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The State (of the) Pen

The State (of the) Pen

It was another quality start for our new Ace, but he looked mortal at times in giving up 2 earned runs.  Still, he pitched good enough to win or at least kept us in the game.   The defense made some excellent plays and then also let him down.  This is a game we should have won, except for the fact that them pen gave it all back.  James McDonald has looked very uncomfortable lately and I have to say it is the direct result of how Joe Torre has used him (or not used him).  When James had problems early in the season, the Dodgers sent him back to AAA for extra work, but to also bolster his confidence.  It took a while, but when he was recalled he was pitching very well, and then Torre just let him sit.  It was several days before he pitched and he has been used sparingly.   I think because of his inactivity he is (1) not comfortable, (2) thinks Torre has no confidence in him, and (3) is trying too hard to impress as a result.LA-BALl_GLOBE_Shoes

Again, James’ psyche is toast and he might as well go down again.  Joe doesn’t have a a clue how to use James McDonald.  Kuo struck out two in his outing of one inning at Inland Empire last night and should get the call-up Sunday.  James McDonald needs to go back to AAA and while the Dodgers are at it, send DeWitt back again and recall Elbert who was pitching very well out of the pen.   Lindblom has also been pitching out of the pen at AAA and could help us right now.  I have advocated getting Sherrill for our pen, but the reality is that Kuo, Elbert and Lindblom could be assets to our pen NOW.  Additionally, Belisario and Wade should be back shortly.  We may have all the arms we need.  Lindblom has been pitching out of the pen lately (maybe the plan is to call him up soon) and in the last year has had stops at Low A, High A, AA, and AAA.  I have always felt he would be a great reliever.

It’s not a time to panic, as our bullpen ERA is #1 in baseball, but since our starters are near the bottom in number of innings per game, our pen is highly important.  We need more arms… and we probably have them.  I think Doc Halladay is ultimately going to cost us too much, so Jared Washburn is probably a good choice.  He has been pitching very well of late.  He has lowered his ERA to 2.76 and would probably cost us something like McDonald and DeWitt.

Kuroda needs to get it together today.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

26 Responses to “The State (of the) Pen”

  1. Roger says:

    Well, well, well, the boys got spanked last night.

    I saw some of the game so I cannot speak for all details.

    In the end, the Dodgers had a total of 6 hits and 1 walk, that is a total of 7 runners.

    The Fish and 14 hits (8 more than the Dodgers) and 5 walks, for a total of 19 runners.

    That is a spanking. Or, a Fish Fry if you will.

    A good measure of just what the Dodgers have, is when they face a hop of the line pitcher and a solid team now — because most games (this year) are being played like post season games.

    Last night, the Dodgers could not come through. Blake, Manny, and Loney all had great opportunities to move the game along and drive in some runs, but fell short.

    Hudson’s catch was great. That guy does that kind of thing every game. Can you see Kent going back on that one!

    Best get ‘em tonight.

  2. lawdog says:

    You can’t win them all. What’s that did I say?

    What I like about this team that’s truly unique is that I actually expect them to win every game they play and it doesn’t feel unrealistic until Ruth tells me to stop whining and to act like an adult and not a moronic child after a loss actually “happens”.

  3. Voldomer says:

    Ya win five, ya lose one. I’m happy if they keep that pattern going. ;-)

  4. SpokaneBob says:

    A Spanking….. Give me a break. As Lawdog pointed out, we can’t win them all. Every team will lose a third of their games and it just wasn’t our night. But I agree with the idea that this team makes me believe that we could win every night, inspite of reality.


    I would like to know your perseption of Kershaws performance last night. Your insights on our pitchers are generally right on and It seemed to me that Kershaw used his off speed stuff more effectively than I have ever seen, especially his change up.. It also seemed that in key situations, he was able to bear down when he had to. Its like we are seeing him develop as a pitcher right before our eyes.

  5. Mark Timmons says:


    On a National Media Level they are calling Clayton “The Dodgers Emerging Ace!”

    The last 3 starts, he is using more changeups than ever. He gave up 9 hits last night, but most were of the “bloop” variety.

  6. SpokaneBob says:

    Ya Mark, He is evolving and it will be fun to watch. He and Bills could develop into a latter day Koufax/Drysales type 1 – 2 punch. That also seves us well in a short post season series.

    I’d like to see Bills and Kuroda get back on track. If the guys you mentioned bolster the pen as we hope, we could have a better second half than the first. If we maintain this rate we would win 103 games, not to shabby for a team that stands to continue to mature and improve.

    I think its time to drop Casey back to 8th.

  7. Ken says:

    Never will the Dodgers see another Koufax/Drysdale combination. A Johnson/Fake Blood Sock comparison is valid and hopefully attainable.

    McDonald – “Am I a long reliever, a short reliever, a bench warmer, a dog house attendent, or what?”

