Sunday, October 25, 2020

World Series Game 5 Thread: Oct 25 @ Rays, 5p

Kershaw vs Glasnow.

Existence is pain.

Dave Roberts Made All The Wrong Moves In WS Game 4

The World Series Game 5 Thread is already up so I won't upset that. I just have to post this vitriol before first pitch tonight, which will obviously be another Kershaw postseason meltdown disaster--but more on that later.

World Series Game 4 was entirely winnable if Dave Roberts hadn't made all those boneheaded pitching decisions.

Julio Urias should not have come out in the fifth inning, one out short of qualifying for the win. He had 9 Ks through 14 outs, including two Ks following the Huter Renfroe HR that made it 3-2 LA. We would go on to score in the top of the sixth and extend it to a 4-2 lead, but it didn't matter becuase now we're left to our bullpen decisions.

Blake Treinen was a bad choice to relieve Urias. Treinen gets the third out in the fifth, but then comes back in the sixth to shit the bed, allowing two on with none out. After getting Austin Meadows to strikeout, Roberts inexplicably goes to the unreliable Pedro Baez, who singlehandedly breathes life into the Rays with a meatball that Brandon Lowe deposits for a go-ahead three run HR.

Again, the Dodgers bats try to dig Roberts out of his hole, wth Joc Pederson's two-out, two-RBI single that would have been a longer rally had Cody Bellinger not run us out of the inning by getting tagged at third.

Baez now should be yanked out of there with a harpoon. But Roberts inexplicably leaves Baez in for another inning--only so he can give up ANOTHER home run to Kevin Kiermaier, tying the game.

We take the lead in the eighth inning again 7-6 on a Corey Seager single to left, scoring Chris Taylor. Roberts goes to Adam Kolarek who walks Ji-Man Chio and gets two outs, and then Roberts goes to Brusdar Graterol, who escapes the inning two batters later. Graterol is in, he's dealing 100mph fireballs.

And Roberts caps it all, by bringing in Kenley Jansen to blow the game for us, plain and simple. Not that Jansen's troubles throughout this postseason alone should have made him a radioactive isotope for this situation, not to be touched with a ten-foot pole. When he gave up the walkoff Brett Phillips single to center, it was all over. We handed this 8-7 win to the Rays on a fucking platter, a platter filled with the corpulent excesses and failures of Baez and Jansen.

And Roberts filled that platter, himself.

On top of all this, Jansen didn't even back up the play after the hit to center. It may not have mattered in the final assessment. But I'm so done with this guy. All postseason, it's been about him him him. He does not talk about wanting to support the team. He wants to talk about his own confidence in himself, his own abilities. And by not even doing his secondary job of backing up the play, let alone failing at his primary job of closing the door on the Rays--it showed me what a selfish bastard Kenley Jansen really is. His postgame remarks, in which he underlined how he broke Kiermaier's bat (which was still a single), and Phillips' hit was a fluke--NO, KENLEY. YOU LOST THE GODDAMN GAME, AND LET DOWN YOUR ENTIRE TEAM.

I'm done with Kenley.

I know I posted a valentine to Roberts after the NLCS, but this one pissed me off so much. Roberts' postgame remarks second-guessing his decisions were all about feeling and gut decisions. All of these gut decisions were wrong. And they have cost us dearly.

The other Sons were talking about how this was the multiple-batters-thrown-out-at-home stupidity in our playoff series loss to the Mets. Damn skippy. Now, the Rays have all the momentum. We've given it to them. Kershaw's impending failure tonight, coupled with the redemption of Tyler Glasnow after a poor Game 1 start, will be the next nail in the 2020 Dodgers' coffin. We don't have a starter for Game 6. We're doomed.

You don't recover from gut punches like this. Clearly, Kenley Jansen isn't even trying to recover. And neither will we.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

World Series Game 4 Thread: Oct 24 @ Rays, 5p

Barnes, Injury Attorney

Urias vs. Yarbrough.

Last night, backup catcher Austin Barnes made the most of this 2020 moment. After being left off the 2019 postseason roster altogether, the light-hitting Barnes not only coaxed Walker Buehler into a dominant starting pitching performance, he also notched a crazy World Series bunt-plus-home-run statistic that had only been matched by Hector Lopez in 1961.

And last night gave a number of signs that the Dodgers' 2020 roster is up for pulling through in a true team effort. Justin Turner, whose defensive prowess in the 2020 postseason has kept us alive, but his bat has been uncommonly quiet (at .232 BA vs. a .307 regular season mark), led off the fireworks with a two-out first-inning home run. Max Muncy, who struggled all year to a subpar .192 batting average, had the two-run, two-out RBI single in the third that spelled the beginning of the end for Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton. And then there's Barnes, a .198 batter on the season, erupting for a .350 BA and .861 OPS this postseason.

