Dodgers 3K Play-Off Plan

Actually, the Dodgers don’t have a 3K play-off plan, at least that I know of, although they would take it if it happened. Perhaps I should say when it happens. We have all heard of 3M and 3D as well as 3R which is a recycling motto – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Some of us will remember another 3R. For those too young, the 3 R’s referred to reading ‘riting and ‘rithmetic

 

My plan for the Dodgers success in the play-offs is 3K – Kershaw, Kenley and Kemp. Maybe I am dreaming but I am going with them to make this a special year for them and the team. This may be Clayton’s last year with the Dodgers, although I expect him to be a lifetime Dodger, and it may be Matt’s last year with the team. They have motivation on at least two fronts. First, bring the Dodgers their first World Series Championship in 30 years.  Secondly, play a significant role in securing that championship as part of their legacy.  All have had a history of success, only not one that put a ring on their fingers. All have a bit of history they would like to put behind them. What better way to do it than shine on the world’s greatest play-off stage?

 

Clayton Kershaw:

 

He is the kind of player we feel comfortable calling by his first name. What is not to love about Clayton? Perhaps his postseason play would not fall into that category although we could argue he has been a big part of getting the Dodgers to the play-offs as divisional champions for the past six years. He has appeared in 24 play-off games, starting 19 of them. His ERA is a less than a stellar 4.35 although his WHIP is a very respectable 1.089. He had a strikeout rate of 10.3/9 and a walk ratio of 2.7/9 which are both more than acceptable.

 

One issue for him has been the 18 home runs he has given up in 122 innings pitched. Home runs are never at a great time but unfortunately some of his have been at a very inopportune time. We have to go go back to his rookie season to see a home run to innings pitched ratio as high as he has had in the play-offs.

 

Former Dodger great Don Newcombe had similar issues as Clayton never having won a World Series game before divisional play-off days. Newcombe’s ERA over just 22 innings pitched was 8.59. On the other side of the coin another K, Sandy Koufax, posted a 0.95 ERA in World Series play over 57 innings pitched. Clayton is neither one of these pitchers, nor is he Johnny Podres or Orel Hershiser. He doesn’t have to be.

 

For whatever reason, he has struggled in post season play. Has his back been an issue or the pressure of the expectations put on him because of his superlative regular season play? Are his pitches being telegraphed or has the season been too long for his body to take?

 

That was then and this is now, to borrow a worn out phrase. I think the Dodgers have some momentum going into the play-offs and any number of guys can become the difference maker. Since the expectations on Clayton are now somewhat diminished and he is surrounded by a strong defense and fellow starters Buehler, Hill and Ryu all in good form, this could definitely be his year to shed those bad memories, especially from 2017.

 

Kenley Jansen:

 

In top form Kenley has been as good a reliever as the Dodgers have had in my time as a fan, including Eric Gagne. He has gone through periods when he is basically unhittable.  A quick glance at his stats in postseason play reveal he has been quite good. He has posted a 2.19 ERA over 37 innings pitched along with a WHIP of 0.896. He has struck out 13.4/9 and has a walk to innings pitched ratio of 2.9/9. He does have 13 postseason saves.

 

But, there is the 2017 World Series that has blemished his record. Against the Houston Astros he lost one game and blew a save in another. He has had a difficult time during the current season in spite of his 38 saves. He blew four saves and lost three games while allowing an uncharacteristic 13 home runs over his 71.2 innings pitched.

 

In all fairness his heart issues would be enough to cause concern for any player, much less a pitcher. Yet in a short period of time he returned knowing he will most likely have some heart surgery following the season.

 

Like Clayton, Kenley has a motivation to erase the sting of last year’s World Series loss. I’m thinking that he will not be pressed into four or five out situations unless the team itself is in a desperate situation. I’m counting on him not to have Tom Neidenfuer syndrome when he steps onto the mound to save the biggest game of his life. I’m looking for the final out to be a “K” for Kenley.

 

Matt Kemp:

 

I have always been a Matt Kemp fan even when Jeff Kent was berating Matt and James Loney when they were both new to the league. Actually, when we think of it, he might have been the Dodgers MVP during the 2018 season as Mark called it. He hit .290 along with 21 home runs and 85 runs batted in over 146 games. He also had 25 doubles. His BABIP was a nifty .339.

