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The Strange Case of Julio Urías And The Inconsistent Dodgers

Friday’s game was an embarrassment.  The good thing is that it is only one game.  But does the team have the wherewithal to be able to turn it around and go on a sustained win streak?

Michael Grove was placed on the 15 Day IL with a right groin strain, and Ryan Pepiot was moved to the 60 Day IL.  Why?  To make room for Jake Reed?  Okay, okay. I know that when Evan Phillips comes back from his paternity leave, somebody has to be optioned.  So who will it be?  Reed or Andre Jackson?  How about both, and bring up Victor González.

After Thursday night’s dramatic win, this was supposed to be the turning point in the season.  The Dodgers have not won consecutive games since April 3-5.  At that time, the Dodgers were 5-2 and in the desert taking on the Snakes.  They went 1-3 in Arizona, 2-1 in SF, were 1-2 at home against Cubs, 1-2 at home against NYM, and are now 1-1 on the road against the Cubs.  Right now at 10-11, this is not a team that gives one confidence that they can string together wins.

I would like to be wrong, but they do not have enough bat to ball players in the lineup, not enough starting pitching, and nowhere near a championship bullpen.

Is Will Smith that big of a difference maker?  Maybe yes, probably no.

Who is now going to be the 5th starter?  Who is now going to be in the bullpen?  What is wrong with the Dodgers offense, except of course their ability to hit HRs in bundles in blowout wins?

No, spending money does not guarantee a Championship caliber team.  But I am comfortable in saying that I do believe that all 4 teams with greater payroll than the Dodgers will have better records than LAD.  What does that mean?  Not a thing, as it could be that as many as 4-5 teams with payrolls less than MLB Average ($160MM) could also have better records, with three teams less than $100MM payroll could as well (Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Baltimore).

Money is not the great equalizer, but I do like the approach of the Padres Peter Seidler who does not have the financial leverage that the Dodgers have, and has no problems with spending so as to win.  I also applaud Arizona ownership allowing the team to jettison the nearly final 2 years of Madison Bumgarner’s contract.  Of course the Padres are going to need to win to keep it up.  That is not true for NYM or NYY.  They can outspend anyone, and probably will.  NYM has no intention of slowing down the spending, and NYY has to keep up.

I also agree that the Dodgers were handcuffed not knowing what the ultimate outcome of Trevor Bauer would be.  Ownership should have slipped that MISTAKE into their back pocket and say let’s proceed without him, and not worry about the financial ramifications.  If winning is the ultimate goal, then they should have been willing to absorb Bauer’s contract no matter the size.

There does not appear to be any one team to run away and hide in the NL.  But the Dodgers are tied with San Diego for 8th in NL and 16th in MLB.  As Houston Mitchell so eloquently put it…”so this is what mediocrity looks like”.

Let’s look at some of the trends that need to be reversed if the Dodgers are going to make that run.

They lead all MLB in strikeouts.  They are on pace for 1,551 Ks for the season.  Teams that strike out that much do not generally make the playoffs.  Since 2018, there have been 16 teams that have 1,500 or more strikeouts in a season. Only two teams had records north of .500…Milwaukee 1,563 (2019 – 89-73), Tampa Bay 1,542 (2021 – 100-62).  Both teams made the playoffs.

 

 

 

This is a team that overwhelmingly relies on the HR.  They have now scored 105 runs, and 61 are a direct result of the HR (58.10%).

  • In games the Dodgers have scored 8 or more runs, their record is 5-1.
  • In games the Dodgers have score 4 or less runs, their record is 1-8.
  • In games the Dodgers have scored 5-6 runs, their record is 4-2.

A pitching staff that was supposed to be as elite as the Dodgers, should be better than 1-8 when they score 4 or fewer.

They have one come from behind win, and won walk off win.  Their late and close results are not championship caliber.

  • BA – .172 (26th in MLB)
  • OBP – .312 (17th in MLB)
  • SLG – .281 (26th in MLB)
  • OPS – .593 (19th in MLB).

Thus a team that relies heavily on HRs to win, is 26th in SLG in late and close games.  That does not connote confidence in the Dodgers ability to win those games.  Thus the 2-8 record in those games.  So if they hit a lot of grand slams and 3-run HRs they will win those games.  What are the chances?

Starting pitching was supposed to be a strength and with plenty of depth.  The only LAD SP with a sub 3.00 ERA is Clayton Kershaw.  And that depth has all but dissipated.

