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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and when will the Dodgers stop stumbling and bumbling?
They may have stopped on Wednesday, as they had an impressive 8-0 victory over the Reds. But even with that, they are still 3-7 in their last 10 games and haven’t won a series since winning two of the against the Padres two weeks ago. It’s not the fact that they are losing that is so bothersome, it’s how they are losing. They are playing with all the emotion of Mr. Spock.
Like I said in Wednesday’s newsletter, it is far, far too early to throw in the towel, there is nothing wrong about worrying when a team looks so uninspired on the field. And then there are the usual frustrations that go along with following any team.
—Matt Beaty has a big hit in Tuesday’s game, so where does he start Wednesday’s game? On the bench in favor of Luke Raley. I’m sure there were all sorts of internal metrics as to why this was a good move, and heaven forbid anyone manage in today’s game based on instinct, but don’t you want to build on that by giving him another game in the lineup? And then when he does come in as a pinch-hitter, he drives in two runs.
—The continued insistence on giving Edwin Rios at-bats in key situations is baffling. I hope he gets on track, but he’s four for his last 43 and needs some time back at the alternate site for some pressure-free at-bats.
—In fact, while doing the live inning updates on Tuesday night on our live blog, I wrote “Edwin Rios struck out swinging” the moment he was announced. And that’s exactly what happened.
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—Weird manager decisions, such as pitching to Eric Hosmer with first base open, allowing him to drive in the winning run. Hosmer can smell an RBI like a bloodhound smells a lost person.
—The continued unreliability of the bullpen. They are next-to-last in the NL in WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) at 1.465, which basically means they allow 1.5 baserunners for every inning they are out there (Pittsburgh leads at 1.027). They are also next-to-last in strikeouts-to-walks ratio at 1.83 (San Diego leads at 4.00).
—The continued insistence of many players to swing for the seats in every at-bat, when putting the ball in play will do just nicely.
—I realize bunts aren’t fashionable right now. Totally understand that analytics say you shouldn’t waste one of your precious 27 outs. But I also know that Tommy Lasorda once said that a bunt at the right moment can wake a team up and get the adrenaline flowing. And right now, this team is sleepwalking and needs some waking up.
—The lack of excitement this team has right now is a problem. Remember during the playoffs when they were executing double steals and going from first to third on hits? Right now it’s just station-to-station and hope for a homer. And the Dodgers lead the league in on-base percentage, so there are plenty of ways to generate some excitement on the basepaths.
—Of course, all that being said: The Dodgers are obviously better than they have been playing the last two weeks. They aren’t a 3-7 team. They aren’t a 13-2 team. They are somewhere in between and we won’t know where they fall on that scale for a few more weeks.
—By the way, the Padres are 4-3 against the Dodgers, 10-9 against everyone else and are 5-7 in their last 12 games.
—But the big problem is the bullpen. Hitting will come around, especially once everyone gets healthy and Mookie Betts breaks out of his slump. But the bullpen inspires no confidence at all. They usually have a couple of shutdown guys they can rely on. Right now, you can’t rely on anyone. You just pick a guy and hope he has it that day. And that’s a really, really tough way to consistently win games.
—But this leads us to the most distressing news of the last two weeks, and perhaps is the true reason for the Dodger slump....
Where is Farmer John?
The story was broken by colleague Bill Shaikin earlier this week: Farmer John, who we all know is Easternmost is quality, Westernmost in flavor, is no longer making the Dodger Dog you buy at Dodger Stadium.
Smithfield Foods, the parent company of Farmer John, issued a statement to The Times that read in part: “Farmer John had a long-standing and valued relationship with the Dodgers. After the 2019 season, Farmer John made the difficult business decision not to renew its contract with the Dodgers. … Unfortunately, through the latest contract negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement that was beneficial for both parties.”
Stan Kasten said the team soon would announce its current hot dog supplier. The team’s first priority, he said, had been “an elaborate process” in which taste testers could ensure that a new recipe for a stadium dog would result in a hot dog tasting pretty much like the old, familiar one.
Man, a taste tester for hot dogs. That person’s stomach and cholesterol must be a mess.
And if the Dodgers aren’t ready to announce their hot dog supplier, then who is making the hot dogs now? That’s a little scary.
But let’s face it, and I’m ready for the hate mail. When ballpark fare was basic in the 1970s and 80s, the Dodger Dog was king. But now that food choices are so plentiful at stadiums throughout the land, the Dodger Dog has become rather ho-hum and pedestrian. We eat it because of the memories and nostalgia involved.
But I don’t think it’s coincidence that the Dodgers have a worse record at home than on the road this season.
So we bid you farewell, Farmer John. You join the Cool-a-Coo, the Carnation frozen malt and the double-bagged peanuts in the dustbin of Dodger history.
What foods do you remember buying at Dodger Stadium that are no longer there? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you remember.
Farmer John Dodger Dogs remind me of my broadcast partner of 32 years, Jerry Doggett. In some ads we did together, he'd take my hot dog and I'd say "Doggone that Doggett." All in fun of course. Jerry was a great friend. https://t.co/R3ifhGMxnM— Vin Scully (@TheVinScully) April 26, 2021
These names look familiar
A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through Wednesday):
Pedro Báez, Houston, On the 60-day IL with shoulder soreness
Dylan Floro, Miami: 1-1, 1.54 ERA (11.2 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts)
Kiké Hernández, Boston: .240/.282/.417 (6 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, 98 OPS+)
Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 8.44 ERA (5.1 IP, 8 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, optioned to alternate training site)
Jake McGee, San Francisco: 1-0, 2.92 ERA, 7 saves (12.1 IP, 8 hits, 3 walks, 17 strikeouts)
Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs: .137/.262/.235 (1 triple, 1 homer, 4 RBIs, 43 OPS+, on IL with left wrist tendinitis)
Josh Sborz, Texas: 1-1, 3.86 ERA (9.1 IP, 6 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts)
Ross Stripling, Toronto: 0-1, 7.56 ERA (8.1 IP, 13 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts, on IL with forearm strain)
Alex Wood, San Francisco: 3-0, 1.50 ERA (18 IP, 9 hits, 3 walk, 20 strikeouts)
Tonight, Dodgers (Trevor Bauer, 3-0, 2.53 ERA) at Milwaukee (Freddy Peralta, 2-0, 2.45 ERA), 4:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Friday, Dodgers (TBD) at Milwaukee (Brandon Woodruff, 2-0, 1.55 ERA), 5 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Saturday, Dodgers (Dustin May, 1-1, 2.53 ERA) at Milwaukee (Corbin Burnes, 2-2, 1.53 ERA), 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Sunday, Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 3-0, 3.23 ERA) at Milwaukee (Adrian Houser, 2-2, 3.65 ERA), 11 a.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Vin Scully‘s memorable calls from Clayton Kershaw‘s no-hitter. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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