19 June 2007

One and Twenty, Unrelenty

by Joshua Worley

As everyone who follows the team likely knows, the Dodgers are 1-20 in their last 21 games in AL parks. To this unrelenting fact, I say: So what?

Record by year in AL parks:

2005: 0-9
2006: 1-8
2007: 0-3

About half of this awful 1-20 mark comes from the 2005 Dodgers. That's two years ago, which in the case of the Dodgers is a very very long time ago, almost an entire roster ago. That 2005 team has almost nothing to do with this year's team. Here's some rather scary proof in the form of a list of Dodger starters with games started in the nine 2005 losses:

Kent - 8
Saenz - 8
Werth - 8
Phillips - 8
Perez - 8
Choi - 8
Edwards - 7
Drew - 6
Grabowski - 6
Izturis - 5
Repko - 3
Ross - 3
Rose - 2
Robles - 1

Half the names in this list fill me with a sort of horrified despair, a protest that surely there wasn't a time when I honestly hoped that a team playing Jason Grabowski and Mike Edwards regularly would ever win anything. Only Kent and Saenz remain on the 2007 Dodgers from this despressing list of starters.

The starting pitchers from the 2005 losses show slightly more overlap:

Weaver - 3
Penny - 2
Lowe - 2
Houlton - 1
Dessens - 1

The whipping boy of this group, Weaver, is gone. Penny and Lowe weren't having the kind of years in 2005 they're having in 2007. I'm thinking their success this year is a much better indicator of how they'll do in Toronto and Tampa than a few starts in different AL parks back in 2005.

The 2006 Dodger lineup that went 1-8 was about 2/3 consistent with this year's, with a few players such as Lofton, Cruz and Izturis moving on. The starting pitchers of the 2006 team were a varied lot:

Billingsley - 2
Tomko - 1
Hendrickson - 1
Seo - 1
Sele - 1
Lowe - 1
Perez - 1
Penny - 1

Five of the 9 starts are by pitchers who are gone or no longer in the starting rotation. Penny picked up the lone win of the 9 last year. Billingsley seems likely to pitch sometime in the upcoming 6 games, and he did have two losses in AL parks last year. But Billingsley has come a long way in a year, judging by his much improved K/BB ratio from this year to last.

I'm not going to do another Blue Jays preview since I just did one a few weeks ago, and I won't have anything new to say about them. The Dodgers get to see the same three pitchers as last series. McGowan, Halladay, and Marcum. They're all good, but none of them are unhittable, and all are capable of mixing in a bad game as well. The Dodgers will counter with Penny, Kuo, and a third starter to be announced. I'm not sure why Lowe isn't starting in Toronto; maybe it has something to do with the turf in Toronto vs the turf in Tampa. Whenever Lowe does start, the Dodgers will also need to slide someone new into the rotation and I have to believe that will be Billingsley, since Tomko and Hendrickson have already earned their demotions.

I guess the one argument that the Dodgers are doomed in the next six games that makes a small amount of sense concerns the artificial turf they will have to play on. It's not something you ever see anymore in the National League, which is a reversal from the 80's when I started watching baseball. Back then 5 of 12 NL teams had it, so the Dodgers would play about a fifth of their games on turf and they could get used to it. Now the only time the Dodgers ever see it is in the occasional AL park visit, so it's alien to them. I suppose the turf could give Tampa Bay and Toronto some small fielding advantages in the series. We'll see.

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