NL West Division Winner or Wild Card?

It’s really as simple as that!

The regular season is over and this is the “Mini-Playoff” to determine who wins the West. While everything is “reset to Zero,” I think it might be good if we list what this team did this year without Corey Seager, because frequently it was all about one of the following:

  1. What a stupid lineup Doc ran out (there were complaints yesterday and it turned out sorta’ OK);
  2. How the hitters can’t perform with RISP; and
  3. How bad the bullpen is.

The 2018 LA Dodgers  NL Rankings:

  • #1 in Runs Scored
  • #1 in Run Differential
  • #1 in Home Runs
  • #1 in RBI
  • #1 in Walks
  • #1 OB%
  • #1 in Slugging%
  • #1 in OPS%
  • #2 in Doubles
  • #1 in ERA
  • #1 in Starter ERA
  • #5 in Reliever ERA (not bad for the issues that arose)
  • #1 in WHIP
  • #1 in Strikeouts
  • #15 out of 15 in Walks by Pitchers
  • #1 in Fewest Runs Allowed

This is a pretty damn good team with 12 players over .775 OPS, 10 over .800 and 3 over .900 OPS! AND (I am going to keep saying it until proven wrong), they are built for the playoffs! The guys they start, pinch hit or relieve with have mostly been battle-tested, been there, done that, got the t-shirt kind of guys.  They had their hearts ripped out by their failures last year and my personal opinion was that they cruised through the season, waiting and looking-forward to this time.  This time of redemption!

That their focus wasn’t always there is apparent, but it’s just as apparent what happened when they were forced to focus to fight for all the marbles.  You saw total focus against the Giants (never mind their record – they were playing for pride and because they hate the Dodgers). Even Rich Hill showed total focus and pitched his best game of the season.  By the way, it’s going to be good to see 22 year-old Julio Urias in the rotation next year.  We can’t speculate what will happen but Buehler and Urias will for a strong #1 and #2 for years to come.

Forget the stats. Forget their record. If this team is who I think they are, they will come out and punch Colorado right in the face.  They have singular focus: World Series or Bust!  The 2018 season was almosta  bust, but here we are… waiting and watching to see what they have in the Post-Season.  Enjoy the ride…. because I think it’s going to take a while. “Are we there yet?”  No, quit bothering your brother!”

Bring on Striker Buehler!

This article has 114 Comments

    1. You are right. The Nats are #1 at .335, the Cubs are at ,334 and the Dodgers are #3 with .333.

  1. Quite an impressive stat list. But if they are #1 or #2 in so many categories in such a weak NL (compared to AL), why are they in a Game 163 against the Rockies, and why do they not have home field advantage against every NL team? If the talent is so much better on the Dodgers, what is the reason they do not overwhelmingly have the best record in the NL?
    .
    I will let FAZ evaluate Doc and his lineups and in-game decisions. But the other two categories brought up are fair.
    The Dodgers were in the middle third of most RISP stats, except for K’s with RISP where they had 2nd most. So the solid hitting was very good without RISP, but very average to below average WRISP. I think it is legit to question RISP. The Dodgers were also #12 in blown saves. 26 blown saves!! If they only had 25 blown saves, there would not be a Game 163.
    .
    But today is not a day to question . Today is a day we cheer and root the Boys in Blue on to victory. Let’s bring it home and then bring on Atlanta.

  2. I think I need to have my son set up a free 7 day trial of youtube tv because it appears mlb.tv doesn’t cover the games.

      1. That’s good news because although I normally watch on MLB.com, I also have ESPN.

        I believe the game tonight is a must win. I know we would get another shot tomorrow, but Cubs or Brewers on the road in a one off game is definitely walking a tightrope, plus the exhausting nature of all the travel.
        Win tonight and the path becomes much much clearer.

