Quit Overthinking It!

From the time when Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi (“FAZ”) came to the Dodgers, I was their biggest proponent.  I have admired what they have started and accomplished, including the hiring of Dave Roberts whom I believe is one of the best managers in baseball.  I was never the biggest proponent of analytics and sabermetrics but I grew to see the value of using it.  However, the past two games have exposed a real flaw in their plan and if they don’t fix it soon, the Astros are going to take this World Series. If that happens, the blame will be shared by the front office and the manager.

The use of analytics, splits, match-ups and a number of stats and formulas the average fan has no clue about is what helped this Dodger team get to their first World Series since 1988, so I can’t be outraged, but I am upset.  The flaw is that FAZ and Doc have overused analytics in the World Series.  I’m not saying they aren’t important during this time, but I am saying that sometimes, on the big stage, you have to use your eyes and not your analytics.

Case-in-point:  A.J. Hinch had several opportunities to remove Lance McCullers, Jr. during that game, when he was in trouble, but he was not as concerned with the “match-ups” as he was with what he saw. McCullers battled for 5.1 inning before giving way to Brad Peacock who should have been a middle man or a long man if you look at analytics. Brad Peacock has a 5.00 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP (after his great outing), but Hinch didn’t look at the analytics – he trusted his eyes and saw a guy dominating the Dodger hitters with mostly his fastball, and he left him in there for 3.2 innings to finish the game and get his first EVER save.

Dave Roberts sticks with the plan:  Starter, Maeda, Morrow and Jansen.  Maeda went in for Rich Hill way too early and Dave didn’t allow him to pitch long.  Last night Maeda went in for Darvish and was again pulled too early.  With the DH, there was no reason to take him out so soon.  He is burned for today’s game so why not see if he can go 3 or 4 innings?

It’s very obvious that Yu Darvish pitched like crap and Lance McCullers, Jr. was outstanding, and then Peacock  was lights out the rest of the way.  Analytics be damned – AJ Hinch managed with his eyes and gut. The fact of the matter is that the Dodgers Front Office and Field Manager have had their asses handed to them the past two games.  Live by analytics and you die by analytics because humans play this game and sometimes you need to trust your gut and not the great numerical holy grail. I am not saying that analytics are not important, but it is important to trust your eyes.

Now, you can say “Well you can’t win when you only get 4 hits.”  That is generally true, but the Dodgers know that they hit some pitches right on the screws last night… right at someone.  That will even out. The Dodgers first 5 hitters were 2 for 18, but other than Cody Bellinger’s 4 strike outs, the rest of the team only struck out 3 times.  Cody Bellinger is going to have to adjust to that down and in pitch… like now.  So far, the Astros have figured out he cannot hit that pitch. It’s way past time for an adjustment. He has shown that ability to adjust in the past – he needs to relax and let the game come to him.  In think he will!

Here’s what the Dodgers are facing: The bullpen is not very rested.  Morrow might give you an inning.  I would not want to count on Jansen for more than that either.  Meada likely can’t pitch. Stripling might give you an inning, but do you want him?  That leaves Fields, McCarthy and of course, Cingrani and Watson as situational guys.  The reason I mention this is that Alex Wood goes for the Dodgers today, and the bullpen is tired after last night.  Alex Wood was great the first half of the season, but his velocity is way down and so is his ability to pitch deep into games.

Hopefully, Wood will be dominant and pitch 6 or 7 strong innings, but I am not confident in that.  However, I was more confident that Yu Darvish would do that and that was a disaster, so I guess you never know.  It is a crap shoot and someone has to step up.  Those someone’s could be Brandon McCarthy and Yasmani Grandal. You never know.  What I do know is that the Dodgers need to bring out their big sticks tonight – that can cure everything.

BTW, Alex Wood has pitched one game at Minute Maid Park, back in 2014 when he went 7 innings and allowed 3 hits with no runs.  You just never know.

BTW2: I was interviewed on The Balance Sports Talk Show today.  Click HERE to  listen.

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 74 Comments

  1. Hinch KNOWS his bullpen is weak.
    .
    If a MLB manager never again manages “from the gut” I’ll be a happy man.
    .
    Maybe if Roberts let his “junkyard dogs” do their “dog” things, or played more players with grit…
    .
    Or if only the Dodgers had better chemistry or maximized their momentum.
    .
    Give it a rest with this subjective nonsense

    1. I suppose that an objective perspective is one that is not influenced by emotions, opinions, or personal feelings and is perspective based in things factual, quantifiable and measurable.

      So, that means that a subjective perspective is one open to greater interpretation based on personal feelings, emotions, aesthetics, and so forth.