    Dog Days – Blake bat 7th and rest 2 days a week – Mohawk that means Platoon with a left handed bat.

    20 games in 20 days means guaranteed abuse and missue of the players by Moron.

  8. lawdog says:


    I was very impressed with Kershaw’s performance last night. He ran out of gas a little at the end, but that happened to Koufax as well. I can remember a lot of Koufax shutouts through 7 innings that ended up 2-1 or 3-2 in the end. I’m not saying Kershaw is Koufax. He doesn’t throw hard enough to qualify for that rank.

    But his curve was as good as anybody’s last night. And he could put it in the proverbial dixie cup when he needed too. Last night was also the first time I saw him effectively mix in his change up, which looks a lot like a sharp breaking slider–only it either drops and breaks the other way or goes straight down like a screwball. Vin even called it a slider last night but Clayton doesn’t throw one of those and it would break the other way if he did.

    His fastball though 92-95 most of the night seem to go right to the catcher’s mitt. In other words, he had command of both his fastball and his curve. His curve was better last night than I’ve ever seen it. Always 77-81 mph. And his fastball had great late movement and the catcher wouldn’t have to move his glove an inch to catch it most of the time.

    But if he keeps throwing that change up the way he threw it last night, particularly in the early innings before I got drowsy and started missing some of his pitches (old age is a real bitch!), he will be unhittable until he loses command. When he’s on, he usually keeps his command until he closes in on 90 pitches. A year or two and it will be 120 pitches. That change up drops at least 24 inches like a good snapping slider and either stays straight down or breaks about 6 inches the opposite direction of his curve. He can already make his fastball rise, sink or move laterally like a curve while dropping a little (cutter). The change comes in at 84-86 with more sink the slower the speed. When he starts throwing them all at will at any point in the count and gets them all over for a strike he will be pitching perfect games and no hitters like no before (except maybe Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax).

    Did I tell you I’m high on his prospects for the future??? ;-)

  9. DRomo says:

    McDonald kind of got a tough break last night. The single up the middle last night he could have had but he let it go so Furcal could get it. Furcal was out of position, who knows why. I am dissapointed in Furcal this year and wonder if we could upgrade at that position..but I digress. The pop-up O-dog tried for Ethier might have been able to catch had he not been looking out for O-dog and his glass body. So it wasn’t like they were crushing the kid he got some tough breaks, give him a couple more shots at it. But like Mark said consistency is the key.

  10. DRomo says:

    I talked to a former GM yesterday. One who once traded away a pitcher who became great for a 2nd baseman who ended up being a bust. He says NO WAY do you trade Billingsley or Kershaw. NO WAY! “These two together are going to be very special”

    I have know changed my opinion. I still think we will have a tougher time winning without Halladay but I am willing to roll the dice with another pitcher.

  11. Mark Timmons says:

    Kershaw and Billingsley won’t pitch like Koufax and Drysdale for all of the following reasons (none of which are relateed to talent):

    1. The mound is about a foot shorter; and
    2. Koufax and Drysdale pitched in the “dead-ball” era, when storoids weren’t avaialble in gum-ball machines.

    Kershaw can hit 98 when he has to, but when he takes a little off to 93-95, his ball has a lot of explosive late movement.

    At age 21, Kershaw has more wins, less losses, a better ERA, a better WHIP, more innings pitched, fewer hits and more strikeouts than Koufax did before he was 22. Everything he does the rest of the year surpasses Koufax even more.

    So, if you want to compare the 26-30 year old Koufax to the 21 year-old Kershaw, then Sandy beats him hands-down. But if you compare apples-to-apples and look at their records before age 22, Kershaw is clearly the better pitcher!

  12. DRomo says:

    I wonder how Kershaw will do on a bigger stage. That is the wildcard! Some guys can’t handle it, Kershaw has never been there before.

    I want both these young guys to go deeper in games, that is the key here. Our bullpen is over taxed because our pitchers are done after 6 innings most nights.

  13. SpokaneBob says:

    I have stated before that I believe there will NEVER be another pitcher as good as Sandy. I loved Drysdale and Iam glad he is in the Hall of Fame, but he was never on the level Sandy achieved. He was a very good pitcher, great stuff and very aggressive. First time I saw him pitch, he beat the Cubs 8-3 in 1958 at the Coloseum. He also hit a home run that day that bounced off the top rail of the left field screen.

    Mark, your right about the mound height, but forgot to mention that if Big D pitched today he could not be the headhunter he was back in the fifties and sixties. Back then you had better not dig in aginst him or he would put you on your butt.

    Now Bills has the stuff and I think he could be as good as Drysdale under todays rules. And while Clayton will never be Sandy, he can be still team with Bills to give us a tremendous combo. I would accept the Johnson – Schilling comparison.

