I understand the frustration in losing last night to the Padres. But I am not going to blame this on Doc or the lineup. The two questions I did have before the game were Kike’ and Freese in the lineup and Bellinger not. But Kike’ and Freese were fine last night and certainly not the problem. Kemp has been getting key hits lately, so I am not going to blame him for not getting a key hit or Puig. JT and Machado left runners on base, but JT has been so hot lately, one off night is not going to be a problem for me. Even Machado got a RBI in the 9th. No, instead I am going to give credit to the 23-year-old LHSP Eric Lauer. Lauer has pitched superbly against the Dodgers all year. The Pads are allowed to have a good young pitcher.
In the art of second guessing, I am not sure that Stripling is the answer for the #5 SP right now. He has not been the same since he went out with the injury. He might be able to go 1-2 innings, but anything more seems to be pushing it. I also do not like the changing of the order of the rotation when the team is hot. Why move Hill and Stripling around. Hill last pitched last Saturday. Is a 7-day rest period really wise at this stage of the season? It is not like Hill is a 200 IP pitcher, and needs an extra day. Starting pitchers have a routine, and now Hill is not in his. Again, maybe it works out for the Dodgers. I am not trying to insinuate that it is a mistake, it is just a question for me. My understanding was that the change was predicated on setting up for the playoffs. YOU HAVE TO GET TO THE PLAYOFFS FIRST TO SET UP THE ROTATION FOR THE PLAYOFFS. This team seems to be putting the cart before the horse too many times this year. Keeping the player fresh for October when there may not be an October, and now setting up the playoff rotation when there may not be a playoff. Maybe the reports about setting up for the playoff rotation were off, but it is certainly understandable with how this year is working out.
I have read a lot of blog posters this AM that are blaming the loss on Axford. Axford is who he is, a very underwhelming average relief pitcher who can throw hard. He is capable of a good outing, but also capable of a clunker. I do not know why Axford was called in to pitch the 9th and not Maeda. Maybe it is because Maeda pitched on the 16th, 18th, and 19th. It is not the number of innings pitched, but the number of times Maeda has gotten up to warm up. He is a starting pitcher who does not get up to warm up every night. That is why I question why everyone seems to think that it is just normal for a starting pitcher to just go to the pen and be able to effectively go back to back games. I did not care that both Maeda and Wood could be in the pen, but they are not the same as a top high leverage late inning reliever. Just like the late inning high leverage reliever is not a starting pitcher. It is a total breakup of their routine from the start of the year. It took Maeda 2-3 relief appearances before he seemed transfixed into the relief role. That is why I did not think there was anything wrong with Wood in his 1st relief appearance in a year and a half. He seemed fine last night with his fastball hitting 92. He is not sulking, he is just a starting pitcher placed in an unfamiliar role (at least this year).
The game plan was to win the next three series. They can still win the Padre series with a win tonight and tomorrow. The DBacks and SF do want to take the Dodgers out, but just like with the DBacks and Rockies earlier this month, LAD seems to play to their competition, and they seem very capable of rising to the occasion for those two series. I am sure there was a psychological let down after a great Rockies series, and then a well pitched game by a 2018 Dodger nemesis (Lauer), but that is the makeup of this Dodgers team. JT is critical and Kemp/Muncy have been magical at times, but this is Corey Seager’s team. Now that Ethier is no longer with the team, Seager and his career .326/.413/.536/.949 batting line with RISP, and .328/.416/.522/.938 with RISP and 2 outs is the clutch that this team is missing. It certainly is not Machado. After all, he is no Scooter Gennett. Maybe Machado becomes more lethal with Turner AND Seager, but by himself, he is not the clutch bat the team is missing.
So, let’s get off the blame game train and just give the Padres and Lauer credit for last night. And then let’s watch the Dodgers take the next two games to win the series and move in to AZ to wrap up the NL West for the 6th consecutive year.
By the way, even with all the exercise I have been doing lately and all of the weight that I have lost, my 66-year-old heart cannot take many more of these Dodgers and Trojans games at the same time. At least my Trojans came back to win a game, and maybe the 18-year-old freshman QB proved to himself that he belongs.
Fight On & Go Blue!!