After covering the Angels last week, we take a look into the other Los Angeles team. Also, a 2nd place team who could be making some ground at a great time.
Los Angeles Dodgers (54-25, 1st Place NL West, +13 Game Lead)
The thing that marvels me about the Dodgers is their depth. Their lineup is stacked from top to bottom with young talent. Add Hyung Jin Ryu’s unbelievable season into the mix and you have a team that threatens to make some serious noise in October (again). Walker Buehler started the season with some serious struggles, which created questions about the Dodgers rotation. But since the start of June, Buehler has demonstrated his potential to be one of the league's elite starters. This month, Buehler has a 0.87 ERA over 31 innings including 42 strikeouts. In his most recent start against the Rockies, Buehler struck out 16 batters in a complete game.
The Dodgers took on the Rockies at home this weekend in an NL West shootout. I mentioned Buehler’s incredible evening, but German Marquez also had a great outing allowing one earned run off a Cody Bellinger homer over eight frames and eight punchouts. Matt Beaty stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with one on and two outs and drilled a walk-off homer to center field to give the Dodgers a 4-3 victory.
Ryu had the bump in game two, looking to continue his potential Cy Young season. He did exactly that, allowing one earned run over six frames. The game went into extras notched up at four. In the bottom of the 11th, Alex Verdugo was in the box looking to give the Dodgers the win. After homering earlier in the game, Verdugo drove a 1-1 fastball over the right field wall to give LA a 5-4 win and back to back walk-off home run victories.
In game three of the series, we would again see them tied in the 9th inning. Kenta Maeda allowed two runs on seven innings of work in his effort on Sunday afternoon, and sure enough Will Smith was in the box with two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th. The Dodgers hit yet another walk-off home run to secure the sweep against the Rockies.
Three straight wins and three straight walk-off homers. Not to mention, all of the Dodgers who hit the walk-off home runs were rookies. This just makes it that much more absurd. You have to think this is going to give the Dodgers some serious momentum, but who knows? It’s baseball.
LA is riding a six-game winning streak and now head out to the desert where they will take on the Diamondbacks in a three-game series starting Monday night. We’ll see a pitcher’s duel in game one with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke set to start. Cody Bellinger is hitting a career .409 off of Greinke with two home runs, so look for that as an interesting matchup ahead of Monday’s game.
Cleveland Indians (42-35, 2nd Place AL Central, -8 GB)
The Cleveland Indians have been a bit of a disappointment this year. In previous years they have proven that they are a powerhouse in the American League, and it looked like they would run the AL Central for years to come. But the Minnesota Twins have emerged as a young team who is already proving themselves, as they hold 1st place in the Central with the best record in the AL at 50-27.
The Indians traded with the Mariners this offseason to bring Carlos Santana back to Ohio. Although his age is creeping up there, he continues to be one of the best OBP players in the league. With Francisco Lindor sidelined for a decent amount of the first couple months, the Indians had a massive hole in their lineup. Injuries from Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco have also been factors in how this season has been going.
A big part of the Tribe’s underwhelming season has been due to the insignificant play of Jose Ramirez as well. Hitting just .211, Ramirez proved he was of the most proven five-tool players in the game over the past couple seasons. Cleveland will need him to bounce back soon, or his playing time may take a huge hit.
The Indians took on the Tigers at home this weekend, in what was a big series for the Tribe to make some ground on Minnesota. Trevor Bauer was pulled in the 5th inning allowing five runs on ten hits, but luckily the Indians bats were keeping them in the game. Carlos Santana ripped a two-run homer in the 1st inning, his 16th of the season. Tied In the bottom of the 8th, the Indians put two across the plate to take a 7-5 lead. Brad Hand secured his 21st save of the season and the Indians took the game one, 7-6.
Game two was a pitching battle, as an RBI triple by Jose Ramirez brought in one of the game’s two runs, both scored by Cleveland. Aaron Civale picked up a win in his MLB debut, pitching six innings and striking out six. Brad Hand picked up his second save in as many days, and the Indians picked up a 2-0 victory.
Game three on Sunday was all Cleveland. They came out of the gate scoring five in the bottom of the 2nd alone, and that was more than enough for Zach Plesac. Plesac has been proving himself as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, going seven frames and striking out two. He is now 3-2 on the season with a 2.33 ERA. Carlos Santana hit his second home run of the series in the 5th inning Sunday, good for 17 round-trippers on the season. The Indians took Sunday’s matinee with ease, 8-3.
After the sweep the Indians are 8-2 in their last ten games and have gained three games on the 1st place Twins in that span. They currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot, a half game over the Texas Rangers.
The Tribe host the last-place Royals at home Monday for the first game of three. This is another great opportunity for them to gain even more ground on the Twins, as Minnesota kicks off a series against Tampa on Tuesday.
Waiver Wire Targets
Bobby Bradley, 1B (5.5% owned/ESPN)
This one might be a stretch, but it is a high-risk high-reward pick-up. The Indians called up 1st baseman Bobby Bradley even with the spectacular season that Carlos Santana is having. Bradley hit 24 home runs in just 67 games in Triple-A Columbus. If the Indians are calling him up even though his position is filled, it seems as though they’re going to look for ways to squeeze him into the lineup. In his debut on Sunday, Bradley drove in a run on an RBI double in his 1-for-3 effort on the afternoon. With Carlos Santana spending more and more time as the DH, maybe the Indians will use Bradley at 1st and eventually send down Jake Bauers. Who knows? It’s all just speculation. If you have an open spot on your roster, it may be work picking up Bobby Bradley and getting ahead of the curve.
Taylor Rogers, CP (22.9% owned/ESPN)
With Blake Parker’s struggles as the closer, Taylor Rogers may have the edge as the full-time closer in Minnesota. Rogers has a lower ERA and a higher K/9 than Parker. With how good the Twins are and how many games they’re winning, you may want to get Taylor Rogers on your team. Rogers’ three blown saves hurt his stock, but his 11.12 K/9 proves that he can sit batters down. Even though it’s a tricky situation in the closer’s role out in the Twin Cities, Taylor Rogers will get your fantasy baseball team the saves and strikeouts you need.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.