Layne Somsen is perhaps not the answer most would have given to the question. However, he is the answer for the pitcher with the most innings thrown, yet to allow an earned run. In the early 2017 season, from a statistical standpoint, the righty reliever is the best pitcher in the Dodgers system. Somsen, who made his MLB debut nearly one year ago (May 14, 2016) for the Cincinnati Reds, has pitched in his first 9 games of this season, 14.2 innings, without yielding an earned run. Layne Somsen has always had a low earned run average in his minor league career (2.57). The Yankton South Dakota native had a bump in the road last season with Oklahoma City, his uncharacteristically high ERA and WHIP in 6 games indicated a problem. He was placed on the disabled list for the rest of the 2016 campaign.
The Dodgers of Oklahoma City have a bullpen that some MLB teams would love to have. Layne Somsen is a name that is sometimes overlooked among the bunch of bigger, more flashy names. Somsen, obviously over his injuries of a year ago, has been one of the most consistent relievers in all of baseball to this point in 2017. It has not been easy. Baseball, particularly in the PCL, never is. The Jackrabbit Alum has had his share of walks (6) and hits (9) allowed, he has worked out of jams and had many chances to keep the opposing hitters from driving in runs.
If Layne Somsen continues his assault on opposing batters in the PCL, we may see him and his tenacious spirit on the mound in Los Angeles well before the September call ups. Lots of injuries and stuff would need to happen, certainly not wishing that upon any MLB team. It would be nice to see Layne helping the Dodgers bullpen this year, in Oklahoma and in Los Angeles. For fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, its a comfort to know that dependable relievers like Somsen are only a flight away.
The piano man from Riverside is denied his first victory after another quality start tonight in Oklahoma City. Trevor Oaks had his usual efficient outing. Interview with Trevor at ST Working quickly and attacking the bottom of the strike zone, Oaks found the zone often in the first inning. He only needed 13 pitches (9 strikes) to maneuver through the top three in the Redbirds batting order. He induced a lazy fly ball to Trayce Thompson in center for the game’s first out, then got Hoffman and Voit to each strike out swinging to end an impressive opening frame. The 2nd inning was not an atypical Oaks effort, although he did recover to end the threat with the bases loaded. He hit a batter, with a cutter that moved four feet, and he walked a batter in the top of the 2nd as well. The bout of temporary wildness came after a one out single to Kelly, then Oaks hit Bader and walked Tovar. Trevor showed his poise and worked out of the jam in a calm but serious demeanor. Tommy Pham, the hottest hitter in the Memphis line-up, lead off the 3rd with a sharp single and Oaks would once again work from the stretch. No problem for the right handed sinker ball specialist, he proceeded to dispatch the next three Redbird hitters, numbers 2, 3 and 4 in the line-up. Oaks cruised through the 4th and the 5th innings respectively and had thrown 82 pitches at the end of 5 innings. The most he had thrown previously was in his last start, 79 pitches. Manager Bill Hasselman did not take any chances with his young ace and relied on the bullpen for the rest of the night.
The Dodgers offense, besides a first inning blast by O’Koyea Dickson, never got it together against the Memphis Redbirds on Saturday evening. Dickson crushed a fastball over the fence in left center field and it looked as though the Dodgers would be off and rolling from an offensive standpoint. It was not to be tonight as the Redbirds starter Daniel Poncedeleon was stingy with base runners, and matched Oaks inning for inning in the early going. Singles from Alex Verdugo, Darnell Sweeney and Charlie Culberson, the extent of the attack from the AAA Dodgers. After Poncedeleon, the Memphis bullpen came in for three perfect innings to ensure that OKC kept their bats from waking late. Trayce Thompson, still shaking off the rust from a short spring training, continued his batting of zero for 2017 so far between OKC and LA.
Joe Broussard pitched the 6th and 7th, and had a big strikeout of Tommy Pham, one of the hot hitters for Memphis to end the 7th scoreless with a runner at first. Layne Somsen enters in the 8th. Somsen, surrendered one hit but managed the 8th inning well to keep the Redbirds from advancing the runner or scoring. Both Broussard and Somsen were fantastic tonight. Their performances will get lost in the story of this game, but should be noted. Neither righty reliever has surrendered an earned run yet in 2017. Interview with Joe at ST
Then in the 9th the Redbirds got their bats going against RHP Brandon Morrow. Three straight singles and Memphis tied up the game, after all that fantastic pitching by Oaks, Broussard and Somsen. Two run single by Tommy Pham with the bases loaded made the score 3 – 1. With the anemic offense that lead seemed insurmountable. Then Huffman singled in two more for the Cardinals affiliate and the game really became out of control. 5 -1. Then Voit with an RBI single and it was a 6 – 1 deficit. Still no outs recorded by Brandon Morrow. He was never able to record an out. He faced seven batters, all reached base. Six hits, and a fielders choice that resulted in no outs as Morrow’s throw to third was late after he played the bunt. So the Dodgers had the lead going into the ninth 1-0, and lost after going quietly in the bottom of the 9th 6-1.