    To Marks point, It would be interesting to hear how Vinny would compare Sandy circa 1956 to Clayton today. The big difference would be that Alston would not pitch Sandy and so Clayton is developing to his potential at a much younger age. If he stays healthy, over time he could put up some fantastic numbers.

  14. lawdog says:

    Kershaw’s a better pitcher than Koufax???? Did I read that right? I’ve never heard such a silly thought expressed as a hard fact before!

    We are comparing apples and oranges. Kershaw might become as good as Koufax–maybe better some day–some folks rthink Gibson and Ryan were better. But I doubt it. Kershaw will never be able to throw the ball over 100 mph to spots for 9 innings while dropping that curve right on the corner at the knee on the black for nine innings.

    If he really masters the change it might make up for the lack of velocity on the heater. But what difference does it make? Kurveshaw and Bills is the closest duo to Koufax and Drysdale the world will probably ever see. But as much as they have similarities, they are different pitchers with different stuff. Question is, would you trade Kurveshaw now for Koufax in his prime? That’s your answwer. Hell no you wouldn’t. Only a fool would.

    But I’ll bet people will one day talk about Bills and Kurves the way we used to talk about Sandy and Don. They are future elite level pitchers.

    But don’t tell me Kurveshaw is better right now than Sandy in his prime if you want to have any credibility.

  15. Ken says:






  16. Roger says:

    Bob, you heard it right from me, the Dodgers got a spanking last night. We have pulled games out like that last night, but no way last night. The Fish had the Dodgers number.

    Here is my deal on Sandy. He and Bob Gibson, are just about the top two who could “throw their glove out on the field and win.”

    The only if’s were: when they pitched against each other. I beleive they had some 1 to 0 games. I think in one, Sandy drove in the winning run, late in the game.

  17. Roger says:

    With the tough schedule coming up, I think Ned knows he probably should make a trade or two for pitching –

    Because if he stands pat, and the roof starts to fall in with 1) starters 2) relievers — and the trade deadline passes — it will then be tought to stop the fall.

  18. Mark Timmons says:


    Maybe you are a lot older than me, but I never saw Koufax pitch until 1962, but I have read all the books and info about that. I would not say that it’s a FACT that Alston was jealous of Koufax’s bonus baby status. It’s a chicken or the egg issue. I have heard that Alston held him back, but I have also heard that Koufax was so wild that Alson was afraid to use him. Don Zimmer says that. Koufax’s friend Dick Tracewski, says that Young Sandy was a “hard-thrower and a hard-head.” That may explain his uneasy realationship with Alston. I suppose Alston is a lot like Torre in that he likes to play vets and not kids.

    He once asked Buzzie Bavasi to trade him by saying “I want to pitch and I’m not getting a chance here.” Bavasi said “How can you pitch when you can’t get anyone out?” To which Sandy replied: “How can I get anyone out when I’m sitting around in the dugout?”

    I am going to be meeting with Carl Erskine shortly and I shall add that to my list of questions. Carl is friends with Sandy, but he will tell me the truth. I still stand by what I said, because it is absolutely true:

    At age 21, Kershaw has more wins, less losses, a better ERA, a better WHIP, more innings pitched, fewer hits and more strikeouts than Koufax did before he was 22. Everything he does the rest of the year surpasses Koufax even more.

    So, if you want to compare the 26-30 year old Koufax to the 21 year-old Kershaw, then Sandy beats him hands-down. But if you compare apples-to-apples and look at their records before age 22, Kershaw is clearly the better pitcher!

    Maybe Koufax would have been better had Alston allowed him to pitch, but he didn’t, and all I can do is look at the numbers!

    Now, Koufax evolved into one of the greatest ever. The question is – can Clayton continue to evolve? Time will tell, but he doesn’t have the benefit of a higher mound, so I don’t think we can really expect him to be all that Sandy was. They are very similar and yet very different!

  19. Mark Timmons says:


    I did not say that “overall” Kershaw was better than Koufax, I said that before age 22, Kershaw has more wins, less losses, a better ERA, a better WHIP, more innings pitched, fewer hits and more strikeouts than Koufax. Sandy went on to be one of the greatest ever, so I am only comparing them age 22 and under.

  20. Roger says:

    Mark, maybe you are on to something that we tend to overlook.

    The higher, lower mound thing.

    I have felt that since the mound has been lowered, there seems to have been more shoulder / arm problems with pitchers. Maybe pitching on a lower mound, the same basic way pitchers use to pitch on a higher mound is a problem for some arms.

    Mike Marshall might know the answer.

    I know that in the olden-days, some pitchers just kept on pitching with hurting arms.

    But all of these surgeries over the past 30 years, many at a young age — the mound might be part of the problem — causing injuries.

    Let us make a call for a higher mound.

