Dodgers Report: Chris Withrow

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 9, Mets 4

May, 20, 2014
May 20
8:29
PM PT


NEW YORK -- It shouldn't be this hard for this team to stay above .500.

The underachieving Los Angeles Dodgers made it back to two games over break-even with Tuesday night's 9-4 win over the New York Mets. But to do it, the Dodgers had to hold on after nearly blowing a five-run lead, with relievers J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow and Brian Wilson all getting big outs with the tying run either on base or at the plate.

Eventually, thanks to a three-run ninth inning, the Dodgers could breathe a little easier. They ended up with 15 hits, the most they'd had in a game since May 3. Even with the five-run lead restored, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used closer Kenley Jansen, who made his first appearance in eight days.

How it happened: The Dodgers took over the game (or so it seemed) with four fifth-inning runs off Mets rookie Rafael Montero, who was making just his second big-league start. Adrian Gonzalez's two-run home run was the big hit in the inning, with Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe driving in the other two runs with back-to-back singles. Josh Beckett was good for the first five innings and not so good in the sixth, but Howell came out of the bullpen to bail him out.

Beckett, who went 20 months between wins, has now won two straight starts. This one wasn't as good as the last one (or the start before that), as Beckett gave up home runs to Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda in the sixth.

Beckett then walked Wilmer Flores to bring the tying run to the plate, prompting Mattingly to bring Howell into the game. Howell got out of the sixth with no more damage, but got in trouble himself in the seventh. Then came Withrow, who loaded the bases with one out but got Duda to pop up and Flores to ground out.

Hits: Gonzalez, who had five hits in the last two games of the Arizona series last weekend, hit his second home run in as many games. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 11 home runs, fourth in the National League. He also had a long double to center field in the third inning. Crawford had two hits and reached base three times. Uribe also had two hits but had to leave the game because of an injury sustained while running out his ninth-inning double.

Misses: The Dodgers continue to be shockingly bad with the bases loaded. Yasiel Puig struck out to leave the bases full in the second inning, and Scott Van Slyke flied out to leave them full in the eighth. The Dodgers' team bases-loaded average, already worst in the majors, dropped to .091 (3-for-33).

Stat of the game: The win kept the Dodgers over .500, after they had fallen to only one game over break-even for the third time this month. As uninspiring as their season has been so far, they have yet to fall to .500.

Puig play of the day: Puig doesn't mind showing off his arm, but his teammates seemed more amused than impressed by his throw in the third inning Tuesday. The reason? The inning was already over. Puig caught David Wright's fly ball, but apparently didn't realize it was the third out.

Up next: Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-2, 3.00) comes off the disabled list Wednesday and will make his first start since April 27 when he faces the Mets in a 4:10 p.m. PT game at Citi Field. Rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom (0-1, 1.29) starts for the Mets.

On the maddening issue of bullpen walks

May, 19, 2014
May 19
11:21
AM PT
As the Los Angeles Dodgers' search for clues and fixes for why a team with the highest payroll in baseball and, now, a clean bill of health looks so adrift, they have seized on one issue that bugs them like no other.

Why are their relievers walking so many batters? The trend to add base runners and fuel big innings has hammered relentlessly at one raw nerve for three men in particular: manager Don Mattingly, general manager Ned Colletti and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

“There’s no way to defense a walk,” Colletti said. “Guy puts it in play, you’ve got a chance to catch it. You can’t defense a walk and we’ve walked far too many guys.”

Dodgers relievers have been consistently generous with ball four. They have walked 83 batters in the Dodgers’ 45 games. The next-closest team in the National League, the New York Mets -- who the Dodgers happen to play in their next three games -- has walked 67.
Walks seem to be the primary reason the most expensive bullpen in Dodgers history has a 4.38 ERA, 25th in the majors.

On an individual level, the numbers are even more unkempt. Brian Wilson walked four batters in 18 games last season. He has walked 13 batters in 17 games this season. Closer Kenley Jansen is on pace to walk more than twice as many batters as he did last season. Chris Perez is averaging 4.6 walks per nine innings. He averaged 3.5 last year.

Chris Withrow has generally worked around his wildness, but he’s been the biggest offender of all: 18 walks in 19 appearances.

Opponents are only hitting .247 against Dodgers relievers, but their on-base percentage is .349.

Honeycutt brought it up in a recent pitchers meeting and one would hope the pitchers listened. Honeycutt was one of the more effective relievers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He averaged 2.9 walks per nine innings, a better rate than for any reliever the Dodgers have aside from Brandon League.

