Home runs were paramount in Friday’s Dodgers 6-6 tie the Brewers, plus a few tests of how exactly we perceive spring training.
The Dodgers got home runs from both Max Muncy and J.D. Martinez, the second of the spring for each player. Muncy also doubled. Both are veterans with experience in preparing for games that count, so the home runs weren’t too meaningful, perhaps serving as proof of life for a pair of players coming off relatively down seasons.
Go ahead, @maxmuncy9! pic.twitter.com/yqbW5aaZXz— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) March 24, 2023
JD is ready for the regular season. pic.twitter.com/cUqmQpyZzp— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) March 24, 2023
With their two long balls on Friday, the Dodgers have hit 27 home runs in 27 spring games, putting them in the bottom third among major league teams this spring. I’m not sure how meaningful that is since, again, this is only spring training. But there are also mitigating circumstances, like six regulars missing roughly two weeks while at the World Baseball Classic, or Miguel Vargas not being allowed to swing for the first third of Cactus League play.
Seventeen of the Dodgers’ 27 home runs have been hit by the 13 position players who are set to make the opening day roster. Let’s bump that to 19 to include home tune by Trayce Thompson and Will Smith in Pool C of the WBC.
The Dodgers have finished in the top four in home runs hit among National League teams in each of the past six years. They’ve also led the league in runs scored for five years running. A step back is inevitable at some point, likely this year. But the question is how much?
On the mound
Julio Urías made his final tuneup before his start that counts next Thursday, the first opening day start of his career. Friday against the Brewers followed a pattern of his last three outings, including the WBC.
Milwaukee had traffic on the bases all day against Urías, but he limited the damage to just one run through four innings. But like in his previous two starts, the big inning got him. He allowed back-to-back solo shots in the fifth inning, giving him five home runs allowed in his last three outings.
Though both home runs Friday were solo shots, two in the WBC were two-run homers, one each by Colombia and Puerto Rico. Solo home runs were the norm last year, and for a while, nearly the only way to score off him down the stretch. Over his final nine starts in the regular season, Urías allowed 10 runs in total. Two runs were unearned, the other eight came on solo home runs.
Maybe more worrisome, or at least worth keeping an eye on, were the three walks by Urías, who entered Friday with only one walk in 19⅓ innings this spring, including Cactus League play and the World Baseball Classic.
No Dodgers starter has pitched into the sixth inning this spring. Urías allowed four runs in five innings Friday, matching the length of his start against Colombia on March 11, though given the intensity of the WBC matchup, perhaps some extra credit is due.
Was this a WBC hangover? Will that last into the season? Am I making too much about a game that doesn’t count?
Urías will be pitching on five days rest on opening day, something he did in 18 of his 31 starts last year. That included his first outing of the season, in which he allowed six runs in two innings. He finished the season atop the league in ERA.
Saturday is getaway day at Camelback Ranch, with the team returning en masse to southern California after — and some well before — one last game in Arizona. The Dodgers play the Royals with an earlier start time (12:05 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Dustin May starting for Los Angeles against old friend Zack Greinke.