The Albuquerque Isotopes have had a lot of roster moves this year, 180 transactions to be exact. The Oklahoma City Dodgers scoff at such a low number.
This season the Dodgers’ new Triple-A affiliate has made a mind-boggling 299 transactions through Wednesday. They have used 22 different starting pitchers, 24 relief-only pitchers and 30 position players.
In contrast, the Isotopes have used 19 different starting pitchers, 18 relief-only pitchers and 26 position players. The number of starters is a franchise record.
Of course, the number of players and transactions is not the only difference between the two teams. Oklahoma City (79-51) appears headed for the playoffs, while Albuquerque (56-75) is already eliminated from postseason contention.
“(Credit) just goes to the coaching staff and it goes to the core players that we’ve had in this clubhouse,” said manager Damon Berryhill, who held the same role with the Isotopes in 2014. “We’ve had great veteran leadership. … Guys that have been around this game.
“The core group set the tone early and showed our younger players what it’s like to prepare everyday and how to go about their business. The guys coming in, the guys going and the guys coming back, everyone has kind of fallen into place.”
Four current players on the roster have played in more than 100 games — third baseman Buck Britton (105), first baseman-outfielder O’Koyea Dickson (103) and outfielders Kyle Jensen (115) and Scott Schelber (114). Of those four, only Schebler has been called up to Los Angeles and he only played one game before being sent back down.
OKC has not been successful, though, because of the hitting. The Dodgers rank 16th out of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League in team on-base percentage (.319), 15th in batting average (.258) and 12th in slugging (.407).
In contrast, despite the constant influx of new pitchers, OKC has seemed to excel no matter who is on the mound. The Dodgers are fourth in ERA (3.82), eighth in strikeouts (941) and tied for first in WHIP (1.31).
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Berryhill said. “There’s a lot of talent in this system. We’ve acquired a lot of talent. We’ve picked up a lot of players off of waivers.”
The turnaround of prospect Zach Lee from last year (7-13, 5.38) in Albuquerque to this season (10-5, 2.58) has been obvious. Otherwise it has mainly been a parade of experienced arms coming through OKC, including three pitchers (Scott Baker, Trevor Cahill, Freddy Garcia) with well over 1,000 innings apiece in the Major Leagues.
The added benefit of having so many experienced players and so much movement has been how little grumbling there has been in the clubhouse. That has made for a more harmonious atmosphere than one might expect for a Triple-A team.
“It’s hard for someone to come in here and complain and say I got screwed or this or that,” Berryhill said. “There’s guys with multiple years in the big leagues and many of them have been up and down this year.
“You can’t come in here with an excuse. You have to work hard just like everybody else.”
The Dodgers’ magic number is down to eight to clinch the American Northern Division. They lead Iowa by seven games with 13 left to play.
Oklahoma City fans have been appreciative of getting a winning team on the field again. Their team was in the playoffs in 2013 as an Astros affiliate, finishing six games ahead of the Isotopes that season.
“City’s been good, it has,” Berryhill said. “It’s always tough to leave a franchise like this that always took care of us so well.
“The fans have welcomed us. It’s surprising how well Dodger fans travel.”
OKC and Albuquerque wrap up their four-game series Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. The Dodgers will then head to El Paso on Thursday for a four-game set.