      2. yeah, i didn’t get i until about an hour ago!

        not a full rentier yet so i still have to work 🙁

  3. The Brewers, Rockies, and Dodgers all had very good Septembers and the final 10 games. For September:
    Brewers – 19-7 (9-1 last 10)
    Rockies – 19-9 (9-1 last 10)
    Dodgers – 18-9 (7-3 last 10)
    .
    The Cubs have not been as good in September or over the last 10 games:
    Cubs – 16-12 (6-4 last 10 games) –
    .
    Brewers/Cubs pitching matchups – Chacin v Quintana – Quintana has started 6 games against the Brewers this year with a 2.17 ERA. Chacin has pitched well with allowing 3 or fewer earned runs over his last 10 games. The game is in Chicago where the Cubs have a 51-30 record. The Brewers have a 44-37 away record. The Cubs hold a 11-8 record against the Brewers for 2018.

  4. Those stats are impressive. And then you dig deeper, and question, as AC did, about why we are in Game 163 with those stats? I mean, with those stats, shouldn’t we be up near 100 wins?? And then you realize that any idiot who’s watched this team this season can tell you why. 1 game with 15 runs. 1 game with 2 runs. Oh wow, the Dodgers average 7.5 runs a game, they must be great!!! Oh wait, why are they 1-1 then?
    Stats average out over a long period, but they don’t give you insight into the inconsistencies.

    More importantly, hopefully we take these good at bats today like we did the last few days. Walks, base hits going with the pitch the other way. Getting everyone involved. And then boom. Somebody (I say Puig today) with a big 3 run shot to put the game out of reach. Let’s see if Buehler is throwing 99 and high to start the game. It means he’s amped up. I’d hope he drops down right there and does some pushups to calm himself down. Hopefully he has the anti-Kershaw big game mentality.

    1. Both AC and Bobby are right, some numbers mean more then other numbers, and that is why run differential is not always a good measure, of an offense.

      Saber metrics don’t value batting average, but batting average does have its place in baseball, although not all hitters that hit for a good average, do the same, in these high leverage situations.

      But I would say, most good hitters do hit better in these high leverage situations, then not!

      Especially if we are comparing good hitters, to hitters that have trouble, hitting 250.

      But I think our starting pitching is stronger then every other team we are playing in the National League, and that favors us even more, in these games today, and after today.

      With the way Buehler has matured and seasoned, along with Ryu really coming back and pitching well this year, and Kershaw, I don’t think any other team in the National League, have the quality of starting pitching, we have.

      So if our offense can be productive, and our pitchers in our pen, can pitch well, we have a very good chance, of winning the National League pennant.

      But the teams in the American League this year, have been much more dominant, then any team in the National League.

      But anything less then a World Championship, will be a disappointment, after going to game seven, last year.

      1. MJ, I wouldn’t say that sabre metrics don’t value batting average. They just don’t look at it as the end all be all of offensive stats. Do you want a .290 hitter with a .315 OBP and little pop? Look at Dee Gordon’s regression this year. He walked 9 freeking times I think. Do they over emphasize .OPS over the ability to come up with a clutch hit or moving runners over? Yes, I would say so at times. Is a walk as good as a single? Sometimes, but not always. Steve Garvey clutch hitter in the post-season. Not in the Hall though partly because of a dismal .OBP. I’m glad he was a Dodger though but wish he would have taken more walks rather than focusing on his own stats that didn’t emphasize .OBP then. It’s an interesting debate and I think there’s a middle ground. I believe in .OBP as an important stat, but I believe that guys have to pass the eye test too.
        ~
        I don’t believe the narrative that guys are going up there just trying to hit HR’s nor do I put their struggles on Turner Ward. I think he’s a good hitting coach. Hitting coaches are often scapegoats in my opinion. Some guys just aren’t good at it and some needed to learn when to have a different approach. Grandal and Kike come to mind as those two examples. When Kike does more than try to pull fastballs into the LF bleachers he brings a lot to the team. For the most part guys are looking for balls they can drive and hit hard not just swinging for the fences. Hitting big league pitching is tough. I think having a deep 40 man roster has helped Roberts/FAZ’s philosophy this September and it’s allowed them to platoon the way they want, but I also finally like the batting order. You can’t put someone like Grandal in the 4 or 5 hole. He’s a fine catcher and I’m glad he’s a Dodger, but often was a rally killer. Taylor is an example of someone who needs a better two strike approach as well as situational hitting approach. I have no doubt that Ward works with him on those things. I have found Taylor’s AB’s so frustrating this year. I have to remind myself of where he was two years ago and hope it will improve next year.

