Monday, August 06, 2018

Post-Series Thread: Still Nervous Time Regarding Houston

Well, that series didn't quite go as I had hoped.

Coming off a killer pair of victories against the Brewers, we hosted the Houston Astros only to get shut down by Justin Verlander (14 Ks) on Friday, then slaughtered 14-0 on Saturday, before winning Sunday's finale in a tense 3-2 victory.

Sunday's heroes were Walker Buehler (8 Ks over 5.1 IP), new Dodger Brian Dozier (two-run double in the bottom of the first, to put the Dodgers up 2-1), and Cody Bellinger (RBI double in the third). Manny Machado went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. And while our squad nurses injuries to Alex Wood (tendinitis), Erik Goeddel (right lat inflammation), Yasiel Puig (oblique), and Matt Kemp (ankle, not to mention a batting slump), Houston also came away with injuries to Lance McCullers and George Springer (whose leadoff HR Sunday was thankfully short-lived). That's a lot of casualties in a weekend series, which compounds the overall concern about the Dodgers' chances to win a World Series with this squad.

The LAT's Dylan Hernandez greeted us this morning with concern not of the Astros, but of winning the NL West:

When the Dodgers moved into first place for the first time on July 12, the expectation was for them have a comfortable lead over the Diamondbacks and Rockies by now.

Only the anticipated midseason surge by the Dodgers hasn’t materialized and here they are, still clustered with a group of so-so teams. And if the season ended Sunday, neither the Dodgers nor the Diamondbacks would be in position for a wild card spot. The Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves would play in the wild card game.

“I think that it’s a lot [harder] than saying you get to first place and you’re just going to leave everyone behind you,” manager Dave Roberts said.

The reality is that the Dodgers aren’t as good as they were last season. As much as Andrew Friedman’s front office was credited with building a team that reached the World Series, it’s undeniable that the group’s efforts were aided by a league-high payroll.

The Dodgers are now operating with a budget, the $197-million luxury-tax threshold.

They have something of a feast-or-famine lineup. Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig were sidelined with injuries Sunday, but the Dodgers nonetheless started eight position players who averaged almost 19 home runs between them. Remove Manny Machado from the group, however, and the highest batting average entering the game was Joc Pederson’s .261.

If the Dodgers were criticized in previous seasons for constructing teams that were better suited for the regular season than the playoffs, the opposite is now the case.

But look, we ended up the weekend tied with the Diamondbacks, whom we can watch play the Phillies tonight at 6.40p (Arrieta (9-6, 3.32) vs. Godley (12-6, 4.46)). We may get back to outright first place by the end of the night, while we enjoy our first off-day since the All-Star break, before pitting Rich Hill against his former Sean Manaea and his former team.

And, Roberto Osuna didn't pitch this weekend, saving Osuna from inevitable boos, and allowing the Astros to postpone heralding the further erosion of any possible integrity for another day. So that's a win, I suppose.

Lest you fall down the Dylan Hernandez rabbit hole, I should remind you that Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds have the Dodgers at a 62.1% chance to win the division, with the Diamondbacks at 29.0%. We still wield the World Series of any NL team (13.3%), trailing only Houston (17.0%) in the majors.

Ah yes, Houston. I'm hoping we don't have to see them again this year, as this series didn't give me a lot of hope. But we move on.

Let's lick our wounds and get cracking on the divisional title, boys.


Steve Sax said...

Philly scores twice in the seventh. 2-0 PHL, bottom 7

Steve Sax said...

Colorado up 2-0 at home vs. Pittsburgh, B8

Steve Sax said...

Colorado wins.

SF beating Houston, of course: 1-0 @ SF, T8

Phillies still up 2-0, T9 in AZ

Steve Sax said...

arizona ties it at 2, still batting, b9

Steve Sax said...

all tied at 2. going to extras.

Steve Sax said...

Roman Quinn gets a one-out walk for the Phils, T10

Steve Sax said...

Quinn steals second. 1-2 count to Williams.

Steve Sax said...

Nick Williams rips one to first but it's caught, and luckily Quinn isn't doubled up.

Carlos Santana up...IBB. So Scott Kingery is up. Brad Boxberger pitching, two out.

Steve Sax said...

AZ stadium sounds empty.

Steve Sax said...

Kingery grounds to third, now 0-for-9 with RISP.

Mid-10, 2-2.

Steve Sax said...

Goldschmidt, of course, with a one-out single.

Steve Sax said...

Escobar with a single that the Philly CF (Odubel Herrera) misplayed. AZ with a RISP, one out.

Steve Sax said...

Herrera with a catch at the warning track, but both runners advance. Second and third, two out, Souza Jr (2-for-4, .254) up.

Steve Sax said...

Souza retires with a check-swing comebacker on the first pitch, 1-3 groundout.

We go to the 11th.

Steve Sax said...

Phillies barely escape B11 despite a man on second with one out.

2-2 through 11.

Steve Sax said...

mid-12, tied at 2

Steve Sax said...

on to the bottom of the 13th. Philly's offense blows. AZ is bound to win this game.

Steve Sax said...

Of course, AZ wins. We drop a half-game back of first.