches, 7 for strikes. Bickford was followed by Shelby Miller, and he matched Bickford’s perfect inning with a K. Shelby threw 13 pitches, 10 for strikes. Yency Almonte finished the game with a perfect 9th. Yency threw 10 pitches, 7 for strikes.
Dodger pitchers did not allow a walk, and dominated what I think will be a good Snake team.
Outman not only hit the first LAD HR of 2023 and singled on a 2-3 night, but he also drew a walk on a great take. For the night, James scored 3 runs.
Will Smith went 3-4, with all three hits into RF. He also had a sac fly to finish with a 4 RBI night.
Miguel Rojas made an error, but brought his bat to make up for the E-6.
Mookie went 0-4 with 3 Ks, but a great assist in RF.
David Peralta had a 2-hit night (both oppo), and JDM had a run scoring single (oppo).
As hinted above, Max Muncy had a very forgettable night with 5 strike outs. But he did start a pair of 5-4-3 double plays to help Urías.
The Dodgers struck out 12 times, 5 by Muncy and 3 by Mookie.
They also went 5-11 WRISP.
After Outman’s HR, Kirsten Watson interviewed him, which he was not comfortable with. NO INTERVIEWS DURING THE GAME DURING THE REGULAR SEASON.
This was a fantastic game that demonstrated that contact and going with the pitch was critical. As was the case last year, the Dodgers were very good at scoring with 2 outs. They also did well with 2 strikes.
The game took 2 hours and 35 minutes, which I am grateful for. Attendance was 52,075.
You can’t win them all unless you win the first one.
I guess there is nothing left to say except:
I really liked the movement on the pitches from Bickford, Miller, AND Almonte.
Our bullpen philosophy: throw strikes.
Corollary to above: throw your best pitch until they prove they can hit it
They beat up on a projected 76 win team. They’re supposed to do that. Especially at home.
Night 2? Do it again.
what I saw…
Get out of the way ump. That should never happen.
E-6. So much for wizardry
JD. One base at a time. You can score from second on a wild pitch and a double. Stay there.
Julio. Warm up in the bullpen, not on the mound
James. Keep swinging. But don’t look at strike one down the middle.
Max. Borrow somebody’s bat.
Mookie. We know how thrilled you were to play for the US. BUT…. you are paid to play for the Dodgers. Step it up dude. And don’t tell me about that great throw. It was a two bouncer from 120’ away on a stupid runner. He’d better make that play. Softball players do that every weekend.
Good start. Now win 60% of them the rest of the way.
Yeah, it wasn’t perfect. But no game ever is. Muncy was very disappointing and Mookie was not all that great at the plate. But they did enough to get the win and looked pretty good. Especially Smith and Outman. Urias was not great but ground out a good performance and the bullpen was nails. I’ll take it.
Borg: Any interest in Michael Grove while he’s the 5th starter?
Dan Szymborski: Not personally, but Dodgers are creepy good at finding performance. I have that problem with the Astros and Dodgers. I don’t want them to make the playoff but also they have some fun and good players that I don’t want to root against.
The Athletic’s Keith Law on the Cactus League ($$$$$)
On River Ryan, “…If what I saw from him in a minor league start on Tuesday is any indication, though, he’ll be a top 25 prospect before the year is out.”
On Nastrini, “He threw just two innings but was 93-96 mph with a plus-plus slider, coming from a 3/4 slot and working very online to the plate, with a little head-jerk at release but otherwise no delivery concerns.”
On Alex Freeland “…I saw a lot of swing and miss from him in the two days I was on the Dodgers’ back fields, with bat speed but poor adjustments to pitchers changing speeds on him, although he did smoke one fastball to the warning track in dead center.”
Baseball America’s Josh Norris says keep an eye on Thayron Liranzo
trueblueLA took a look at Drew Avans:
Ben Clemens Chat:
Mr. Burrito: Hey, am I crazy for liking the Dodgers strategy this year? All I seem to hear is they’re taking too big a gamble by infusing the lineup with various doses of Outman and Vargas and probably Pepiot. But, at some point, don’t you have to see what the farm really has?
Ben Clemens: I like it a little bit less since they didn’t manage to reset cap penalties, but I think people are overrating how bad it is to just be excellent instead of unstoppable for a year. I like the idea of concentrating a lot of it at once, I think the Miguels are both underrated and that Rojas will be a perfectly acceptable shortstop stopgap, and I’m obviously Team Vargas. Change is scary, and this isn’t quite the Dodgers of recent vintage, but I think it’s a cleverly managed transition. The real question is whether they are willing to pivot depending on how the year starts
MattyP: Healthy Miguel Vargas looks ready to outperform FG’s 2023 projections. Dodgers have babied his wrist through the Spring. NL ROY material?