      Why does that make you so upset? You only want to deal with facts that are quantifiable and measurable? Good luck with that! It often turns out that objectivity is often influenced by subjectivity.

      Why is subjectivity bad? What makes objectivity good?
      _
      If you have ever played sports or faced an opponent down in a fight, you can often “read” that person by their eyes and face. That’s about as subjective as one can get, but there are times when you can look a person in the eye and see their steely resolve or their palpable fear! Nothing objective about that, but I feel for you if you have never experienced it.

      Have you ever “been “in the zone.” In 30+ years of playing organized basketball, I was in the zone 3 or 4 times. Totally subjective and totally real. Nothing can stop you when you are in the zone. You can’t miss, no matter what.
      Many have no idea what I am talking about, but some of you do and have been there. You know of what I speak.

      Maybe you don’t have the same point of reference as I do, but that doesn’t make you right or me wrong or vice versa. It’s pretty hard to discuss anything and be totally objective. Your predilection to objectivity is purely subjective in my opinion.

  2. It will be a sad commentary if our WS chances turned when Stripling couldn’t throw a strike in the 7th inning in game #2 forcing Doc to go to Morrow too early. Then again maybe he went to Maeda a bit too early also, only letting Hill pitch 4 innings.

    Offense needs to hit Morton tonight and jump out with a big lead. Cody has to adjust, he looks completely lost and needs to read and lay off the off speed pitch inside. The Astros think they got the formula to getting Cody out and he needs to take a walk if they want to pitch inside and off the plate.

    Really disappointing last night to have Seager ground into a DP with the bases loaded and no outs after McCullers walked the bases full. The first swing and miss and the DP were on off speed pitches out of the zone. I would have loved a GS or a double off the wall, but down 4-0 at that point I would have liked a patient approach, heck even take a BB but get the count into a good hitter’s count where McCullers has to throw a fastball at 2-0 or 3-0.

    Bottom line is we need a lot more offensive production from 1-4 hitters tonight and I think we’ll get that. Look for Corey to have a “bounce back” game.

  3. I hope Hinch does the right thing and benches Gurriel for tonight’s game. If not, where’s Drysdale when you need him? The Dodgers don’t like to retaliate under Roberts and the opposing teams know that.

    As for analytics, it is taking away a piece of baseball that makes it such a special sport – its soul.

    1. I wouldn’t expect Hinch or Manfred to do the correct thing. Wood should drill Gurriel and fire this team up.

  4. Plain and simple, and Mark touched on this. Hitting cures everything. Get Taylor, JT, Puig and Cody going and we will all be talking a different game in the next two days. Just score some damn runs and get our swag back. Not worried just yet, tonight is our game to win. Just quit overthinking, grind the at bats like we did the first couple of innings against McCullers, and the rest will work out.

  5. And while were at it, someone PLEASE stop the lovefest between FOX sports and the Astros. I am getting overspray from the slobber over the microphone. Ok, Altuve and Correa are doing good, but they are not LEGENDS yet. Geez, I feel like I’m watching Ron Darling all over again a couple of years ago. Please make it stop.

  6. Watford nailed it. To this point we are being outplayed just like we outplayed the Snakes and the Cubbies. This could change. We need to win a game to get back to L A. It’s up to you Boys!

    Agree about Fox and the Stros.

  7. If there is a team that uses analytics more than the Dodgers it’s the Stros. Dodgers are just getting out analyzed.

  8. I couldn’t agree more with Mark and less with Bluto. Baseball isn’t a game played by computers or on computers – it is played by flesh and blood people, and sometimes they fail when you don’t expect it or succeed beyond your wildest imagination. You don’t push a button and get the result that you want – you keep your eyes open and see what is actually happening on the field and make your decisions. Sure, the data informs your decision making but it doesn’t work in a vacuum.

    Roberts’ mismanagement of the bullpen in Game 2 has affected the rest of the series. Now, Maeda and Morrow will likely be unavailable for Game 4. In fact, as Mark opined, Maeda should have been extended in Game 3 since he looked great. He wasn’t going to pitch for a while anyway, he was getting guys out, and he’s a starter so he can keep going. It would have saved the rest of the bullpen for the rest of the Series.

    For that matter, he should have left Maeda in in Game 2 after lifting Hill.

    As to Bluto’s comment about “subjective nonsense”, my response it that there is nothing subjective about these comments. What is objective is the outcomes resulting from mismanagement. And no, the process is not more important than the outcomes that result therefrom. The outcomes are the result of the process, in part.

