Friday, May 18, 2012

Dodgers host Cardinals in tilt between two of MLB's best, plus other notes


In the only non-interleague series, the Dodgers are hosting the Cardinals -- two of the most historic franchise in baseball, let alone the National League.

The Dodgers are a MLB-best 25-13 and are without Matt Kemp in this series. Being down a bat as potent as Kemp's hurts, but the Dodgers are going to need everyone firing on all cylinders if they want a chance to win this series.

The Dodgers have three of their top pitchers going in this series, including Ted Lilly (5-0, 2.11 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) tonight. Clayton Kershaw pitches tomorrow and Chad Billingsley pitches on Sunday (ESPN Sunday Night Baseball). And they're not exactly facing the Cardinal slouches on the mound.

Lance Lynn (6-1, 1.81 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) tonight, Jake Westbrook (4-2, 2.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP all go in this series for the Cardinals.

Like with most teams, the Dodgers cannot afford to get into a slugfest against the Cardinals' potent offense. Yes, their offense is still potent despite losing Albert Pujols in the offseason.

Carlos Beltran has been fantastic this season -- .293/.404/.642, 13 home runs -- after spending last season with the Mets and Giants.

Lance Berkman, who had a resurgent 2011, came off the disabled list 11 games and hasn't missed a beat -- .325/.426/.500.

World Series MVP David Freese is proving his playoff heroics were no fluke, posting a .280/.342/.508 so far this season.

Former Dodger Rafael Furcal is absolutely lighting it up -- .367/.430/.497 -- bringing back memories of 2008.

And someone taught Yadier Molina (top) how to hit, as he has a .302/.355/.524 line this season.

Oh yeah, and this list doesn't even include perhaps the team's best player, Matt Holliday.

So, despite losing Pujols, the Cardinals still have one of the league's best offenses, so the Dodger pitchers are going to have to be sharp tonight.

This will be a nice test for a depleted Dodger team.

Oh, and the Dodgers are 1-0 and average eight runs per game when Adam Kennedy bats fifth. Eric Stephen tweeted the trend shall continue tonight.

Lineup
Gordon SS
Ellis 2B
Abreu LF
Ethier RF
Kennedy 3B
Loney 1B
Ellis C
Lilly P

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My latest piece is up at ChadMoriyama.com on Allen Webster and his struggles. Here's an excerpt:
"Looking at his peripherals, his walk, strikeout, and home run numbers are on par with his career averages:

2012: 7.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 2.14 K/BB, 0.3 HR/9
Career: 8.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 2.32 K/BB, 0.4 HR/9

Webster’s FIP is actually better this season than it was in 2011 at Chattanooga (3.65 to 4.05). His groundout-to-flyout ratio is a little lower than last season with the Lookouts (1.84 to 2.10), but it’s still a good rate.

These numbers would lead you to believe he’s been a lot better than his 7.27 ERA and 1.93 WHIP, but here we are on May 18th and Webster is still getting consistently rocked (at least he’s keeping the ball in the yard).

So besides the clean mechanics speculation, what gives?

Webster’s hits per nine innings is where things get scary. He’s allowing 13.8 H/9, which isn’t going to get the job done. When a guy gives up that many hits, it’s hard to say he’s been unlucky, but that’s what his .425 BABIP says."
Other news and notes

Have you voted for A.J. Ellis (and Kemp, Andre Ethier and maybe Mark Ellis) yet? Click the badge in the right sidebar to vote.

Mike Petriello writes the Dodgers' rotation has exceeded expectations. He even does a little speculation on trade targets.

Ron Cervenka wonders if this is Jerry Sands' last stand.

Evan Bladh, as usual, has a detailed post -- this time on umpires.

The Dodgers aren't ready to remove Dee Gordon from the leadoff spot.

Photo credit: Steve Paluch, Flickr

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