“Probably my biggest pet peeve is walks,” Honeycutt said.

Some walks are better than others. A "good" walk in Honeycutt's mind comes when a pitcher purposely nibbles at the edges of the strike zone against a dangerous hitter to get to a hitter who offers a more favorable matchup and, perhaps, to set up a force out at second base. One of the worst kinds of walks is the one that leads off the inning. It seems like the Dodgers are seeing that kind nearly every night from at least one of their relievers, often several.

“The percentage of walks has been addressed,” Honeycutt said. “It’s been addressed in terms of focus, preparation and concentration. It’s too high for this group.”

One of the reasons it has been so galling is that it has been so unexpected. Teams with young, hard-throwing relievers often have to accept their share of command issues, but the Dodgers stocked their bullpen with experienced relievers on guaranteed contracts in part so they could avoid worrying about erratic results. With the exception of Jansen and Withrow, none of the Dodgers relievers is younger than 28 and none throws harder than 95 mph.

Colletti said he still holds out hope that this group can get its command together collectively, but he also issued a bit of a warning. Just because pitchers are on guaranteed contracts doesn’t mean he won’t look to make changes if the struggles continue. The Dodgers have some options in the minor leagues, including Yimi Garcia (1.74 ERA, 0.96 WHIP), who is pitching well, and Paco Rodriguez and Jose Dominguez, who have pitched in the major leagues.

Colletti said he also would consider trading for a reliever before -- or after -- July 31, even if it meant swallowing the remaining salary of one of his current pitchers. Aside from Withrow and Jansen, none of the Dodgers relievers can be demoted to the minor leagues due to their contracts, leading to some calcification of the roster.

“Everything is worth a discussion if we think we can make our club better,” Colletti said.

It’s simplistic to blame the relievers alone for this mess. The Dodgers believe their fielding issues -- they have the fifth-worst fielding percentage in the majors -- have caused their pitchers to throw 15 to 20 extra pitches a game. That has led to an untenable workload for the relievers. The Dodgers have needed 154 innings from their relievers, tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for most in the majors.

In some cases, no doubt, relievers have had to work with sore arms or other aches and pains that can contribute to command issues.

“The only way it gets under control is to get our starters back in the mix,” Honeycutt said.

The return of Clayton Kershaw two weeks ago and the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu Wednesday should, the Dodgers hope, help the cause. Last year, Dodgers starters threw 979 innings, a tad low given that they led the majors in ERA, but still good for eighth in baseball.

It figures to be a collective fix, but it certainly has been a collective mess.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 6, Rockies 3

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
10:06
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Paul Maholm has been hit-and-miss for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, but he was a hit Saturday night as they beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 at Dodger Stadium.

Maholm pitched seven innings and allowed two runs.

It came on the heels of his Monday start against the Philadelphia Phillies, during which he gave up five runs, four earned, in five innings. During his start before that, on April 16 at the San Francisco Giants, he pitched six innings and gave up a run.

Maholm’s days as a starter could be numbered as ace Clayton Kershaw nears a return to the rotation, but there may be at least one more start to be made next week in Miami if Kershaw is not activated.

Maholm has also made three relief appearances this season, allowing one run over 2⅓ innings.

How it happened: Maholm got all the support he required for the win in the third inning when Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp had an RBI in three consecutive at-bats. Kemp’s came on a solo home run, his fourth of the season. Reliever Chris Withrow secured the lead by striking out Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Hits: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly won the franchise’s first challenge in the third inning, when he asked for a review of a safe call at first base after it appeared Maholm picked off Brandon Barnes. The review took 46 seconds.

Misses: Ramirez was removed from the game before the fourth inning after bruising his right thumb while grounding out in the third. X-rays were negative, and the team said it has nothing to do with Ramirez’s thumb injury from a season ago.

Stat of the game: Gonzalez has homered in three consecutive games, and his latest, a solo shot in the fifth, was his 1,500th career hit.

Up next: The Dodgers finish the series against Colorado on Sunday afternoon, sending Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.12 ERA) to the mound. Ryu has given up two runs in his past three starts (20 innings). He will face Jorge De La Rosa (1-3, 6.38 ERA).

Picking right playoff roster is puzzle

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
9:03
PM PT
SAN FRANCISCO -- Between now and the middle of next week, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be pondering the unkindest cut of all.

