in

Dodgers Week 1+ Recap: Seager’s Back, Roberts Struggles, Joe Kelly Fight Club and More

Looking at what went right, what didn’t, and what players stock went up or down.



The Dodgers started the 2020 season by splitting a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants, which had to be a moral loss considering the expectations of both teams going into the season.

In a much anticipated matchup, they rebounded to take both games against the Houston Astros, while also blessing us all with the GIF of the year from Joe Kelly.

In Arizona, they took three of four from the Diamondbacks, with Clayton Kershaw making an impressive season debut on Sunday.

Below, I recap the Dodgers’ week, highlighting things I liked, things I didn’t, and players whose stock went up or down.

Things I Liked

Corey Seager’s hot start:

After a sub-par 2019 campaign, there were some questions about Corey Seager’s production coming into this season. He didn’t have a bad year by any means, but his .817 OPS and 113 wRC+ were career lows. The Dodgers were hoping for a bounce-back year from their All-Star shortstop, and so far, Seager looks as good as ever. Through the first 10 games this year, Seager is hitting .361/.425/.694. He’s also leading the league in BRLS/PA (22.5%), meaning he’s barreling up the ball and hitting it hard frequently. If Seager keeps up this kind of production, not only will it be a nice bounce back season, but it may be a career best year.

Depth of starting rotation:

The Dodgers pitching depth wasn’t a secret by any means, but it sure was nice to see how valuable it can be. With Clayton Kershaw missing the start of the season with back stiffness, and Alex Wood going of the IL with shoulder problems, the Dodgers utilized their depth, calling on guys like Ross Stripling, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. All three pitched well and figure to be in the mix throughout the season. Having reserve arms like that to call on is a huge benefit for the Dodgers this year.

The bullpen:

With expanded rosters, the Dodgers have been able to throw a bunch of different arms out of the bullpen this year, and so far, so good. Guys like Caleb Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol, and Dennis Santana have all been impressive. The Dodgers bullpen ranks 2nd in baseball in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 3rd in FIP, and 2nd in BAA. Obviously, the season is very young, and the jury is still out on every team’s bullpen, but it’s still a good sign for the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw’s increased velocity:

Kershaw was hitting 93MPH consistently on the gun Sunday, something he hasn’t done is over two years. Can he keep that up over the course of the entire season? Only time will tell, but it’s certainly a promising development.

Things I Didn’t Like

MLB suspension:

After the incident with the Astros, MLB came down hard on Joe Kelly with an eight-game suspension. In only a 60-game season, that would be equivalent to a 22-game suspension in a regular 162-game season, which is absolutely ridiculous. Not to downplay throwing behind someone at all, but Kelly never even hit a batter, let alone did anything to warrant such a suspension. The fact that he may serve eight games (depending on the appeal) and none of the Astros players will serve a single game for cheating, is pretty absurd.

Fluctuating batting order:

The batting order has fluctuated each game depending on if the Dodgers are facing a lefty or righty, and I’m not a fan. When the Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts this off-season, most figured that they had finally got a legitimate leadoff hitter for the first time in a while. But Dave Roberts has flip-flopped Betts with Max Muncy at the top of the order, along with other changes in the lineup. Obviously, matchups play a big part in how to construct a lineup, but it would be nice to see some stability in the batting order, at least at the top. Personally, I’d roll with Betts, Seager, Turner, Bellinger, and Muncy almost every day, regardless of the matchup.

New Rules:

I understand this is a very unusual year, and some of baseball’s new changes were unavoidable to accommodate this season’s circumstances. With that said, there is really not a single new rule I like, and hope this will be the last we see of them. The new runner on second base rule in extra innings was definitely something different to see, but it didn’t help speed the game up in the Dodgers 13th inning win against the Astros on Wednesday.

Stock Up

  1. Corey Seager: See above.
  2. Caleb Ferguson: As mentioned already, the Dodgers bullpen has been very good so far this year, but Ferguson has been especially nasty. Through four games and 3.2 innings this year, Ferguson has yet to allow a run and only surrendered one hit with no walks. His 12.3 K/9 rate is a very good sign, and he’s locating both his fastball and off-speed pitches well.
  3. A.J Pollock: It’s only been 30 PA so far, but Pollock owns a nice .370/.433/.704 slash line. One had to think Pollock felt a little pressure to perform better this year after a fairly disappointing 2019 season, and so many other options the Dodgers could go to if he struggled. He won’t have a 1.137 OPS all year, but if he can continue to produce offensively, it’ll make the Dodgers offense that much more dangerous.

Stock Down

  1. Cody Bellinger: The reigning MVP is definitely struggling out of the game this year. Bellinger is only hitting .150/.209/.250 so far, but did hit his first homerun in Sunday’s game. Perhaps that’s a sign of a turnaround. Much of the talk about Bellinger’s struggles has centered around his new swing. Some question whether it was a good idea to tinker with an approached that lead to such great offensive numbers last year, including 47 homeruns. Time will tell.
  2. Dave Roberts: During last Sunday’s game against the Giants, Roberts had multiple opportunities to pinch hit for better matchups but failed to do so. He left Joc Pederson, Edwin Rios, and Matt Beaty sitting on the bench despite numerous chances to pinch hit against San Francisco’s right-handed relievers, and instead stayed with guys like Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez. Hernandez, with a career .669 OPS vs RHP, grounded out in a key bases loaded spot in the 8th inning to end the Dodgers last threat. In Friday’s game in Arizona, Roberts elected to intentionally walk the winning run to first, only to have the next batter clear the bases with a double, giving the Diamondbacks the lead, and the game. Obviously, no manager is going to make the right decisions all the time, and scrutiny comes with every move they make. Still, Roberts already has a history of questionable in-game management at critical times in past, so each missed decisions will probably be magnified.

