The right-handed pitcher, who officially signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers on Friday, was talking about his last start seven days ago against the Chicago Cubs.
“Every pitch I threw, they hit them,” Volquez said. “I was surprised because I have good numbers against the Cubs. I saw my record agianst them, it was 5-0, 2-point ERA [actually 2.98]. I had a lot of confidence. Then in the first inning it was like six runs, five (earned) runs, in the first inning. It’s not good.”
Cue the awkward laughter.
Withrow allowed both home runs — a two-run blast by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a solo shot by Shane Victorino — on 96 mph fastballs down the middle of the plate. That’s simply the worst spot a pitcher can leave a pitch. The rookie right-hander threw two innings in relief of Chris Capuano and was charged with three runs, all earned, to end a rough week on the mound.
Chris Withrow went from a minor-league starter to a major-league reliever, a jittery ball of nerves to a statistic, booed briefly when he gave up the game-tying run in the seventh inning Wednesday then golf-clapped off the Dodger Stadium mound following his major-league debut.
A whirlwind, to be sure.
“It was still a lot of fun,” the 24-year-old pitcher said after the game. “Definitely to get out there and get my feet wet was an awesome experience. I wish my results were a little better. When you come into a game, it’s 4-3, you want to hold the lead. I wasn’t able to do that so i didn’t get my job done.”
The move would come as no surprise. The Dodgers wouldn’t move Van Slyke from first base to both corner outfield positions –- right field on Tuesday, left field on Wednesday — if they weren’t getting him ready to give Andre Ethier and/or Carl Crawford a day off.
The Dodgers would have to make a roster move to add Van Slyke to the 40-man roster. Since he’s not on the 40-man, the Dodgers would technically be selecting his contract rather than recalling him from Triple-A. Moving Chad Billingsley, who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery, from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list would do the trick.
If there’s more to report, we’ll have it here.
Some bullet points for a Friday morning:
Josh Beckett was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday with the flu. Several Dodgers have been afflicted with the bug (Ted Lilly, Zack Greinke, Peter Moylan, Ramon Castro, Adrian Gonzalez) and Beckett’s doesn’t seem to be too bad. He was scheduled to throw on a back field Monday morning.
(Update: Beckett indeed threw a simulated game on the back field and reportedly passed the test with flying colors.)
In his place, Josh Wall will start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely use a combination of relievers, including some minor-leaguers, to fill out the innings behind Wall, who hasn’t pitched more than 1 ⅔ innings in a Cactus League game this spring.
I didn’t include Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Ted Lilly on this list, even though one or more of them could wind up pitching out of the ‘pen. Even without them, this is a solid unit on paper with ample depth. The closer situation is fairly clear, but the Dodgers enter the season with more viable options for the ninth inning than they’ve had in recent seasons.
There are a few injury concerns facing this unit, but none are severe. With one exception, the Dodgers’ bullpen should start the season healthy, capable of becoming one of the best in the National League.
Before the famous economist/statistician/sabrmetrician Nate Silver was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009, he crunched baseball stats for BaseballProspectus.com. He found more success in the political arena by taking an old idea and adapting it to a new subject.
Specifically, Silver aggregated just about every pre-election poll he could find, giving each one more or less weight through a formula he devised, to come up with a reliably accurate “prediction model” for the major U.S. elections.
With a nod to Nate, I decided to aggregate four recently released lists ranking the Dodgers prospects — Baseball America, FanGraphs, Minor League Ball and Baseball Prospectus — into a composite ranking. There’s no weighting formula and this is no prediction model. (Besides, success in baseball can’t be defined objectively; if it were, there wouldn’t be so many damn stats). So while Yasiel Puig is listed first in the table you’re about to read, I can’t tell you what that actually means for his long-term baseball success. I can only promise he will not be elected president of the United States.