    1. If Jansen gets through the 9th no one is saying boo other than Roberts managed with a sense of urgency. Starting Stripling in the 7th was the big mistake in my opinion but the Dodgers had what they wanted with Kenley on the mound with the lead.

    2. Agree on all counts. Because he is a class guy I am pretty sure that Doc would take ownership of pulling Hill too early which has led to a bullpen in a downward spiral. Game 2 was ours to win without abusing our bullpen and closer. If I was Maeda’s agent or Doctor I would be concerned, with his arm/shoulder history, with him being overused. Fine him going 3-5 innings with a 2-3 days off, not good warming up and pitching every game. Ryu should have made the post season roster rather than Farmer, and now McCarthy. Unless he is seriously hurt Gonzo should have been DH all 3 road games. Gonzo should have replaced Utley or Fields on the WS roster. Late in the season his power was limited but he still hit a dinger and got some clutch hits. Utley is great but Gonzo is the #1 clubhouse leader that might be able to calm down Bellinger and Seager right now.

      Roberts is being out-managed and the Dodgers are the better team, period.

  9. I don’t think McCullers was outstanding. Everyone wants to get on Cody, and yes he needs to play better, but the biggest point in the game to me is when Seager and JT got impatient and let him off the hook.

    1. Hawkeye

      I don’t think McCullers pitched that well either.

      I think our players, just gave out, out after out, to McCullers, by not having good at bats!

      Puig lost contact with the bag, when he finished sliding, and the Altuve, kept his glove on Puig.

      And on a positive note.

      Three of the teams, that were down two games to one, two of the three teams, went on, to win the World Series!

    1. “Manfred has confirmed Nightengale’s report, announcing that Gurriel will be suspended without pay for the Astros’ first five games next year. The commissioner told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times and other reporters that suspending Gurriel for any of the World Series would have been “unfair” to the rest of the Astros’ players”
      Manfred is a milquetoast.

    2. Hawkeye

      Remember when they wanted to punish Chase, for sliding in,to break up that double play, because he accidentally hurt the Met’s second baseman?

      What this guy Gurriel did, was much worse!

      Gurriel already knew the racist gesture he did, was offensive to Asians!

      In his half baked apology, he admitted he already knew the racist gesture he made, and the word he mouthed, was offensive to Asians!

      But he still chose to do his racist gesture, on a National broadcast, that had a lot of people watching it, including children, since children play baseball.

      Because of all of this, and the many players of different ethnicities, that play baseball, including a lot of Asian players, Gurriel should be suspended immediately!

      1. Lame response by Manfred. As for the rest of the Astros players, life isn’t fair. Isn’t that part of what sports is supposed to teach us. The WS is bigger than his act. That’s the message Manfred sent out. So much for that role model BS. His teammates had no problem laughing and rubbing his head afterward.

  10. 1) Taylor…..CF
    2) Seager…SS
    3) JT…………3B
    4) Cody……1B
    5) Puig……..RF
    6) Logan….2B
    7) Barnes…C
    8) Joc……….DH
    9) Kike……..LF
    10) Wood..P

    1. I thought Grandal would get a start with Wood in that bandbox. Don’t get Forsythe 6th. Dre deserved a start.

  11. As for Maeda, I think there was good reason to not let him go too far last night. He pitched 1.2 innings and threw 42 pitches. That’s pretty high, since what’s preferred is about 15 pitches per inning. To have let him go even another 2 innings would have probably brought his pitch count up into the 70’s. That would not only have precluded his pitching tonight, but very likely tomorrow night also.

    The bottom line is that the Dodgers are not hitting with RISP. Had they been so, they may well have been up 3-0. I’m sure that Cody and Turner Ward are working on the problem. However, although Cody is mature for his age, that’s no reason to think that he’s going to get this thing figured out in time. We can only hope for the best, but understand that this is something that Cody may have to work on long term. And because we’re not going to be told anything by the Dodgers, at least in the short term, I do wonder whether or not Cory Seager his still suffering from the ill-effects of his back and elbow injuries.

    I believe in this team, so my glass still remains half-full. And I also remember that the Cubs came back from a 1-3 start to the WS last year. And since the AL won the All Star game under last years rules, I assume that the Cubs won the final two games of the Series on the road in Cleveland. The Dodgers, if they win either tonight or tomorrw night (hopefully they win both) will be going home.

    In addition to the Dodgers being pitiful in this series when they get runners on (you can’t win on just HRs), I would love to see the umpires stop calling pitches strikes outside the box on the third base side of the plate. Patience at the plate becomes difficult when the umpires become unreliable. Video replay has shown us how often umpires can be wrong. It’s about time that hitters had a consistent strike zone that they can have confidence in. Disciplined hitters like the Dodgers have, would greatly benefit from an electronic strike zone. To those all purists out there, all I can say is, SORRY.

