2013 Dodgers in Review #25: SP Matt Magill

90topps_mattmagill6.51 ERA / 7.13 FIP 27.2 IP 8.46 K/9 9.11 BB/9 (C-)

2013 in brief: Rushed to the bigs and made six starts of incredibly varying quality.

2014 status: Nice depth guy to have around, but probably spends most of his year in Triple-A.

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Hey, it’s Matt Magill! He was shockingly forced into the rotation by the end of April after just four starts at Triple-A thanks to something like 17,029 different injuries to Dodger starters.

Though he’d had a successful 2012 in Double-A, we tried to keep some perspective going into his first start, knowing that he’d been placed in a pretty bad situation. Well, that, and laughing at just how ludicrous this all was:

Ah, 2013. You’re just the season that keeps on giving, aren’t you? Today’s spin of the giant wheel of injury lands on Stephen Fife, who came down with shoulder bursitis and finds himself joining Chris CapuanoZack Greinke, and practically everyone else on the disabled list rather than starting tonight.

That means that just 23 games into the season, the Dodgers are forced to call on their ninth starting pitcher, 23-year-old righty Matt Magill. I’m not sure whether to laugh or to cry at this point, honestly. It’s like one of those jokes that gets killed through repetition, then keeps happening so long that it comes back around to being funny again. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself while wondering how long it’ll be until Rick Honeycutt just heads on out to the mound himself.

And at first, it was ugly. Magill’s first big league inning lasted 32 painful pitches, yet somehow didn’t end with any runs on the board, and he miraculously ended up pushing into the seventh, allowing only two runs. (Matt Guerrier blew the game. As usual.)

So we thought, “hey! Maybe there’s something here!” …and then Magill went out and managed only four outs in San Francisco his next time out. Thus began a season-long odyssey for the rookie, because after two more starts — both decent — he was optioned down for Ted Lilly. Magill made one start in Triple-A (six shutout innings in Nashville), came back for a start in Colorado and… oh. I’ll let Eric tell you:

It was only slightly better his next time out in Atlanta, after which he had 28 walks in 27.2 innings and a 7.15 FIP. That earned him a trip back to Triple-A, where after a relief appearance and a two-inning start, he landed on the disabled list with “right forearm tightness,” because he was a pitcher who appeared for the Dodgers in 2013… and we never saw him again, though he did spend the rest of the summer pitching reasonably well for the Isotopes.

Magill’s first taste of the bigs was rocky, of course, though I think we can all agree that he was never intended to be up as soon as he was. Looking ahead, the hope is that the Dodgers won’t really need to use him in 2014, but he’s nice depth to have around. I guess.

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Next! Your friend and mine, Clayton Kershaw!

Braves 8, Dodgers 1: Bad Team is Bad

magill_grass_2013-04-27

I’m not sure how the organization views Zach Lee right now, and I’m also not entirely sure that he’s actually ready myself. What I do know is that Matt Magill has walked 28 in 27.2 innings and has a 7.15 FIP, so, that’s not really working out. I’m not sure if it means Lee or Aaron Laffey or whomever — it might not actually be anyone new, since there’s a few days off coming up — but it seems clear that it should not be Magill again any time in the near future.

Of course, to simply focus on Magill ignores a lineup that managed just eight hits (six singles) against Atlanta pitching and scored their only run after loading the bases with no outs in the first inning. Scoring just once in that situation is bad; scoring zero for the rest of the game after that is worse. It’s worth noting that four Dodger starters today — Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Tim Federowicz, & Scott Van Slyke — now have OBP’s south of .303, which is pretty awful.

At least there continues to be Yasiel Puig, who had three more hits to push his OBP up to an outstanding .483. But despite how often he’s been on base in his first week as a major leaguer, Puig has scored only four runs… all on his own homers. That’s just horrendous, and it’s a pretty good sign that this offense is not working as intended.

Oh, but at least Matt Kemp has “suffered a setback” in his rehab from a hamstring strain and is no longer expected to return on Friday. That’s depressing, though I guess that expecting him to come back the day he was eligible was just a recipe for disaster anyway.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 2: Who Cares, Puig is Coming

magill_sanfran_2013-05-04I don’t want to talk about Matt Magill or this game, and neither do you. Eric Stephen has it all summed up in fewer than 140 characters, anyway:

At least Billy Pierce was a seven-time All-Star who pitched for 18 years in the big leagues?

Anyway, there is literally nothing else worth mentioning from today, so let’s be happy that the Dodgers are finally leaving Colorado.

Besides, it’s what’s coming up that’s more fun. Yasiel Puig was seen leaving the Chattanooga ballpark before today’s game, and Ken Gurnick confirms that he has been promoted, with Magill getting shipped out. Puig is almost certainly going to be playing in the outfield tomorrow in Los Angeles… so at least that will be fun.

The Day After: Now What?

mound_meeting_sanfran_2013-05-04Yesterday, it was Hanley Ramirez landing on the disabled list with Dee Gordon coming to replace him.

Now, Jerry Hairston might be injured and the bullpen was forced to pitch basically a full game last night after Matt Magill went only 1.1 and the game went into extras.

So as we wait all day for Hyun-jin Ryu to hopefully help the Dodgers avoid a sweep on Sunday Night Baseball, we’re left to ask: now what?

Fri 10/11Sat 10/12Sun 10/13Mon 10/14Tues 10/15Wed 10/16Thurs 10/17
RR. Belisario9105
LJ.P. Howell152026
RK. Jansen51626
RC. Marmol26
RB. Wilson281411
RC. Withrow2544
RE. Volquez

As you can see, the bullpen is in rough shape. J.P. Howell and Javy Guerra are probably unavailable after last night, and Ronald Belisario (four games in five days) shouldn’t be counted upon either.

