Don’t Forget the Ultimate Goal

So, the Dodgers took two out of three from the Nationals on their home field and you are upset that Stephen Strasburg, the hottest pitcher in baseball, beat them? Let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal. You have to remember a few things:

  1. The Ultimate Goal is to win the World Series. Nothing much else matters.
  2. The front office, coaching staff and the manager are very smart.
  3. The Dodgers saw Strasburg but the Nats didn’t see Darvish.
  4. Do you think the pitching patterns are going to be the same in the playoffs are they are now?  Personally, I think the patterns will be different in the playoffs.  That’s part of the game and how you thwart scouting.
  5. Buehler and Ravin will not be on the playoff roster and it’s possible that Ryu and/or Stripling might not be either. Right about now, I trust Stewart to pitch 2 innings more than I do Stripling.
  6. The Nats and the Dodgers will both vary their pitching patterns and you saw that the Dodgers are going to be prepared to run… unlike last year.
  7. Both teams are delivering false signals to each other right now.  What’s real?  What’s a decoy?

We are not going to learn a lot from this series.  Roberts and Baker aren’t tipping their hands.  These teams know that they are likely to have to play each other to get to the World Series.  Ryu was excellent until he lost his focus – pure and simple – it was a mental lapse.  He has to get better at that.   He has had those lapses frequently.  Two words: Sports Psychologist!

Ryu is simply losing focus or concentration by letting up at times.  Actually, he has been very good this year.  His walk rate is up be he has delivered for the most part.  He should be a very important part of the rotation next year.  While we are talking about next year, Stripling, McCarthy and Maeda are all trade candidates.  Believe it or not, a lot of teams would love to have Stripling and there’s a market for Maeda and McCarthy.  Not all three will be traded, but I could see two of them gone. The big question is whether the Dodgers will try and sign Darvish?

Speaking of McCarthy… he’s supposed to be back this week. Can he pitch out of the pen?  Maybe! Maybe not…

The Dodgers were 3-3 this year against the Nats and their magic number to clinch the West is 4!  The Indians and Dodgers are 1,2 in team ERA with 3.35 and 3.40 respectively.  However, the Dodgers team WHIP is 1.15 compared to the Indians 1.17.

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 33 Comments

  1. Yesterday’s game was nothing more than playoff auditions, primarily for the bullpen. I agree with Dodgerrick’s and Hawkeye’s assessment of Walker Buehler that he has great stuff, but just is not ready for prime time. He needs to continue to pitch at this level for the next two weeks to work on that command against major league hitters. Depending on which starting pitchers are still with the team next Spring, Buehler may start out at OKC, but it will not be long for him to move to LA permanently. And maybe that is out of ST, but he needs better command and more confidence that he can beat the hitters with his best stuff. That will come, and then watch out.
    If there was any question that Josh Ravin would be on the playoff roster, that was answered. Josh is another example that pitchers need more than a high 90 MPH fastball to compete at the ML level. I am pulling for him, because he is a good local kid. He still has 1 option, so hopefully he will work on that off-speed pitch to go with the #1. One thing we have learned with FAZ is that the bullpen is very fluid, and many pitchers will get a chance to prove themselves at the ML level.
    I feel badly for Ross Stripling. He has been used quite a bit this year (45 games and 70.1 innings). He is probably gassed. I watched that same fastball being blown by Nolan Arenado earlier in the season. It is now dropping down into the zone, and very few pitchers throw hard enough to get a letters high fastball by ML hitters. He needs that pitch at the shoulders, and enough juice so that it doesn’t drift down. This is his first full year as a reliever, and I think he will become a very good one, but I think he is one of those who is tired and will probably not make the initial playoff roster.
    I think Ryu was also auditioning for a playoff reliever spot, as I do not think he will start. He proved he can get ML hitters for a playoff team out. Just not as a starter (yet). Can he pitch in back to back games? I do not know as he has not tried that (that I am aware of). His status will be determined based on which other LHRP are selected.
    If Ryu is added to the bullpen, he becomes the long man, and Brock Stewart should go all out for one inning. He has been dominant at times when pitching one inning. He was unscored on in 2017 until he started on July 26 against Minnesota. His first two innings were excellent. It was that 3rd and 4th inning that did him in. He has not been the same pitcher since, and he has started three other games since then, all with the same results. But if he is told…”go out and give me everything you got for one inning”, I do not see a downside (unless perfection is the standard). Even Kenley cannot live up to that standard.
    I have no idea what to expect from McCarthy. I am not sure he is a reliever. I think he gets to audition for that role, but I just do not know what to expect.

