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Dodgers Week 13: Walker Buehler & the walk-offs

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16 strikeouts started the weekend, then three different rookies ended it

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers continued to make the National League West their personal playground, winning six of seven games against the Giants and Rockies. The week was filled with highlights and news, but the two prevalent themes became evident over the weekend: Walker Buehler and walk-off wins.

Buehler has pitched the first six innings of a no-hitter, he allowed no runs in winning a Game 163, and he struck out seven in a dominant scoreless World Series start. But for now — he’s still only 24 for another month — there is only one Walker Buehler Game.

Sure he’s allowed fewer runs in seven other starts this season, but Buehler was electric on Friday, striking out a ridiculous 16 Rockies in the first complete game of his career. Fifteen of his 16 strikeouts were swinging; he had Colorado off balance all night.

Yes, Buehler allowed two runs, a pair of solo home runs to Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. But that doesn’t diminish his dominance. Those were the only two Rockies to reach base through the first eight innings on Friday. Buehler didn’t even have to pitch from the stretch until allowing a one-out single to the scorching hot Blackmon (Friday was his 31st consecutive game reaching base, and extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he was 28-for-56 with 14 extra-base hits) in the ninth.

Despite the high strikeout totals, Buehler’s ruthless efficiency kept his pitch count low, with 83 of his 111 pitches thrown for strikes. That he began the ninth inning for the first time in his professional career was never really a question. The way Buehler was pitching, it was a foregone conclusion.

The ninth inning only added to the lore of Buehler’s performance, even with Blackmon’s hit. Buehler in his final frame struck out Raimel Tapia, David Dahl and Arenado, all swinging. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, there have only been 17 times a Dodgers starting pitcher struck out three batters in the ninth.

Finishing what they started

Pitcher Opponent Date Total strikeouts
Pitcher Opponent Date Total strikeouts
Danny McDevitt Reds May 20, 1959 8
Don Drysdale Cubs May 27, 1959 11
Sandy Koufax Giants August 31, 1959 18
Sandy Koufax^ Cubs September 6, 1959 10
Don Drysdale Phillies July 22, 1960 14
Sandy Koufax Cardinals May 29, 1961 13
Sandy Koufax at Cubs April 24, 1962 18
Sandy Koufax Phillies May 26, 1962 16
Sandy Koufax* Cubs September 9, 1965 14
Sandy Koufax at Cubs April 22, 1966 11
Don Sutton Cardinals July 11, 1973 12
Tommy John Pirates May 17, 1978 7
Fernando Valenzuela Phillies August 25, 1986 7
Kevin Brown Padres September 23, 2000 13
Clayton Kershaw Tigers June 20, 2011 11
Clayton Kershaw Mets May 12, 2016 13
Walker Buehler Rockies June 21, 2019 16
LA Dodgers starting pitchers (1958-2019) with 3 strikeouts in the 9th inning | ^Koufax pitched 10 innings | *perfect game Source: Baseball-Reference

Those 16 strikeouts by Buehler were the most by a Dodger since Hideo Nomo whiffed 17 on April 13, 1996. Buehler is the first Dodgers pitcher ever with 16 strikeouts and no walks. It was a special performance.

German Marquez was brilliant in his own right for Colorado, holding the Dodgers to just two runs over an ultra efficient eight innings, making Friday the first MLB game in 2019 in which both pitchers lasted at least eight innings. The result was the fourth-shortest nine-inning game of the season; after Matt Beaty delivered the walk-off home run in the ninth, the game checked in at a tidy two hours and 12 minutes.

Alex Verdugo followed with a walk-off home run the next night, giving the Dodgers their first extra-inning win of the season (in their third try). Friday and Saturday gave the Dodgers the first rookie teammates to hit walk-off home runs in back-to-back games in baseball history, per Elias Sports.

BUT IT DIDN’T STOP THERE.

Will Smith, who began his Sunday in Oklahoma City, made his morning flight from Triple-A back to Los Angeles, then ended Sunday’s contest with a pinch-hit, three-run shot to give the Dodgers three straight walk-off home runs, all by rookies. Before this weekend, no team ever did this twice in a row, but the Dodgers did it three times.

The end result of the 6-win week is the Dodgers owning the best record in baseball (54-25), tying 1974 for their best 79-game start since moving to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are three games ahead of the next-best MLB record (the 50-27 Twins), and they own the best run differential (+133) as well, 28 runs clear of the second place (again, Minnesota). In the National League West, the Dodgers are 13 games up on the Rockies, their largest divisional lead of the season. The Dodgers are 23-8 against the NL West this season, including 13-3 at home.