  • Tony Gonsolin – Injured and still needs one more rehab start before being activated.
  • Ryan Pepiot – On the 60 day IL with a left oblique strain.
  • Michael Grove – On the 15 day IL with a right groin strain.
  • Andre Jackson – Into the bullpen as long relief
    • 5 G, 11.1 IP, 7.94 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, .333 BAA, 2 BB, 10 K, 5 HR
  • Bobby Miller – Still on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. At extended ST.
  • Gavin Stone – Having a tough start to the year in AAA.
    • 4 GS, 15.0 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .237 BAA, 8 BB, 12 K

So now who?  The health of multiple existing SP is tenuous.  Not a lot of options.

Is there something physically wrong with Julio Urías?  He has had previous significant shoulder surgery, and the velo on his fastball has dropped ominously.  Average 4-seamer MPH:

  • 2019 – 95.1 MPH
  • 2020 – 94.2 MPH
  • 2021 – 94.1 MPH
  • 2022 – 93.1 MPH
  • 2023 – 92.7 MPH

Is he beginning to mimic the slide of Fernando?  Probably not, but why the significant and steady loss of velo?

Here are the starting pitchers metrics.  Does anyone feel confident that this rotation can contend for a playoff victory?  They are going to need to improve rather significantly.  Fortunately there are 141 games to get their s*** in order.  As indicated above, they need Tony Gonsolin now, and they all have to stay healthy a looooong time.

Here are the relief pitchers metrics.

 

What is Alex Vesia and his 11.12 ERA, 3.53 WHIP, and .515 BAA still on the 26 man?  Why is Yency Almonte and his 6.14 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, .344 BAA still on the 26 man?

Why is Jake Reed still on the 26 man?

The answer is that there is not a lot of help at OKC…starting or relieving.

Starters:

  • Dylan Covey – 3 GS, 13.0 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.69 WHIP
  • Gavin Stone – 4 GS, 15.0 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.47 WHIP
  • William Cuevas – 2 GS, 12.1 IP, 7.30 ERA, 1.54 WHIP
  • Robbie Erlin – 4 GS, 18.0 IP, 8.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP
  • Matt Andriese – 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 9.35 ERA, 2.19 WHIP

Which one of those do you want on the LAD starting rotation?

Only relievers under 4.00 ERA:

  • Adam Kolarek – 7 G, 7.1 IP, 1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
  • Tayler Scott – 7G, 7.1 IP, 1.23 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
  • Victor González – 6 G, 7.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
  • Wander Suero – 7 G, 7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
  • Bryan Hudson – 7 G, 8.2 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
  • Justin Hagenman – 6 G, 9.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

A lot of hope and pray.

Outside of Will Smith, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, James Outman, Max Muncy, and JDM:

  • CT3 – .119/.191/.405/.596
  • Jason Heyward – .194/.297/.516/.813
  • Miguel Rojas – .125/.200/.156/.356
  • Miguel Vargas – .204/.371/.296/.667
  • Austin Barnes – .040/.111/.040/.151
  • Luke Williams – .100/.100/.100/.200
  • Austin Wynns – .125/.222/.250/.472
  • David Peralta – .238/.267/.333/.600
  • Trayce Thompson – .189/.302/.514/.816

Trayce is 7-37 with 4 HRs.  If we eliminate his April 1st 3-HR game, he is 4-33, and a slash line of .121/.256/.212/.469.

The two reserve catchers are 2-35.  Nobody is a bigger advocate for Austin Barnes than I am.  But the Dodgers need offense, and while there is no way he can duplicate what he is doing in AAA, Hunter Feduccia deserves a chance at the MLB level.  Why did the Dodgers sign Austin Wynns?  I do not give a rip about “starting his clock” or “wasting an option”.  Hunter Feduccia is 26 (Baseball age), so it is doubtful he will be anything more than a backup catcher.  AF has no problem “wasting 2 options” on Jorbit Vivas and Eddys Leonard, but worried about Hunter Feduccia.

The Dodgers have used 4 SS in the first 21 games.  One of the most important positions on the field, and you have 4 in 21 games?  Excluding Mookie, the other three SS (Miguel Rojas, CT3, and Luke Williams) are a combined 10 for 84.