Eric Stephen makes a compelling case to option Magill back to the minors since a Thursday off-day probably allows for him to be skipped, and I can’t disagree with him. But the options there are kind of thin, because Steve Ames has thrown in each of the last two days for Albuquerque; fellow 40-man reliever Chris Withrow has only thrown once in the last week, so he may be a better choice. Withrow has impressed with the Isotopes, but it remains to be seen if the organization feels he’s ready.

I might opt for Peter Moylan, who has been effective since a poor outing in his debut — 10/3 K/BB in 10.2 innings — since he has big league experience and only threw four pitches two days ago. As we’ve discussed, Chad Billingsley & Shawn Tolleson have yet to be moved to the 60-day disabled list, so the 40-man issue isn’t a problem.

Otherwise, we’re stuck with the same issues. Will Mark Ellis finally be disabled? (Probably not today, with Chris Capuano returning tomorrow.) Can Adrian Gonzalez start? Is Hairston available? We don’t know the answers to that yet, but we do know who isn’t on their way to San Francisco.

That’s a no on Scott Van Slyke, and the same for Elian Herrera. Tim Federowicz isn’t listed, but he’s been starting every day and this could of course just be a standard day off for a catcher.

My guess? I think the team would prefer not to do anything until tomorrow, when they disable Ellis for Capuano. But last night — the overworked bullpen, and possible injury to Hairston — may have forced their hand. Magill should probably not get too comfortable.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 4: Matt Guerrier Makes Everything Worse

magill_trees_2013-04-27As Matt Magill‘s first major league inning grew interminably to 30 pitches, I think we just hoped that the night wouldn’t turn ugly. I know I did. There was clearly talent there — blowing away Carlos Gomez on a high fastball was nice — but a leadoff walk, a deep flyout to center, an infield single, a stolen base… it just felt like the night was going to be a struggle.

Six innings later, Magill’s night ended with one of the more impressive debuts by a Dodger starter in decades, and it’s not unfair to wonder if Stephen Fife ought to invest in an autobiography of Wally Pipp. (Look it up, kids.) Over 6.2 innings, Magill struck out seven and walked just two — Norichika Aoki twice — becoming the first non-import Dodger starter to go that long in his major league debut since Pedro Astacio tossed a complete game shutout in 1992. (Hiroki Kuroda went seven in 2008, but he of course was not a traditional rookie.)

Magill’s only real trouble came in the third when he allowed two runs, and even then it was due to some extenuating circumstances. With two on and one out, Magill’s own fielding difficulty while attempting to throw to second allowed the bases to be loaded; after a run-scoring hit, a second run came in when Juan Uribe went for the fielder’s choice instead of an arguably simple play at the plate.

All in all, an immensely successful night for the newest Dodger starter, even if he’s likely heading back to Albuquerque sooner than later — perhaps as soon as later tonight or tomorrow morning, if the Dodgers want to reclaim the roster spot he clearly won’t be using for the next few days. (We heard Alex Castellanos did not play in ABQ tonight, though no word on any possible move there.)

You’ll notice the post doesn’t end here with a happy celebration of Magill’s first major league victory. That’s because Matt Guerrier exists. For now, anyway.

After two quick outs in the top of the seventh with the game knotted at two, Don Mattingly came out to lift Magill in favor of Paco Rodriguez with Aoki coming to the plate. I know many would have preferred that Mattingly just left Magill in there, but I didn’t have a huge problem with that; Magill had allowed Aoki to reach twice and was over 100 pitches by that point, so no reason to push your luck with the rookie when you lift him while he can leave with a positive feeling. Besides, Rodriguez is an effective reliever, so, fine.

Aoki dragged a bunt to second, which Skip Schumaker promptly threw away. I’m not sure if even a great throw would have had the speedy Aoki, but the error allowed him to take second base. Mattingly immediately came out to replace Rodriguez with Matt Guerrier, and here’s where the problems began. Rodriguez isn’t your typical LOOGY; he’s effective against hitters from either side of the plate. Guerrier, on the other hand… is Matt Guerrier. He’s the guy we’ve been complaining about since the day he was signed. No, really.

So of course, Guerrier goes out and gives up a two-run blast to Carlos Gomez, giving Milwaukee a 4-2 lead. That was only compounded when Guerrier returned in the eighth and gave up another two-run dinger, this time to Martin Maldonado — and neither was ever in question, because they were crushed. I’ll give Mattingly some amount of understanding for having Guerrier back out in the eighth, because with Ronald Belisario & Brandon League both unavailable and Kenley Jansen serving as the evening’s fill-in closer, his usual eighth inning options were gone. But having him out there in the first place in a close game was a sizable mistake, one that ultimately cost the Dodgers the game.

On offense, the highlights were few and far between for a game that actually had four runs come across. Andre Ethier‘s no-doubt blast in the eighth off John Axford was nice, Matt Kemp had two more hits to get his line up to .271/.326/.365, and even Juan Uribe got on base twice more. (His line of .200/.429/.440 is just perfect in every way.) But Adrian Gonzalez flew out with the tying run on in the ninth, and A.J. Ellis grounded out to shortstop to end the game with the tying and winning runs on — though he did drive in the first run of the game with a single to right.

It’s also worth nothing that Luis Cruz went 0-4 with more pop-outs to bring his line down to an unfathomable .098/.130/.098, along with a booted grounder that charitably was not marked as an error. I imagine we won’t be seeing him again the lineup soon, especially with Hanley Ramirez‘ rehab stint kicking off tonight. One would hope, anyway.