Jerry Hairston Jr. is a 12-year veteran who has won a World Series ring and competed in two postseasons. He has been part of the fabric of the Dodgers' clubhouse for the past two seasons. He's a gregarious, popular player who has, at times, helped bring along some of the team's young players.

[+] EnlargeJerry Hairston
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsJerry Hairston Jr. is an important veteran presence in the Dodgers' clubhouse, but will that be enough for him to make the postseason roster?
But can the Dodgers afford to carry an aging, injury-prone utility player who, while playing sparingly, has batted .215 this season and .152 since Aug. 1?

"To be honest with you, I don't think about it," Hairston said. "The good thing about it is I don't make those decisions."

It's not as though the Dodgers don't know what their core is. They have four everyday options to play the outfield and, assuming Andre Ethier is healthy enough, they'll all be in the mix for heavy playing time in the playoffs. They have their five everyday infielders, including the catcher. They'll bring four starting pitchers with them and they haven't decided if they'll keep a fifth should they require a long man or emergency replacement.

They figure to bring seven relievers. Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker have played significant roles and look like locks. Tim Federowicz is the No. 2 catcher, so he's on.

Michael Young has batted .385 since the Dodgers acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 31 and, since they got him in part because of his postseason experience, he seems like a safe bet.

But what about Dee Gordon, whose speed makes him a tempting weapon, but whose lack of polish in other areas could make him an iffy proposition? Or, Scott Van Slyke, who can provide power off the bench, but is also somewhat uni-dimensional?

Between Edinson Volquez, Carlos Marmol and Chris Capuano -- all veteran pitchers -- one, at most, figures to make the cut. What about Brandon League, who has pitched poorly all season but is signed for two more years at $7.5 million per season?

(Read full post)

Chris Withrow returns after birth of son

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
5:37
PM PT
SAN DIEGO -- Chris Withrow rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday after leaving the team to be with his wife, Jaclyn, who gave birth to their first child, Walker Reid, on Wednesday night.

Withrow missed three games, including the Dodgers' division-clinching game Thursday in Arizona, to be with his family in Odessa, Texas.

"It's such a blessing," Withrow said. "I'm glad to be back here. It's tough leaving, but it's good to come back here and see all the guys."

Walker Reid Withrow was born at 6:57 p.m. on Wednesday night. He weighed seven pounds, seven ounces and was 21 inches long.

"Mom and baby are doing great," Withrow said. "Mom's exhausted, but she's doing great. She's doing exactly what she needs to do to take care of him. He's about as content as them come when he gets fed, but he gets hungry pretty quick."

Withrow watched the division-clinching game and postgame celebration on his phone in his wife's hospital room. He is hoping he'll get to experience a couple of more postgame celebrations before the season is over.

"I was watching the celebration on my phone and it's something about having a baby with you and your wife, I felt like I was celebrating two different things at once," Withrow said. "That made it a lot better. I was in the hospital watching while the baby was resting. It was pretty cool. Hopefully that was just the first of four celebrations and I'll have plenty more to come."

Here are the lineups for tonight's game against the San Diego Padres:

Dodgers

1. Yasiel Puig RF
2. Carl Crawford LF
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Juan Uribe 3B
6. Mark Ellis 2B
7. A.J. Ellis C
8. Nick Punto SS
9. Clayton Kershaw P

Padres

1. Chris Denorfia CF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Jedd Gyorko 2B
4. Jesus Guzman LF
5. Tommy Medica 1B
6. Kyle Blanks RF
7. Nick Hundley C
8. Ronny Cedeno SS
9. Burch Smith P

Youngsters get Dodgers closer to clinching

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
11:20
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- September can make for some weird moments, when players who have scarcely been heard from jump up and affect a season at a critical moment. Who knows, maybe they'll even affect a postseason game at a critical moment.

The Los Angeles Dodgers got a little dose of that Tuesday night, when Scott Van Slyke hammered a walk-off home run to give them a 5-3 11th-inning win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. It trimmed their magic number for clinching the National League West to just six games, meaning they could be celebrating a division title as early as Saturday.

[+] EnlargeDee Gordon
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsDee Gordon's speed could make him a valuable asset for the Dodgers in the postseason, but there are several younger players who could have an impact.
As nice as Van Slyke's shot was, two other young players who shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the major leagues all summer could prove useful in a few weeks.

Shortstop Dee Gordon, who has had virtually no impact on this Dodgers season, could give them a dangerous pinch runner for the late innings of close games. Reliever Chris Withrow and his 98 mph fastball might come in handy, too.

