Carlos Martinez might be done as a useful MLB starter, and I take no joy in saying that. His strikeout rate has plummeted, walks have been a problem, his ERA has swelled over five. Maybe the Cardinals can revisit him as a reliever, something that worked two years back.
But when Martinez allowed 10 runs in the first inning at Chavez Ravine Wednesday night, my first takeaway wasn’t about him. It was about how the Dodgers could be ready to tear up the league again. Do not mess with this team.
It might feel like Los Angeles is spinning its wheels a bit, sitting third in the NL West and batting a modest .242, eighth in the majors. Nonetheless, the Dodgers are still the highest-scoring team in the majors, and that’s despite injuries to Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and A.J. Pollock. Mookie Betts hasn’t been bad, but he’s off to a modest start. Max Muncy (one of the fantasy bargains of the year), Chris Taylor, and Justin Turner have carried this team.
Now Bellinger is healthy again — he drove in six runs in that first inning Wednesday. Betts is too good not to go on a tear at some point. Pollock’s return is imminent.
Okay, “Dodgers are great” isn’t much of a fantasy hook, but here’s the actionable part of things: I am not throwing anything short of a star pitcher against these guys. Atlanta has a deep staff and yet I don’t view any of their weekend starters — Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton, or Max Fried — as auto-plays against Los Angeles. It’s like a poker game; you don’t make money off the strong opponents, you make money off the average and weak opponents. Why run uphill if you don’t have to?
The Dodgers face Pittsburgh and Texas after the Atlanta series. That’s when the crooked numbers might really kick into gear. Perhaps you can kick the tires on a Betts trade, add Pollock where he’s been dropped, find some in with this offense.
Baseball is hard
Last week we heaped praise on Toronto rookie starter Alek Manoah. Wednesday, we watched him struggle against a pedestrian Marlins offense.
For all of April, we dreamed about the greatness of Jarred Kelenic. For the last three weeks, we’ve watched him struggle against major-league pitching (.111/.200/.222).
Baseball is hard. Development curves vary.
Kelenic managers can at least take heart that he’s offering category juice — he’s homered twice, stolen three bases in three attempts. He’s even drawn seven walks. The Mariners dropped him in the lineup but I don’t feel like a demotion is imminent.
At least Manoah’s start at Buffalo came with five strikeouts in 3.1 innings. It wasn’t a total bomb. The biggest issue was three Miami homers, and that’s a good reminder that the Buffalo ballpark should be favorable for offense (even if it won’t be as crazy as Dunedin baseball was). Manoah won't get anything easy next week, when the White Sox and Red Sox host him.
Herrera getting it done in Philly
I’m surprised Odubel Herrera’s comeback hasn’t garnered much traction. He’s still rostered in a modest 16 percent of Yahoo leagues. He couldn’t hit a thing in April, but he’s been on every pitch for about a month now.
Check the last 25 games; .326/.400/.543, with four homers and three steals. That would play in any format. And he can produce against all pitching — heck, despite being a left-handed batter he’s been better against lefties. That game-tying homer he conked against Brad Hand recently has yet to land.
Herrera was an All-Star back in 2016. He was a 22-homer guy as recently as 2018. His career slash is .276/.334/.424. Maybe he’ll never be a star again, but this is a good offensive player. The Phillies are finally giving him good real estate in the batting order; he normally slots leadoff, sometimes fourth or fifth. Good time to get in.