 

Matt obviously enjoyed his season as much as any Dodger and has made his way back to postseason play again. There is a bit of irony and motivation involved in that he will face the Atlanta Braves in the first round, the same Braves that dumped him as a way to get their payroll under control.

 

Undoubtedly Matt will be driven to make a statement in the play-offs. That is, to collect a WS ring, to reward the fans who so generously welcomed him back and to gain more notice looking for a spot on the opening day Dodger roster in 2019. That is, one more year with the team that brought him on board as a way to get their payroll under control.

 

During the 2014 play-off series with the St. Louis Cardinals Matt more than did his share hitting .353 along with an identical OBP.  In the first round against the Braves starting on Thursday his at bats might be limited because Atlanta has a predominantly right-handed starting staff. In any event look for Matt to pull his weight during the 2018 play-offs, either in a pinch-hitting role or on those days he starts.

 

This article has 35 Comments

  1. It seems like it could be a ego blow to Clayton with Ryu getting the start tomorrow. Ryu has been pitching better however there is that post season mojo that kicks in for the gifted players like Clayton Kershaw. I was rooting for the Rockies last night and glad to see they pulled it off. Another team out of the playoffs that would have had home field advantage over us. Plus we seem to own the Rockies. I felt better about our chances last year but I’m beginning to gain more confidence in this team scoring runs with runners in scoring position. I hope Kenley is OK because we are going to need him. I would love to see Oakland win tonight………………… GO BLUE

    1. Kershaw has had plenty of chances to change what he has done, in the post season.

      And he has pitched almost a half season of innings in the post season now, so his numbers in the post season are not a small sample size, anymore.

      He has refused to change it up in these short two weeks series, when he has to face the same team twice in two weeks, like Mark has said.

      The Dodgers are just pitching these guys in the same order, they purposely set up the last few weeks, of the season.

      And this is about what is best for the team, and I am sure Kershaw is fully behind, what is best for the team.

      Remember Kershaw gave up more HRs in the post season last year, then any other pitcher ever has.

      DC actually alluded to Kershaw’s HR issues in the post season in his nice piece, today.

      And also remember, Ryu wasn’t even on the post season roster last year, yet Brandon McCarthy was on the World Series roster.

      Ryu has pitched a lot of big games in Korea too, so he doesn’t break, in these situations.

      And in the last post season game Ryu started, he pitched very well, even though he was dealing with his bad shoulder, at that time.

    2. I don’t think it will be an ego blow to Kershaw. I think he is team first and may be pleased for someone else to start the first game. I expect no one is more disappointed in his postseason play than Clayton. I agree that something has to change for him and expect this may be the year it has. I was impressed in Buehler’s start the other day in that he struck out only three but pitched to contact inducing nine ground balls. Hopefully Clayton will trust his defense and keep the ball out of HR territory. I believe he is not the Clayton we once knew but he is good enough as he is to keep us in games and periodically find a gem.

    3. It sets up Kershaw to throw Game 5 on normal rest. They aren’t going to push in Game 4 on 3 days rest so it’s really a no-brainer considering it keeps both Ryu and Kershaw closer to their normal routine than moving Ryu to having two extra days of rest.

    1. We agreed on 23; which really was not that hard. I cannot see FAZ NOT taking 8 relievers. Picking Verdugo over Baez does not make sense to me. I have been as much of an outspoken critic of Pedro Baez as anyone, but with his September he has earned the spot on the roster. Besides Doc loves Petey.
      .
      I also disagree with the premise that Stripling is a better option in relief than Wood. It took Wood one relief appearance to get in his comfort zone, and he has been very good since then (even though a very small sample size). Stripling has been anything but effective since his return from the DL and to the rotation. I would keep Wood for high leverage situations, especially against LHH, and I would have save Stripling for the multi inning relief. More like Hamels and Hendricks were used last night in extra innings.
      .
      I knew that Kike’ had a great 2nd half, but I was surprised to see how good. “Since Aug. 1, Hernández has had the NL’s fifth-best wRC+”. I like Alex Verdugo, but not as a PH. Kike’ should play 2B, and Dozier should come off the bench.
      .
      So I still like my prediction – substitute Baez for Verdugo in the Atlantic piece and we agree.