Dodgers batter of the week

What a rebound week for Chris Taylor, who began the week hitting just .223/.294/.391 on the season, and his batted ball data had him in the lower 5% of the league in average exit velocity, expected slugging percentage, and expected batting average. But Taylor was scalding last week, going 10-for-24 with three home runs (his pinch-hit homer on Sunday gave the Dodgers a seventh-inning lead, his second three-run shot of the week) and two doubles, driving in a whopping 11 runs. Taylor ended his week hitting .245/.315/.447, which is even more impressive after he started the week 0-for-4 on Monday. Taylor raised his OPS 91 points in just six days, going from a 77 wRC+ to a 99 wRC+.

It was an awesome week for the offense, and not just with the three straight walk-off home runs. The Dodgers scored over six runs per game. Beaty was 9-for-18 (.500), fellow rookie Kyle Garlick was 5-for-11 (.455) with two homers, Cody Bellinger had a 1.037 OPS (which counts as a slump this season), and Alex Verdugo checked in with a .925 OPS.

Dodgers pitcher of the week

Walker Buehler was dominant again on Friday against Colorado, whiffing 16 in his first complete game, allowing only a pair of solo home runs. The Arenado home run snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for Buehler, who has allowed only three runs in 31 innings in a sublime June, with 42 strikeouts against only one walk.

Honorable mention goes to Clayton Kershaw, who on Tuesday posted his first scoreless start of the season, shutting out the Giants for seven innings, allowing five batters to reach base while striking out six.

Week 13 results

6-1 record
44 runs scored (6.29 per game)
22 runs allowed (3.14 per game)
.780 pythagorean record

Season to date

54-25 record
415 runs scored (5.15 per game)
282 runs allowed (3.61 per game)
.670 pythagorean record (53-26)

Miscellany

Injuries mountain: Rich Hill left Wednesday’s start after just one inning, feeling tightness discomfort in his left forearm, a red flag of an injury if there ever was one. MRI results revealed a strained flexor tendon, which was good news in a sense with no damage to his UCL, but the 39-year-old southpaw will still miss significant time. Hill won’t be throwing at all for 3-4 weeks, which means for all intents and purposes there is no realistic timetable that has Hill pitching again for the Dodgers before August at the earliest.

Friends in low places: Hyun-jin Ryu allowed three runs on Saturday, the first time in 15 starts this season he allowed more than two runs in a game. That all three runs were the result of three different drops by the Dodgers defense meant that just one of those runs were earned. As a result, Ryu’s ERA on the season ballooned from 1.26 to ... well, just to 1.27. This far into the season, that ERA is historic, the lowest mark through 15 starts in 51 years.

Abbott and Jocstello: Partly to help solve some of the playing time crunch when A.J. Pollock returns from the injured list next month, Joc Pederson has been taking ground balls at first base. He got his first professional taste at the position on Thursday against San Francisco, playing a single inning at first in his 1,067th career game in the majors and minors combined. Naturally, the first play of the inning was a ground ball to him. Pederson got the surprise start at first base on Friday, switching spots with Matt Beaty after the day’s initial lineup had Pederson in left field and Beaty at first. Pederson’s roller coaster ride at first consisted of three weekend starts to end the week.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks
If the bear bit back, perhaps it was more than he could chew on this night
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One last hurrah: Madison Bumgarner had his worst career start against the Dodgers on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 3⅔ innings. It was the last time the Dodgers play the Giants before the July 31 trade deadline, making this possibly the last time the left-hander battled the Dodgers as a member of the rival Giants. His 35 starts against the Dodgers in the last 40 seasons is surpassed only by Mike Scott (37) and the longtime Braves trio of Tom Glavine (49), John Smoltz (36) and Greg Maddux (36). Bumgarner, who also appeared once in relief against Los Angeles, was 15-14 with a 2.72 ERA over 225⅓ innings, with 218 strikeouts and 47 walks.

I’ll miss you: If Bumgarner gets traded outside the NL West, Kiké Hernandez could be sad. The Dodgers utility man has feasted off Bumgarner in his career, going 25-for-50 (.500) with six doubles and four home runs, including 1-for-2 with a hit by pitch on Thursday. Hernandez in that game also stole second and third base against Bumgarner and scored the game’s first run, the first two steals of the season for Hernandez.