    1. I don’t feel like Rick about Buehler. I want to see more Buehler. The last two runs he’s given up have been a bit fluky. They come do to catcher’s indifference and defensive positioning. His stuff is so apparently better than anyone they march in from the pen. As far as the audition guys go, I’d like to see more Buehler and Stewart. No more Ravin please. He has no idea where the ball is going and his fastball is very flat. I find it odd that so many people are counting Avilan as off their post-season roster. I don’t see it. Watson has been bad and Cingrani is still a project with upside. Ryu showed yesterday why he probably isn’t really an option for the post-season rotation and frankly I don’t see him as a bullpen piece. BTW, it wouldn’t take much for me to trust Buehler more than Baez.

      Everyone’s though process is about October. It’s the team’s, management’s, the fan’s, and for just about everyone posting on the board. That has been the case from the beginning of the season, through the winning and the losing streak. So, when someone has a concern about being shutout down by a good pitcher like Strasburg. It isn’t about such a minute sample size. My concern is about when was the last time the Dodgers really got to a good pitcher because that is what they will be seeing in October. Fulmer, Verlander, Ray, Greinke, Strasburg. Good pitching beats good hitting so the playoffs should be low scoring by nature. However, it has been some time since the Dodgers have gotten to a good pitcher. So, when it is brought up by people, it isn’t about running into a hot pitcher. Fulmer wasn’t hot when they saw him.

      More Andre please less Grandy Man! How bad in Adrian’s back that he turns down a start and after not only a long DL stint, but also an epidermal shot he’s still got problems.

      1. I probably read more into your comment. That is a problem with the written word and my imagination. Both you and Rick like what you see so far from Buehler, and I thought your secondary comment about him was that you did not think he was ready (as is what Rick said). I went back and read it, and that is not at all what you said. You both had the same premise that Buehler looks for real, but came to different conclusions as to whether he may be ready for the playoffs. I am not certain that he is, but I can be convinced otherwise. I just do not think that Doc and FAZ will take that chance.

        1. I’m not certain he would be ready either. I just want to see more. I realize that he’s on a pitch count so they’re aren’t going to throw him a lot, but I could see 5-6 more appearance by the end of the season for sure.

      2. Hawkeye

        Firstly, they never should have made Ryu, skip his start last week!

        Pitchers need to pitch every fifth day, to keep their good command!

        Also Ryu was visible tired when he was pitching to the pitcher, so Honeycutt, or Grandal, should have went out to Ryu to give him some rest, before he faced his next hitter!

        I agree with you about using Stewart, Stewart pitched two innings in the first game against the Nats, and he had a lot of hitters, swinging, and missing, and he pitched, two scoreless innings.

        I think the only reason that Stewart has not looked as good this year, is because he wasn’t able to start the season on time, because he had soreness in his arm, so it took him a while, to get where he was, last year.

        Also Roberts should have put in a defensive replacement for Granderson, in the later innings of that game.

        Granderson was really slow to that ball that was hit into the corner, and he doesn’t have a throwing arm, for the outfield.

        On that same play last year in the post season, Werth was thrown out at home easily, because of Toles and Corey!

        The Nats didn’t hesitate to stop Werth from going home, because they knew that Granderson doesn’t have much of an arm.

        And in the early innings in that game, our hitters were having better at bats, and they actually hit a lot of hard balls, right at somebody, but they just didn’t continue to do that, through out the game.

        Also the umpire wasn’t consistent last night, because if the crowd didn’t like one of his calls, he would make up for it.

        And he was giving Strasburg, more of the plate.

        1. I’m with you on skipping starts and the 6 man rotation. I’ve said before they should have got Ryu warmed up in plenty of time to piggyback with Maeda after the rain delay instead of a sim game the next day. I think it is time to make Ryu #5 and put Maeda in the pen where Maeda can work at 94 for an inning or two. I forgot about that Toles play last year. That was huge. A lot less speed and a lot less arm in LF with Granderson compared to Toles.

  2. The 2017 Minor League Season for the Dodgers has come to an end. Yesterday two league championships were on the line, and the Dodger affiliates split them. The Tulsa Drillers lost a heartbreaker 1-0 to the Midland RockHounds (A’s). This was the fourth consecutive Texas league championship for Midland. In yesterday’s finale, the Midland leadoff hitter got on board on a throwing error by third baseman Erick Mejia, and later came around to score the game’s only run. Dennis Santana pitched very well, going 6 innings allowing the 1 unearned run on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts, taking the loss. Dennis Santana had a very fine ending to his AA promotion…0 earned runs over 13 playoff innings. 9 hits, 3 walks, and 18 strikeouts. The lone offensive highlight was Matt Beaty going 3-5, in undoubtedly his AA swan song. Drew Jackson and Kyle Garlick had the two other Driller hits.
    In the Pioneer Rookie League, the Ogden Raptors needed to complete 2 games to win the league championship. The Raptors lost Game 1 in a 15-3 laugher. Connor Heady was 2-3 and Rylan Bannon hit his third championship series HR. In Game 2, the Raptors won 8-3. The Raptors never trailed in nightcap. Donovan Casey, Romer Cuadrado, Brayan Morales, and Kevin Lachance each had 2 hits. Edwin Uceta went the first 4 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 strikeout. Conor Costello picked up the win with a scoreless inning, and Justin Hoyt finished the game and season.
    6 of the 8 minor league affiliates went into the playoffs, and two came out on top…One of the two DSL teams, and the rookie league Pioneer League champion, Ogden Raptors. Two teams came in 2nd, the second of the two DSL teams, and the AA Tulsa Drillers. The AZL Dodgers and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes both went out before the final series. There were a number of players who had outstanding seasons to loo back on. I am working on creating a year end report for each of the teams.

