I have to confess–this was my initial reaction to the news that Kevin Correia was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend:
Ok, ok, so I overreacted a little bit…I’m passionate about sports–what can I say? But, in all seriousness, I had my doubts about whether a journeyman, back-end-of-the-rotation, about-to-be 34-year-old starting pitcher, with a career ERA of 4.52 and a career WHIP of 1.41, could be of ANY use to the Dodgers whatsoever. Just a couple of weeks ago, I chronicled Dan Haren’s struggles and realized that the Dodgers didn’t really have any other internal options available in case he continued to struggle. After Haren made a mechanical adjustment and pitched a gem against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last week, and the Dodgers traded for Roberto Hernandez–as a replacement for an injured Josh Beckett in the rotation–I figured that they were set…for now.
So my sense of ‘outrage’ was really more a function of not understanding why the Dodgers would trade for a spot starter when they already have five other apparently-healthy starting pitchers. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly explained over the weekend that with the Dodgers going through such a tough stretch–20 games without a day off–facing playoff-contending teams in almost every series, giving their other starters an extra day of rest became a priority. Ok, I get that. But what do you do with Correia now, after Monday’s spot start? Rosters don’t expand until September 1st–that’s three weeks from now.
Anyway, back to Correia’s unexpected performance: six innings, four hits and only one run allowed, five strikeouts, and two-for-two at the plate with a run scored. Not too shabby for a guy the Dodgers essentially pulled off the scrap heap. With the top five hitters in the lineup–Dee Gordon, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford–combining to go 9-for-23 with five runs scored and three runs batted in, the Dodgers cruised to a 6-2 victory in the opening game of their four-game series in Atlanta.
As a reminder, the Dodgers are fighting through arguably their most difficult stretch of the regular season–facing the likes of: the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants, the Atlanta Braves (twice), and the Milwaukee Brewers (twice). Including Monday’s game, the Dodgers are currently 13-7 against those teams since the All Star break, with three more games left to play in Atlanta, and three home games against the Brewers this weekend. With injuries to Hanley Ramirez and the back-end of the pitching rotation hanging over the Dodgers, 13-7 is a real accomplishment. Having Correia show up and pitch a great game to lead the Dodgers to another victory during that tough stretch is also an accomplishment.
So, again, my apologies to the Dodgers and Kevin Correia–I guess I probably should have had a more welcoming reaction to a guy who’s the same age as me, and who’s also a Southern California native who grew up rooting for the Dodgers. Perhaps I still associate him with the Giants and San Diego Padres–the two teams with which he spent his first eight seasons in major league baseball. My congratulatory post-game tweet and apology, in case you haven’t already seen it: