We are down to the last two weeks of the regular season. The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the division is four, so they will likely be the NL West winners. After taking two of three from the Nationals, the magic number to have home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs is eight. The Indians are still hot, so the magic number to have home field advantage in the World Series is ten (with thirteen games left).
The Dodgers’ remaining schedule is as follows: four in Philadelphia, the Giants in LA for three games, the Padres in LA for three games, a day off, then finish with three in Colorado. The Phillies series will be interesting because of Rhys Hoskins, a right handed rookie who has hit eighteen home runs in his first 37 games. The Giants could be a typical rival match up. The Padres don’t have a lot to offer, but may want to play spoiler. The Rockies will likely be still wrapping up their wild card qualifications.
This is the time that Dave Roberts said that the Dodgers will be tuning up for the playoffs. This is the time the Dodgers should be winning and building momentum going into the playoffs. The evidence of this should be a reduced use, if not zero use, of players not scheduled to play during the playoffs. We shall see.
Watch today’s game at 5:08 pm PDT on ESPN to whether The Beav will be buying his ticket to ride the 2017 Dodgers train. If Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers beat Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals, then The Beav will be ridin’ that train!
Rich Hill faces off against AJ Cole at 10:05 this morning. You can watch the game on the Fox TV broadcast network.
I’m hoping for more of the explosive Dodgers offense that we saw in yesterday’s game. Watch to see whether Rich Hill can match the excellent recent starts by Yu Darvish and Alex Wood.
In what could be a preview of this year’s National League Championship Series, the Dodgers are visiting the Washington Nationals this weekend. They will not be using Clayton Kershaw nor Yu Darvish, so we will see what the other starting pitchers have. The first game features Alex Wood versus ex-Dodger Edwin Jackson, starting at 4:05 pm PDT. Game 2 is an early one (10:05 am PDT) because it is on the FOX network, and it features Rich Hill versus AJ Cole. Game 3 is a late one (5:08 pm PDT) because it is on ESPN, and it features Hyun-Jin Ryu versus Stephen Strasburg.
We would like to see games with a touch of the playoff atmosphere. This means well-pitched, well-defended, grind it out games. The Dodgers may want to win the first two to ensure a series victory. Stephen Strasburg is carrying a scoreless streak of 34 innings coming into Sunday’s game.
Last night, the Dodgers found a way to win. Tonight, they need to find a way to win without Clayton Kershaw on the mound. How will they do it?
Grind it out…move the runners over…make crisp plays in the field…don’t give the Giants anything to hit…work the count…etc. etc.
It’s not easy, but it’s what every team has to do to win. The Dodgers were doing it in the peak of the summer, but somewhere lost their mojo. Now, by grinding it out, they need to rekindle that mojo. One game at a time. One win at a time. One series win at a time.
Sometime late in August, I remember reading about Dave Roberts’ plan for September. It went something like this:
- The first half of September, we will have a tryout for the playoffs. We will experiment with different lineups, try different guys, and see what works.
- The second half of September, we will gear up for the playoffs. We will build momentum and carry that into the playoffs.
Dear Doc: Your plan sucks. It’s not working. You have destroyed any momentum the team built in June, July, and up through August 25th. Stop the experiment. Stop the madness. It’s only September 12th, but enough is enough.
Here’s a new plan. Start rebuilding momentum now, starting with tonight’s game. It’s a perfect opportunity, since Clayton Kershaw is the starting pitcher.
- Use your starting pitcher for seven innings, or least make him work into the seventh inning.
- Use your best relievers, and keep Pedro Baez in the bullpen. Don’t bring him out onto the pitcher’s mound.
- Use your best eight position players every night: Taylor, Seager, Turner, Bellinger, Puig, Barnes, Utley/Forsythe strict platoon, Pederson/Hernandez strict platoon.
- Use Ethier and Farmer as pinch-hitters.
- Do not play Granderson nor Gonzalez under any circumstances.