Chris Taylor and Will Smith both went 0-for-4 last night (Smith with a team-leading 4 LOB), but when the team is collectively 2-for-4 with RISP and collecting gut-punching two-out RBI hits, you can feel the offensive pressure even with those off nights.

It's a stark contrast to the Rays, who walked into these first three games with a bunch of sub-.200 hitters on the team, but have not yet opened up (short of Brandon Lowe's two-HR performance in Game 2). Lowe is still batting .154; Ji-Man Choi .143; and only one starter (Manuel Margot) is north of .300 this World Series.

But all of this is small sample size, and a 2-1 lead's advantage can disappear quickly with a loss today. Julio Urias is 4-0 this postseason (in four appearances, only one of which was a start), and is coming off an impressive and efficient three-inning performance to close NLCS Game 7. But this game could be the biggest start in his postseason career (Urias has started two postseason games to date, losing vs. the Cubs in the 2016 NLCS Game 4, and winning vs. Atlanta in this year's NCLS Game 3).

Ryan Yarbrough had 2/3 of an inning in Game 1, rescuing starter Tyler Glasnow in the fifth but yielding two RBI-hits across four batters (Bellinger pop out; Taylor RBI single; Hernandez RBI single; Barnes fly out). He probably won't last long in Tampa Bay's bullpen game tonight. But if the Rays can scratch and claw their way to victory and even the series, I sure as heck will be worried again.

Actually, I'm pretty worried now.

Walker Buehler, Postseason Stud

As if I could get any more hyped for last night's World Series Game 3 start by Walker Buehler, the LAT's Jack Harris had an excellent piece yesterday which focused on how failure (both in college at Vanderbilt, and professionally with the Dodgers), and how it made him a calmer and more zen pitcher:

Yet, as this postseason has progressed, with Buehler improving every start, the 26-year-old has referred back to those painful memories: the grand slam he gave up in Game 3 of the 2018 NLDS in Atlanta; his stumbles during three straight NCAA tournament runs at Vanderbilt; the highs and lows of skins games that felt far more important than routine practice drills.

Each low point was a prerequisite to his career’s current heights, dark days that better equipped him for a bright future.

“I failed in those moments,” Buehler said. “I can handle that failure. I’ve been through it and I’ve been good after it. That failure doesn’t really scare me anymore. Obviously, you don’t want to fail. But there’s a different feeling when you’re not scared of that failure.”

Buehler wasn't scared of failure last night, nor was he scared of starting in a pivotal game which the Dodgers needed to win both to restore momentum and get their confidence back after a close 6-4 loss on Wednesday. With Charlie Morton and his impressive, cheating-enhanced postseason resume on the opponent's hill. Buehler not only out-dueled and out-lasted the salty Morton. Buehler also notched 10Ks in only six innings, he became the first World Series pitcher to have 10 strikeouts in six innings or fewer.

Eight of those ten strikeouts were swinging, so though Austin Barnes' framing skills might have helped a little, most of it was just flummoxing Tampa Bay, plain and simple, swing and miss. And watching Buehler carve up the Rays in the opening frames (with two Ks per inning through the first three innings), it certinly did a lot to calm the nerves of the Dodgers (who by then had taken a 4-0 lead off a Justin Turner home run, a two-RBI Max Muncy single, and a Barnes suicide squeeze). Not to mention my nerves, but that's another story.

Look at some of the nastiness unveiled in Buehler's arsenal yesterday:

And through this, it's helpful to remember back to the early 2010s, when Clayton Kershaw was paired with Tiny Head Zack Greinke, and everyone thought that one-two punch would take us to World Series championships. It never even got us to the World Series. And here we are, with Walker Buehler's emergence, and Kershaw finally has another stallion in the stable who can effectively help shoulder the postseason load.

Dodgers take a 2-1 lead on the back of their other postseason stud, Walker Buehler.

Friday, October 23, 2020

World Series Game 3 Thread: Oct 23 @ Rays, 5p

Aha, there's the corrrect logo.

Buehler vs. Morton.

When it comes to the Dodgers, my emotions run higher and lower than a normal mortal's calibration. I was simply euphoric after Game 1's victory. But after Game 2's loss, I was despondent--a sulking which has lasted for 36 hours given the off-day for "travel" to the opposite clubhouse in Globe Life Field.

I know this isn't rational or logical. But I can't help it. And everything I have read just spikes the emotions further, in the direction of how I'm feeling.

The LAT's Bill Plaschke says Dodgers fans should be worried.. (I'm worried.) The LAT's resident grump, Dylan Hernandez, assures that we've got this. (I'm still worried.)

