Nine to Go

Continued and persistent rumors of the demise of Clayton Kershaw seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Is this the game where Clayton may have actually recognized that he is no longer the early version of himself, and now must become a finesse pitcher?  There is nothing wrong with being a finesse pitcher, but it just may not sit with him very well.  In Game 2, he was extremely efficient.  He did not try to K everyone, but instead pitched to soft contact.To not believe that Kershaw was unhappy (is that the right word) with the decision to start Ryu in Game 1, I think is a bit naïve.  He is human andVERY PROUDand has been the unquestioned Ace since 2010.  Of course it did not go down without question.  I agreed with the decision to start Ryu in Game 1.  His game against SF was much better than Kershaw’s.  It gave Clayton an extra day of rest.  The only downside would be Kershaw’s ego.  I give Doc credit for putting team before pitcher.  Kershaw cannot complain about the results, and he is in position to come back and pitch in Game 5 if needed (it will not be). This is the first playoff gameEVERKershaw has gone 8 innings.  The fan in me wanted to see Kershaw finish, but I can see the benefit of using Jansen in a clean inning situation.  AGOODand confident Jansen is probably going to be needed for a WS victory.  The strikeout of Freddie Freeman to end the game has to be a huge confidence builder.After the game in an interview with Rosenthal, we learned that Doc had a great plan with Kershaw.  If Duda is announced, Kershaw stays in the game, but once Flowers was announced, the decision to bring in Jansen forced the Braves to burn two bench players.  Doc reiterated this strategy in his post game presser.  Maybe Doc has raised his Baseball IQ to above a bucket of hammers???Overall this was a perfect game for the Dodgers. Joc another leadoff extra base hit.  Manny a HUUUGE HR.  Puig was fun.  Grandal goes deep.  He is swinging for a HR every swing, but tonight he caught up with a sinker that did not sink.  And the team gets a 2ndconsecutive shutout.  It might have been a 3rdconsecutive shutout without the 9thinning HRs given up by Kenley in Game 163, but if he learned from that, all the better.  Maybe it becomes Manny time for the next 9 wins.Now the series moves to Atlanta, and next man up is Walker Buehler.  He gets a 6thday between starts so he should be well rested.  The Braves see two relative finesse pitchers, and now here comes the heat.  The Dodgers have won twice while compiling a total of 10 hits in those two games.  Maybe this Sunday’s game will replicate last Sunday’s.We got to see a few Aces today; Verlander, Kluber, Sale, and Kershaw.  Verlander was unhittable through 5 but had a tough 6th.  He was hitting spots at 97-98.  He is 7-0 in ALDS.  Sale seemed to tire in the 6th.  Kluber got into trouble in the 4thand he was gone in the 5thafter two more Astros’ jacks.   Jhoulys Chacin and the Brewers bullpen was dominant against a Rockies team that seems to have forgotten how to hit.  Maybe they can get it back together when they get back to Colorado.  I sure would like to see the Brewers/Rockies go 5.  But today belonged to the Dodgers Ace…Clayton Kershaw.

This article has 31 Comments

  1. Kershaw pitched a great game a while ago that I did not see him throw “smartly”. great hit of Machado but I do not see it as
    a player of 10 years and 30millones of dollars per season. pederson well, grandal well, puig well, even though Billinger has not hit hits I liked his turns. Kike very well in defense and batting, muncy very well..Roberts well changing the line up. jensen makes me very nervous.

  2. I agree with you about Clayton. He did hit 93 a couple of times, but he was pitching to weak contact. He was varying his pitching pattern and kept the hitters off balance all night. Hopefully, this is the moment where he “flipped the switch.” He can be a 20 game winner pitching like this. I too wanted to see a complete game, but like AC said, Kenley has to pitch well for the Dodgers to win and to pitch well he needs some time to pitch. That was absolutely the right move.

    Dave Roberts has done an outstanding job! This team is galvanized, focused and derermined!

    I am pretty sure Milwaukee will beat Colorado (they only have to win 1 more) and I also hope it goes 5. The Brewers bullpen will be SMOKED by then!

  3. I agreed with starting Ryu Game 1 but it had nothing to do with SF games. Unlike past years where giving Clayton an extra day off would make him less sharp, this year he’s pitched better with that extra day off. He’s done it more than ever this year and his body has responded to it. Ryu has always done well with an extra day. It was as simple as giving both guys an extra day rather than Kershaw on normal rest with Ryu getting two. We all know this year’s version on Clayton wasn’t going to go on short rest this series so he’s set up for Game 2 and 5.
    As for flipping the switch. I think he did that a long time ago. Last night was just one of his best outings. CK has thrown the highest percentage of breaking balls than any pitcher in the league. That switch had been flipped. His execution of all three pitches were sharp and with the extra day off his velocity ticked up a hair. Like I said last week when all three pitches are being located no one is beating him.

