Yesterday’s game was fun and to be appreciated. What a fan appreciation day!!! The Dodgers score 14 and collect 16 hits. Ryu pitched AND hit superbly. He allows 4 hits and collects 8 strikeouts, and ZERO walks, and gets THREE hits. Josh Fields and Julio Urias come in and shutdown the Padres for the final three innings. It is hard to get too excited about shutting down the Padres, but they did what they were supposed to do.
Manny Machado got things started with a 2nd inning HR. I know I have been hard on Machado, but it is not easy to not only change teams, but to change leagues and change time zones. Machado’s family is on the east coast. He is trying to get a record breaking contract and he has to be pressing with the struggling he has encountered over the last few weeks. But he is a dangerous hitter and the Dodgers need him to be lethal the next 6 games. He does not need to carry the team, just stay within himself. His talent alone can be a big influence on the outcome. Worry about next year after he rides in the Downtown LA parade that is sure to come.
Big day offensively for Matt Kemp, who collected his 1,000 career RBI with his 2nd inning HR. He also had a double and single for a 3 hit/3 RBI day. He is warming up to finish the season as he started. His last 7 games he is batting .353/.353/.765/1.118, and his last 15 games .318/.333/.568/.901.
Are we seeing more of the 2017 version of CT3? In the leadoff role, CT3 went 1-3 with 2 walks. In his last 7 games he is batting .333/.455/.500/.955 and .342/.432/.632/1.064 in his last 15 games. Yes, he is still striking out too much, but a .432 OBP over a 15-game span is more than acceptable. He is not an ideal leadoff player, but the Dodgers do not have one, and he is now getting on base at a far more acceptable rate. I am guessing that he is back in the leadoff role tonight against Robbie Ray.
Max Muncy continues to impress. It is no longer unexpected, but it still is striking. Two big 2-RBI hits in his two plate appearances yesterday. He has his OPS up to .960. 33 HRs and 72 RBIs in 457 PA. He is not going to qualify with sufficient PA, but if he did, he would be 5th in MLB and 2nd in NL (behind Christian Yelich).
Then there is the tale of three LHH OFs; Joc, Verdugo, and Toles. It is hard not to feel for Andrew Toles. There certainly seems to be something percolating beneath the surface with his use. He has all of 5 plate appearances since he was recalled and has unfortunately struck out 4 times. He is a far better baseball player than he is being afforded the opportunity to showcase. He does not need to go back to AAA and he is not able to show other teams what he can do. Verdugo is doing better in his September audition going 6-23 with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. His shortfall is his power, and while that is not a big deciding factor for some of us, it certainly seems to be for FAZ. Then there is the much maligned Joc Pederson. For the month of September, he is batting .314/.352/.686/1.038 with 5 HR’s in 54 PA. He is striking out more often, but if he continues to hit with authority, I can stomach the K’s.
Austin Barnes is still an enigma. He has never had a problem offensively, so hopefully he will begin to thaw out this last week. Yesterday’s HR is a start. David Freese looks to be a key RHH PH. Brian Dozier looks absolutely lost at the plate. The Twins (and FAZ) seemed to look away from a mediocre to poor batting average because of his power. But he has 1 HR in his last 30 games while batting an anemic .144/.238/.233/.471. Those numbers do not correlate into a playoff roster spot. How does Ryu stick out his bat and collect three hits, and Dozier look inept? It is time to put Muncy at 2B and leave him there. If you need to put Kike’ in for defensive purposes at the end of a game, so be it.
The bullpen is starting to show some real backbone, and Jansen is getting back to his dominant self. Tony Cingrani should not come in for any meaningful innings for the remainder of this year. I think he can be a key contributor for next year, but this year he needs to sit back and watch.
Finally, it was absolutely heartwarming to watch Dad Utley make his final regular season plate appearance at Dodger Stadium and see the reaction of the crowd. I hope he is like Ethier and gets one more hit in his final AB in the WS, but this time with a win for the good guys. I would like to see him as a coach next year but being away from home so much with kids is not easy for the player, much less a coach. The Utley’s live in Sausalito and he would be away from his immediate family for too much of the year. I know we fans want to see Chase in a Dodger uni for many years to come, but he needs to make a decision for what makes him and his happy.
The Dodgers are 16-8 since 8-29, and if they keep that winning percentage through the end of the year, they will win 4 of the final 6 games they play, and hopefully that will be good enough to get them their 6th consecutive NL West title. The Dodgers get Ray and Greinke this series. They need to beat them both.