Half a hundo: The Dodgers, who were the first in MLB in 2019 to 20 wins (April 30), the first to 30 wins (by 36 minutes over the Astros, on May 17) and the first to 40 wins (June 1), were the first to 50 wins as well, reaching the mark on Wednesday against San Francisco. By reaching the mark in their 75th game, this was tied with 1977 for the second-fastest LA Dodgers team to 50 wins, behind only the 1974 team, who did so in their 74th game.

Smoothing out the Rockies: Dating back to last season, the Dodgers have beaten Colorado 11 straight times, including 6-0 in 2019, with sweeps in both Denver and Los Angeles. It’s the longest winning streak the Dodgers have ever had against the Rockies, surpassing a nine-gamer in 2003-04.

Welcome aboard: Josh Sborz got his second call up to the majors, and this time he actually got to pitch (he was recalled for six days in April, but not appear in any game). Sborz tossed a scoreless eighth inning on Thursday against the Giants, but then faced three batters in the ninth and all of them scored. Sborz is the fourth Dodger to make his major league debut in 2019, joining Matt Beaty (April 30), Kyle Garlick (May 19), and Will Smith (May 28). All were drafted in 2015-16.

Deep company: Kyle Garlick hit his first major league home run on Wednesday against the Giants, then added another the next night in the series finale. Four Dodgers have hit their first major league home runs in 2019 — Garlick, Matt Beaty, Will Smith, and Walker Buehler.

Clutch rookies: Two of those 2019 debuting Dodgers have walk-off home runs, with Matt Beaty’s shot on Friday joining Will Smith’s two (June 1 to beat Philadelphia, then again on Sunday). Five of the six Dodgers walk-off wins have been delivered by rookies, including an Alex Verdugo walk-off home run Saturday against Colorado along with Verdugo’s sacrifice fly to finish off the Mets on May 29. The four rookie walk-off home runs are the most by any team in one season in MLB history, per Elias.

Transactions

Thursday: Rich Hill was placed on the injured list one day after his early exit, and the Dodgers brought up two relievers in advance of their second bullpen game in as many days, with J.T. Chargois and Josh Sborz recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. The roster casualty for a day was Matt Beaty, who was optioned to OKC to give the Dodgers a 14-pitcher staff for one game.

Friday: One day after his major league debut, Sborz was placed on the injured list with lower back soreness, a rather convenient way to get Beaty back up on the active roster without having to spend 10 days in the minors on optional assignment. The move paid immediate dividends, with Beaty blasting the walk-off homer on Friday against Colorado.

Sunday: David Freese succumbed to a left hamstring strain and was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Friday. That paved the way for Will Smith to return to the majors. The catcher responded well to his earlier demotion, hitting .293/.375/.805 in 11 games, including home runs in six of his seven games immediately preceding his call up.

Game results

Stats

Week 13 batting

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP SH SF PA BA OBP SLG OPS BABIP Player
Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP SH SF PA BA OBP SLG OPS BABIP Player
Taylor 24 6 10 2 0 3 11 0 0 3 8 0 0 1 28 0.417 0.464 0.875 1.339 0.500 Taylor
Beaty 18 3 9 2 0 1 4 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 20 0.500 0.550 0.778 1.328 0.533 Beaty
Bellinger 24 7 7 3 0 2 3 0 0 3 5 0 0 0 27 0.292 0.370 0.667 1.037 0.294 Bellinger
Verdugo 31 5 10 3 0 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 32 0.323 0.313 0.613 0.925 0.286 Verdugo
Muncy 21 5 6 1 0 1 2 0 0 5 3 0 0 0 26 0.286 0.423 0.476 0.899 0.294 Muncy
Barnes 16 3 4 1 0 1 3 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 17 0.250 0.294 0.500 0.794 0.273 Barnes
Pederson 22 2 5 0 0 2 3 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 23 0.227 0.261 0.500 0.761 0.167 Pederson
Hernandez 20 4 4 2 0 1 4 2 0 1 4 2 0 0 23 0.200 0.304 0.450 0.754 0.200 Hernandez
Turner 25 2 7 3 0 0 2 0 0 1 7 0 0 0 26 0.280 0.308 0.400 0.708 0.389 Turner
Starters 201 37 62 17 0 13 35 2 0 17 37 2 0 2 222 0.308 0.365 0.587 0.952 0.320 Starters
Smith 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1.000 1.000 4.000 5.000 undef Smith
Garlick 11 3 5 0 0 2 4 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 12 0.455 0.500 1.000 1.500 0.750 Garlick
Freese 12 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 12 0.250 0.250 0.250 0.500 0.300 Freese
Martin 11 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 13 0.182 0.308 0.182 0.490 0.222 Martin
Bench 35 7 11 0 0 3 9 0 0 3 9 0 0 0 38 0.314 0.368 0.571 0.940 0.348 Bench
Pitchers 12 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 5 0 17 0.250 0.250 0.250 0.500 0.500 Pitchers
Offense 248 44 76 17 0 16 44 2 0 20 52 2 5 2 277 0.306 0.360 0.569 0.929 0.330 Offense

