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View from the other side: Dodgers questions for Elizabeth Islas of True Blue LA

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays start a 3-game series with the Dodgers tonight.

The Dodgers are 82-44, in first place in the NL West. That puts them 18.5 games in front of the Giants. They have the second best record in baseball.

They are at the top of the NL in runs scored per game at 5.50. That is pretty amazing considering they play their home games in a very pitcher friendly ballpark.

And they are at the top of the NL in runs allowed per game at 3.83. That’s almost half a run a game better than the second best team.

I sent off some questions to Elizabeth Islas, manager of True Blue LA, SB Nation’s Dodgers blog. Kate supplied most of the questions, thanks Kate.

I have to ask about our old friend Russell Martin. What’s his role on the team? How is he doing? Is a full-time move to the bullpen in his immediate future?

We’re glad Martin is back in Dodger blue. He’s serving as a backup catcher (and occasional relief pitcher) to Will Smith, the Dodgers prized possession. He usually starts once every series to give Smith a break. The guy isn’t exactly the biggest bat in the Dodgers’ stacked lineup, so you’ll find him batting pretty deep in the lineup. As for his pitching career, he’s probably the best reliever in the Dodgers bullpen right now. He’s got a 0.33 WHIP that he’s very proud of and he’s never allowed a run. But then again, he’s only pitched a combined three innings, so it is a small sample size.

The Dodgers didn’t do much at the trade deadline. Do you think they should have done more? What would you have liked them to do?

The Dodgers haven’t really done much at the trade deadline in years. Sure, they got Manny Machado last year but he’s the exception. The Dodgers desperately need (needed?) a bullpen arm by July 31 and they failed to get one. Felipe Vázquez was No. 1 on my personal wishlist, but the Dodgers and Pirates were unable to agree to a fair deal. It’s understandable, too, because the Pirates were asking for two of the top four prospects, which was just too high of a price tag for the team. If you asked me on Aug. 1 if the Dodgers needed to do more, my answer would have been, “100 percent yes, without a doubt.” But now, I’m not so sure about that. Since the deadline, the Dodgers brought up Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin to improve the pitching situation. They have both made their turns in the starting rotation and bullpen, and it proved to me the Dodgers are still making moves, even if it wasn’t a trade at the deadline.

I’ve never been a fan of the home run derby, but round two with Joc Pederson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might have been the best TV of the year. What was it like from the Dodger fan end? Any post-derby down turn for Joc?

I can only speak for myself, but after watching Vlad Jr. set a home run derby record in the first round, I thought it was OVER for Joc. I was incredibly nervous Joc was going to get blown out of the water, but boy was I wrong. It was an emotional rollercoaster, going from being worried to extremely excited in a matter of minutes. Since the derby, Joc has only hit four home runs. Compare that to the 10 home runs in his first 30 games to start the season. He gets into these dry spells where he can’t get a hit for a few days, but that’s just Joc. I’d say he’s doing alright.

Since I’m expecting my Jays to have some troubles with Dodgers starting pitchers, I thought I’d ask how confident you are in the Dodgers’ bullpen? Who are we likely to see in close games?

The Dodgers starting pitching is definitely the good side of our pitching staff. Our bullpen is pretty rocky, but they are doing much better as of late. Yimi García, Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez are reliable for one inning appearances while the young guys like Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urías provide long relief innings. The Blue Jays will likely only see May in this series. Dave Roberts is still very confident in Kenley Jansen, even though plenty of Dodgers fans aren’t. He will likely be the guy Roberts turns to in closing situations. The Jays will face him at least once, since Roberts said he will pitch at least once a series, no matter the situation.

Cody Bellinger is having an amazing season. How would you suggest we pitch to him? He’s been good in the past but this is a huge step up, did you expect this from him? What is he doing different this year?

In high-leverage situations, I’d say the Jays shouldn’t pitch to him. But either way, just be careful. He’s trained to adapt, quickly. I expected Bellinger to be much better than his sophomore slump year, but I never expected him to improve this much. FiveThirtyEight wrote a very informative article a few months back talking about all the nitty gritty details of his new swing, but what’s more interesting to me is his new place in the batter’s box. This year, he stands on the very back of the box and is scooted up to the very edge, almost right on home plate.

Does Gavin Lux get a September callup?

Lux truly deserves to be with the team come September. I just don’t think there’s enough room for him to be on the active roster. Last year, the Dodgers brought Will Smith with them for a “ride-along,” so I see them doing the same with Lux this year. Unless there’s another injury to the middle infield, I say this one is a no go.

Bonus question, anything else you’d like to tell us about the Dodgers? Or perhaps you would like to rant about the Giants for a couple of hundred words? Or maybe tell us who you would like to watch in the World Series should the Dodgers get there?

You can never really count the Dodgers out of a game, no matter how late in the game it is. They’ve walked off 10 times this year and made many, many more comebacks than that.

As for the World Series, I hope I can see a Dodgers-Yankees matchup. I’ve never seen one before and it’s a classic, so that’s who I’d want to see. Plus, the Astros just scare me at this point.

Thanks Elizabeth