  4. Very nice game by Kershaw, another game were Roberts didn’t overmanage, and if the decision to start Ryu in game 1 and Kershaw in game 2 was Roberts, I say well done, but I don’t think that was his decision.

  5. The Athletic is giving Yasmani Grandal a lot of credit for the two shutouts:

    The shutouts are a tribute to the game-calling of Grandal, who spotted the Braves’ recent deficiencies against changeups and called the pitch regularly for Ryu. As Atlanta regularly challenged Kershaw early in counts, Grandal altered the southpaw’s pitch usage, leaning even more heavily on off-speed pitches early in counts to induce weak contact.

    Grandal remains a factor behind the dish with his defensive abilities. According to Fangraphs’ Defensive Runs Saved metric, he ranks second among catchers. By Baseball Prospectus’ Adjusted Framing Runs Above Average, no catcher has been a better framer.


    “It was one of the best outings that I’ve seen that I can recall, in the sense that he used his complete repertoire of pitches,” Roberts said. “He used both sides of the plate. He changed eye levels effectively. And he really pitched. And so with that, there was a lot of soft contact. He was in complete control.”

    Grandal said he and Kershaw were able to execute the precise plan they wanted. That meant grounders, and that meant boredom for the Dodgers’ outfielders. Only four balls made it past the infield. In center field, Cody Bellinger went more than an hour between plays that required him to move.

    Kershaw was deceptively great, so great that he obscured the truth. His teammates felt like he was as good as ever. Joc Pederson said it was “the usual Kershaw, the dominance he’s used to.”

    1. I wonder how this Braves deficiency in hitting a changeup will affect the game Grandal calls for Buehler. Nice for the team to have an off day, but sucks for us having to wait till tomorrow evening!

  6. Some of the difference with Kershaw in this game, is that he had all his pitches.

    Because it has seemed, that in games in the post season in the past, Kershaw hasn’t always had all his pitches working, but he did last night.

    I think both Ryu and Kershaw pitched well, but I have to wonder about the Braves.

    Because I thought this was a big miss match before these games were played, and after watching these two games, this looks like, an even bigger, miss match.

    There has only been one team in baseball, that has ever been shut out in their first two post season games, like the Braves have, and that was in the early 1900s.

    It was big that Sandoval didn’t just put Manny on, after Sandoval fell behind to Manny, 3, zero.

    And Grandal actually hit that one out, after he was down, with two strikes.

    If Sandoval just puts Manny on there, and he doesn’t give Grandal that good of a pitch to hit, after being ahead, zero, two, we possibly wouldn’t have scored, a single run.

    That is how close this game really was, although it looked like the Braves never had a chance.

    Kershaw striking the Brave’s rightfielder in that first inning, was a big strike out, because the Braves never managed to get a runner farther then second, after that.

    Kenley had to pitch there, because it is about the team, and Kenley needs to pitch regularly, to keep sharp.

    Because we want Kenley to be ready, when we will really need him.

    Because I am sure, this entire post season is not going to be such a cake walk, like these first two games have been, especially the farther we get into the post season, this year.

  7. Great little piece by Grant Brisbee:
    I’m no statamatrician, but I’d like to see a stat for something like, “Appearances from someone who probably shouldn’t be there.” That is, both on the pitching and hitting side, times a player is in the game, even though he stresses you out. The postseason is two games old, and we’ve already seen Drew Butera, Terrance Gore, and Jonathan Lucroy hit. Fernando Rodney and Liam Hendriks have faced seven combined batters. These are players who make you say something like, “Uhhhhh” the whole time you’re watching them. It’s not because they’re bad; it’s just that they’re a little bit worse at varying skills than you’re used to.
    The Dodgers generally don’t have these players. Joc Pederson never turned into Jim Thome, but he’s still pummeling mistakes. Kemp is struggling since the second half, but he’s still punishing lefties. The rotation might not be as dominant is it has been, but Hyun-jin Ryu has been absolutely outstanding, and everyone behind him is absolutely worthy of a postseason roster spot, if not a postseason starring role.

    1. Like you said, this is only after two games, and 8 at bats, and you also have to consider the big difference in competition, too.

      1. The last two years the Dodgers definitely got the draws that they wanted. Last year it was home field advantage over AZ while the Cubs and Nattie Lights played a knock out, drag out series. This year getting the Braves was ideal for Rd. 1.

        1. I have no idea what the competition has to do with Brisbee’s piece, but…

          It’s definitely ideal being in the NL! And definitely ideal being a deep team (which is kinda Brisbee’s point.)

          1. Bluto

            The Braves are not the Yankees!

            So why bring up Jonathon Lucroy, who had 4 at bats, against the Yankees?

            Lucroy had some pretty good seasons, for the Brewers.

            He is no Drew Butera.

            Yes it is good to be in the National League this year, because the National League is very weak, this year.

            So weak, even a flawed team might conquer, but that may be more about the weak National League, then anything else.

            And maybe, that was his point.

            And remember, this is only after two games.

          2. MJ,

            Once again I have no idea what your point is.
            I’m sorry you didn’t like the article, I thought most people would.

  8. I’m no pitching coach but kenley’s at his best when he’s throwing downhill. Lots of momentum in that big frame.

      1. MJ,

        Once again I have no idea what your point is.
        Perhaps you forgot to read the article? The one I linked to? The one that ended:
        Because this might be the best Dodgers roster in memory, even if it’s also the most flawed. It’s complicated. The elite players are nursing their wax wings, but everyone else combines to be fearsome as all hell. This isn’t the Dodgers powerhouse we’re used to.
        That doesn’t mean this isn’t still a Dodgers powerhouse, though. It’s an important distinction.

  9. I’d like to see the Rockies come back and win a couple of games. The Brewers strength is their pen and it would be nice if the Rockies bats woke up a bit in Colorado to wear down that pen a bit before the Dodgers face them.

  10. Sean Newcombe, the leftie, will pitch for Atl tomorrow. That means sit down Belly, Muncy, Puig, and Joc and welcome to the playoffs CT3, Freeze, Dozier, and Kemp! (and maybe Barnes, who knows)

  11. Dozier could be in the lineup tomorrow, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kiki’ at 2B, and Puig in RF, despite his reverse splits.

    1. Bobby

      I think your right about that line up.

      Freeze is the big difference with this line up, especially in high leverage situations.

      Judge just hit another monster HR.

      He alone, is a good enough reason, to want the Red Sox to win this series.

      That is his third HR in three post season games, this year.

  12. Sean Newcomb is the rest we need, and will be the indication we are to be reckoned with moving forward. He dominates us in July to avoid a 4 game sweep, missing a no hitter by inches. We slept walked through that game but it was bf( before Freese) and before Hernandez changed his approach. We need to come out early and set the tone. This series is there for the taking, don’t particularly want to face their ace again in game 4. Feel like he may pitch better and would have a chance to force things back to LA and an awkward starting pitcher decision. End it tomorrow, forget the jabs let’s throw bombs!!

    Intersting lineup choices, but I imagine Robot’s book will not allow him to divert from platoon mania. It has been working well lately, so plan on seeing this lineup
    1 taylor
    2 turner
    3 Freese
    4 Machado
    5 kemp
    6 Hernandez
    7 dozier
    8 Barnes
    9 Buheler

    I think there is a small chance Grandal plays over Barnes and that would move Dozier to the 8th spot.

    1. Adam

      I don’t know if you noticed this, but we also faced him in June, and scored 5 runs off him, in 5 innings.

  13. AC, I thought of you while watching Gerrit Cole absolutely dominate today.

    Having said that, who do you think is this offseason’s Gerrit Cole? A good pitcher who’s perhaps ready to take that next step behind an ace and could be available?

    1. I think AC likes Lance Lynn and Odorizzi if memory serves, but as back of the rotation guys.
      Both went for 1 year deals, so should be back on the market.
      That said, will the Dodgers be able to sign anyone?
      If Kershaw and Ryu return. Even if Maeda leaves, the team is still overstocked with starters.
      If Ryu leaves, there’s still at least five:
      Kershaw, Hill, Buehler, Stripling, Wood, Urias, Santana. Admittedly the last two will be on a pitch count, I imagine.

      1. I like both Lynn and Odorizzi as #5 guys. They are potential innings eaters, which the Dodgers needed at the beginning of the year. Maybe not so much for 2019. I like innings eaters at #5.

    2. My Gerrit Cole pick for this winter would be Zach Wheeler. But I think it is going to come down to what happens with Kershaw and Ryu. If both are back in Dodger Blue, the Dodgers will not be looking at starting pitching with Buehler, Kershaw, Ryu, Urias, and Wood/Maeda/Stripling/Ferguson/Santana.

      1. I think the FO gets either Kershaw or Ryu signed, but not both. Wood is a candidate to get packaged in the offseason for some young relief help. Hernandez is the 2B next year. But for now we have some baseball to play. Put this thing to bed with a win tonight and hope the Rockies and Brewers go five games with a bunch of BP use in Denver.

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