The Dodgers haven’t finalized their 25-man NLDS roster. Who’s still on the bubble?

Carlos Frias

Carlos Frias could be on the bubble for one of the Dodgers’ final NLDS roster spots. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Dodgers are “probably 99, 98 percent where we want to be” in deciding their roster for the National League Division Series, manager Don Mattingly said Thursday afternoon. The St. Louis Cardinals announced their roster earlier Thursday. Rosters are due to MLB tomorrow morning, and the Dodgers must winnow their manpower from 37 to 25.

Some decisions were made Tuesday, when five players were given permission to return either to their off-season home or the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Arizona.

A few more decisions have been made in the last 48 hours:
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Carlos Frias could force Dodgers to re-think middle innings in October.

Carlos Frias

Carlos Frias shut out the Washington Nationals for six innings in his first major-league start Wednesday. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)


Call it rational thought, but when Carlos Frias arrived in the Dodgers’ clubhouse in August, the tendency was to force the rookie pitcher into a limited array of roles.

Emergency spot starter.

Long reliever, preferably during an inconsequential blowout.

That’s what happens to 24-year-old rookies who had never pitched above Double-A baseball prior to the current year, who had an ERA in the fives during his first Triple-A season, right?
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First wave of Dodgers call-ups arrive, sans Carlos Triunfel (designated for assignment).

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero hit four home runs in his final 10 games with Triple-A Albuquerque. (Associated Press photo)

Of all the transactions the Dodgers made Monday, when rosters were allowed to expand past the previous 25-man limit, only one could be considered a surprise.

Infielder Carlos Triunfel, whom the Dodgers claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners in April, was designated for assignment.

By removing Triunfel from the 40-man roster, the Dodgers were able to add Joc Pederson to their 40-man roster. Pederson was joined by infielder Alex Guerrero, catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Yimi Garcia on the Albuquerque-to-Los Angeles express Monday. Infielders Miguel Rojas and Erisbel Arruebarrena and pitcher Carlos Frias are expected to arrive in the Dodgers’ clubhouse tomorrow.

Pederson and Garcia will be making their major-league debuts.

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Chris Perez (ankle) will start Thursday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Chris Perez will start Thursday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga as he continues his rehab from bone spurs in his right ankle, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

“If he holds up good in that setting, then we try to get him into a bullpen situation where he’s trying to get into our routine,” the manager said.

There is no exact timetable for Perez to return, but Mattingly suggested the pitcher might need two or three more rehab games. Perez “didn’t look like he was favoring (his right) ankle” when he threw a scoreless inning Monday night for Rancho Cucamonga, Mattingly said.

Technically, Perez was eligible to come off the disabled list today. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 5.04 ERA in 42 appearances for the Dodgers this season.

Why is Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitching so much?

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is on pace to appear in 110 games this season. (Getty Images)

In the eighth inning Wednesday with the Dodgers leading the Phillies 5-2, right-handers Kenley Jansen and Chris Perez were warming up in the bullpen.

The decision of who would pitch the ninth inning literally came down to the final moment. Had Adrian Gonzalez delivered an RBI in the final at-bat of the inning, Perez would have gotten the ninth. Instead, Gonzalez flied out to deep center field and Jansen got the ball. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save.

It was Jansen’s 15th appearance of the season, which leads the major leagues.
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Dodgers 3, Colorado Rockies 3: Of course spring training ends in a tie.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run in his final Cactus League start. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Dodgers ended the Cactus League portion of their season the only appropriate way: With a tie.

The Colorado Rockies scored a run in the seventh inning off Chris Withrow, tying the game 3-3, and the Dodgers’ final game in North America until March 27 ended in a tie. It was the Dodgers’ fifth tie in 21 exhibition games, giving them a final spring training record of 6-10-5.

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 ⅓ innings. Not unusually, he encountered the most trouble early.

Charlie Blackmon led off the game with a single but was picked off the bag. In the second inning, the Rockies got back-to-back singles by Matt McBride and Charlie Culberson. Both runners advanced a base when Ryu’s pickoff throw to second base got away from everyone for a throwing error.

The second inning ended on a dramatic double play — for a minute. McBride, trying to score on a sacrifice fly to right field by Jordan Pacheco, was out at home plate on a nearly 300-foot throw by Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig. Rockies manager Walt Weiss challenged the call. One television replay clearly showed that Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis missed McBride on his tag attempt. The umpires don’t always have the same vantage point when reviewing a call in Cactus League play, but the crew correctly overturned the call.

The Dodgers players had all retreated to the dugout after the apparent inning-ending double play. They filed back onto the field, Ryu made a couple warm-up tosses, then got D.J. LeMahieu to pop out on one pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez‘s single through a drawn-in infield scored Carl Crawford with the Dodgers’ first run. With Gonzalez on first base, Juan Uribe hit an RBI to the left-center field gap, scoring Gonzalez with the go-ahead run.

In the fifth inning, Gonzalez hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to drive in Ryu and pad the Dodgers’ lead. Ryu drew a walk to lead off the inning against Jordan Lyles and Carl Crawford followed with a single up the middle. Right-hander Bruce Kern relieved Lyles and allowed a single to left field by Hanley Ramirez that loaded the bases. Gonzalez’s fly ball to center field was plenty deep for Ryu to tag up and score without a throw.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryu gave up a solo home run to Nolan Arenado on a 2-2 fastball at the knees, bringing the Rockies within 3-2.

Chris Perez, J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen didn’t allow a run out of the bullpen.

The Dodgers finished with a cumulative attendance of 114,402 in 12 home dates at Camelback Ranch for an average of 9,534, the highest average attendance since the team relocated Spring Training to Arizona in 2009. Last year, the Dodgers drew 133,460 in 17 home dates (including one WBC game) for an average of 7,851.