  12. If Alex Wood can get though the batting order 2 times, I would advocate drilling Gurriel in the buttocks with a 90 MPH fastball after that. Throw him out. So what?

    1. Mark

      No one called him a racist, but he did do a racist gesture!

      And he did it on national TV, what does he do, when no one is watching him?

      I already read that article, and it had over 150 comments, because that is only one guy!

  13. Mark, that scenario would depend on the score. And if it did happen, there would be no justification to suspend Wood from any games until next year.

  14. Joe Davis in Iowa City doing the Hawkeye game. Funny, I took a pass on going to watch the Dodgers.

  15. CRAIG KIMBREL, KENLEY JANSEN NAMED 2017 RELIEVERS OF THE YEAR

    MLB and The Hartford Honor Dodgers Closer with Trevor Hoffman NL Award for Second Straight Year;
    Red Sox Closer Honored with Mariano Rivera AL Award


    Kenley Jansen of the National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers is the recipient of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award for the second consecutive season, while Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox has earned the 2017 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award, Major League Baseball and presenting sponsor The Hartford announced today. The announcement was made at a press conference before Game Four of the World Series, which was attended by Jansen as well as Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Hoffman, Rivera and Doug Elliot, president of The Hartford.

    In his eighth year in the Major Leagues, Jansen became the first pitcher to win either the Rivera or Hoffman Award consecutively in the four-year history of this honor. The 30-year-old was a key cog of one of the best seasons in Dodger franchise history, as the Club set a Los Angeles-era record with 104 wins en route to its fifth consecutive NL West title. The second-time NL All-Star in 2017 posted a 1.32 ERA and a 0.746 WHIP, allowing only 44 hits and seven walks across 68.1 innings, in which he struck out 109 batters. The 6’5” right-hander also put up a 5-0 record and tied for the NL lead with 41 saves in 42 opportunities. The Dodgers’ all-time leader in saves (230) averaged 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, compared to just 0.9 walks, and limited opponents to a .171 average, including just .120 by right-handed hitters. It was the Curaçao native’s sixth straight season of 25 or more saves, including his fourth straight with more than 35 and his third of more than 40. This season Jansen recorded 10 saves of four outs or more. He also struck out the side in an “immaculate inning” – on just nine pitches – on May 18th, just the 79th such occurrence in Major League history.

    Kimbrel’s eighth year in the Majors and second with the Red Sox brought his sixth career All-Star selection. He fashioned an AL-best 1.43 ERA and a Major League-best 0.681 WHIP in his 67 games, limiting opponents to 33 hits and 14 walks in his 69.0 innings of work. The Alabama native shared the Major League lead among relievers by fanning 126 batters, the most by a Red Sox reliever since Dick Radatz in 1964 and good for a Major League-best 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He struck out 49.6% of the 249 batters he faced in 2017 and kept opposing batters to a .140 average (.109 by right-handed hitters) on his way to assembling a 5-0 record and 35 saves for AL East Champion Boston. He was also the winning pitcher for the American League in the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. Kimbrel has posted more than 30 saves in each of the seven full seasons of his career. The right-hander is now the first pitcher ever to win both the Rivera and Hoffman Awards. In 2014, Kimbrel was the inaugural recipient of the Hoffman Award.

    “We congratulate Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen for being named this year’s Reliever of the Year Award winners and applaud them for their outstanding achievements this season,” said The Hartford’s President Doug Elliot. “When it matters the most, Craig and Kenley help their teams prevail. At The Hartford, we share that commitment to deliver during the big moments.”

    Balloting for the Rivera and Hoffman Awards, which debuted in the 2014 season, was conducted among a panel of seven all-time great relievers in order to determine the recipients. Rivera and Hoffman, both of whom spent their entire careers in the same League en route to the top of the all-time saves list, were joined as voters by three Hall of Fame relief pitchers – Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter – as well as John Franco and Billy Wagner. The seven voters ranked the top three AL relief pitchers and the top three NL relief pitchers based solely on regular season performance, using a 5-3-1 weighted point system.