Manager Don Mattingly still refuses to talk much about postseason roster possibilities until the Dodgers clinch, but he said both Gordon and Van Slyke will get long looks for a bench spot.

"One guy hits a home run, another steals a base," Mattingly said. "We'll kind of deal with those questions and throw them around upstairs and downstairs if we can get there."

Gordon could give the Dodgers another Dave Roberts nine years after Roberts stole that key base to spark the Boston Red Sox's World Series run. Gordon pinch ran for Adrian Gonzalez in the 10th inning Tuesday night, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

He stayed stuck there when Juan Uribe struck out on a 3-and-2 pitch from Josh Collmenter, but you could see how Gordon's presence on the bases distracted the Arizona reliever. The last thing a pitcher needs in a pressure-packed playoff setting is somebody that fast in his peripheral vision.

(Read full post)

Dodgers suffer first series loss since June

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
8:24
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Throughout the Los Angeles Dodgers' three-game series against the Boston Red Sox, players have been asked if they felt there was a playoff atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. If they felt this series could be a preview of things to come two months from now.

Over the past three days they've smiled at the questions, nodded their heads, and said there was something different about this interleague series and the atmosphere in the stadium.

The Dodgers, however, can only hope the results of the series aren't any indication of their playoff prospects after an 8-1 loss on Sunday night. The defeat was not only the Dodgers' second consecutive loss to the Red Sox, it gave them their first back-to-back losses at home since June 10. It was also the Dodgers' first series loss since June 16 when they dropped two of three on the road to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before Sunday, they had been unbeaten in their previous 18 series.

As was the case Saturday, Boston jumped out to an early lead and the Dodgers simply could not put any runs on the board outside of an Adrian Gonzalez at-bat.

Mike Napoli started things off in the first inning with a ground-rule double to deep right center that scored Shane Victorino. Boston added two more runs in the third and fourth innings when Dustin Pedroia hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Jacoby Ellsbury, and Xander Bogaerts doubled to center to score Will Middlebrooks. The Red Sox piled on runs in the sixth and seventh innings when Jared Saltalamacchia hit a two-run blast and Victorino homered to left. And after starting things off in the first inning, Napoli put the finishing touches on the game with a two-run homer in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers' lone bright spot was Gonzalez, who hit a solo shot to center field in the fourth inning, but the Dodgers simply couldn't muster anything else against Jake Peavey, who pitched a complete game, giving up only three hits and one run.

As good as the Dodgers' pitching staff has been this summer, Chris Capuano has been viewed as the weak link of the rotation, and he did nothing to dispel that notion Sunday, pitching five innings and giving up five hits and three runs, all earned. The normally reliable bullpen wasn't much better as Chris Withrow came in and gave up two home runs in two innings of work. Brandon League then gave up the two-run shot in the ninth inning as most of the Dodgers fans were already making their way to their cars.

Of course, come playoff time, the Dodgers will lean on Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco, who posted a 2-0 win over Boston on Friday. The Red Sox were able to avoid facing Kershaw and Greinke in this series. That won't be the case if these two teams do end up meeting in an actual playoff series in October.

Grading the week

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
9:53
AM PT
The funny thing about Wednesday’s thrilling comeback -- in which Andre Ethier tied it in the ninth with a pinch-hit, two-run home run and Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez won it in the 12th with a couple of doubles -- is how far-from-extraordinary it felt.

You can tell that the Dodgers now expect to win every game, no matter how improbable the circumstances. When the stadium is nearly full that late in a game, you know the fans have caught on.

And beating Matt Harvey and Cliff Lee in one week qualifies as improbable all by itself.

But there was a twist this week. The Dodgers stayed hot, winning five of the six games they played, but they didn’t gain any ground. The Arizona Diamondbacks showed some signs of trying to make this thing a race after all.

GradeSCORING

Hanley Ramirez was just easing his way back into competition after missing more than a week with a jammed shoulder, Puig (.200, .472 OPS) had a rough week and Gonzalez and Carl Crawford had one extra-base between them.

So, what happens? Which unlikely hero will emerge to somehow take up the slack. The names change, but the story seems to stay the same.

This time, it was Juan Uribe, who batted .500 and had a 1.352 OPS for the week. Ethier, of course, did more than his share just with that strange home run (pinch-hit home runs are rare and he never goes to the opposite field).

Oh yeah, and Nick Punto, had some nice moments early, though his playing time figures to shrink dramatically with Ramirez back and manager Don Mattingly likely to ride his everyday players for most of the pennant race.

Grade: B-

GradeDEFENSE

The heart of this team became apparent in the past week if it wasn’t before. It’s about pitching, particularly the Dodgers’ top three starters and their suddenly dominant bullpen. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched 22 innings between them and allowed just 11 hits and one run.

At times, the Dodgers are surviving -- rather than thriving with -- the back of the rotation, with Chris Capuano a bit wobbly -- but Ricky Nolasco has generally held his own.

The dominance of the Dodgers’ big three has eased the load on the bullpen, which is a key development, but when the relievers pitch, they continue to get the job done. L.A. relievers pitched 16 innings and only allowed one run.

Even reclamation project Carlos Marmol (two scoreless innings) and youngster Chris Withrow (ditto) have chipped in, which could make the activation of veteran Brian Wilson a somewhat difficult roster move.

Grade: A

GradeDECISION-MAKING

Earlier this season, there seemed to be at least a tiny bit of friction pitting manager Don Mattingly and Hanley Ramirez on one side and the team’s medical staff on the other. In Pittsburgh, Mattingly put his foot down and decided Ramirez was just going to play every day though the trainers recommended he spot him a day off here and there. After all, the shortstop had been begging to get back on the field for a few days.

The Dodgers’ lineup flows better when Ramirez is batting cleanup and Puig is in the No. 2 hole, with rare left-right balance that can make it challenging to manage against the Dodgers.

It was otherwise a quiet week for Mattingly, who -- when everyone’s healthy -- can just sit back and watch the engine purr. There will be some challenges in the next couple of weeks with Wilson coming back and Matt Kemp not too far behind.

At long last, we may get to see how the Dodgers manage the four-outfielder conundrum.

Grade: A-

GradeCHEMISTRY QUIZ

We’ve decided to retire the “Grit-Meter.” It just doesn’t seem as relevant now that the Dodgers’ talent has fully blossomed. They’ll need to summon it when they get tested -- and it’s hard to believe they won’t between now and the playoffs -- but right now it doesn’t seem like a central theme.

If you ask most players about teams that function well, they’ll tell you they have fun together in the clubhouse. When it’s quiet and uptight before games, it seems to carry over into the games.

The Dodgers are having fun, with Uribe and Punto, for some reason, the most frequent target of pranks and punch lines.

Brandon Belt was right, of course. You can’t buy team chemistry. But if you wait long enough, sometimes it falls in your lap free of charge.

Grade: A-

GradeSTATE OF CONTENTION

At this point, any week that goes by without the Dodgers losing ground is a huge gain. It’s the Diamondbacks who need to force the action, but that’s hard to do when the team ahead of you loses only one game.

The troubling part for Arizona is that 10 of the Dodgers’ next 13 games are against the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. Arizona has to get through four games with the better-than-solid Cincinnati Reds this week before they hit divisional play.

Of course, there are other races for lesser prizes. The Dodgers trail the Atlanta Braves by 3 1/2 games for home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Atlanta’s not showing any signs of giving it up, but if the Dodgers keep playing like this, they might just track them down anyway.

Grade: A-

Why adding a reliever still makes sense

July, 23, 2013
7/23/13
10:25
AM PT
The Los Angeles Dodgers are, at long last, where they expected to be all along. They got to the summit when Arizona lost late Monday, helping them complete an arduous 98-game climb. Until Monday, they had not been alone in first place all season.

Whether you think it took far too long to get there or that their .808 pace for the past month-plus has been an inspirational comeback -- or both -- they still haven’t accomplished anything. They still haven’t broken their four-year playoff drought or lived up to the expectations of a record payroll.

And, no doubt, general manager Ned Colletti still doesn’t think they’re the finished product, if a team is ever a finished product. So, he’ll be working to add the finishing touches before the July 31 trade deadline.

But where should his efforts take him?

Names are dropping off the board at a fairly brisk pace, considering there is still more than a week to go before the deadline. The Dodgers got things started when Colletti traded three fringe pitching prospects for Miami Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco. The other big name commonly bandied about on the pitching market, Matt Garza, was traded to Texas. According to reports, Alfonso Soriano is close to going back to the Bronx.

Unlike most teams hovering around .500, the Dodgers have few discernible holes. For one thing, you can practically scratch them off as potential suitors for any position players. Yeah, they could always look to upgrade at third base, but Juan Uribe has done a serviceable job there. They don’t need any bench players. Their outfield is overstocked, but not overstocked enough -- given Matt Kemp’s health -- to part with Andre Ethier just yet.