Ben Clemens: I’m totally team Vargas, as I said
Jon Heyman, who I am decidedly uncertain on, has a bit about how close the Dodgers came to getting Volpe.
BREAKING: A deal is in place between the minor league players in the MLBPA and Major League Baseball on the historic first collective-bargaining agreement for minor leaguers, union officials tell ESPN. Deal is five years and includes at least 2x pay at all levels of the minors.
Baseball America ($$$$$) breaks it down further:
Nice look at some under-the-radar prospects at the excellent DodgersDigest:
Eric Longenhagen has also been bullish on Yean, of whome Thomas writes “the 6’4 Yean possesses a fastball that routinely reached 100 miles per hour in 2022 as an 18-year-old, topping out at 101. He also has a slider that has picked up some nods as a potential 60-grade offering, and that combo led to a strikeout rate of 40.2% in his debut campaign.”
Jay Jaffe Chat
Jesse: What do you make of the Dodgers’ plan to play Mookie 20-30 games at 2b? Is this preparing Mookie for a late-career move to a less demanding position or a function of their lack of up the middle depth?
Jay Jaffe: They like their moving parts, and Mookie seems to like playing second base. With Lux out of the picture and Taylor more likely to be needed at shortstop, they want to maximize their options. I doubt we end up with 20-30 games of him there if they struggle with outfield production, though.
Dan the Man McGRAWWWW: Does Goldy or Freeman get into the Hall?
Jay Jaffe: Particularly after last year’s MVP season, I think Goldy’s in good shape, and Freeman is so good and so steady that I think he’ll get there as well.
Bill Plunkett @Baseball America looks at a new changeup grip for Gavin Stone ($$$$$)
“The modified split-changeup that Stone used to record a minor league-leading 1.48 ERA last year—while striking out 12.4 per nine innings—at three different levels wasn’t created until his first spring training in the Dodgers’ organization.”
I don’t understand the Ryan comment. The minor leagues didn’t play on Tuesday.
Yes, two of the Top 5 prospects in baseball, Volpe and Gunner Henderson of Baltimore, were taken after Hoese.
Obviously baseball has the most draft misses of all, but damn. Either of those 2 ( or both if we had taken them instead of Busch/Hoese) would’ve been…..
Gunnar Henderson was reportedly very high on the LAD 2019 draft list. Apparently Hoese was rated higher.
Yes both Henderson and Volpe have proven to be more valuable than Hoese. There is a certain blogger who believed that Hoese was destined to be the opening day 3B for LAD by 2021. Others of us had no such belief.
That being said, is everyone convinced that both of those players would have moved as rapidly through the LAD system than they did in their respective organizations? Both are SS, and with no reason to fast track with Corey Seager/Trea Turner/Gavin Lux.
Michael Busch was a college draftee and is still in AAA. Diego Cartaya will be starting AA for the first time, while a younger catcher has MLB experience Francisco Alvarez), while a catcher 18 months older is the starting catcher for Arizona (Gabriel Moreno). Moreno was playing AAA at a younger 21 than Cartaya is now. There are other examples.
Perhaps they wouldn’t have been pushed, but their talent would’ve shown thru.
If the Dodgers felt Seager/Trea/Lux was the shortstop group we needed, then Gunner or Volpe would’ve been dynamite trade bait.
Either way, every team has huge misses every round, in every draft. 25 teams, including the Angels themselves, passed on Mike Trout. It is what it is.
I miss Seager.
So do I.
I am not going to be happy if Roberts doesn’t start Outman tonight. If he starts Heyward or Thompson over Outman, he is officially an idiot.
Same exact lineup.
If it ain’t broke……….. Maybe Doc is wising up. Put the best lineup on the field each night. Don’t worry about getting ABs for inferior players or hurting feelings.
Always nice to start the year with a W. Not going to beat up on Max Muncy, he probably feels bad enough as does Mookie. But have not seen anyone wear the Platinum Sombrero in a long time. More good than bad for sure. BP was nails, Julio settled down some. Good that the Pads and Giants both lost.
Speaking of Sombreros
“When Julio is pitching, there is that extra ramp-up of excitement, joy, fire,” Roberts said in the hours leading up to his start, calling those who soak in those nights — the mariachis, the electricity, the passion — a “cult following.”
“I feel like I’m in Mexico when I’m here,” Urías said. “I couldn’t ask for more. I feel like I’m with my people. … You feel that they’re with you every five, every six days.”
Monday is Urias bobblehead night. Let’s see how high those tickets sell for