Looking Ahead

The Dodgers will travel to San Diego for a three game series with the Padres starting Monday, and then return home on Friday for three more with the San Francisco Giants.

Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. As you stated the Great News is the Dodgers have a great bullpen and Seager and Pollock are matching their potential as both of them are injury free for the first time in years. Rios has been outstanding. Barnes has been not good offensively. Will Smith not very good either.
    But the problem is the Dodgers will IMHO Never win the WS with Roberts as the manager. WS and Playoff games are against teams with the same potential. Roberts with his horrible decisions costs the team at least one game a series and that is not going to win them a Championship when they are against a team with the same talent like the Yankees.

  2. For a while it looked like the catcher position was one of our strengths. We need Russell Martin, unless his skills have eroded during the off season. Barnes is a minor leaguer and Smith is looking questionable at best. Apparently Keibert Ruiz is not going to develop like he was expected to. Where do we go from here?

    • I agree on Barnes… the guy is just a liability on offense. However, I do think Smith still needs the benefit of the doubt before we give up on him just yet. He’s only had a handful of ABs so far this year, and he was one of the better offensive catchers in the game during his time last season. At the very least, he should be playing more than every other game which is what Roberts is doing now, unfortunately.

  3. I see I’m not the only one that finds the ever changing batting order a case of over-managing. Muncy doesn’t look comfortable at all in the lead off spot and Seager needs to be moved back up in the order. I get flexibility but there’s something to be said for stability and rhythm too.

    Personally, I think Roberts ought to move Muncy back to second to get Rios some more at bats. He’s certainly earned it so far.

    • Personally, I’d like:
      Betts
      Seager
      Turner
      Bellinger
      Muncy

      Swapping Muncy and Seager would be fine depending on who they rather have backing up Cody, but I think those first five should be somewhat set.

  4. Roberts can’t help himself it seems. He has the preeminent lead-off hitter in MLB and only uses him in that position against Lefties? The man is a horrible manager. The only reason they keep him is he is a NICE GUY and those as we know Never finish first.

    I think the jury is still out on Smith as he has shown some offensive potential and power and he is only 25 with very few at bats. I would not give up on Ruiz yet he is very young (22) as is Cartaya (18). If they believe in Smith i do not understand why in a very limited season they are continuing to platoon Barnes and Smith. I think it is Roberts again being a “players manager” and not a good manager. Roberts simply want to be friends with his guys instead of leading them. He will Never make the unpopular choice and that is why he will always lose in the end despite having arguably the best talent in the game.

    I agree with Tuner’s assessment when he told the Dodgers they needed to sign Martin. He is a stable clubhouse guy and leader. He is a solid defensive catcher and has won a championship and still gets on base.

    As this season continues they are 1/6th of the way through! It is anybodies guess if they actually finish the season. They are talking about expanding rosters if they do they should either bring up Ruiz or sign Martin as Barnes has now had two seasons and a couple of winters to fix his swing and has not been able to do so. I don’t believe the Dodgers should expect a miracle from Barnes at this point.

  5. Roberts needs to go. Barnes needs to go to AA ball. Betts needs to be leadoff everyday! Jensen is questionable as closer- to be seen

  6. yes d.r. needs to go. austion to aa ball. BUY ALL MEANES BETTS TO LEA OFF EVERY DAY. D.R. ALWAYS MOVES PLAYERS AROUND,LIKE JOC TO 1ST BASE LAST YR
    KEEPS THINGS SCREWED UP.

  7. I can’t believe in this week one recap there is NO MENTION of the throw Betts uncorked against Marte @ third when he tried to stretch his double down the right field line to a triple.

  8. You gotta pretty bad at running a team if you can’t win a championship with this much at your disposal. I still think the FO is behind some of these choices. Roberts needs to put his foot down and put Betts at leadoff daily and put Seager second and Muncy 5th and please give up on Barnes already, 2017 was three years ago just give it up and let’s see what Smith can do with regular at bats. Why stunt his development for a hack?

  9. I think one thing everyone agrees upon is that Robert’s is not the leader we all wish he was. Quit messing with the line-up. Betts, Seager, Turner, Belli and Muncy every night. Love to see Lux get his act together to play second. So far Hernandez and Taylor have not been consistent enough to be considered everyday players.

    • I like the contact Taylor is making lately I think he could benefit from starting at 2nd for the time being instead Hernandez

  10. Price sitting out will cost the dodgers hopes this year…Losing Price means they also lost Maeda and Ryu. Buehler doesn’t look right and the Rookies of May and Gonsolin will not replace the loss of those big 3….Roberts will wear out the B.P. like he’s already doing. Graterol needs another pitch, Trienen showed us why the A’s didn’t want him…Good looking team, but the Braves have a better 1-3 staff, so do the Nats..I don’t see how we can match those teams at this moment anyways…Hopefully they will have some injuries.. Dodgers still can’t score a run if their lives depended on it. They refuse to bunt along runners when it absolutely matters…So many little things that Roberts doesn’t do will cost this team until he’s gone….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

0