The Dodgers played poorly for a second straight week, but the losses on the field — though plentiful, with five defeats in seven games — paled in comparison to further, potentially devastating hits on the injury front.
Dustin May is the headliner, leaving his Saturday start in Milwaukee in just the second inning, after feeling a “shooting sensation” down his right arm. But there’s also Brusdar Graterol’s forearm tightness, with which the Dodgers are taking a wait-and-see approach. May is undergoing an MRI exam Monday in Chicago, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if tests are run to see the extent of Graterol’s injury as well.
As it stands, the Dodgers currently have eight pitchers on the injured list, including six they were counting on this season. That includes Joe Kelly, who is still probably at least a week away, but last week also revealed the extent of his troubles. Kelly had significant shoulder surgery in November, and said of last season’s malady, “I couldn’t sleep at night and it felt like fire ants were eating my arm from the inside-out.”
The Dodgers deservedly-vaunted pitching depth has been tested far beyond even what they expected, or at the very least earlier than planned. The only three of 25 pitchers on the 40-man roster not currently on the active roster are Andre Jackson and Gerardo Carrillo, neither of whom have yet pitched in the majors, and Edwin Uceta.
Last week, Uceta made his major league debut, pitching the first two innings of a planned bullpen game on Friday. Saturday’s bullpen game was unplanned, thanks to May’s injury, and lasted 11 innings. Alex Vesia made his Dodgers debut in an extremely high-leverage situation, and blew two leads in two innings thanks to four walks before he was mercifully removed.
On Sunday, when the Dodgers added journeyman left-hander Mike Kickham — who was a non-roster invitee in spring camp — the first words Dave Roberts said when asked about his new pitcher spilled out immediately: “He’s a strike thrower.”
You could feel the need in his voice.
But even with the attrition on the pitching staff — 17 different pitchers were used in seven games last week — they were very effective as a group, with a 3.25 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than three.
It didn’t matter, thanks to an offense that went mostly quiet for the majority of the week, dropping five of seven games. The weekly totals were buoyed by two explosions — a six-run eighth inning to blow open a close game on Wednesday against the Reds at home, and a 16-run outburst led by grand slams from AJ Pollock and Matt Beaty on Sunday in Milwaukee. Both games salvaged the lone win in otherwise dreadful series.
The Dodgers went from a team that only lost one series dating back to August 2019, to one that hasn’t won a series in each of their last two weeks. At the very least, that should quiet any talk of a pursuit of the MLB wins record, and ought to remind us just how long a baseball season really is.
May, who was coming into his own this season, is a huge loss, no matter how long he’s out. But the saving grace in the short term is three upcoming off days that means the Dodgers won’t need to fill his spot in the rotation for roughly two more weeks. Tony Gonsolin probably won’t be ready the first time that spot comes up, but should be soon after, if all goes well.
Until then, that acclaimed depth will get even more tests.
Batter of the week
With all due respect to AJ Pollock, who homered twice and drove in eight runs on Sunday — the most RBI by a Dodger in a game in the last five seasons — Matt Beaty takes the cake this week with. monster Sunday of his own to cap off a busy week, and perhaps a blueprint for a reset. Beaty drove in seven runs of his own on Sunday, part of a four-hit day that included a home run.
At the beginning of the year, Beaty played sparingly and was optioned to the alternate training site after starting just 1-for-11 with a pair of walks. After spending a week at Camelback Ranch, Beaty has done nothing but hit and get on base since returning, going 9-for-17 with four walks, hitting .529/.652/.706 in eight games, earning five starts.
While Beaty’s time came at the alternate site, the minor league seasons beginning this week offer another chance for a struggling player to get regular at-bats should the Dodgers so choose. Like say Edwin Ríos, for instance, who is hitless in his last 28 at-bats, with 11 strikeouts, and has started just once in the Dodgers’ last nine games.
Honorable mention here also goes to Chris Taylor, who posted a .483 on-base percentage and scored 10 runs, including five times on Sunday, the most runs scored by a Dodger since Shawn Green scored six on May 23, 2002, also in Milwaukee. On the season, Taylor is third in the majors with 24 runs scored, two off the lead.
Pitcher of the week
Cincinnati ended the week tops in the majors in runs scored (5.59 per game) and fifth in wRC+ (110) for the season. Clayton Kershaw held the Reds scoreless for seven innings, striking out eight in his third scoreless start in his last four outings.
The starting pitching continues to carry the Dodgers. Kershaw’s outing was followed by eight innings from Trevor Bauer, clearing the path for a planned bullpen game, and easing the burden for the unplanned bullpen game the next day. Julio Urías provided the salve on Sunday, going seven innings for the third time in his career, all coming this season.
Honorable mention here goes to Jimmy Nelson, who seems to have found some footing after early wildness, and to Dennis Santana, who was the first Dodger to pitch on three straight days this season.