Last year in AAA, OKC had:

  • Jason Martin – .285/.374/.564/.938
  • Jake Lamb – .290/.395/.537/.932
  • Eddy Alvarez – .322/.439/.554/.933
  • Kevin Pillar – .315/.398/.604/1.002
  • Stefan Romero – .265/.353/.431/.784

None of the above were able to make an impact at the MLB level, or even deemed a worthy candidate for a long term solution on the 26 man.

This year’s selection of AAAA players:

  • Ben DeLuzio – .159/.283/.205/.488
  • Steven Duggar – .238/.314/.429/.743
  • Jahmai Jones – .236/.311/.509/.820
  • Bradley Zimmer – .207/.281/.310/.591

It looks like this year’s group does not match up at all with last years.  I would not be comfortable bringing up any of those guys.  What is even more curious is that Andy Pages is being blocked by DeLuzio, Duggar, and Zimmer.  Why?

If anyone believes that AF/BG were confident that James Outman was going to be a legit starting CF/LF/RF consideration, then why Jason Heyward, David Peralta, Steven Duggar, and Bradley Zimmer – all LHH OF.  Before the season, AF was reported saying that he expected Outman make an impact at some point during the season.  He was almost always thought of as a 4th OF.  Jason Heyward was told he would make the roster before ST, and Trayce Thompson was told he would be the starting CF before the WBC.  Outman did not receive any of those considerations.

  • So how long can the Dodgers go with Luke Williams at SS?
  • How long can the Dodgers go with CT3 and Trayce Thompson in lineup.
  • How many more injuries will Miguel Rojas incur.
  • David Peralta should only hit RHP.
  • Why do the Dodgers continue to struggle against LHP?
  • Can the Dodgers stay relevant until the trade deadline?
  • Why can’t Michael Busch get a shot at MLB? Is he simply trade fodder?
  • When is Bobby Miller going to pitch?
  • When will Gavin Stone turn it around this year to be considered for a MLB job?
  • When will the Dodgers promote Andy Pages?

Finally, I continue to hear the hype that the Dodgers hitting gurus can improve hitters.

  • Cody Bellinger was a lost cause after 2019. He effectively gets released and is signed by the Cubs.  This year Belli is hitting .301/.381/.562/.943.  He has 5 HR, 9 XBH, 14 RBI.
  • Joey Gallo was considered a lost cause. The Dodgers acquired him to be an asset for the playoffs.  He did not get an AB in the playoffs.  This year, Gallo is hitting .296/.406/.889/1.295.  He has 5 HR, 6 XBH, and 11 RBI.
  • JDM is considered a top protégé of RVS. But so is CT3.  See above for CT3 in 2023.
  • Can the Dodgers get the Boston Mookie?

 

 

Yes, as you would expect with the RVS strategy, his HR% and related ISO are up.  His K% is significantly up.  There is not a lot of improvement in his LAD years from his Boston years.  His Boston years were ages 21-26, while LAD years were ages 27-30.

There are a lot of holes in the LAD roster, and not much help available from below.  But there is time to turn it all around, and hopefully Dustin May can begin a winning streak on Saturday.

All I am doing is asking questions.  You can become an ostrich and hide your head in the sand, or you can be honest and recognize that the current LAD roster needs help.  A 2.0 GB Arizona is not insurmountable, but Arizona does not look like they are going away any time soon.  Ask San Diego.

 

MiLB Scores and Box Scores

3 of the 4 affiliates lost on Friday

Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) 4 – OKC Dodgers 3

 

Box Score

 

 

Tulsa Drillers 6 – Wichita Wind Surge (Minnesota) 5

 

Box Score

 

 

South Bend Cubs 7 vs Great Lakes Loons 3

 

Box Score

 

 

Fresno Grizzlies 6 – Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 5

 

Box Score

 

 

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Bumsrap

Okay but they won 111 games last year.

Can I now please trade Ct3 and Max?

Does Vargas still have trade value?

Bluto

We do need a sarcasm emoji for such posts.

Bumsrap

Probably.

Oldbear48

You might get a bag of used balls for Taylor. Muncy is one of the few guys getting results. Not sure you trade him but they did DFA Reed. Make you feel better/? V-Gone called up,.

Zeke

Excellent write up and brutal honesty. This roster has many holes in it and can’t see it being fixed this year with in season trades or pickups at the deadline. By that time it could be to late to make up ground.