        1. I will these guys spend the off season refining their swings. Finding both an attack angle and a launch angle to maximize their results on exit velocity and balls in the air. Someone recently touted Daniel Murphy, but Murphy was the guy who kind of started the philosophy of get the ball in the air or you’re out.

        2. Hawkeye

          I agree with you about batting average, but you have to also remember hitting 25 HRs, is not that big of a deal in baseball right now, either.

          Especially when some hitters are trying to do that, way to much!

          I agree with AC although not all of our hitters try to hit one out all of the time, most of these hitters, can’t handle a bat well enough, to help an offense, truly be productive, consistently.

          Three or four players in this line up, are lucky if they can hit, 250, consistently.

          How are they going to get a hit in these high leverage situations?

          That is why this line up needs more balance!

          I totally agree with you about favoring OPS more, then getting hits, in high leverage situations.

          And it is nice to be able to get a extra base hits, in these situations, but in baseball today, not many hitters, can even get just a single, in these situations.

          And that includes quite a few players on this team!

  5. Interesting article in The Athletic today about teams’ managers and changes by Ken Rosenthal. Here’s the intro:
    “I​ swear,​ sometimes it​ seems every team operates​ with​ the​ same​ motto:

    “We’re smarter than you.”

    Smarter than​ the​ fans.​ Smarter​​ than the media. Smarter than anyone who might dare express a dissenting viewpoint in the age of analytics.

    Of course, teams are smarter than us. But they often are not as smart as they think they are. And they often get too cute with their robotic marches to efficiency.”

    True?

    Great article about Walker Buehler and his theories on pitching too:
    https://theathletic.com/558370/2018/10/01/sarris-as-his-arsenal-evolves-walker-buehler-is-executing-his-three-breaking-ball-plan/

  6. All these metrics are in the rear view mirror! Light a candle in the church and ask the Big Dodger in the sky to help our dudes today.

    1. Here’s hoping Buehler channels his inner bulldog, the offense is relentless, and the bullpen shuts the door.

  7. Going back to Mark’s notion that this team is built for the playoffs – I hope so, big question in my mind though, and play on the field today and going forward will give us the answer to that one not any statistics. Todays game is big, and with Buehler going there is a lot of confidence. If they do not get past Colorado (I think they do), all could go south very fast.

    What will determine how this team performs going forward in my opinion is, will Buehler be tough as nails today? Will Kershaw wilt or shine (he does have a checkered playoff history)? Will Ryu continue to shine? Will Hill pitch like yesterday or like some of his other stinkers (good news here is Utley found that he was tipping his pitches)?
    Will Roberts jettison the assinine lineups and play the BEST players (he knows who they are)? Will he temper his BP moves, rarely are they spot on, they are often too early or way too late. If Dozier makes the playoff roster please use him only as a defensive late inning guy.
    Will the BP perform when needed? Big question, but lately they are much better.
    And the biggest question is will these talented players continue to swing for the fences or play like they did against SF?

  8. Joc – (Against Marquez – .333 – 3/9 – 2 HR)
    JT – (.000 – 0/6)
    Muncy – (.200 – 1/5)
    Machado – Has not faced Marquez
    Grandal – (.111 – 1/9)
    Bellinger – (.000 – 0/9)
    Puig – (.167 – 1/6)
    Kike’ – (.333- 1/3)
    Buehler – (.000 – 0/4)
    .
    Blackmon – (.308 – 4/13)
    LeMahieu – (.200 – 2/10)
    Dahl – (.250 – 2/8)
    Arenado – (.222 – 2/9)
    Story – (.167 – 2/12)
    Gonzalez – (.250 – 2/8)
    Desmond – (.182 – 2/11)
    Woltors – (.250 – 1/4)
    Marquez – (.250 – 1/4)

    1. Yikes! Hopefully Joc does one of his crazy tomahawk home run swings on a high fastball and gives us some momentum!

    2. Kemp, Freese, Taylor, & Dozier available off the bench.
      *
      Floro, Ferguson, Maeda, & Jansen rested.
      *
      Buehler needs do his part, no more.
      *
      Their pitcher is good so we need to grind out at-bats, be selectively aggressive, and get into their pen.
      *
      Prediction: 8-4 LA