And so it comes down to this pivotal Game 3, a must-win start for Walker Buehler, beset with blisters and 2-1 lifetime in the postseason (including no decisions in two four-inning 2020 postseason starts), against Charlie Morton, who is on the verge of an eighth-consecutive winning postseason decision..

The Dodgers wasted opportunities all over the place in Game 2, in which we were 0-for-6 with RISP and let Blake Snell carve us up like a deli counter employee over the first four innings. Snell was at a pace of two Ks per inning before Chris Taylor broke through with a two-run HR in the bottom of the fifth.

The Dodgers worked 7 walks in Game 1's win. We had only 4 walks in Game 2's loss. And as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick pointed out about the Dodgers' walk rate (we trail only the 1997 Marlins for the postseason record), when we're not patient, we're not as successful.

And from a pitching perspective, I think we've established from NLCS Game 7 and World Series Game 2 that Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May are not up to it this postseason. One can blame Dave Roberts for throwing these young arms in such critical situations. But the results speak for themselves: neither one is up to the pressure of this national stage, not yet. Which shatters the illusion of "bullpen games" with the reality of an early white flag, demonstrated no more clearly than Alex Wood taking over in the seventh with the Dodgers down 6-3.

So I'm worried. Like Wildstorm's Midnighter, I have taken the extra day off to play out thousands of scenarios in my mind, and there are too many potential game outcomes in which the Dodgers come up short.

I know, the Dodgers have been in much worse situations this postseason, like when we were down 0-2 in the NLCS and yet at which point I was more positive. Now, the series is tied, and I'm a mess.

I know this is profoundly negative. Like I said, I'm on the swing of a pendulum that is much wider than a normal person's. My stomach lining is probably in shreds.

Who knows what Dodgers team will emerge from the visitors' dugout this game. All I know is, I'm freaking out with worry. We need a win tonight.

LET'S GO, DODGERS!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

World Series Game 2 Thread: Oct 21 vs Rays, 5p

Footsies are now Cody's celebration of choice.

Peek-a-Mook!


A little good-luck charm for Catman.

Tony "Catman" Gonsolin vs Blake Snell.

So far, so good.

Game 1 was vintage 2020 Dodgers, if a team can be "vintage" while "still playing." Starting pitching kept the Boys in Blue in the game and it took a while for the bats to arrive but when they did, hoo boy.

Today is a different beast, however, as Walker Buehler is lined up for a Game 3 start, which means it's time for a bullpen game! Gonsolin is the starter, with May and Urías reportedly available to sub in. Keep in mind all three pitchers worked three days ago so Doc will have to mix and match to scratch out those 27 outs.

But it won't matter if the bats don't show up again. I happen to believe Snell is touchable based on my extensive research of watching his last start.

GO BLUE!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Post-WS Game 1 Thread: Clayton Kershaw, Postseason Stud

graphics courtesy ESPN screenshots

DODGERS 8, RAYS 3

Just as I had tried to dispel the erroneous, hackneyed narrative forming on Dave Roberts late last night, tonight's piece is about Clayton Kershaw, Postseason Stud.

No longer should anyone hear the untrue narrative that Kershaw can't get it done in October. Kershaw has been lights-out this postseason, spinning a 13 K masterpiece over the Brewers in the Wild Card "Series", followed by a quality start against San Diego in Game 2. And sure, the NLCS Game 4 (5 IP, 4 ER, 1 BB and 4 Ks) would have been a horrible way to end.

But storylines can quickly change in baseball, so here we were, in a critical Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay, and Kershaw with the chance to erase those pesky doubts once and for all. Kershaw once again delivered a quality start, for the third time in four post-season starts this year. Tonight's gem was not only on the biggest stage, it was a particularly nice line in the box score: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB and 8 Ks, his only mistake being a home run to Kevin Kiermaier with two out in the fourth (Kershaw then proceeded to strike out Mike Zunino to curtail any momentum).

Seven of Kershaw's 8 Ks tonight were on sliders; the other was on a curve that was not used too much but still used effectively. Kershaw owned the Rays tonight; ESPN's Tim Kurkjian and Mark Teixeira said the Rays "had no chance" with Kershaw's slider in full force. And with the Rays unable to break through in the first six innings, the Dodgers (who had scored eight runs through six) were rolling.

With 201 postseason Ks, Kershaw is now second all-time behind only Justin Verlander for postseason Ks. And Kershaw might have a chance to surpass Verlander...but I'd be just fine if he didn't need to go out there again.

Let's just savor this one. Kershaw is a World Series game winner, deserving of the postseason accolades that complement his outstanding regular-season heroics. Now let's make Kershaw a World Series winner as well.

GO DODGERS!

