Season in review about nothing: Mike Bolsinger, ‘The Lip Reader.’

This is Part 8 in a series in which every member of the 2015 Dodgers has his season juxtaposed with an episode of the greatest sitcom of all-time. Don’t take it too seriously.

Mike BolsingerRHP.

Key stats: 6-6 record, 3.62 earned-run average, 109 ⅓ innings pitched in 21 starts.

Seinfeld episode: “The Lip Reader” (season 5, episode 6).

Key quote: “You’re giving me the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ routine? I invented ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ Nobody tells me it’s them not me. If it’s anybody, it’s me.”

The 2015 Dodgers rank as the highest-paid team in baseball history. Six different pitchers started at least 10 games for them. Here’s where Bolsinger ranked among the six:

ERA: 3rd
K/9: 3rd
Starts: 4th
Innings pitched: 4th
Strikeouts: 4th
Hits/9: 4th
SO/W: 4th
WHIP: 5th
HR/9: 5th
BB/9: 6th

From where we sit today, it’s fair to call Bolsinger the fourth-best starting pitcher on the most expensive team in baseball history. He was paid at or close to the MLB minimum ($507,500). Let that sink in for a moment. It’s hard to understate how impressive this is: for the Dodgers to identify and trade for Bolsinger, who did little to distinguish himself in nine starts as a 26-year-old rookie with the Diamondbacks in 2014, and for Bolsinger to rise to the challenge of being a regular major league starter for the first time.

So, why wasn’t Bolsinger even a remote consideration for the Dodgers’ playoff roster come October? The answer lies where narrative and numbers and one of my favorite Seinfeld quotes of all-time — “it’s not you, it’s me” — collide.

Bolsinger was 5-3 with a 2.83 earned-run average when the Dodgers traded for Mat Latos and Alex Wood on July 30. His traditional stats were stellar, but Bolsinger had a chronic inability to pitch deep into games and a short track record of success. He was averaging 5 ⅔ innings per start and wasn’t fooling anyone the third time through the batting order. That’s a large reason why eight of his first 16 starts (at the time of the trade) ended in a no-decision.

Advanced stats allow us to analyze the decision a step further.

Bolsinger did something that analytics people call “outperform his FIP.” FIP (fielding independent pitching, which tries to separate a pitcher’s performance from the ballpark and defense around him) rated Bolsinger as a below-average pitcher in 2015. ERA — which measures the actual earned runs a pitcher allows — rated him more favorably. He finished with a 3.91 FIP and a 3.62 ERA.

FIP is something sabermetrics folks call a “predictive stat.” If it’s higher than a pitcher’s ERA, the prediction is that the pitcher’s ERA will rise. There was also the unsexy nature of Bolsinger’s stuff. He has a mid-80s fastball, a good curve and an 80-mph slider — one of the slowest in baseball this year and statistically his best pitch. Whether you believe in the validity of these reasons or not, the Dodgers had reasons to believe Bolsinger might regress.

In fact, he did regress quite a bit. After trading for Latos and Wood, the Dodgers sent Bolsinger to Triple-A to continue to stay sharp. When he returned in September, Bolsinger made five more starts. He didn’t last into the sixth inning in any of the five games, and saw his ERA spike from 2.83 to 3.62.

It would be convenient to say that FIP predicted Bolsinger’s poor September, but I don’t believe that was the case. He told me after a particularly bad start in San Francisco that being sent to Triple-A had affected his confidence. It wasn’t the same in September, even if his repertoire was. By then, Brett Anderson had locked up the NLDS Game 3 start in New York, and the Dodgers preferred Wood over Bolsinger as the emergency long reliever. (Game 3 was, in fact, an emergency.) Bolsinger was never a serious consideration for the playoff roster.

If the confidence of taking the ball every fifth day was all it took for Bolsinger to be effective, it makes you wonder why the Dodgers booted him from their rotation in the first place.

Maybe Seinfeld has something to say about that.

It wasn’t so much that Bolsinger didn’t deserve to stay in the rotation beyond July. It’s that the front office needed a couple insurance starters, and that insurance came in the form of two pitchers who they felt would be better than Bolsinger: Wood and Latos. It’s not you, Mike. It’s FIP.

It just so happened that Latos tanked. Wood didn’t tank, but he was a different pitcher at Dodger Stadium (.185 opponents’ batting average, 2.41 ERA) than he was on the road (.297, 6.14), albeit in small sample sizes.

Incidentally, Latos had the largest positive differential between FIP and ERA of any pitcher in 2015 — 3.46 compared to 4.92, a difference of 1.46. The predictive power of FIP was of no help to the Dodgers or to Latos.

Or to Bolsinger, who must now rediscover his reservoir of confidence after being unceremoniously dumped from the Dodgers’ rotation in 2015.

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(Sigh) Young votes are in: Jake Arrieta first, Zack Greinke second, Clayton Kershaw third.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award by a narrow margin Wednesday. Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke finished second and teammate Clayton Kershaw finished third.

