6/18-6/19 Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

Cashman: Yankees are "open for business" regarding trades
Update: Yankees place Teixeira on DL, call up Warren and Almonte
Donnie Baseball is back in the Bronx for the first time since 2007. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Donnie Baseball is back in the Bronx for the first time since 2007. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

It has been more than 30 years since the Dodgers last played in the Bronx, not since the deciding Game Six of the 1981 World Series. They have never come to the Yankee Stadium as part of interleague play, at least not until today. The Yankees and Dodgers will play a quick little two-game series that features two highest-priced rosters in baseball. There’s also a neat nostalgic element that, like many of you, I am too young to fully appreciate.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Dodgers are not very good despite their recent spending spree. They lost two of three to the Pirates this weekend and have lost six of their last eight games overall. At 29-39 with a -49 run differential, Los Angeles sits in last place in the NL West with seventh worst record in baseball.

With a team 94 wRC+ and an average of 3.5 runs per game, the Dodgers are a below-average offensive club. It doesn’t help that CF Matt Kemp (78 wRC+) is a shell of his former self following offseason left (front) shoulder surgery. He’s currently on the DL with a hamstring problem. LF Carl Crawford (133 wRC+) was having a big bounceback year before hitting the DL with a hamstring issue. OF Scott Van Slyke (132 wRC+ in limited time) is out with a shoulder injury and IF Juan Uribe (118 wRC+) is day-to-day with a back problem. He could return to the lineup as soon as tonight.

Puig. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)
Puig. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)

As for the healthy guys, it obviously all starts with OF Yasiel Puig (260 wRC+ in limited time). He’s been the talk of baseball since coming up three weeks ago thanks to his dramatic homers and brilliant defensive plays. It’ll be fun to watch these next two days. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (130 wRC+) remains a force at the plate, and C A.J. Ellis (107 wRC+) has been one of baseball’s most underrated backstops for two seasons now. IF Hanley Ramirez (104 wRC+ in limited time) has been banged up all year and OF Andre Ethier (95 wRC+) has been disappointing.

Aside from those guys, manager Don Mattingly really doesn’t have much at his disposal. IF Nick Punto (94 wRC+) has been surprisingly not awful, but both UTIL Skip Schumaker (87 wRC+) and UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr. (85 wRC+) haven’t done much of anything. Ditto IF Mark Ellis (89 wRC+) and IF Luis Cruz (-4 wRC+). Cruz has gotten 124 plate appearances, believe it or not. Recent call-ups OF Alex Castellanos (97 wRC+ in very, very limited time) and backup C Tim Federowicz (61 wRC+) have played like rookies. Really not much to see here. Keep Puig and Gonzalez contained and you’ll be in good shape.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
I liked the idea of the Yankees pursuing Ryu this winter, but, as I tend to do, I grossly underestimated the cost. The Dodgers paid over $60M — $25.7M posting fee plus a $36M contract — to bring him over from Korea, and so far he’s been worth the investment. The 26-year-old left-baller has pitched to a 2.85 ERA (3.10 FIP) in 13 starts this year, and he’s been especially tough since settling into a groove in late-April: 2.37 ERA (3.08 FIP) in his last nine starts. Ryu has posted very good peripherals in his debut MLB season, with a solid strikeout rate (7.91 K/9 and 21.7 K%) to go along with above-average walk (2.64 BB/9 and 7.3 BB), homer (0.63 HR/9 and 7.8% HR/FB), and ground ball (48.1%) numbers. He’s a true five-pitch pitcher, using 88-92 mph two- and four-seamers to set up a low-80s slider, an upper-70s changeup, and a low-70s curveball. The changeup is his top secondary pitch and a big reason why he has a reverse split — lefties have a .266 wOBA against him while lefties are at .321. The Yankees have never seen Ryu before, obviously.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty)
Capuano. (Scott Cunningham/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Capuano
Technically, the Dodgers starter for this game is still TBA. It is widely expected that Capuano will be activated off the DL and rejoin the rotation, however. He’s been out for two weeks with a lat strain, though he threw four scoreless innings during a rehab start on Friday. Capuano, 34, has pitched to a 3.45 ERA (5.15 FIP) in 33 innings across six starts and two relief appearances while battling various nagging injuries this season. His peripherals are not great — 6.55 K/9 (16.1 K%), 3.55 BB/9 (8.7 BB%), 1.64 HR/9 (16.2% HR/FB), and 45.9% grounders — but they figure to improve as he heals up and accumulates more innings. Capuano has consistently been a low-4.00s FIP guy for the last six or seven years now. An upper-80s sinker is his top fastball, though he will mix in the occasional four-seamer at the same velocity. His upper-70s changeup is his top offspeed pitch, though he’ll also throw low-80s sliders and mid-80s curveballs. It’s worth noting Capuano typically handles left-handed hitters well, holding them to a .273 wOBA since coming back from his second Tommy John surgery in 2010. Righties have tagged him for a .343 wOBA during that time. The Yankees roughed Capuano up in 2011 when they saw him during the Subway Series with the Mets.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Dodgers were off on Monday. Their pen is relatively well-rested. Mattingly recently replaced RHP Brandon League (5.10 FIP) with RHP Kenley Jansen (2.89 FIP) at closer. The move was a long time coming. LHP Paco Rodriguez (2.81 FIP) and RHP Ronald Belisario (4.03 FIP) see plenty of late-inning work, as does LHP J.P. Howell (3.00 FIP). RHP Matt Guerrier (4.14 FIP) and RHP Peter Moylan (3.23 FIP) round out the bullpen, assuming RHP Chris Withrow (3.06 FIP in very limited time) is sent down to make room for Capuano.

Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is in pretty good shape thanks to the off-day and CC Sabathia‘s eight-inning start on Sunday. As I mentioned this morning, I suspect Adam Warren will rejoin the team today in his usual long man role if Mark Teixeira is indeed placed on the DL. Otherwise everyone is pretty fresh. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage. For the best Dodgers coverage, I recommend True Blue LA and Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness. They’re two of the very best team-specific blogs you’ll find.

Cashman: Yankees are "open for business" regarding trades
Update: Yankees place Teixeira on DL, call up Warren and Almonte
  • pat

    That Cali sun is treating Donnie B well.

  • The Bastard

    I’m annoyed that the Yanks never pursued Hanley Ramirez. There’s a real question on where his power went, and with it the 7 WAR player, but as insurance on Jeter and A-Rod, he’s would have been as good as they could have gotten. And it was a salary dump.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I was upset when at first, but in retrospect I’m extremely happy. Hanley has taken a huge step back from even his 2010 self (.300/.378/.475 .369wOBA 127wRC+) when he was over a 4 fwar guy. Now, since 2010 he’s barely better than a win over replacement level.

      • Jim Is Bored

        And for real, can you imagine this year if we had signed him too? The complaints…oh dear God the complaints.

        CASHnotaMAN signed another injury prone guy who can’t hack it and hasn’t won anything this decade!

  • Dalek Jeter

    If we can get 6-7 innings of Good Phil tonight, I feel like we could sweep and that would be awesome going into a pretty tough stretch; 4 against the Rays (who always play well against us), 3 against Texas (please god let us not have to face Darvish for a multitude of reasons), and then kicking off a road trip in Baltimore.

    • Get Phelps Up

      Doesn’t look like we’re going to face Darvish. He’s starting tonight so he’ll be on schedule to start on Sunday vs the Cards. Looks like we’ll face Grimm, Lindblom and Holland.

      • Dalek Jeter

        Thank god, I can’t imagine the 7 hells a game thread of Darvish shutting us down would be.

  • ExitCashman

    How can Warren be activated if the player going on the DL is a position player (Tex)? I thought that it had to be another pitcher for Warren to be allowed an exception to the waiting period, no?