Week 5 results
39 runs scored (5.57 per game)
26 runs allowed (3.71 per game)
.677 pythagorean win percentage
Year to date
148 runs scored (5.10 per game)
103 runs allowed (3.55 per game)
.660 pythagorean win percentage (19-10)
Welcome aboard: Edwin Uceta made his major league debut on Friday, taking the loss by allowing two runs in his two innings. Uceta is the third Dodger to make his big league debut in 2021, along with outfielders Luke Raley (April 9) and DJ Peters (April 23). We’ve talked a lot about the Dodgers’ 2016 draft, which so far has produced 12 major leaguers. But Uceta was also signed as an amateur that year, on July 2 out of the Dominican Republic to start the international signing period.
Ain’t life grand?: AJ Pollock hit a grand slam in the first inning on Sunday, then Matt Beaty followed with another in the second. It was a welcome burst of offense from a team that had only scored seven runs in 29 innings in the first three games in Milwaukee. It also marked the fourth time the Dodgers had two players hit a grand slam in the same game, all on the road. The last such game was on May 21, 2000 in Miami, when Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green tormented the Marlins. In the first two-slam game, back in 1901, Brooklyn scored 25 runs, and one of the grand slams was hit by Joe Kelley. This one was a first baseman, and hit two homers in the game.
Be**inger’s back, the offense is saved!: The Dodgers bullpen wasn’t the only one taxed heading into Sunday. The Brewers used three key relievers twice in the first three games and used closer Josh Hader three times, part of a stretch of four games in five days for the left-hander. And starter Corbin Burnes — he of the 49 strikeouts and no walks this season — was originally slated to start Sunday but instead was placed on the injured list before the series. Milwaukee turned to rookie Alec Bettinger, who not only only had to make his major league debut on Sunday but also was left in to take one for the team after the game got out of hand. Bettinger allowed both grand slams and in his four innings, and was just the third pitcher in the last 99 seasons to allow 11 runs in his major league debut. The last was Arnie Muñoz of the White Sox in 2004.
Monday: Gavin Lux returned from the injured list after missing nine games with wrist soreness. David Price was placed on the IL with a Grade 2 right hamstring strain, and is expected to miss at least two weeks. The Dodgers also activated Dennis Santana after two days on the COVID-19-related injured list and recalled pitcher Mitch White, and optioned Garrett Cleavinger and DJ Peters.
Tuesday: Victor Gonzalez and Mitch White were placed on the COVID-19-related injured list after getting vaccination shots, with Cleavinger and Peters recalled.
Wednesday: Gonzalez was activated, and Peters was optioned.
Thursday: White was activated, and Luke Raley was optioned, giving the Dodgers 14 pitchers.
Thursday: Brusdar Graterol was placed on the injured list with forearm tightness, the extent of which might not be known until the team gets to Chicago. The plan for the weekend in Milwaukee was for Graterol to rest, and to reevaluate him after. Edwin Uceta was recalled one day before starting Friday’s bullpen game.
Saturday: Uceta was optioned after his spot start, and Alex Vesia was recalled.
Sunday: Dustin May was placed on the 10-day injured list, and Mike Kickham was called up. To make room for the left-hander Kickham on the 40-man roster, Corey Knebel was transferred to the 60-day IL.
- Monday: Reds 5, Dodgers 3 (10 innings)
- Tuesday: Reds 6, Dodgers 5
- Wednesday: Dodgers 8, Reds 0
- Thursday: Brewers 2, Dodgers 1
- Friday: Brewers 3, Dodgers 1
- Saturday: Brewers 6, Dodgers 5 (11 innings)
- Sunday: Dodgers 16, Brewers 4
Week 5 batting
Week 5 pitching
The Dodgers finished last week 2-5, and six(teen) to four, and now head to Chicago. They run the Thad Bosley gauntlet, finishing up the road trip against the Cubs and Angels, facing another load of right-handed starting pitchers. Monday’s game could be in jeopardy, with an over 60-percent chance of rain during game time in Chicago.
The weekend rotation is guess, but depends on when the Dodgers want to next give an extra day of rest to Urías.
Week 6 schedule
|Mon, May 3||Tue, May 4||Wed, May 5||Thu, May 6||Fri, May 7||Sat, May 8||Sun, May 9|
|Mon, May 3||Tue, May 4||Wed, May 5||Thu, May 6||Fri, May 7||Sat, May 8||Sun, May 9|
|at Cubs||at Cubs||at Cubs||Off||at Angels||at Angels||at Angels|
|4:40 p.m.||4:40 p.m.||4:40 p.m.||6:38 p.m.||6:07 p.m.||1:07 p.m.|
|Buehler v.||Kershaw v.||Bauer v.||Urías v.||Buehler v.||Kershaw v.|