It has been said many times over that “to hit a baseball, is the hardest single activity in all of professional sports.” If this is true, then to become a professional pitcher is one of the hardest positions to maintain success. Case in point today with one of the best pitchers in the Dodgers organization, Julio Urias, who had not pitched in a live action game since March 28th. He has throw a few bullpens in that time, worked out, done his running and all that a pitcher can do, when not pitching. You just cannot simulate the real thing, bullpens can only do so much. Today Julio did look a bit rusty. He fell behind multiple hitters, had several deep counts and ended up allowing 4 walks, along with a wild pitch. Perhaps not the stellar start to the season that fans had hoped for from the promising young left hander, but to be expected with that long a lay off. Pitching is an exact science, mechanics cannot be deviated from in order to achieve the ultimate delivery. Julio Urias did not appear to have perfect mechanics on this day. He fell off awkwardly to the left of the mound of a few occasions. His poise was still intact, even if his command was lacking.
The bullpen was lights out today. Picking up Julio Urias nicely was a hungry bullpen full of pitchers who would be on MLB rosters if in any other organization not named Dodgers or Cubs. Layne Somsen lead the charge from the pen. Although he did yield a single to Martinez to allow an inherited runner to score,( 2 – 1 ) the base hit was a seeing eye ground ball up the middle. Layne, the former Reds prospect, worked out of the jam in the 4th inning nicely and avoided what could have been a big inning for the Iowa Cubs. Somsen came back out to work the 5th and had the difficult top of the Cubs order to contend with. The pesky Cubs leadoff hitter John Andreoli worked a leadoff walk in a tough at-bat, then Chesny Young singled. Somsen and the Dodgers quickly found themselves in a spot, two runners on with zero outs. Now the Cubs hottest two hitters were due up, Ian Happ and Jeimer Candelario. Layne Somsen didn’t even blink. Happ popped out. One down. With a count of 0-2, Somsen delivered a fastball just off the outside edge of the plate and Catcher Bobby Wilson sprung from his crouch and gunned to first base. He caught the base runner Young in between 2B and 1B. Wilson, for the second time today had picked off a Cubs runner and helped the pitching staff immensely. Next pitch Layne Somsen blew a well placed fastball right on by the clean up hitter and that was the last threat the Cubs had. Steve Geltz pitched two more perfect innings tonight. He has faced 12 batter this season, he has retired all 12 batters he has faced. Brandon Morrow came in for the 2 inning save. He entered when the game was still 3-2 before the Dodgers of Oklahoma added two more late on the Brett Eibner, 2 run home run in the 8th. Pitching was outstanding today, and I stand by my statement, any of these pitchers could be in the big show today.
In the first inning Julio Urias threw 19 pitches, only 8 for strikes. He fell behind the first two batters of the frame, Andreoli singled and then Young walked. Urias then battled the Cubs best hitter Ian Happ. He got him looking with a fastball right on the outside corner to the switch hitter batting from the right side. Happ must have been looking for another pitch, or the location was too much for him, with no argument he walked back to the dugout. Then with Jeimer Candelario batting, Bobby Wilson picked off the runner at first, Chesny Young, as he strayed way too far off first base. Wilson with the crucial play takes the scene from runners at 1st and 2nd with only one out, to runner at 2nd with two outs. Julio Urias, who threw 19 pitches in the inning, with only 8 strikes, found that 8th strike with some high heat past Candelario to end the threat.
The second inning was more rust from Urias, who allowed a leadoff walk to 1B Victor Caratini, after falling behind 3-1. Caratini would eventually come around to score the games first run on a wild pitch from Urias. Julio was able to work out of the jam again, but again had a bit of help from Iowa’s poor base running. “It’s April,” as some may say, but the Cubs Taylor Davis ran into an out as the ball was hit to Chris Taylor at SS, and for some unknown reason, the Cubs base runner ran into the tag at 3B.
Urias had not pitched in a game in two weeks, he began to find his groove in the 3rd inning. Against the top of Iowa’s batting order, Urias struck out Andreoli on a full count fastball. He then induced Young into a lazy fly ball and got Happ to roll his wrists over for a ground ball to short stop. That groove has short lived as Urias entered the 4th inning with a leadoff strike out of Jeimer Candelario., but then Urias walked Caratini once again. The 20 year old lefty had lots of deep counts and struggled to find his command in the game today. After two more deep counts, a strike out of Todd Glaesmann and a walk to Davis the Dodger hurlers’ day was done. Julio had not pitched since March 28th in spring training. He showed the effects of the time off and did not look as sharp as Dodgers fans may have hoped, but certainly not anything to worry about. With the increase in work load for Urias, he will find himself as far as mechanics and his “feel” pitches, as well as his command of the strike zone.
Today’s hitting attack was a balanced one with 10 hits to go along with the 5 runs scored. Cody Bellinger continued his hot start to the season going 3-4 with one RBI. The scoring for the Dodgers got started in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Willie Calhoun led off the inning with a double and was moved to 3B by a productive ground ball out to the right side of the infield( from Chris Taylor ). The Cubs pulled the infield in, and Bobby Wilson shot a sharp single up the middle and through the drawn in fielders. Bellinger, drove in the second run of the game for the Dodgers in the bottom of the 5th. Darnell Sweeney lead off the inning as a pinch hitter for the pitcher Layne Somsen. Sweeney drove a two bagger into the corner and the inning began just as a coach would draw it up. After Segedin struck out, Alex Verdugo came up and drilled a triple into the right field corner and he got to third from the way the ball bounced off the wall. Bellinger scored on the clutch triple and the Dodgers took the lead 3-2. The Oklahoma City boys added two more runs in the 8th inning when Brett Eibner smacked his 3rd HR of the young season. Today was a day that OKC put it all together for a total team victory. Urias, who worked through his rust well, the bullpen – who dominated, and the offense with some timely hitting made the day victorious . The Dodgers now go on the road to Nashville and Memphis.