Could they use a starting pitcher? Probably, but it hardly seems like a pressing concern. Nolasco makes their four-deep among the best (and most expensive) in baseball. Chris Capuano has been erratic, but if the Dodgers acquire a No. 5 starter, is he going to be so much better than Capuano (or Stephen Fife) over those last 12 starts or so, that he’d decide whether the Dodgers make the playoffs?

Seems unlikely. And, if the Dodgers do reach the postseason, the fifth starter usually shifts into a long relief role anyway, if he makes the roster at all.

What’s that leave?

Even relief pitching seems like less of a concern than it did two weeks ago. With Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez settling into middle-inning roles, Kenley Jansen thriving as the closer and Ronald Belisario stabilizing, the Dodgers’ bullpen has, in fact, been a major strength since early July. Who knows, maybe Brandon League will get his mechanical issues ironed out and begin to chip in, too.

But, despite all that, it certainly looks like Colletti would like to add another veteran. It's kind of his thing. Since he arrived, Colletti has landed Elmer Dessens, Scott Proctor, George Sherrill, Octavio Dotel, Randy Choate and League in mid-season trades.

The latest reports suggest Colletti’s scouts have been heavily studying the Milwaukee Brewers, with the supposition being that they’re interested in closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Seems to add up. Rodriguez has 304 career saves, pitched in a World Series when he was 20 years old and still has good enough stuff, with an average fastball of 91.1 mph according to Fangraphs. Plus, he hasn’t been a closer for most of the past few years, so he likely wouldn’t balk at a subordinate role.

He has baggage stemming from arrests for attempted assault and domestic violence in the past few years, and he rankled many of his Angels teammates with what some viewed as a me-first attitude.

He’s also a free agent in November, so the Brewers probably won’t demand premium prospects and, given their place in the standings and the loss of Ryan Braun for the year, they’re probably more than motivated to move him.

Carlos Marmol hasn’t been particularly impressive trying to work his way back at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He has nearly as many home runs and walks allowed (three) as strikeouts (four).

It seems unlikely the Dodgers would go after one of the other ex-closers available via trade, Kevin Gregg. After all, they could have had Gregg for the price of a roster spot in April and passed, so would they really part with young talent to land him now, after a few good months?

Rodriguez looks like a fairly probable candidate for the Dodgers’ bullpen, but there are probably a half-dozen other names the Dodgers have had discussions about. If they add one more arm, great. If not, it’s nothing to get worked up about. If the past month is any indication, they could have one of the more complete teams out there.

Grading the week

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
11:08
AM PT
It has been precisely one month since the fateful day, June 22, when everything changed.

The Dodgers’ magic carpet ride continued with a road sweep in Washington coming out of the All-Star break that gave them 20 wins in their last 25 games and carried them to the threshold of first place.

There’s really not much you can nitpick when a team beats Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in three straight on the road. The Dodgers got ace-like starting pitching, perfect relief and, on Sunday, an attacking, deep lineup.

In the Dodgers’ happiest imaginings over the spring and winter, this is the team they envisioned.

GradeSCORING

It was as if Matt Kemp had all this pent-up energy as he waited to join the feast and he dug in wholeheartedly, with three hits, including a home run and a double Sunday. Just his luck, he also injured his ankle and could be lost for at least a few days.

But the Dodgers certainly look capable of giving it a healthy go without the man who was their best player going into April and might one day be again.

In fact, the Dodgers now are perfectly capable of withstanding the loss of Kemp and Yasiel Puig, the Cuban sensation who has come simmering back down to earth in a nasty slump.

Hanley Ramirez, who hit .486 with two home runs in the series, just can’t be stopped right now. It’s more than him, though. Mark Ellis is warming up, Carl Crawford looks like he’s snapping out of his funk.

This is a dangerous team and it could be more dangerous if Kemp can manage to stay on the field and Puig isn’t in some lasting tailspin.

Grade: A-

Grade DEFENSE

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke did what they’ve been doing lately, pitching the Dodgers into position to win, but the bullpen, collectively, had the most impressive showing. Dodgers relievers, much-maligned for three months, didn’t allow a run over the weekend and have had a blistering July.

Oh, and Kershaw also pitched a scoreless inning in the National League’s All-Star game loss.