  3. AC you have made me interested in our Minor League System with your very easy to read round ups. Good work & thanks.

    I have a feeling these next couple of weeks are gonna drag.
    I’m ready for Post Season Dodger Baseball for the 5th year in a row.
    Just wanna get going now.

    Badly jaded after 5 days in Spain with 28 pals playing golf between the drinking.
    Didn’t see any of she Nats series, but
    To win 2-1 is very positive.
    However, they will be a tough nut to crack in the Playoffs behind Scherzer & Strasburg.

    1. The Good: Barnes in against a RHP and hitting 6th after Puig; Utley getting a start against his old team; Kershaw.
      The Bad: Grandy is in the lineup not Ethier; Kike plays SS against a RHP while Cory sits.
      The Ugly: Pivetta has 23 starts with a 5 and 10 record and 6.75 ERA.
      Advantage: Blue!

      1. Just thinking out loud…Maybe Kike’ starting is getting him back in the lineup and moving his thoughts away from losing his grandfather. He just got back from P.R. I do not have any clue if that is in any way a consideration, but I could certainly understand it. It isn’t going to hurt Corey to have a day off, and it might help Kike’s psyche. Again, just a thought.

        1. You are a compassionate man AC, had not thought of that. I hope Kike performs well and sorry for his loss. I am fine with guys getting a rest, just not more than 1 key starter at a time. I think Grandy needs more rest too! Taylor with his 20th HR tonight gives the Dodgers 5 players with 20 or more and Grandal has 19. If (when) Grandal gets his 20th it would be the first time with 6 players at 20 or more in the same season for the team.

  4. Doc must have put down $50 in Vegas that Granderson gets a hit today. It’s the only logical explanation why he’s in there again.

    1. Bobby – I just think that they are just trying to get Granderson going as he was brought in solely for the Post Season, where he has posted decent numbers.
      I think Ethier gets a bench spot on the playoff roster.
      At the moment I play Barnes over Grandal & Utley over Forsythe.
      Didn’t Utley have a fantastic return to Citizens Park last year?

  5. When you live on the West coast and post after the game no one sees it because a new thread is started in the morning. So, without meaning to sound too vain, I will repost my last post from yesterday (also the last post in the thread).

    1- Our bull-pen continues to give up HRs at an alarming rate. That can’t continue in the post season.
    2- Granderson was 9-78 since coming to the Dodgers. That’s .115. That’s like playing with 8 and throwing in an out.
    3- Grandal got a hit tonight to break a 20something hitless streak. That’s like playing with 8 and throwing in an out.
    4- When you add the pitcher’s spot, that throws in another out. With 3 almost certain outs in your lineup you can’t expect to score many runs.

    The Nats have a great team it is going to take everything we have if we meet them in the playoffs. We need to fill the black holes

    Either needs to play so we can see if he can still hit. Not playing him seems to be saying he isn’t going to be in the playoff line-up. Agon isn’t really able to perform. His career is over due to his back. Can’t see him being on the post season roster.

    Does anyone have any news of Towle’s progress?

    1. Campy

      Toles will be out all year, but he didn’t have any other damage in his knee, and his doctor said, he would be fine to play baseball at this level next year, because there was no other damage.

  6. An interesting FYI from CBS Sports. Baseball may not have a 20 win pitcher for the first time in almost10 years. The only non strike no 20 win seasons are 2006 & 2009. The only pitcher who seems to have a chance is CK. He has 3 starts (including tonight) and the other three 17 game winners are lined up for only two more starts. Assuming the Dodgers don’t hold CK back from one of his starts and he wins all three he will be 20-3 in 27 starts.

    As the velocity of pitches goes up, and it seems to have done so in the last few years with almost everyone hitting the 90+mph mark, the TJ surgery rate is going up, the IR list for pitcher is getting longer and the starts pitchers are making is going down.

