There is a simple joy in watching a pitcher get an actual hit. It feels like maybe your team is getting away with something (and alternatively when they’re striking out, it looks like torture to put them through it). Like AJ Pollock in Game 2, I laughed when he got intentionally walked and Julio Urías was brought to the plate. Uh, the scouting report must have missed how Urías has been at the plate, I thought. Urías’s hit in that inning started off the parade of hits which would result in a 9-2 win for the Dodgers.
Mookie Betts on Julio Urias driving in #Dodgers first run of NLDS: "Obviously, it's huge. It's just like -- this might be a bad analogy. But it's kind of like Steph Curry just needs to see one go in. We just needed to see one cross the plate."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 10, 2021
It’s something I’ve been thinking about all season, as Dodgers pitchers seem really bad at the plate. Perhaps part of that is that Kershaw has been out for a large chunk of the season now — and he’s mentioned multiple times his goal to get a Silver Slugger (I think perhaps the only award in baseball he doesn’t have yet?). Perhaps not a single Dodgers pitcher worked on their hitting with last year’s shortened season and the rule change to allow for a designated hitter in the National League in 2020. Perhaps none of them worked on hitting this year either as it seemed like there was a chance the DH rule would remain in place for the 2021 season. Or, more likely, it’s that Dodgers pitchers just aren’t expected to contribute here because of specialization silo-ing, avoiding injury, and skill (ya know, it’s hard to hit off a major-league pitcher).
So how are the Dodgers starting pitchers hitting this year? Probably not as bad as I was giving them credit for, but certainly not great. And arguably they’re not hitting at a game-changing rate. There are far more strikeouts than sacrifice bunts for starters. At this point, with 2022 looking like the season that pitchers hitting goes away for good, this is likely the last time we’re even thinking about it.
For what it’s worth, despite how not-bad Urías has been at the plate, he’s still not in contention for the Silver Slugger this year — most likely behind Germán Márquez of the Rockies and Max Fried of the Braves. Zack Grienke was the last Dodger to win the Silver Slugger for pitchers back in 2013. Before that? Orel Hershiser twenty years prior in 1993.
- From J.P. Hoornstra at the OC Register: NLDS: Lineup depth is looking like Dodgers’ key to success
- Thomas Carannante thinks the Dodgers will sign Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard in the offseason
- The Dodgers Foundation is a champion just like the team on field, writes Timothy Parker at Spectrum News1