  21. Mark Timmons says:


    The higher mound would take away some offense and “chicks dig the long ball.”

    I have no clue what effect it has on pitchers arm problems.

    I do know that Koufax pitched for several years with arm pain so severe that he couldn’t raise his arm the next day.

  22. Roger says:

    Mark, on age. There have been a number to hot-shot young pitchers come up at an early age (in the majors) — just to fall off the cart and never really develop.

    Some could not develop the pitches they needed. Some hurt their arms. Etc.

    Example: Karl Spooner.

    Spooner was considered by many in Major League Baseball to be the next superstar after his stellar rookie year of 1954. Although he only started two games on the mound for the Dodgers, Spooner, compiled two complete game shutouts, throwing all 18 innings, giving up 7 total hits and no runs. Spooner struck out the very first six batters he faced that year, and 15 in his very first game, both marks setting a Major League record. Pete Richert would tie the former record in 1962, and J. R. Richard the latter, in 1971.

    However, during Spring Training prior to the 1955 season, Spooner entered a game without warming up properly. A severe arm injury was the result, and Spooner would only appear in 29 more games in his career. Prior to the injury, Spooner yielded a fastball that ranged in the mid to high 90s.

    The mound had nothing to do with it; just improper training.

    I remember that a few years later, he was a window washer in Miami (I believe was the city). he died in 1984. Oh, he was left-handed.

    I still have his rookie card and it is as important to me as Tommy’s

    One more thing, I heard both of those games on the radio in 1954, I was 13 then.

  23. Ken says:

    As the deadline nears, they’ll be climbing over one other for the likes of the Baltimore Orioles’ George Sherrill(notes), Oakland Athletics’ Michael Wuertz(notes), Toronto Blue Jays’ Scott Downs(notes), Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chad Qualls(notes), Pittsburgh Pirates’ Matt Capps(notes) and John Grabow(notes), Cincinnati Reds’ David Weathers(notes) and Arthur Rhodes(notes) and Washington Nationals’ Joe Beimel(notes).

    They’re all trying to find seventh- and eighth-inning pitchers, particularly the Dodgers, whose bullpen is severely overworked because the starters don’t work long and Joe Torre can be hard on the relief arms.

  24. Ken says:

    On May 15, the restriction on sending Koufax down to the minors was lifted. Alston gave him a chance to justify his place on the major league roster by giving him the next day’s start. Facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Koufax struck out 13 while pitching his first complete game in almost two years. For the first time in his career, he was in the starting rotation, but only for two weeks. Despite winning three of his next five with a 2.90 ERA, Koufax didn’t get another start for 45 days. In that start, he struck out 11 in seven innings, but got a no-decision.

    If Kershaw was treated like crap his stats would be worse than Mark Hendrickson’s

  25. Mark Timmons says:


    Regarding that 45-day period, The Sporting News reported that Koufax had a “lame arm” and “muscle soreness” for which the doctors prescribed rest.

    There’s no question Alston didn’t trust him at that time. Pee Wee Reese confronted Alston about it. He said that Alston didn’t seem towant to pitch Sandy “but I told Alston he’s got to give the guy a shot with an arm like that even if he throws the ball over the damn backstop. I don’t care just as long as I don’t have to hit against him.”

    It is said that Koufax wanted to quit every day, and nearly did a few times. Again, the chicken or the egg? Koufax was a hard-headed kid who wouldn’t listen. Sometimes that ego is what it takes to be great and I wonder if the fact that Kershaw is so coachable and such a good kid could work against him. Maybe he needs to join a gang and get some tats…

    just kidding! ;)

  26. lawdog says:

    I saw Koufax pitch several times at both the col. and Dodger Stadium as a kid. The difference wasn’t subtle. Before he took the “grunt’ out of his fastball he looked like Ankiel trying to get the ball at the knees only to send his catcher running for a pitch that went 6 feet over his head to the backstop. We always saw Koufax pitch unless the tickets were bought way in advance and it wasn’t possible to accurately calculate whether Sandy would be on the hill or not because my father liked Koufax from the Brooklyn days. He said Koufax was like a heavy army canon that looked like he was trying to shoot planes out of the sky or kill worms when he was really just trying to throw strikes. Didn’t see him even try to throw his curve much more than to “show it” because it usually went 55 feet and snapped into the ground.

    I asked my Dad why we always came to see the “Jewish Bazooka” since he never seemed to win and usually walked about 10 batters and he said that he never saw such pure raw talent. One day, he said, his going to get that fastball over on the corners and throw that “drop” (that’s what he called a curve) for a strike and he’ll be as good as, no better than Bob Feller ever was. Back in the late 50s it was generally conceded that Feller (a two pitch pitcher with a 100 mph fastball and a 12-6 curve like Sandy’s) had been the best in the business.


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