Dave Roberts: “If you look at the first few weeks, teams are taking advantage and running more on our guys.”
The Padres’ series-winning run in the 11th inning Sunday night was set up by a double steal, with Fernando Tatis Jr. taking third and Trent Grisham taking second. That allowed Tatis to score on a fly ball, and continued a pattern from the last two weekends.
That the two steals came off rookie Garrett Cleavinger isn’t to suggest the Padres took advantage of a pitcher in his second major league game. They did, but he was definitely not alone among Dodgers pitchers in getting pilfered.
San Diego stole five bases in Sunday’s game, one night after they also stole five bases on Saturday. It’s just the second time the Dodgers have allowed so many steals in back-to-back games, and the first since the Big Red Machine in 1976.
The Dodgers have allowed 26 steals in 31 attempts this season, most in the majors, so much so that they would be leading even when excluding the last two games.
“If you look at the first few weeks, teams are taking advantage and running more on our guys, trying to get guys in motion,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday night. “We just have to be better at varying looks. You know, picking, inside move. There’s things we can do that we need to do better.”
The Padres stole 18 bases in 19 tries in seven games against the Dodgers, perhaps the biggest discrepancy between the two teams.
Kenley Jansen has allowed the most steals on the team with five, including three in Saturday’s game alone. But so far only one of those base stealers against Jansen has scored — Manny Machado in the ninth inning on April 16 in San Diego. It’s also part of the package with Jansen, who since the start of 2017 has allowed 42 stolen bases without anyone getting caught. That’s the 16th-most steals allowed by any pitcher during that time. Fourteen of the 15 ahead of him are starting pitchers, except for Adam Ottavino, who has allowed 56 steals during that time.
But even with Jansen’s proclivity for allowing runners to steal, this has been a group effort, spread out among the Dodgers pitching staff:
- Jansen: 5 SB
- Trevor Bauer: 3 SB
- Blake Treinen: 3 SB, 1 caught stealing
- Clayton Kershaw: 3 SB, 2 caught stealings
- Scott Alexander: 2 SB
- Dennis Santana: 2 SB
- Clevinger: 2 SB
- Walker Buehler: 2 SB, 1 caught stealing
- Dustin May: 2 SB, 1 caught stealing
- Jimmy Nelson: 1 SB
- Victor Gonzalez: 1 SB
A few things stand out here. For one, the bullpen has allowed 16 of the 26 steals, which seems to be a problem late in games, especially when the most were allowed by high-leverage pitchers Jansen and Treinen.
The other is that both of Kershaw’s caught stealings were his own pickoffs, and one of those was foiled by a drop by Corey Seager. Dodgers catchers have only thrown out three runners trying to steal, all by Will Smith, who has allowed 14 steals in 119⅔ defensive innings behind the plate. Runners are 12 for 12 when stealing against Austin Barnes, in 80⅔ innings.
It’s a problem.