Last night, Dodgerrick posted an excellent clutch performance synopsis of the Dodgers 2018 season. Yes, I wear rose colored glasses, but I am not blind. I know that it is easy to do an autopsy on last night’s game as everything has already happened and the results are known. But Rick was right in his estimation that last night epitomized that FanGraphs expose’.
Walker Buehler pitched a tremendous 5.2 innings, but a single, walk, and double put the Dodgers tenuous 1-0 lead in the rear-view mirror. Starting pitchers cannot be expected to pitch shutouts each time out. It is up to the offense to do their part.
I am critical of the approach, not so much the execution. Let’s consider the 3rd inning as an example. Leadoff walk followed by a single and the #3 /#4 hitters do up. I am not going to beat up on Max Muncy because he struck out in this inning and in another critical situation. One cannot praise Muncy for his accomplishments in one game and then castigate him in the next because he made outs. But Max’s 2018 success has come with shortfalls, specifically as it comes with K’s. But what I am critical of is Max’s approach. The Dodgers are in a tough 1-0 game early against a very pedestrian pitcher, and the approach should be to make sure that runners get moved up with nobody out. I am not advocating that he bunt, but I would like to see Max stay within himself and at least put bat to ball and not strike out looking.
Yesterday I praised Machado for putting bat to ball and driving in a runner from 3rd with less than 2 outs on a ground ball in the hole to the SS. If runners were moved up by Muncy the batter before, Machado’s ground out probably scores a run rather than a DP. I recognize that it is a BIG IF, but that has to be the approach, not looking at strike 3.
In a similar situation in the 6th for the DBacks, the first two batters are retired. The two outs were followed by a single and walk. Nobody is barreling up on Buehler, so Peralta does not try to do too much and hits a 2-run double on a 1-1 pitch. Great AB for Peralta. Not the result, but his approach. Stay within himself and make solid contact.
While the Dodgers 3rd inning was emblematic of the team’s poor approach, this approach came screaming back in the 9th. CT3 hits a game tying ground rule double with nobody out and now in a 3-3 game. Taylor is one of the fastest players on the team, and all Joc has to do is get the ball down and get CT3 to 3rd. Sometimes the situation calls for a pull hitter to do just that and hit a ground ball to the right side to move the runner up.
I am not picking on Joc, because I do not believe any batter would have done anything different. Why would we expect a player to sacrifice themselves (not necessarily a bunt) when all that is praised is that 7 Dodgers have 20+ HRs and 10 have double digit HR’s? The Dodgers GM has gone on record stating that the biggest problem for the team in the early going was lack of HR’s. It sure seems like the emphasis is on HR’s and not producing runs. And yes, I recognize that the Dodgers are at the top of the NL with runs scored, but most of those have come from big blow out games, while they lose the close games. The Dodgers record in one run games is 22-22, but in blowouts, they are 30-9. Thus, in games with the run differential from 2-4 runs, the Dodgers record is 36-39. Not enough timely hitting and 26 blown saves. Take your poison.
I know some were critical of using Tim Locastro in a PR role for Grandal in the 7th. I was not. With the Dodgers ineptness with scoring from 3rd with less than two outs, Locastro has a FAR better chance of scoring on an out than does Grandal. If Grandal gets thrown out at the plate on an infield ground out or after tagging on a fly ball, everyone would have been all over Doc for not PR for him. It turned out that Locastro was not needed to score, but nobody knew that at the time. If everyone knew that Kike’ was going to get a hit in that situation, Grandal would have stayed in. The Dodgers needed a run, and Locastro gives the Dodgers a better chance to score on an out than does Grandal.
What is becoming curious for me is the apparent Loogy status of Scott Alexander. He has come in to face 1 batter (LHH) the last two games. Why? He got them out, but why only 1 batter? This is not a criticism, just a question.
We knew that the Dodgers had to win out to guarantee them the Division championship. I still believe that has to be the thought process, so every run must be considered critical. Move the runners up and MAKE CONTACT.
Stripling v Greinke will not be easy. The Dodgers have scheduled Ryu, Kershaw, and Buehler for the weekend series against SF. The Giants have not named their starting pitchers. But you got to figure Andrew Suarez, MadBum, and Derek Holland will be strongly considered, with Ty Blach getting a long look. Suarez was scheduled to pitch today, but it appears that Casey Kelly is getting the nod instead and Suarez will be held back for Friday.
The Phillies sure seem to have given up, so while I thought that Pivetta v Marquez would be an even matchup, I do not hold out hope for the Phillies. MAYBE Arrieta can be good tomorrow. The Nats have tentatively scheduled Joe Ross for Friday and Stephen Strasburg for Saturday. I would hope that if the race was still in doubt that the Nats would march out Scherzer for Sunday’s game.