Welcome Bud Norris: still one of the game’s hottest arms
By Cary Osborne
Bud Norris had something very scary attached to him before he arrived at Dodger Stadium on Friday.
An ERA north of four through one’s career tends to invite skeptics. And there were probably some of those skeptics among the 43,664 at Dodger Stadium who expected a Cy Young-caliber arm to come in provide shelter for a pitching staff so beaten down by a deluge of injuries — especially after early National League Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw went down earlier this week.
But when the Dodgers acquired Norris on Thursday, they traded for one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. And after a stellar Dodger debut Bud Norris is still one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
Norris pitched six shutout innings, allowed two hits, one walk and hit a batter while matching a season-high eight strikeouts. It was the 11th time this season a Dodger starting pitcher has pitched at least six shutout frames. The Dodgers are now 10-1 in those games after Friday’s 5-0 victory.
“We got him because we felt he was a front-line guy the way he was throwing the baseball the last three, four turns,” said Dave Roberts.
“It was a big lift,” Roberts continued. “Bud’s not here to replace Clayton. It’s one of those things where we all have to do a little more.”
From June 1 on, Norris’ 1.73 ERA (seven earned runs in 36 1/3 innings) is eighth best among MLB starters. He has a 0.88 WHIP and 37 strikeouts to nine walks to go with that line. And no home runs.
After a rough April, Norris was moved to Atlanta’s bullpen in May. He got a spot start against the Dodgers on June 4 and allowed one run over five innings and that got the ball rolling.
“I worked hard to get back in the rotation,” Norris said. “I went down to the bullpen. I took that in stride. I knew there was some mechanical things I needed to work on to get better. To get back in the rotation and get a spot start like that and run with it its kind of refreshing. It gets your mind right again to go out and play this game that we all love and to compete with a positive mindset and go play.”
Norris needed eight pitches to dispose of the Rockies in the first inning. He found his only trouble in the second inning. After striking out the first two batters he faced, he allowed a two-out single to Daniel Descalso and followed that by hitting Nick Hundley with a pitch. Then he came back and stuck Brandon Barnes out looking with a 95 MPH fastball.
A Charlie Blackmon double in the top of the sixth was the closest the Rockies would come to scoring. Norris induced consecutive pop outs after that.
Meanwhile, the Dodger offense had a slow start and a rapid finish. The suddenly hot Adrian Gonzalez singled in a run in the fourth. Since Monday in Pittsburgh, he has reached base 11 times in his last 18 plate appearances, going 8 for 13 in that span.
The Dodgers added another run on a Jorge De La Rosa balk in the seventh and three more in the eighth on another Gonzalez single, a Howie Kendrick double and Scott Van Slyke sac fly.
Corey Seager also extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a 2 for 4 night. He also raised his batting average over .300 for the first time since April 13.
Yasiel Puig was removed after from the game in the eighth inning after getting dinged up trying to score on a fly ball in the seventh. Roberts said he’s fine and will be in the lineup on Saturday.