      1. Especially considering Atlanta hits lefties better than righties. The Dodgers will need plenty of RH relief pitches at their disposal.

        1. I looked to see how the Braves hit Scherzer and Strasberg, since they are in their division.

          They hit Scherzer pretty decent.

          And against Strasberg, I don’t think they faced him enough, to really take those numbers against him, seriously.

          Although Strasberg was not dominate against the Braves.

  2. I think we can win it all without any of the three performing at peak levels:

    1. Kershaw–He can be a mid-rotation innings eater who keeps us in the game against another team’s 2-3
    2. Kemp–He can be a part-time outfielder who bats down in the lineup, gets an occasional big hit, and doesn’t hurt us too much on defense.
    3. Jansen–Toughest on here. He can reform into a one-inning efficient closer and not a multi-inning weapon of mass destruction as he was used the last two years.

    Others will need to step up for this to happen, but I don’t believe we are overly reliant on these three with our current squad. Hell, maybe we get to Kimbrel in the World Series–nobody’s untouchable . . .

  3. Well we have a RH starter pitching left handed starting and a LH closer pitching right handed to finish. And I love it! THIS IS THE YEAR! I promise! GO DODGERS!!!!!!!!!!! Somehow ya gotta fit JT into the 3K because I’m sure he will! Actually this is a whole team and they will finish it as such! It’s not so much that Doc loves Baez as Jansen loves Baez. Baez is in. For sure!

    1. The wild card is stupid. They tried to force a winner-take-all situation that ends up happening anyway [see Monday, for example]. In no way does a single baseball game have any true meaningful outcome other than producing an arbitrary winner and a pissed off loser. I hope Oakland wins but if they do I won’t think they’re more deserving of moving on than New York.

      1. I like the WC game. I think both should be played on the same day though. The WC game creates some problems for the WC team when it comes to setting up their rotation. To often the penalty for being a WC team rather than a division winner wasn’t enough. Probably still isn’t but we all saw what it did to the Dbags rotation last year.

        1. I like the 1 game Wild Card as well, and ya it would be cool to have both on the same day. Then again, it makes sense to have 2 prime time games, and the ONLY baseball games on, that day/time.

          1. Should have watched the ESPN2 broadcast. The announcers included our old friend Mike Petrillo and the discussion was heavily based on Statcast metrics. A very welcome break from the usual Arod and company nonsense.

        2. I watched the ESPN 2 broadcast as well. Perez talks too much, but it was way better than Jessica and Aroid. I didn’t mind the ESPN team for the Dodgers game the other day. If it was Mendoza and Rodriguez, I would have chosen Steiner who I think is quite bad. Sutcliffe said a couple of dumb things late in my opinion, but all in all it was a good broadcast on Monday.

    2. That is insane, going full bullpen game against Severino and the Yanks pen. If it works great but come on man!

  4. It’ll take expanding two more teams in baseball and eliminating central divisions to drop the silly WC from from the ability to contend. But that’s still not enough to rid of that silly park in Denver.

  5. Well, as great as it is that the Dodgers have won the division (again) and has home field advantage for at least the 1st round of the playoffs, I am not as sanguine as some that the Dodgers will win.

    Lest we forget, these Dodgers are not only the least clutch team in MLB this year, they are the 3rd least clutch team of all team seasons since 1974, according to Fangraphs.
    https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-dodgers-biggest-problem/

    As good as we might think that the players are, the unclutch Dodgers will have to reverse their season-long inability to hit or pitch in high leverage situations in much tighter, tenser, closer games to win. In theory, they are better than any of the Braves, Brewers and Rockies, but there is a reason that they won 91 games when Pythagoras predicts 99 or 100 wins give run differential.

    Are the Dodgers going to be clutch this post-season?

    1. i expect a tough series. i also expect a sweep. the key on offense will be to grind out at-bats and cash in on all our chances. on defense, it will be to make the young kids look over-matched and not let freeman & markakis hurt us. there’s no such thing as atlanta maybe being a year away; they’re here right now. i guarantee we’re taking them seriously and aim to come out blazing. 9 teams left and 11 wins to go.