Our heads are going to be buried in the sand a lot this year so better get used to it. Yeah we will wake up an win a few but the long haul looks bleak to me. This looks to be an embarrassment of a roster that the Front Office has put together in a long time. Seems to me it’s wasting prime years of Mookie and Freddie while waiting to score big for Ohtani.

We kept hearing about our #2 Farm System and Depth all offseason. Sure looks like that was overrated. Is there hope? Only time will tell but I don’t currently see it.

NortheastDodgerFan

I know it’s only 21 games into the season and the Dodgers have been beset by unfortunate injuries, but at what point can we the fans panic and start calling for heads to roll?

Asking for a friend.

Sam Oyed

While with the Dodgers pitchers seemed to alway get Bellinger to swing at high fast balls. But in the 2 series with Chicago, I don’t recall any Dodger pitcher doing so.

Dave

Good observations. Though I would also add that had Lux, Gonsolin, Rojas not been injured things would/ could be a lot different.
For a team that was in a transition yr and “trying to stay under the luxury tax” I thought it was strange that they went over it in a down yr.
My hope for this yr is that this current trend is just the annual swoon the team goes through. They usually have a really bad stretch and then get hot again. Getting them out of these funks is not Roberts’ strong pt, they eventually find their own way out of it. That would be my main critique of Roberts. No closed door team meetings, tirades, xtra batting practice etc. Not much emotion. Winning with the teams he has had didn’t prove much, winning with this team will take a.good manager, lets see if he has it in him!

Last edited 11 months ago by Dave
Bumsrap

I think Roberts loses some battles that he could have won and those battles include playoff games where they are most visible. He loses some battles but wins some that could have been lost if the team weren’t managed to win the war.

He rests players and is patient with players. Players don’t come to the ballpark dreading a toxic atmosphere whether it be from an angry manager or a teammate that disrupts the clubhouse.

The Dodgers’ biggest hole IMHO is not Roberts or Friedman and instead it is at shortstop. Shortstop can be fixed at least offensively by giving it to Betts. Centerfield also can be a weakness offensively because Outman isn’t always in CF.

Badger

Excellent points Dave. I’d add Vesia to that list. He’s not injured but so is wrong.

So far this Division doesn’t look like all that, but I personally believe the Padres will start winning games soon. They are just too good not to.

Badger

I’ve been attempting to be positive here lately but after yesterday, and reading the numbers you’ve posted, I have to say you’ve nailed it this morning.

The Boston Mookie is in the history books. He peaked at 25.

I’ve been concerned about Urias for a while now. He often starts slowly and it feels to me like it’s because he’s not confident in his stamina. And the velocity numbers you’ve posted scream “danger”. The rest of that staff looks too old or too young. I was hoping to use May sparingly this year. He throws too hard to be worked like this for an entire year.

The middle bottom of this order scares nobody. Losing Lux has already played larger on a roster that has been constructed with dollars being a huge concern.

What to do? Nothing. Ride it out with the unit available. Hopefully a few of these blind squirrels we are carrying find a nut now and then, but it might mean we start the clock on that vaunted system.

Good luck winning this Division with a tired staff and Thompson, Peralta, Heyward, Barnes and Rojas getting significant innings.

Last edited 11 months ago by Badger
Claude Osteen

Excellent writing, hits everything spot on. Sure doesn’t cast our farm system in a great light. I agree with the post that middle/ bottom of order scares nobody. I also agree RVS probably needs to go, overrated.

Dave

I also would stand pat. I want to win as much as the next fan but so what if we have one .500 season out of 10. The injuries to Lux, Rojas, Gonsolin have hurt, just ride it out.

Bluto

I’m pretty sure Urias’ velo was low at the start of last season.

Are those numbers (velocity) for the entire year?

Lux and Bauer.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bluto
OhioDodger

Really good write up and synopsis of our current Dodgers. It is nice to read a realistic review of our condition. Unlike another blog with a man crush on AF and DR

AF has assembled this mess and I am not very optimistic that he can clean it up. I have always thought he is overrated. This team does not seem to have any fire in their bellies. Much like their manager, AF yes man Doc.

I hope they can turn things around, but, this team is not fun to watch right now.

Why in the hell did they not go all in on the youth movement if they wanted to get under the CBT? Seems like they started with one mission to get under and then panicked halfway thru the process.

Last edited 11 months ago by OhioDodger
Badger

I still say the mess happened on his watch, but this isn’t the team he put together for this season. I look forward to see what moves may be next.