      1. haha i thought this disappeared hence my changed prediction below

        truthfully, nobody knows anything

  9. Dodger Stadium, full of Dodgers fans and where the air pressure is where it’s supposed to be should suppress the appetite of Colorado’s bats. Dodgers have the redemption factor of game 7 still fresh and the spirits of 88 to cheer us forward, play by play even. Dodgers won’t let it slip through their fingers today! Our house is a very, very fine house and lunch will be served. GO DODGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHEERS FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Without spending too much researching, I’d have to say the matchups in this game are as follows:

    Starting pitching–Even. Our guy is good but inexperienced. Their guy is recently very hot. Though tempting to put it in our ledger, calling this one a draw.

    Starting lineup–I’m giving this one to Colorado. While we have depth and variety, they have multiple high-impact guys who can dominate a game. Controversial ruling but fair in my view.

    Bullpen–Advantage us. We have a rested Floro & Ferguson not to mention Maeda & Jansen at the end. If we can get 5 great innings from Buehler, that might be enough.

    Bench–Big advantage for us. We have Kemp, Freese, Taylor, & Dozier on the bench and whoever COL has isn’t better than that.

    Intangibles: Toss-up. We have experience; they have the hunger of trying to get their first division crown.

    Prediction: We win but it’s not easy and we fall behind early. Thinking 7-4 advances win advances us to NLDS vs. ATL.

  11. I remembered we hit this Rockies pitcher well in June, when this team was the hottest, so I took a look at his numbers.

    Although he allowed 9 HRs in June, he has not allowed more then 2 HRs in the months, following June.

    And we have to remember he is pitching a lot in Coors, too.

  12. the 4 best records in baseball this year belong to the AL. if that’s not a sign this is the NL’s turn to win it all i don’t know what is.

  13. MJ, since this is a regular season game, they added the tickets for today’s into our Dodgers account at the regular season pricing. I think it was done last Thurs or Fri, when this game seemed to be a real possibility.

    1. Bobby

      I hope you can also make some money off your tickets this year, too.

      Unless of course, you are planning on attending every game, because that can help you toward your season tickets.

    1. It’s a national espn broadcast for tv, and local teams have their own radio teams. I was listening to pregame with Charlie Steiner via mlb.tv

      From today on, every game will be a national broadcast on tv

    1. they are impressive. I”m glad we won’t see either one of these 2 teams till the NLCS. I”m not scared of Atl, and I’m confident we take this today.

      1. I am not afraid of the Braves either, we handled them pretty easy this year.

        I still think we have the best starting pitching, of these teams.

    1. all i could think of was Marquez heel hit the bag which we couldn’t see. Looked safe to me though

      1. If the call is that close, they almost always revert back to the call on the field, by the umpire.

  14. wow. through 3ip. 42/28 pitches/strikes for buehler; 41/28 for the other guy.

    first act done!

  15. Gotta bad feeling about this one.
    Beuhler missing by a distance sometimes.

    Gonna be undone by walks

  16. Damn I definitely feel the playoff intensity (within myself) picking up now!

    Time for some pushups

    1. Me too. Doing a lot of pacing, yelling, busy work while I watch between two rooms. Good to see our real #5 hitter go yard.

      1. belegender

        you know how close this cat came to winning a ring in his rookie season?

        you know he’s out for blood this time around

      1. Hawkeye

        Muncy hits high velocity better then anyone, on this team.

        I didn’t want us facing Lester tomorrow, because although we always seem to hit him hard, it is almost always, to the Cub’s defense.

  17. Just got home in time to see buehler hit. Love the enthusiasm coming off the field. That’s what “untouchable” looks like. You cant have him hes ours.

  18. All this analysis leading to paralysis…
    All the wailing and gnashing of teeth..
    Let’s just say scoreboard…
    And starting humming those words of Freddie Mercury and Queen, We Are The Champions…

      1. Hes pretty good as a lower leverage rh matchup strikeout guy. Almost a roogy. Glad there wasn’t a LH next and he was yanked.