    2. I hear you and feel you! However I will lift my half full glass to the Great Dodger in the Sky and root for the team to be clutch for a change.

    3. It depends where you put the line as to what clutch is. In the last 20 or so games Dodgers are roughly winning 75% and that is clutch in my opinion. They’ve also made improvements with runners on these last few. And as Grandal said “its no fun 19 games up”. Well to that effect at any rate.

  6. I for one think the Dodgers will look at the SF weekend and the game 163 as how to approach the playoffs. There were enough clutch moments in those games to get excited about. Now is the time to get behind this team and cheer them to a downtown LA parade. There is no better team in the NL, and while both Boston and Houston are the top 2 teams, only one of them can get to the WS, and maybe Cleveland will have something to say about it (or NYY). If NYY wins the WC, they will face their nemesis Boston. Boston was 10-9 against NYY this year. Pretty darn even.
    .
    I understand ARod likes to hear himself talk, but I for one like a lot of his observations. I was watching the NL WC game with my son and ARod made a point that he saw Javy Baez move before the pitch towards the 5/6 hole, and that told ARod that the pitch was going to be a curve. My son told me that not everyone knows that, but as a catcher he had to tell the SS to not make that move pre-pitch. We complain about Dodger hitters trying to do too much, and he makes a point and showed how Blackmon stayed within himself and went with the pitch into LC. He did not try to pull and lift the outside pitch (like so many Dodger hitters). He showed how Story tried to do too much and struck out as he did so often in 2017. He made a point as to how much LeMahieu does all the little things like hitting behind the runners and giving himself up. I have heard a lot of games against the Rockies this year, but I never heard that about LeMahieu. That just makes me want LeMahieu even more.
    .
    So if you can get past the arrogance he is far more informative than most color commentators. He is certainly one of the best baseball players to have ever played. Orel Hershiser may be a Dodger favorite, but I do not get as much out of him as I do Nomar or Monday or ARod.

    1. AC

      I like Nomar far more then Orel on the broadcasts, and I don’t listen to the radio, but when I have, I feel Monday is better too.

      I like Nomar, because he will say exactly what is on his mind.

      Orel is to much of a cheerleader for me, and he doesn’t allow for any down time, because he is almost always talking.

    2. Main complaint about a rod is that he predicts a lot of things and doesn’t seem to care whether they come true or not. Undoubtedly he knows a ton about the game and was a great player, but that doesn’t give him the gift of knowing the future. It’s a bit presumptuous.

      1. He spent opening day trying to predict every pitch and was wrong 90% of the time. He just repeats old news about things that happened two years ago. His take on Bellinger not having a two strike approach last year was wrong. Bellinger did a good job last season going the other way with two strikes not to mention he dropped down about a half dozen bunts that beat the shift in 2017. Arod let Bellinger’s post-season define his entire 2017. I was done listening to him after one game. I’ll put up with Steiner before I listen to Aroid all game long. As annoying as I find Mendoza, at least she tries to do some homework. Honestly, I can’t stand three man teams yapping constantly and not letting the game breath.

    1. I think they have another switch hitter too. I’m just repeating what I heard on MLB radio.

  7. I don’t like switching Ryu and Kershaw, I don’t care what the numbers say. I feel it sets the wrong tone and more importantly sends the wrong message to Atlanta.

    Atlanta did not play well the last week of the season, and in my mind they were reeling a bit. And Kershaw arguably threw his best game of the year in Atlanta. Step on their throats with the greatest pitcher of this generation, get in the young team’s psyche and set the tone. I don’t think sending Ryu out there and telling them Kershaw pitches better on 5 days rest this year sends that message.

    It likely will not matter and we should win this series but the numbers game is not the end all be all, there is place for it but sometimes you need to use gut instinct and psychology as well.
    Robert’s and FAZ would be served to use the latter at times I don’t feel they used much of it last year in the Series and it cost us.

    Will see this year but Robert’s is going to need to make some correct judgment calls this postseason and not rely solely on his book for us to advance and possibly win it all.

    However regardless of how it plays out I will live and die with every pitch( not literally) and surely enjoy the hell out of these playoffs rooting for this team. Let’s do this!!

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