General manager Ned Colletti continues to search other teams’ rosters for a veteran reliever before the July 31 trade deadline and Carlos Marmol continues trying to work his way back, but if Brandon League can get his issues ironed out, the Dodgers are showing signs they could have all the arms they need. Young hard throwers Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez have solidified things considerably.

And, until Ramirez’s fifth-inning error Sunday, the Dodgers -- typically sloppy in the field -- managed to catch and throw the ball without incident.

Grade: A-

GradeDECISION-MAKING

Who knows, the Dodgers’ best decision this season might have been inactivity. Just when it seemed the public pressure would be too much to bear, team president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti withstood it and declined to fire manager Don Mattingly.

Mattingly still has his detractors. It's just that fewer people are listening to them now that the Dodgers have made up nine games in the standings in 30 days.

Mattingly had a fairly quiet series, which is as it should be. He benched Puig for Sunday’s game, which seemed reasonable given his cold streak and the fact Kemp again gave him four healthy everyday outfield options. Now that Kemp is out for a while, the Dodgers hope Puig can make an adjustment or two and tap back into his power.

Then, maybe Mattingly will have another riddle to solve. So far, the four-outfielder dilemma has been a mirage because they've rarely all been healthy at once.

Grade: B+

GradeGRIT-METER

One thing that can make a team intimidating to opponents is a bullpen filled with high-velocity guys. Teams know that, if they don’t get to the starter, they’re going to have nothing but uncomfortable at-bats as they try to rally.

With Withrow and Dominguez added to the mix, the Dodgers have five relievers who can either work in or touch 95 mph. That’s grit.

Grade: B+

Grade STATE OF CONTENTION

With the probable exception of the San Diego Padres, anybody really could win the NL West. The Dodgers’ move has simply tightened things up even further, with the San Francisco Giants in fourth place, but just 5 games out of first place.

What the Dodgers have going for them, of course, is momentum. As long as that lasts, it looks like it would be foolish to bet against them reaching the postseason. They’ve also made the wild-card standings relevant again now that they sit just one spot out of a spot, 4 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, who come to L.A. next week.

Grade: B+

Dodgers recall Withrow, designate Guerrier

June, 30, 2013
6/30/13
12:43
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled right-handed pitcher Chris Withrow from Triple-A Albuquerque and designated right-handed pitcher Matt Guerrier for assignment, the team announced Sunday.

Withrow, 24, appeared in three games for the Dodgers in his first stint in the majors, posting a 5.40 ERA with two walks and three strikeouts before being optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on June 20. The 24-year-old pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief in two appearances for the Isotopes since being optioned.

“We feel like we’re getting better,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said when asked about the move. “I feel like we’re getting better with bringing Chris up. Matt’s a veteran guy and a good guy in the clubhouse but we just weren’t getting results. Now we’re getting a little bit young, a little bit more of a power arm and also a little bit of an unknown. We’re just getting better and more athletic.”

Guerrier, 34, posted a 2-3 record with a 4.80 ERA in 34 games for the Dodgers this season, and in three seasons with the club, the right-hander was 6-8 with one save and a 4.24 ERA in 120 appearances.

The 34-year-old was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract. It's unlikely that he will be claimed on waivers with $1.8 million remaining on his deal. Guerrier was notified of the move after he arrived at the clubhouse Sunday morning and stormed out without speaking to reporters.

“He left a lot of balls up in the zone,” Mattingly said. “He didn’t seem to be able to locate and get the ball to where he wanted to on the plate. When you’re not a power guy you have to be able to locate and be able to change speed. He just didn’t locate as well as when he first came over.”

Brandon League is out as closer

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
5:15
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Monday night, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly watched his closer, Brandon League, blow his fourth save in 17 chances, frittering away a two-run lead against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks and squandering a strong performance by Clayton Kershaw.

Tuesday, he made a change. Mattingly said Kenley Jansen will assume the closer's duties and League will be shifted back to eighth-inning duties, his role most of his career.

"We've been trying to stabilize the back of the bullpen from the very beginning," Mattingly said. "It's an unsettling feeling late in games. We haven't given ourselves that many opportunities to win those games, so when you do and then you can't close it, it hurts the whole team."

League has a 6.00 ERA and 1.458 WHIP. Jansen has a 2.53 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. League has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.86. Jansen's is 7.33.

Mattingly had been using Jansen to attack the other team's best hitters, but that doesn't work if the seventh- and ninth-inning relievers can't hold the line. The chore of ending tight games successfully has been short-circuited because League and Ronald Belisario are struggling in tandem.

