By Mark Grote–
(CBS) Dodgers television analyst Orel Hershiser is a former National League Cy Young award winner and World Series MVP, so we thought his would be a good brain to pick for some baseball knowledge. In a recent Q-and-A with Hershiser, we covered everything from Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s sly ways to Dodger’s outfielder Yasiel Puig’s reckless play.
Grote: What do you think about the Cubs young core of hitters?
Hershiser: It’s really interesting to watch our guy (Dodgers center fielder) Joc Pederson hit. He doesn’t take a two-strike approach on any swing, but (the Cubs) have a lineup of those guys. Really young, hard swingers and so it’s an intimidating lineup to go through as a pitcher, I would think. If you make a mistake, they’re going to punish you. If you make your pitch, you’re probably going to strike them out.
Grote: Joe Maddon has some unique methods and ways about him as a manager. Do you like his style?
Hershiser: Joe really understands the vibe of the city he’s in, and he understands what side of the ledger the fans are on. I think as a manager, he does a really good job of walking that line. Everything from the interference with the pop-up and the baby to the delay of (Clayton) Kershaw, when he (Maddon) came out to argue with the ump about 10 percent of the lights being out (last week) and how “we can’t see the spin on his breaking ball.” Kershaw was made to stand around and get heavy legs.
Grote: Who do you think is the best team in the National League?
Hershiser: I think all the teams seem to be flawed right now. The Dodgers rotation was decimated with 40 percent of the rotation going down to injuries. The Dodgers offense has been staggering at times. It’s like a boxing match, and they are against the ropes and just taking on shots. The Cardinals, at times, have looked like they can be that team, but then all of a sudden they can’t pitch for a little bit. I don’t see that dominant team. It’s going to be an interesting trade deadline, because that could be the thing that puts one team over the brink.
Grote: Why hasn’t Clayton Kershaw been as dominant this year as he was last season?
Hershiser I’ve always believed the reason Clayton is so dominant is that he is two pitchers in one body. He’s the low fastball, slider pitcher, and he’s the high fastball, curveball pitcher. But it’s both coming out of the same guy. I think he has lost some of his consistency on his execution, and he got backed into throwing mostly hard. Now he’s getting back to changing speeds.
Grote: Are the Dodgers happy with where Yasiel Puig’s development is?
Hershiser: I think Yasiel is continuing to mature. We see bouts of real, solid baseball, but it seems to only last for about 10 days. Once he gets a little bit of success, he seems to revert back to playing a little bit more recklessly. Puig is a work in progress.
Mark Grote is the Cubs pregame and postgame host on WBBM. Follow him on Twitter @markgrotesports.