As bad as Heyward has looked, he is miraculously OPSn over .800. For his role, which is minimal, I’ll take that. And, believe it or not, Thompson is also OPSn over .800. But as Jeff pointed out, that was produced by one game. Hopefully more contact, specifically barrels, are in the future.

Dionysus

Time to sacrifice a bullpen catcher or something.

Jeff

Very worthy analysis of the team, Jeff. Lots of important questions need answering but there is a kind of disconnect between AF and the fan base. He never really tells you what he is thinking of or offers any clues to the obvious questions that the critics pose. Could this be the year that AF has to deal with a losing hand, an underachieving, caught in a rut team? Looks very possible from where I sit.

Thomas Ernst

Jeff,

I enjoy reading your analysis

Too many strikeouts and too many guys hitting at or below the Mendoza line to allow the team have a consistent offense

Badger

I agree with most all of that Jeff. What I will add here is that most figured Bauer’s contract would have to be paid, so AF had to plan for that. We waited as the best players signed elsewhere but if getting under the cap wasn’t a goal, why did we not pick up what we needed, which was a high powered shortstop? Lux looked pretty good at second to me. So, no one big contract, but a few mid range deals for mid range players. Felt odd then and still feels odd. We need the guys added to do better, and hopefully they will when it warms up.

You’re right, the season isn’t lost. And these guys won’t give up. But, truth be told, this does not look a typical Dodgers team.

Fred Vogel

Shouldn’t Brandon Gomes be getting some critical heat as well as AF. He is, after all, the GM. He has done nothing to support his promotion.

Bluto

For the record and for what its worth, i don’t think anyone is feeling the heat nor should they be.

This is just a tiny microcosm of fans.

Bumsrap

Note to Dodgers:

  1. Extend Outman and leave him in CF.
  2. Make Betts the 2023 shortstop full time.
  3. Make Outman the cleanup hitter.
  4. Put Taylor on the 60 day IL.
  5. The lineup:
  6. Betts
  7. Freeman
  8. Smith
  9. Outman
  10. Muncy
  11. Martinez
  12. Draw names out of a hat
Singing the Blue

I wasn’t aware that “strikes out way too often” qualifies for a stint on the 60-day IL. Is that considered an upper body injury or lower body injury? Or is it considered a psychological condition?

Bluto

He was, as I think you know, joking with all of that.

Singing the Blue

Affirmative.

RC Dodger

Good points Jeff.
Julio had a tough start but he has been so good for the Dodgers. After his shoulder injury, Keith Law predicted that Julio would likely never be an effective starter again. Law claimed that almost no one returns from that shoulder injury.
The Dodgers are extremely fortunate to have Julio return to clinch a WS and then go 20-3 in 2021 and 17-7 with a 2.16 Era in 2022. Amazingly, Julio is still only 26.
He is another homegrown player who should be a Dodger for life, like Kershaw.
But since his agent is Boras, and Friedman will not give a long term deal for a pitcher with his injury history, it is unlikely Julio returns next year, IMO.
While I usually agree with Friedman, I think he does a poor job of proactively retaining his existing players. He seems to prefer letting them go to free agency as opposed to negotiating extensions early. The Braves have been great at signing young players early, and they are well positioned for the future. Even after winning the World Series, AF let Joc, Kike, and Alex Wood walk for $3 to $7 Million per yr, and made Bauer the highest paid player in MLB history. I disliked the Bauer signing from day one, and that signing has hurt the Dodgers 3 years in a row.
I hope they can keep Julio next year, but with the decreased velocity, an injury history and a greedy agent, it is unlikely.

Badger

For all the reasons you just mentioned I think I’m inclined to agree with that take RC. It of course depends on the market, always does, and if he finishes strong there will be one. He’s not that old but there are times he sure looks it.

I said it early and from what I’ve seen so far there is nobody on this staff I feel confident can take the mound every 5 days for the season. That would be 30+ starts. We need at least 8 starters, maybe more, to go all the way to November. When will Miller and Stone, #s 2 and 4 in our system, be ready for some spot starts. Mid summer?

A lot of chatter about Outman leading off or batting cleanup. Now and then, sure. But I still like him middle down at this point in his career. With a R/L stagger so popular with Roberts, that puts him at 6 most nights. He is a rookie and there’s no book on on him, but you can bet the league is busy writing one.

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