    The AL relievers who were the runners-up are a pair of teammates on the American League Champion Houston Astros, right-handers Ken Giles (63 G, 1-3, 2.30 ERA, 34 saves, 62.2 IP, 44 H, 21 BB, 83 SO, 1.03 WHIP) Chris Devenski (62 G, 8-5, 2.68 ERA, 4 saves, 80.2 IP, 50 H, 26 BB, 100 SO, 0.94 WHIP), as well as New York Yankees right-hander David Robertson, who re-joined the team after a July trade with the Chicago White Sox (61 G, 9-2, 1.84 ERA, 14 saves, 68.1 IP, 14 H, 12 BB, 98 SO, 0.85 WHIP). Devenski and Robertson tied for third place.
    The NL relievers who were the runners-up are Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corey Knebel (76 G, 1-4, 1.78 ERA, 39 saves, 76.0 IP, 48 H, 40 BB, 126 SO, 1.16 WHIP) and right-hander Wade Davis (59 G, 4-2, 2.30 ERA, 32 saves, 58.2 IP, 39 H, 28 BB, 79 SO, 1.14 WHIP) of the Chicago Cubs.

    The Rivera and Hoffman Awards replaced MLB’s “Delivery Man of the Year Award,” which was presented to one winner in all of Major League Baseball from 2005-2013, and have continued a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game’s top relief pitchers. The inaugural winners in 2014 were Kimbrel, then of the Atlanta Braves, in the NL and Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals for the AL. The 2015 recipients were Mark Melancon, then of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Andrew Miller, then of the New York Yankees, while last year’s honorees were Jansen and Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles.

  16. Cory Seager needs to start going up the middle and to the opposite field, and stop swinging wildly. He did that to open the series and had success.

  17. Wood throwing 90 could be long night. His game was elevated when his velocity was in mid nineties. Well Taylor opened with a hit but for life of me I don’t know why he didn’t try to steal prior to 2 outs. Now screwed by umpire.

  18. Why is getting hit by a pitch reviewable, but fouling a ball off your foot isn’t. In a word: STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cody hit the ball weakly, but the encouraging thing is that he hit it to LF. Meanwhile the way Cody is being played, he could lay down a bunt or drive one through the left side.

  19. Through 2 innings I like the way Wood is pitching. He is keeping the ball down and it is breaking down. He has 5 outs from ground balls so far. That is a swing and miss pitch with 2 strikes also. Now the bats need to get busy!

    1. Agreed he is consciously trying to keep it down after giving up homers on the ball up. It won’t matter if we can’t score. Seager 2 terrible at bats offense non-existent so far.

  20. Memo to Cory Seager. Stop trying to pull everything. You hit well to the opposite field and up the middle, and you also have power to those fields as well.

    Vegas, amen about the bats. If the Dodgers lose this series it’s going to be about their anemic offense.

    1. Brooklyn

      Corey continues to swing at the first couple pitches, he is not going to get anything good, especially on a first pitch

  21. Wood is literally GIVING this game to us. Somebody, ANYBODY, quit hitting the first or second pitch and get a rally going to help this guy! The game is there for the taking!!! Pull your heads out and be patient!!

  22. Another great game!
    .
    Even with Darvish’s implosion last night, the game was close.
    .
    Would love for Seager/Bellinger to get even close to on-track.

  23. Arg.
    .
    Third time through the lineup coming up. Wood faces Springer with two out, no on in 6th.
    .
    Gives up the homer.
    .
    Remember the process > Outcome argument?

    1. To validate your statistically fact based argument you’re using a sample size of one?

      That was dumb.

  24. The Dodgers have a comeback in them. Wood does not deserve to lose this game the way he pitched tonight.

  25. I said I would leave Wood in until he gave up a hit. I did not expect a Big Fly, but I agree with the hook!

  26. Finally a clutch hit. Need more if those.

    Good to see Cody go the other way. And even though he flew out, it was good too see Cory do the same in his last at bat.

  27. All I can say after that is Wow! Can’t quibble with anything with that finish! Kersh going tomorrow make me feel much better and the momentum has shifted. Total team win and a great start by Wood.

  28. WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nice to see Cody going with the pitch. Looks like he’s made some adjustments.

    Huge hit by Joc, but let’s not forget Wood, Logan Forsythe who played great defense, and got our first clutch hit. And nice to see Barnes finally extend the lead with that SF in a two strike count.

    Momentum is not only subjective, it’s totally overrated.

      1. Hawkeye

        You got that right, it was a complete team effort!

        And thanks for the bad Karma you brought to your team, Gurriel!

  29. lol Now it’s looking like Dodgers in 6! Turns out tonight’s game was the most important so far……..until tomorrow’s! It’s the small stuff that’s big. GO DODGERS! CHEERS!!

  30. What do you know Joc Pederson with a big blow! I for one did not expect him to be on the playoff roster! Great dodger win!!

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