The box score is here.

Dodgers’ intrasquad game is in the books; Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez make some noise.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed home runs to Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez in the first inning of the Dodgers’ intrasquad game on Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 4-inning intrasquad game Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Those accounted for all the runs in a 3-1 victory for Team Wills (drafted by Matt Kemp) over Team Koufax (drafted by Zack Greinke.)
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are starting the 2014 regular season before everyone else — again.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw might have three starts under his belt by the time some teams have played only five games. (Associated Press photo)


ESPN has selected the Dodgers’ first regular-season game in the United States for its first Sunday Night Baseball game of the season.

That sounds simple, but it contains some interesting implications.

The Dodgers were originally going to begin the non-Australia portion of their regular season on Monday, March 31, like every other team. That game — in San Diego — will now be played the night before, on March 30 at 8 p.m. There are no other MLB games scheduled for that day.

Dan Shulman, John Kruk, Curt Schilling and Buster Olney will broadcast the game.

But who will pitch?

If Don Mattingly hasn’t abandoned his start-Clayton-Kershaw-as-often-as-possible mantra since signing his fat new contract, expect Clayton Kershaw to start the game. The Dodgers have nine days between their second game in Australia (scheduled for 7 p.m. Pacific Time on March 22) and their first game in San Diego.

And because the game will be played a day earlier, Kershaw will have four full days of rest before the Dodgers’ home opener on April 4 against the San Francisco Giants. So Dodger fans might be the big winners in all of this.

The losers? Anyone who has a gripe about ESPN playing favorites with certain terms. The Dodgers will be, by far, the most exposed baseball team in March:

Some bullet points for a Panamanian Martyrs’ Day:
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Daily Distractions: Apparently the Dodgers’ bullpen really needed an upgrade.

Chris Perez

The Dodgers have reportedly signed pitcher Chris Perez to a one-year contract. (Getty Images)

In all his postseason comments to the media, Ned Colletti never called out the Dodgers’ bullpen as an area of weakness in 2013. With the signing of former Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez, the GM’s actions have spoken louder than his words.

Perez, 28, reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers Monday, pending a physical. He started the 2013 season 17-for-19 in save opportunities with a 2.52 ERA through his first 35 2/3 innings. Then in an Aug. 5 game against the Detroit Tigers, Perez allowed four earned runs without recording an out. He would go on to allow 16 earned runs over his final 18 1/3 innings as an Indian.

The right-hander finished the season with a 4.33 ERA and five blown saves in 30 opportunities.

Before contract the contract becomes official, the Dodgers have already committed $18.5 million next season to two set-up men — Brian Wilson and Brandon League, both former closers themselves. Between Wilson, League and Perez, the Dodgers have 377 career saves sitting in the bullpen before giving the ball to ninth-inning man Kenley Jansen.

That gives the Dodgers the most experienced (and arguably the deepest) bullpen in the majors heading into 2014. FanGraphs’ Jason Collette threw together this chart comparing Jansen, Wilson, League and Perez.

Left-handers J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Onelki Garcia, and right-handers Jose Dominguez and Chris Withrow all figure to compete for innings in spring training. Colletti has also said he’s looking to add a long reliever to the mix.

Perez has a connection to Los Angeles. In September, he pleaded no contest in Ohio to a misdemeanor drug abuse charge and was found guilty of receiving a small package of marijuana mailed to his home on June 4. From Cleveland.com:

The six-ounce bag of marijuana was sent from Los Angeles and addressed to Brody Baum, the couple’s dog. Police seized the pot plus two pipes, a bong and several items of drug paraphernalia found in a basement kitchen. Chris Perez said the drugs and items belonged to him.

The package of marijuana was discovered after a postal supervisor smelled the weed and called a postal inspector, who opened the package, resealed it and delivered it to the home. An undercover officer posing as a delivery man approached (the pitcher’s wife) Melanie Perez, who confirmed the packages were for the dog. Baum is her maiden name.

Perez stirred the pot one year ago by criticizing his ownership regime in an interview with FoxSports.com:

“Different owners,” Perez said frankly, in reference to Detroit’s Mike Ilitch and Cleveland’s Lawrence J. Dolan. “It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”

Perez should be happy with his new bosses. The Dodgers have committed roughly $200 million to 19 players for next season, including the recently agreed-to contracts for third baseman Juan Uribe and Howell. Last year, the team reportedly spent $237 million on payroll.

Of that, less than 10 percent (somewhere in the $13 to $15 million range) went to full-time relievers. That percentage could increase significantly in 2014.

Statistically speaking, the Dodgers’ bullpen was excellent last year, at least after Jansen replaced League as the closer on June 11. Their 3.49 ERA ranked 13th among 30 teams. Their strikeout rate ranked ninth. They allowed 24 percent of inherited runners to score, third in the majors. And since the Dodgers’ starting rotation pitched relatively deep into games, the bullpen didn’t have to work too hard.

Perez brings a simple fastball/slider repertoire, with roughly 10 mph difference between the two pitches. It’s not the “power arm” profile that teams covet but League, Wilson, Withrow and Dominguez all fall into that category. Perez’s repertoire could be a nice complement.

Here’s a quick look at the bullpen pecking order, comparing the 2013 Opening Day Roster to the potential 2014 Opening Day group:

2013 2014
Brandon League (closer) Jansen (closer)
Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson
Ronald Belisario Chris Perez
Paco Rodriguez Rodriguez
J.P. Howell Howell
Matt Guerrier League
Aaron Harang Chris Withrow

Some bullet points for a Festivus:
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