Monday, Jansen retired Willie Bloomquist, Paul Goldschmidt and Cody Ross, but League imploded starting with the bottom of Arizona's lineup.

"I don't know that it works better this way," Mattingly admitted. "I wish I could say we've got the sixth through ninth covered, you get there and it's over. But a lot of teams have bullpen problems."

The Dodgers also brought up some potential reinforcements from Triple-A Albuquerque: outfielder Alex Castellanos and right-handed reliever Chris Withrow. They put Scott Van Slyke, who was dealing with left shoulder bursitis from some awkward outfield dives, on the 15-day disabled list and optioned shortstop Justin Sellers back to Triple-A.

Withrow, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2007 and was 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 22 appearances this season. He throws a mid-90s fastball. Castellanos, 26, was batting .270 with nine home runs, eight steals and 28 RBIs.

Here are lineups for Tuesday night's game:

Arizona
1. Gerardo Parra CF
2. Willie Bloomquist 2B
3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
4. Miguel Montero C
5. Cody Ross RF
6. Jason Kubel LF
7. Martin Prado 3B
8. Didi Gregorius SS
9. Ian Kennedy RHP

Dodgers
1. Skip Schumaker LF
2. Nick Punto 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Yasiel Puig RF
5. Andre Ethier CF
6. Juan Uribe 3B
7. Tim Federowicz C
8. Luis Cruz SS
9. Zack Greinke RHP

Dodgers make first cuts

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
10:28
AM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers made their first cuts of spring training on Thursday, sending nine players to the minor league side, none of whom had a realistic shot of making the opening-day roster when camp began.

Those players on the 40-man roster who were optioned to the minors were right-handers Chris Withrow, Stephen Fife and Josh Wall; lefty Michael Antonini; utility man Alex Castellanos; and outfielders Scott Van Slyke and Alfredo Silverio.

Two other players, right-hander Shane Lindsay and infielder Russell Mitchell, were reassigned to minor league camp.

Cactus League: Dodgers 3, A's 3

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
4:39
PM PT
Aaron Harang made his Cactus League debut for the Dodgers, struggling through a first inning in which he gave up two runs on four consecutive two-out hits but then coming back with a perfect second. He then threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen, just to get some extra work in. ...


Jake Roth/US Presswire
Aaron Harang gave up two runs on four consecutive two-out hits in the first but rallied with a perfect second.


Cory Sullivan, a non-roster invitee signed this winter as a minor league free agent to add outfield depth, became the first Dodgers player this spring to play an entire game, going 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Sullivan, 32, has spent parts of six seasons in the majors, including 57 games last year with the Astros. He'll be a solid insurance policy at Triple-A, but the Dodgers appear set in the outfield for now, where they have more guys than they know what to do with.

Chris Withrow, the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2007 who was added to the 40-man roster last winter and is in his first big league camp, gave up a run on one hit over two innings while struggling with his control. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, then later hit a batter and threw a wild pitch that allowed Brandon Allen to reach after striking out. We'll see him at least once more, probably twice, before he is sent to the minor league side to build up his innings.

The Dodgers (1-1-1) will play the A's again Thursday, this time at Camelback Ranch, with Chris Capuano making his first Cactus League start.

Dodgers get out their crystal ball

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
9:33
AM PT
Somewhat lost amid all the things we can expect to see when the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Oakland A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in a few hours -- Aaron Harang making his Dodgers debut, back-end bullpen mates Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra making their first Cactus League appearances this spring and Manny Ramirez wearing a green-and-gold jersey -- is the fact that we also will get a look at Chris Withrow.

We have seen him before, actually. He came over from minor league camp a couple of times last year and was very impressive, both with his results and with the stuff the fireballing right-hander was throwing. But now, the Dodgers' first-round pick from the 2007 draft is on the 40-man roster and in big league camp, and he has an outside chance of being in the majors sometime this year.

What makes it an outside chance, as opposed to one of those knocking-at-the-door, going-to-get-here-anyday-now chances, is the fact that Withrow is strictly projected as a starter, and there is at least one other starter who figures to begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, Nathan Eovaldi, who is ahead of him on the depth chart right now.

This morning, I asked manager Don Mattingly whether Withrow would be considered for a callup if an opening came up in the bullpen sometime during the season, because with injuries and whatnot, openings always come up in the bullpen, usually with some degree of regularity.

Mattingly seemed to say, in so many words, no.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.296 16 69 92
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239