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Dodgers Fans: Don’t Assume

September 8th, 2020 · 1 Comment · Baseball, Dodgers

Potentially making an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

In March of 2012, the Guggenheim Group announced it was buying the Los Angeles Dodgers from the unpopular Frank McCourt for more than $2 billion — making it, at the time, the most expensive change of ownership in professional sports history. Any time, anywhere.

If you had asked me, back in 2012, if by 2019 this incoming, deep-pockets crew would win a World Series … I would have said, “Oh, yeah. Eight chances at getting it done? They will do it at least once.”

But here we are, with World Series chance No. 9 of the Guggenheim era coming up, and the Dodgers remain in pursuit of a first World Series victory since 1988. Which is not “just the other day”.

About two-thirds of the way through the strange, truncated and Covid-fraught 2020 season, the Dodgers appear to be the best team in the Major Leagues. They are 30-12 at this writing and lead the National League West by five games with 18 to play and are considered a sure thing to appear in the expanded playoffs.

But … they have been similarly well-regarded, going back to 2012, and I am concerned they are making some of the same mistakes they tend to make just before and during the playoffs.

To wit:

–Not enough starting pitching. This year, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are expected to pitch the first two games of the best-of-three first round. Kershaw has been very good in 2020, almost as imposing as the version of the left-hander who won the Cy Young in 2011, 2013 and 2014. However, we all know how he has struggled in the playoffs — he is 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 16 series over nine years. He gave up the decisive home runs in a surprise division series loss to Washington last October. Also, in recent years he has had a tendency to break down at some point in the season.

Buehler is having a less-than-overpowering “regular” season, yet he remains the No. 2 guy in the rotation. Someone has to do it.

–And then we get to the No. 3 starter, who will have to step up a time or three to get through this World Series thing. At the moment, the choices appear to be Julio Urias, Darrin May and Tony Gonsolin. The former two have not had a scoreless outing this season, and Gonsolin could use a bit more seasoning.

–The way this was supposed to work, David Price or Alex Wood would be the No. 3 guy, or even Ross Stripling, but Price opted out of the Covid season and Alex Wood broke down after three innings of his only start this season and migrated to the bullpen. Stripling started well but got hit early and often over the past month. He now is in Toronto.

–Again, the Dodgers are a seat-of-the-pants operation when it comes to the relief corps. They have closer Kenley Jansen, of course, and they will ride him hard, but the rest of the bullpen is a mess. Who is their eighth-inning guy? How about the seventh inning? Their situational lefties? It’s just scary down there in the pen. Well, like every season, but it might be worse this time. Joe Kelly may get the ball in set-up situations, if he gets back from his injury in time. After that? Pick your poison. A failure to believe in the pen leads the club to do things like call for Kershaw out of the pen, but that works out mostly never.

Anyway, the Dodgers are gliding into the playoffs, and they look OK with the bats and better than OK on defense, but if they have a plan for getting the last nine outs of a playoffs game … well, they are not sharing it. We can’t help but wonder if they figure they can make it up as they go.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Gary Franzen // Sep 8, 2020 at 2:48 PM

    Hello Paul, thought I would check in with your blog, and wasn’t disappointed.
    Hope you are well in the south of Franzen – er – France. Following Baseball? That’s more than millions of us here in the contiguous 48 can say.
    Dave Roberts will find a way to lose
    Be well,

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