    1. Five

      Alexander’s turn. So far no argument with Robert’s

      Good spot to take buehler out. We need him in the nlds

  19. Alexander did fine. He induced a weak ground ball by a great player, but because of our shift the weak ground ball goes as a single. I’ll take that. Meanwhile, Baez gave up a line drive shot right to the 3b, and that goes as an out. Baseball is funny.
    Maeda was his great self. I like him.

    1. I agree, Alexander did do his job, but I posted my comment before he threw a pitch.

      I just don’t like what I’ve seen out of Alexander most of the year… especially in bigger pressure spots and games.
      I agree with Dionysis that Wood is a better choice in that spot if you want to bring in a lefty.
      I think Maeda has earned the 8th inning… I’d like to see him start the 8th inning in that spot moving forward.

      All good though… 1 win down and 11 more to go!!!

      1. I actually wanted to see Ferguson in that moment, but oh well. I’m sure he’ll make the 25man roster

        1. Me too… I wasn’t expecting Baez to be the first one out of the pen today. But yeah, Ferguson will definitely be on the 25 man roster… no doubt about it.

    1. Great thing about tomorrows game is I have no rooting interest. Just the first team eliminated. That’s all. After tonight all focus is on the braves. I’ll respect them but not fear them.

  20. Way too much drama with KJ in the 9th. Do you trust the guy in tight games?
    Great game from WB

      1. The guy tends to send you into cardiac arrest. More than any other Dodger? Maeda pitching better right now. No time for experiments, but KJ seems unfocused at times, other times a beast.

  21. What a game by Buehler!

    Cody and Muncy!

    Everyone on the team had a hit except Grandal, who called an excellent game.

        1. Mark and I both liked Chacin as a potential #4 or #5 for LAD. He had a very good year for Milwaukee, but the Dodgers starting pitching was pretty darn good as well.

  22. Can somebody do something about a stupid manager using an incompetent closer?

    This guy is the worst manager I have ever seen on a Dodger team——–and I have followed the Dodgers since 1950!

  23. It has nothing to do with lack of focus. It’s been apparent all year that Kenley is no longer missing bats like he used to. It’s not just the HRs being hit against him. Just look at all the pitches that were fouled off against him in the 9th. I think Kenley is averaging about 9 K’s per 9, whereas in the past it was about 13 K’s per 9. This is no longer the dominant closer we’ve grown accustomed to.

    What’s the story with Ferguson? Did I miss something? Haven’t seen him for a while.

    1. Kenley had gotten his groove back just before his heart ailment returned in Colorado. He’s still not right. Whether it the medication or not, I’m not qualified to say. I do know that Kenley’s worst performances over his career has followed inactivity. He needs to throw. Normally, I would root for the Rockies over the Flubs, but considering Kenley’s inability to go to Denver, I’m not so sure now. The Dodgers will not win the World Series with this version of Kenley. It must get figured out.

      1. You are right, Kenley needs to pitch a lot to be effective, and he’ll be fine. But don’t get beat on your 3rd best pitch like the hanging slider to Story. Stick to the cutter and heater and throw the slider with 2 strikes about a foot further outside. After Honey went out and made his points and Doc got 2 guys up in the pen he looked totally different.

  24. Playoff Roster???

    Catchers – Grandal, Barnes (2)
    Infielders – Freese, Muncy, Dozier, Turner, Machado (5)
    Outfielders – Pederson, Puig, Kemp (3)
    IF/OF – Bellinger, Taylor, Hernández (3)
    Starting Pitchers – Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, Hill (4)
    Relievers – Jansen, Maeda, Wood, Ferguson, Alexander, Baez, Rosscup, Floro (8)

    Or do we swap out Madsen or Urias for Rosscup?

  25. Hot Damn, Sam. GO DODGERS. Great all around game and a true team effort. Bring it on, Braves…. we’re waiting to kick some southern booty. Would rather watch the Rox and Brew Crew wear each other out in a slugging match than the Cubbies v. Milwaukee so Good Luck, Colorado, tomorrow.

    As Buzz Lightyear might say, to the World Series and Beyond. Dodgers can do.