Here’s how the BBWAA electorate voted:
NL Cy points

Here’s how the individual votes were cast (per A full story will follow:
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Managing expectations, Day 28: Bud Black reportedly out; Ron Roenicke to Angels. Update.

Ron Roenicke

Ron Roenicke, center, was the Angels’ third base coach from 2000-05 and bench coach from 2006-10. He will reprise the role in 2016 after finishing last season on the Dodgers’ staff. (Getty Images)

Bud Black is reportedly out of the running to be the Dodgers’ next manager, and Ron Roenicke won’t remain on the coaching staff.

Black, one of three finalists to replace Don Mattingly, is no longer under consideration according to Jerry Crasnick of Black, 58, managed the San Diego Padres from 2007-15. He also was a finalist for the job in Washington that ultimately went to Dusty Baker.

If Black isn’t the Dodgers’ next manager, the job will go to a first-timer — either Gabe Kapler or Dave Roberts.

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Season in review about nothing: Brandon Beachy, ‘The Pez Dispenser.’

Brandon Beachy

Brandon Beachy was a free agent in February and a free agent in October. In between, the Dodgers paid him $3 million to pitch two games. (Keith Birmingham/Staff photographer)

This is Part 7 in a series in which every member of the 2015 Dodgers has his season juxtaposed with an episode of the greatest sitcom of all-time. Don’t take it too seriously.

Brandon Beachy, RHP.

Key stats: Majors: two starts, 0-1, 7.88 ERA in 8 IP, 10 games (9 starts), 47 IP, 3.64 ERA. AAA Oklahoma City: .277/.325/.354 in 96 games.

Seinfeld episode: “The Pez Dispenser” (season 3, episode 14).

Key quote: “We all want the hand. Hand is tough to get. You gotta get the hand right from the opening.”

When he first started playing catch a couple months ago, Brandon McCarthy explained in stark terms that he had to learn “how to throw a baseball again.” That’s the reality facing a Tommy John patient. It’s not that they go from being one of the best pitchers on the planet to a slightly less dominant version of themselves. They go from someone who can throw a baseball 90 mph or more to someone who needs to learn how to throw a baseball again — and then, after months and months of rehab, they might be a slightly less dominant version of themselves.

What about pitchers who have had two Tommy John surgeries?

This was always the question hanging in the air whenever Beachy walked into the room. Nice man, Beachy — also brutally honest about the whole having-to-learn-how-to-throw-again thing.

“I’m definitely going a more conservative route this time,” he said after signing for a base salary of one year at $2.75 million in February. “This is my last bullet. I’m going to make sure I cross my T’s and dot my I’s and make sure I’ve done everything properly, that I can look back and not have to second-guess anything.”

In hindsight, it would be easy if not accurate to say the Dodgers rushed Beachy to the majors. The rotation was hurting when Beachy came up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make a pair of spot starts, July 11 at home against the Brewers and July 20 in Atlanta.

Beachy pitched four innings, allowed five hits and walked three batters in each game. He allowed a total of seven runs and the Dodgers lost both games. At least he was consistent.

The expectation at the time was that Beachy would return at some point — in 2016, if not maybe September. Ultimately, that never happened. Beachy was leading the National League in ERA when he suffered his first torn UCL in June 2012, but it was clear he wouldn’t be the same pitcher anytime soon when the Dodgers designated him for assignment July 30.

There are plenty of reasons why Beachy wasn’t good enough to stick around this season, let alone convince the Dodgers to pick up his 2016 contract option. The bottom line: Sometimes it takes a really long time to recover from two Tommy John surgeries.

The closest parallel in the Seinfeld universe is also one of the most versatile.

In “The Pez Dispenser,” George laments having no “hand” in his relationship with his girlfriend. In baseball parlance, “hand” often goes by the name “leverage.” It’s the same thing. You give your significant other a massage, you have more “hand” than you did the day before. You win a Cy Young Award going into your free-agent year, you have a lot more hand than you did the day before.

Beachy had some hand at the beginning of the season. He had potential — the potential to return to his previous form at some point in 2015 or 2016. It looked for a moment like he might get there in time to aid the Dodgers’ World Series ambitions. Then, in one eight-day span in July, it didn’t. He had no hand anymore.

So it went for Beachy. Too bad there’s no such thing as a “pre-emptive breakup” for baseball players.

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George Genovese, former Dodgers scout, dies at 93.

George Genovese, regarded as one of the greatest baseball scouts of all time, died Sunday at age 93. He scouted Southern California for the Giants and Dodgers for five decades and lived in North Hollywood. The version of his obituary that ran in print is here.

Fifteen years ago, our Kevin Modesti wrote about Genovese, who by then was scouting part-time for the Dodgers but hardly slowing down.

I collected a couple anecdotes about Genovese that didn’t make it to print but are worth passing along here.
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