I always use that title once this time of year. This is where legends are made and you never know who will step up when you least expect it. What better legend to feature that one Sanford Koufax, as his protegee goes tonight.
If New Orleans is really The Big Easy, then St. Louis is The Big (It Ain’t) Easy for the LA Dodgers. With just two weekends left in the regular season, these four games with the St. Louis Cardinals are extremely important for the Dodgers. Maybe they aren’t “must win” games, but they are games they really need. A split is the worst case scenario for the Dodgers. Taking 3 out of 4 would be amazing and 4 out of 4 would be almost impossible… but awesome. Winning 1 out of 4 or getting swept would really dash their pennant hopes. It is right about now for the boys in Blue to “man up.”
Talent-wise, this team is the class of the National League. They allowed the fewest runs and are a handful of runs from being the top scoring team… and yet they have underachieved. The Dodgers have the best run differential in the National League. Look at the Top Teams in the NL:
- Dodgers +133
- Cubs +111
- Braves +103
- Cardinal +82
- Nationals/D-Backs +73
- Brewers +43
- Pirates/Rockies -3
Baseball Prospectus has a Statistical Page called Adjusted Standings. In every division in baseball by all the statistical indicators, the team with the best Pythagorean Record is leading the division… except the NL West. According to the adjusted standings, the Dodgers are the best team in the NL… except they are not even close. I am not going to bore you with all the statistical analysis here, because it really means nothing. However, it is fascinating to see how the Dodgers are where they are and why the stats say they should be much better… except they are not.
Some of it…. maybe 25%… is luck. Fangraphs doesn’t buy it, but some of it just has to bepure, blind luck. No other explanation. On the other hand, luck is where preparation meets opportunity and there are no excuses. You are what your record says you are, but… BIG BUT, the Dodgers can change all that right about now.
Next year, the Dodgers need more diversity. Right now, they have too many “all-or-nothing” players, like Grandal, Pederson, Dozier, Taylor, Muncy and Bellinger. All of those guys biggest statistic is the strikeout. Some of those players will move on by trade or free agency and others, specifically Taylor and Bellinger, will figure it out. Some think Bellinger and Taylor had their career years last year – I don’t. In 5 years you will look back and see both players had better seasons. Yasiel Puig did not have a career year, but I think it might be time for him to move on. Alex Wood probably had his career year, but Kenley Jansen has lots of years left, like Marino Rivera with that cutter.
I think Cody Bellinger will be a potential Hall-of-Fame player after his lackluster Sophomore season. While Chris Taylor is not on that level, he will figure out how to cut down on his strikeouts and will be a very nice player… again.
The Dodgers need more players like Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo… and down the line, like Gavin Lux and Keibert Ruiz. The thing is: home runs are great but not striking out is a thing too. I do not want Brian Dozier back and I am ambivalent about Manny Machado. But, roster composition for 2019 is a matter for another day.
Now, Back to This One…
That’s what Vin used to say, but we still have a little over two weeks to play in the season… and anything can happen. The Rockies don’t appear to be going away, so the Dodgers have to hang in until they face-to-face them again on next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I still say this team is built for the Post-Season… if they can get there. We are about to see what these boys are made of. Like Babe Ruth said: “It’s hard to beat a person who never quits.” This – right here, right now is where legends are made and where losers are exposed. Here we go…
- Alex Wood appears destined to go to the bullpen. He has held it together, but I have held my breath every time he takes the mound. There is something about the way he has pitched this year that scares me to death. It was never been discussed why his velocity has dropped so much from early last year and he has been skipped a few times this year for his regular turn. It appears to me that he has been suffering from some sort of injury. Can he pitch out of the pen? We will likely see.
- The bullpen can only get better from here. Kenley is back (no more Colorado), Rosscup has been very good, Baez is better than ever, Fields is solid, Floro is outstanding, Ferguson is more confident every outing, Stripling is … the same. Maeda is settling in and Alexander is dangerous in both ways. We have no clue if Urias, Axford or Madsen can contribute, but the Dodgers are not without options.
- For this team to win the NL West, 3 or 4 of the bats are going to have to wake up. JT and Manny need to be who they are and Grandal needs to go on one of his patented hot streaks (he started yesterday, hopefully). If just two of these fellas could get hot, the Dodgers might be in high cotton: Hernandez, Puig, Taylor, Bellinger, Pederson and Kemp. Just two!
- Tonight, we will hopefully see The Kershawshank Redemption as our Ace sets the tone for the series. Let’s get ready to rumble. It’s all come down to these few games. Wow!
- Among Catching Qualifiers in MLB, Yasmani Grandal is 5th in BA, 3rd in OB%, 2nd in Slugging, 2nd in OPS, 2nd in HR, 4th in RBI, 1st in BB, 2nd in Runs Scored, 10th in PB, 8th in Errors and 1st in Total Chances, but his extremes are a problem. He seems to be red hot or frozen cold. The Athletic has a great piece on him today and he thinks he may have figured it out. I’m not holding my breath, but it would be nice. I, for one, have expected more from him.
- Thanks to Carlos Zamora from Costa Rica for the kind words – Welcome to the family!