  26. I know most are in a World Series Championship or bust attitude, but let’s not lose site on how difficult it is to win 6 consecutive NL WEST titles. I left this team for dead at least twice this year. While I agree with AC and some others that they shouldn’t have been in this position today. I also agree with AC that the Dodgers should have had added another arm bullpen arm, but the Dodgers don’t win the NL West with Chris Taylor playing SS the rest of the season. The Dodgers lost Seager and Turner, the front office added Machado and Freese while keeping the team under the luxury tax. Kudos! It was great to see this game not go the route of the Dave Goltz game of 1980.

    1. Dave Roberts becomes the only manager to lead the Dodgers to three straight division titles in their first three seasons as a Major League skipper and joins Ron Gardenhire with the Minnesota Twins (2002-04) and Larry Dierker with the Houston Astros (1997-99) as the only managers to win the division in their first three years as the skipper. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi assembled their fourth division champion in as many seasons with the club.

      1. That’s quite an accomplishment for all concerned and we are pretty spoiled as fans. They have such potential and perhaps they are peaking at the right time. Getting the Braves, home field and setting the rotation is huge for the team right now. I don’t see the Rockies marching into Wrigley and knocking off Lester with either Freeland on short rest or Senzatella but will be rooting for them as the Cubs have some good pitching. The Brewers are red hot but their pitching is just ok. What a wild weekend this was and a sigh of relief all around. I have a feeling Madsen is on the playoff roster, he has been throwing heat with movement and is playoff tested.

        1. The Dodgers ability to throw lefties at Milwaukee helps the Dodgers cause if they happen to face each other. Grandal usually hit well in Milwaukee. Let’s hope Doc learned his lesson today and doesn’t get sucked into that fool’s gold and leaves him 7th in the order.

  27. Jon Weisman pointed out that Floro has pitched once since September 21st and i was Madsen warming up in the pen today. He thinks Floro is off the playoff roster and Madsen will be on it.

  28. That last outing of Floro’s wasn’t very good either, but he’s kind of been the go to guy when they’re after a DP ball so it will be an interesting choice.
    ~
    One thing that I like about a rotation of Kershaw, Ryu, and Buehler is that those three can handle the bat when it comes to swinging and bunting. Wood, Stripling, and Hill not so much.

  29. Bellinger hit HR #64 which ties him with Ken Landreaux, Wally Moon, and Wes Parker for #46 on the All-time Dodgers HR list. His first one next year will catch Eddie Murray and Jim Gilliam for 44th. Bellinger should move into the top 30 next season.

  30. Kersshaw, Jansen, Puig, and Ryu are the 4 players who were Dodgers for all 6 NL West Championships.

    1. Good stat. We have layers of experience. Really like our offense right now. Starting pitching and defense too. I’m afraid, like always, it will come down to the bullpen and our management thereof.

  31. I think its advantage rockies tonight due to their rested bullpen. Cubs have lester and home field going for them but I think they are the first to go home. Ten will be nine.

  32. quiet in here. last night the starting pitching was basically perfect, the set-up crew did their job, and the offense put some early runs on the board. two areas that need improvement are, obviously, the closer and also making sure we push across as many runs as possible and not leave runs on the bases. the game is never out of reach. as far as i saw, defense and baserunning were fine and the manager was too.

  33. NLDS Roster Prediction:

    Starters: Kersh, Ryu, Hill and Walker

    Relief Pitchers: Jansen, Alexander, Wood, Baez, Maeda,
    Madson, Ferguson, and Fields.

    Position Players: Puig, Machado,
    Turner, Bellinger, Hernandez, Muncy, Taylor, Dozier, Grandal, Barnes, Kemp, Freese, and Pederson.

    Last Position Player Out: Verdugo

    Last Pitcher Out: Rosscup

    Urias just not built up enough, and requires too much recovery time at this point. Floro must be hurt and Stripling just out of gas.

    Thoughts?

  34. Wow.Sign of the times. Roberts goes with the hot hand, Ryu over Kershaw for game 1. Pretty ballsey move, We all rag on Doc, but I think his biggest skill is communicating and getting his guys to buy in to the cause, Yeah, we rag on his in game decisions, but don’t forget, this is only his 3rd year He will get better with time, like all managers do.

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