Dee Gordon Is Never Boring

Dee Gordon may be a lot of things, but boring will never be one of them. When he was recalled last week, I noted that he’d electrify us all with his game-changing speed and highlight-reel plays in the field, but that he was extremely raw and with those assets would come miscues, particularly on defense. That’s exactly what happened last night; as Jon Weisman at DodgerThoughts and Tony Jackson at ESPNLA describe more fully, Gordon was speeding around the bases for a triple, beating a perfect throw home on a sacrifice fly, effortlessly making outstanding defensive plays… and booting a relatively simple grounder to start the 7th inning, an inning in which the Reds scored four to put the game away. That came after a play in the second inning in which Gordon mistimed his approach to the bag on a sure double play ball, and only got one out; with the runner safe on second, the Reds ended up getting their first run of the game later in the inning. This loss isn’t just on Gordon, as the bullpen faltered, Aaron Miles also made an error, and the collective offensive output of Gordon’s teammates was five singles. Still, if we’re going to appreciate his energy, we’re going to have to accept these mistakes as they come.

Getting back to the relief corps, as if the Dodgers needed more bullpen concerns (particularly with the news that Vicente Padilla requires neck surgery and is likely lost for the season), Matt Guerrier has been struggling terribly of late. It’s no secret that I disliked the three-year deal he was given (multiyear deals to non-elite middle relievers almost never work out), but I accepted that he’d be a decent addition to the pen, and over the first two months he was relatively reliable as the group around him changed almost daily. But over his last four games, Guerrier’s been quite ineffective each time out:

Rk Date Opp IP H R ER BB SO HR BF 3B
30 Jun 7 PHI 0.2 0 1 1 1 0 0 3 0
31 Jun 8 PHI 1.0 1 1 1 0 1 0 5 1
32 Jun 11 COL 1.0 3 2 2 0 1 0 6 0
33 Jun 13 CIN 0.2 1 2 2 2 0 1 5 0
33.0 32 17 16 15 24 1 144
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2011.

Kenley Jansen is eligible to come off the disabled list and may or may not need one more rehab assignment, making him likely to return to the club this week. Guerrier could use the help, as he’s appeared in 33 games, 7th most in baseball, and the last few have been ugly. The bullpen has been held together with duct tape and string so far, and the club really can’t afford another issue right now.

The failure of the bullpen and the inability of the offense to overcome it really has to make you feel for Hiroki Kuroda, as Steve Dilbeck points out at the LA Times blog. Kuroda was once 5-3, but has now been hung with five consecutive losses to push him down to 5-8. On the surface, it sounds like he’s struggled, but we know better; the Dodgers have scored eight total runs for him in those five games. While he deserves his share of the blame for the first two, games in which he allowed four and five earned runs, he’s allowed a grand total of five earned over his last three starts. All of them go in the books as losses, despite his season xFIP of 3.50.

******

Over at the Dingers blog, Seth was lucky enough to sit down with Chad Billingsley for a great look at pitch sequencing. Billingsley was already one of our favorite pitchers, but it appears he has at least some familiarity with sabermetric principles. Well worth the click and the read.

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  2. [...] of his first nine starts, but he didn’t always get the support he deserved, as we noted on June 14: The failure of the bullpen and the inability of the offense to overcome it really has to make you [...]