The Dodgers went 4-2 during this past week, taking two of three from both the Padres and Giants. That brings their record to 11-5, good for 2nd place in the NL West and just a half-game out of first. Below I recap the things I liked from the past week, those I didn’t, and list what player’s stock went up or down.
Things I Liked
Dustin May’s filthiness:
Through three starts this year, May has displayed why he’s one of the top prospects in the organization and why the Dodgers are so high on him. He has flashed some nasty stuff, touching 100mph with his fastball along with great movement. He still needs to refine his arsenal a bit, but there’s no doubt the potential for greatness is there. The big question regarding May will be whether or not the Dodgers stick with him in the starting rotation once Alex Wood returns from the IL. I, for one, sure hope so.
The movement on this two-seamer. ?
— MLB (@MLB) August 5, 2020
Game-ending outfield assists:
Sure, walk-off homers are cool, but can they top throwing a runner out at home to end the game? Chris Taylor doesn’t think so.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 6, 2020
Mookie Betts being a Dodger:
It’s still a trip, isn’t it? Betts returned from a three-game absence and hit two homeruns during the series against San Francisco. After a slow start to the year, he looks to be heating up.
Things I Didn’t Like:
Playing time at the catching position:
Will Smith only had 196 PA last year, but during that time he had the 2nd highest wRC+ (132) and OPS (.907) among all catchers. Think about that for a second. Even with his end of season slump, the Dodgers still had the 2nd best offensive catcher in baseball with Smith’s production. That just goes to show the kind of potential he has. Unfortunately, Dave Roberts has continued to alternate him and Austin Barnes every other game, limiting Smith’s playing time. Barnes hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at the plate either (more on that below.) Roberts recently said that Smith should see the majority of the starts eventually, but if and when that happens remains to be seen.
Dodgers performance vs. the Giants:
Going 4-3 against a team usually wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But considering the difference between the teams this year, it’s a little disheartening for the Dodgers to only take four of seven against their rival. And if it wasn’t for a late inning rally yesterday, the Dodgers would have dropped four of seven to them on the year. To be fair, the Dodgers did outscore San Francisco 39-19 over those seven games. But at the end of the day, scoring disparity doesn’t matter… wins do. The Dodgers need to find ways to consistently beat teams that they’re supposed to, and the Giants are one of those teams.
After Clayton Kershaw went down with a back injury and missed the first week of the season, the Dodgers also lost Mookie Betts for three games early last week due to a sore finger. And on Friday, Corey Seager was forced to leave the game with a tight back and has now missed three games in a row. Luckily, none of the injuries have seemed too serious yet. Still, it’s a little discouraging that they haven’t been able to field their best team every game so far. Hopefully, the Dodgers get all the injuries out of the way now.
Edwin Rios: Rios has four hits on the year, and three of them have left the yard. He always hit at the minor league level (career .887 OPS), and his power is evident. The challenge will be finding him needed at-bats, and Rios still hasn’t earned regular starts just yet. Personally, I don’t think there’s any reason to not see Rios in the lineup against RHP, and Roberts could make that happen, especially with the DH at his disposal this year. That’s yet to materialized yet though.
Edwin Ríos has 7 MLB homers in 63 at-bats, 1 every 9 ABs. Babe Ruth hit 1 every 11.8 ABs. pic.twitter.com/bF8oylqVuX
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 8, 2020
Jake McGee: The Dodgers bullpen as a whole has been good so far this year, but one of the bigger surprises has been Jake McGee. He’s the team’s top reliever in K/BB, K/9, and FIP. Thought initially to be just “another guy” perhaps relegated to mop up duty, McGee could turn out to be one of the better bullpen options for the Dodgers if he continues producing.
Austin Barnes: It’s time to address the elephant in the room. That elephant is slashing .091/.167/.258 this year with a -23 OPS+. And yes, that’s a negative sign in front of his OPS+. Barnes has struggled early and often this year, but to be honest, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Over the last two seasons, Barnes has ranked last on the team in virtually every offensive category. His .608 OPS since 2018 is almost 150 points lower than the next lowest player on the team during that timeframe. Of course, Barnes does offer some value with pitch framing and his ability to call the game. However, at some point, there must be a balance, and right now, Barnes is a liability offensively.
Kiké Hernandez: Ok, I’ll say it… Kiké Hernandez should not start against RHP. Some might say that he shouldn’t start period, but that point could at least be debated. Hernandez has a career .669 OPS vs RHP compared to his career .830 OPS vs LHP. For some reason though, those numbers have meant nothing to Dave Roberts. Doc has continued to pencil him in the lineup despite other options like Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty available. Perhaps some other factors come into play, like defense and positional optimization. Still, with the Dodgers having so many players that can move around the field and play different spots, starting Hernandez against RHP just doesn’t add up. Since his opening day 4-5 performance, Hernandez has gone 9-47 (.191 avg.)
The Dodgers won’t get a day off this week, as they host the Padres for four games starting Monday, and then travel to Anaheim to play the Angels for three.