  7. Kershaw is not going to win 20. He is a good pitcher but his greatness is certainly overstated. If you can’t beat the worst team in the league well I just wouldn’t talk about greatness. He is not worth 35 million or whatever it is. The dodgers have been unbelievable at times but the post season is another animal. The nationals have fantastic pitching and a great lineup. The dbacks the same. I would take Robbie ray over a head to head matchup with kershaw. I’m sorry but I find myself diasappointed with him over and over. When we were in the midst of the terrible losing streak our ace can’t get through 4 innings. When we had greinke game 1 should have gone to him but the hype chose kershaw. A great pitcher is sandy koufax. When it got tough he was tougher where kershaw wilts. Anyway klueberpitches like an ace, bumgarner I don’t like but if we had him instead of kershaw we would have had a World Series. I know the statistics are blah blah blah but the bigger the game such as the last cubs game he owes the dodgers a refund.

    1. This is not the place that has the flavor of the week.

      Robbie Ray IN HIS BEST SEASON EVER… EVER is 14-5 with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP.

      Ray is 28-36 in his career with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP.

      THIS YEAR, in what is not one of his best seasons, Clayton Kershaw is 17-3 with a 2.12 ERA and a 0.924 WHIP.

      In more than twice as many years as Ray has pitched, Clayton Kershaw is 143-63 with a career 2.35 ERA and a career 1.00 WHIP,

      In the postseason, TWO BAD INNINGS (7th innings) have tainted his record. Ray has never pitched under such pressure.

      I am not going to say that you are dumb….but you have really bad luck when it comes to thinking and you are out of touch with reality.

      Robbie Ray is a good pitcher, but if you use Ray and Kershaw in the same sentence, you are purely delusional!

  8. Yep, now there’s a comment that has shut down the wire for awhile…
    Reminds me of Twitter guy in D.C…
    We got folks like AC and Hawkeye that inform and generate thought and then there’s twitter guy!!!

  9. I posted this on 9/17:

    I am not yet ready to concede that the problems that the Dodgers had during the horrible streak are solved. One thing that Roberts has stated is that it all starts with the starting pitching. Kershaw, Darvish, Wood and Hill have all had good starts so they won all of those games. During their incredible 3 month run, it didn’t matter if the starters pitched well – they usually figured out a way to win anyway.

    I will be convinced that they are “back” when they grind out some tough wins, come from behind, and the offense is hitting on all cylinders. Lately, too many hitters aren’t hitting. They have a giant black hole in LF, Grandal isn’t hitting at all, and 2B has usually been bad too. Seager has lost his power stroke and Taylor is looking tired. They need to get it ALL together again before the post-season. The last 4 games have been a good start – can they recapture the magic of May – July?

    So – they win 4 in a row when the starters dominated. They lost last night when Ryu couldn’t get out of the 5th. They lost tonight when Kershaw got slammed.

    The offense isn’t working any more. There is no margin for error. The hitting with RISP has stopped. The coming from behind hasn’t happened in weeks.

    They haven’t really come out of the late August tailspin yet. They don’t have much time left to do it.

  10. To make my point about the Dodgers’ offense, here’s what True Blue LA had to say about the Phillies’ starting pitcher tonight:

    “Phillies rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta ranks dead last in ERA (6.75) among the 126 major league pitchers with at least 100 innings in 2017, is averaging just 5.04 innings per start. Pivetta has recorded an out in the sixth inning just once in his last eight starts, and since the All-Star break has allowed 58 runs on 76 hits in 57 innings, covering 12 starts.”

    They managed 2 runs against him.

    1. They don’t need to hit on “all cylinders.” Very few teams hit very well in the playoffs.
      But yes, your greater thesis is correct. If the team pitches well and hits well they will do well.
      Well said.

      1. The players are human.

        These are dog days.

        These games mean nothing.

        I can recite teams that were hot at the end of the season and lost in the playoffs and I can recite teams that lost their last seven games and won the World Series.

        This all means nothing.

        I won’t be posting much until the playoffs. Everything is “knee jerk.” There’s no road map as to how to win this all.

  11. I agree with what you say about ray but I am going on what we have done against ray which is nothing. Kershaw is not pitching like an ace but maybe he is hurt. It’s my opinion but I just don’t have confidence that kershaw will be any different in this postseason than he has been in the others. Because of him being the number 1 starter he has to produce for us to win, after all that is why he is getting 35 million to produce. Although you can’t compare careers ray is currently a shutdown pitcher but hopefully not this playoff. I hope I am delusional but 2 bad 7th innings don’t quite sum up kershaw post season problems. One only has to look at his vintage game against the cubs last year which I don’t believe he made it to the seventh.

  12. I gather Kershaw was off all night. He was pitching on an extra day of rest which never seems to work out to well. Meanwhile Dodger starters held the Nationals to 2 runs during their 3 game series. Yes Stripling blew the game but after that whatever happened didn’t matter. Beuhler is being tested (and does not seem ready) with Ravin mopping up.

    I’m more interested in how Darvish pitches. We was sharp in his last outing. Has he turned the corner with his mechanics?

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