Week 13 pitching

Pitcher G GS W L Sv IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP ERA WHIP FIP Pitcher
Pitcher G GS W L Sv IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP ERA WHIP FIP Pitcher
Kershaw 1 1 1 0 7.0 3 0 0 0 2 0 6 0 0.00 0.714 2.34 Kershaw
Urias 1 1 0 0 3.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0.00 0.333 -0.13 Urias
Hill 1 1 0 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.000 -0.80 Hill
Ryu 1 1 0 0 6.0 6 3 1 0 1 0 5 0 1.50 1.167 2.03 Ryu
Buehler 1 1 1 0 9.0 3 2 2 2 0 0 16 0 2.00 0.333 2.53 Buehler
Maeda 2 2 0 1 12.0 10 4 4 1 4 0 10 0 3.00 1.167 3.62 Maeda
Starters 7 7 2 1 0 38.0 23 9 7 3 7 0 44 0 1.66 0.789 2.46 Starters
Kelly 3 1 0 4.0 3 0 0 0 2 0 5 0 0.00 1.250 2.20 Kelly
Floro 3 1 0 4.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0.00 0.000 0.70 Floro
Stripling 1 0 0 2.0 2 3 0 1 1 0 1 0 0.00 1.500 10.20 Stripling
Urias 1 0 0 1.0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 0.00 2.000 7.20 Urias
Garcia 3 0 0 3.3 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 2.70 0.300 5.90 Garcia
Baez 3 0 0 3.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 3 0 3.00 0.667 1.20 Baez
Jansen 3 1 0 1 3.0 3 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 3.00 1.333 2.87 Jansen
Chargois 1 1 0 2.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 5 0 4.50 1.000 -1.80 Chargois
Ferguson 3 0 0 3.7 3 2 2 2 1 0 7 1 4.91 1.091 8.11 Ferguson
Sborz 1 0 0 1.0 2 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 27.00 3.000 6.20 Sborz
Bullpen 22 0 4 0 1 27.0 18 13 9 4 8 0 31 1 3.00 0.963 3.83 Bullpen
Totals 29 7 6 1 1 65.0 41 22 16 7 15 0 75 1 2.22 0.862 3.03 Totals

Previous weeks in review: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12

The week ahead

The Dodgers run the Ryan Wheeler gauntlet, hitting the road to face the Diamondbacks and Rockies, their two closest pursuers within the division. The rotation after Monday is pure speculation, or at least an educated guess. Rich Hill’s spot would have been Tuesday, but the Dodgers haven’t yet announced his replacement. Additionally, Wednesday is also listed as TBD, which makes sense considering Walker Buehler is coming off his first career complete game and an extra day of rest would be prudent. It also likely takes Buehler out of play to pitch on the final Sunday before the All-Star break, which would make Buehler eligible to pitch in the midsummer classic, something his performance has merited to this point.

Week 14 schedule

Mon, Jun 24 Tue, Jun 25 Wed, Jun 26 Thu, Jun 27 Fri, Jun 28 Sat, Jun 29 Sun, Jun 30
Mon, Jun 24 Tue, Jun 25 Wed, Jun 26 Thu, Jun 27 Fri, Jun 28 Sat, Jun 29 Sun, Jun 30
at D-backs at D-backs at D-backs at Rockies at Rockies at Rockies at Rockies
6:40 p.m. 6:40 p.m. 12:40 p.m. 5:40 p.m. 5:40 p.m. 5:15 p.m. 12:10 p.m.
Kershaw v. TBD v. TBD v. Buehler v. Ryu v. Maeda v. Kershaw v.
Greinke Ray (L) Clarke Lambert Senzatela Gray TBD
SNLA SNLA SNLA SNLA/MLB SNLA Fox SNLA