    • Dalek Jeter

      Nope, anybody on the 25 man. Hooray loopholes!

  • Pseudoyanks

    Having cut my Yankee Fan teethe on the Late 70’s mini-dynasty and rivalry Vs. the Dodgers, I can appreciate the nostalgia. Not like the old timers though, who were around for the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers ;)

    • Kosmo

      1963 and 1981 WS not fun. 1977-78 great WS. 1978 Yanks are to this day my favorite team.

      • trr

        My earliest BB memory ( as a lad of 6) was watching Koufax strike out 15 Yankees in the WS. And still I became a Yankee Fan

  • I’mVernonI’mVernon4U

    I was so close to going to the Wednesday game. Damn MCATS ruining my fun :(

  • Kosmo

    I saw a video of Ryu from earlier this season. He is fun to watch pitch. Hopefully NY can handle him.

  • Eddard

    NY fans will really see why they made the correct managerial choice in this series. Girardi was handed a last place pile of garbage and has turned it into a division title contender. Mattingly was handed a division title contender and has turned it into a last place pile of garbage. Similar payrolls but how much of the Yankees has been on the DL this season? Mattingly won’t have a job soon nor should he.

    • Jim Is Bored

      ” Similar payrolls but how much of the Yankees has been on the DL this season?”

      Relative to total team salary, not all that different from what the Dodgers have had to deal with.

    • Kosmo

      Wrong ! Greinke injured, Kemp injured, Ramirez injured, Crawford injured, Beckett injured etc.

      • jjyank

        Yeah, the Yankees can play the injury card with a lot of teams, but the Dodgers probably aren’t one of them.

        • The Real Me

          And Joe was handed a last place team? When was this ever a last place team?

          • FEED.ME.MORE!

            I think he meant the Marlins.

            This is Eddard we are talking about though…..

        • https://twitter.com/NotRyanAdam WFAN Caller

          I don’t think issues with the Dodgers can be pinned squarely on Mattingly’s shoulders. Frank McCourt didn’t help things by getting a divorce from his wife. In turn, Bud Selig didn’t help things either when he decided to treat Frank McCourt in a completely separate manner than Fred “Swindlin” Wilpon by seizing control of the team’s “day-to-day” operations, which essentially removed them from improving the team in the FA market for a decent chunk of Mattingly’s tender.

          • jjyank

            “I don’t think issues with the Dodgers can be pinned squarely on Mattingly’s shoulders.”

            Of course not. Where did I say they could be? I think you should be replying to Eddard.

            • https://twitter.com/NotRyanAdam WFAN Caller

              I was. I hate nesting.

              • jjyank

                Apologies then. It happens to the best of us.

    • Crime Dog

      I know it’s not always great to play the injury card, especially in contrast to the Yankees, but their entire team has been hurt. Kemp has been awful. Imagine the Yankees if Cano was having a Kemp-like year? That’s basically the comparison I think is relatable here. Oh, and if two or three of the Yankees starters were hurt too. They’re rough comparisons, but I think they make sense.

  • Hank

    I thought pettitte was pitching Wednesday? Is he lined up for Thursday then?

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    If you think watching Yasel Puig rip through our pitching and robbing our guys of hits we desperately need as fun, then we have very different ideas of “fun”.

    I mean, I know what you mean, but can’t we have fun watching him play somebody who, you know, ISN’T the Yankees?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “Fun” will be the inevitable slump after a few weeks in the majors starting tonight.


      There are lots of players I like to watch on other teams, even when they face the Yankees.

      Now I don’t want them to go Barry Bonds on us, but it’s fun to watch.

      We don’t have to win 10-0 for a game to be fun and enjoyable.

  • The Doctor

    On an unrelated note, Brian McCann just struck out with the bases loaded and no outs. He’s making a strong case for the Yanks to sign him.

  • toad

    “A neat nostalgic element?”

    Wow! You are young. There was a time when Yankees-Dodgers defined the world of baseball. Boston? A perennial also-ran with one great player, not a serious rival.