UPDATE 10/21 12:04a: Yikes, I just noticed that ESPN's Jeff Passan used a similar lede and theme to his post-game article.. Like Passan's article after NLCS Game 7, this one is a good read as well. And though I didn't see Passan's piece before posting this one, I suppose I had better take a different tack next time...

World Series Game 1 Thread: Oct 20 vs Rays, 5p

Some say JT is still floating there, waiting for a teammate to complete the low-five.

Clayton Kershaw vs Tyler Glasnow.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat is going on??? How did the Boys in Blue go from staring elimination in the face (sans mask, no less) to barreling into their third World Series in four years?

Let us count the ways:

1. Timely hitting. And just enough of it. The Dodgers' margins of victory in their four NLCS wins: 12, 4, 2, 1. In Game 7, both Kiké Hernandez's and Cody Bellinger's ABs went like this:

  • pitch #5: foul
  • pitch #6: foul
  • pitch #7: foul
  • pitch #8: crucial HR

The Barves' pitching tightened up and somehow our bats, as Dr. Ian Malcolm might say, found a way.

Oh yeah, congrats to NLCS MVP Corey Seager! Keep mashing, Corey.

2. Pitching. While our starters have been variable, the bullpen has been the best we've seen lately. Let's hope Clayton can go deep into tonight's game and preserve those relief arms.

3. De-fense! De-fense! De-fense! Mookie Betts! Justin Turner (above)! Defensive Runs Saved might not be as sexy a stat as, say, dingers, but it all adds up (or subtracts down).

4. Managing. Let's credit Dave Roberts when he pushes the right buttons. Our first two openers in Game 7 (Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin) weren't great but Doc made the adjustments to settle the pitching down. He PHed Kiké at the right time and trusted Julio Urías to finish the game. No Clayton or Kenley in sight.

5. Luck. Finally, that last ingredient that no amount of money can buy. In Game 7 it came in the form of the double TOOTBLAN courtesy of Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley. We suuuuuure could use a few more of those types of plays by the Rays.

Will this finally be our year? Will the small-market Rays triumph over our clever, moneyed overlords? In 1988, both the Lakers and Dodgers handled their business. 32 years later, we're thisclose to it happening again.

GO BLUE!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Dave Roberts Made All The Right Moves Late In The 2020 NLCS

Dave Roberts.

In the 14 years since starting this blog, there has not been a Dodgers manager whom I've wanted to win more than Dave Roberts. He is calm, cool, collected; cerebral, measured, thoughtful; effusive and unselfish in praise to his team and front office, while willing to take the blame from his team all along.

Roberts has always struck me as someone who wants to play the game the right way, win or lose. And there's an admirable nobleness in that pursuit. I've had the pleasure of meeting Roberts once, in a brief conversation on the field before a game. And he was every bit of class and personable nature and authenticity that I expected him to be.

Over Roberts' five years as Dodgers manager, particularly the heartbreaking unjust robberies of the 2017 and 2018 World Series, the narrative has shifted from a manager coping with teams lacking all the right pieces, to a manager unable to make the right decisions in the clutch situations. No matter that Houston was banging trash cans and likely buzzing under-jersey signals; or key reliable components to the engine deciding to falter or have that one off-day in exactly the wrong moment, dooming the team's chances. The burden and responsibility fell squarely on Roberts. And he took it.

After the loss in NLCS Game 4, I had also abandoned hope. It was a very flimsy argument to posit that Dave Roberts erred by putting Clayton Kershaw out there in the sixth inning, after Kershaw pitched one-run ball through five frames. Sure, maybe Kershaw could have been on a shorter leash in the sixth--Kershaw's ERA is 4.31 in the postseason vs. a 2.31 in the regular season, and Kershaw's postseason ERA from the sixth inning onwards is 7.31, the worst of a minimum of 20 innings in that scenario, according to ESPN. Maybe five innings is all that we should have asked of Kershaw, and we should have collected our chips then and just moved on.

But even though Roberts yanked Kershaw rather quickly, three batters into that fateful sixth inning, in a game where the Dodgers would ultimately lose 10-2 (evidencing more about issues with the bullpen, and the Dodgers' inability to solve Bryce Wilson, rather than Kershaw's shortcoming)--the talk was about whether Roberts should have ever let Kerhsaw trot out for the sixth in the first place. And yes, maybe Roberts himself left a slight crack open to second-guessers and Monday morning quarterbacks:

"I'm not going to take Clayton out after a weak ground ball and another ground ball off the bat of Freeman," Roberts said, adding that Ozuna's batted ball "wasn't hit very hard," even though it traveled at 108 mph.

"I felt really good with Clayton at that point in time."

So there you have it: Doc allowed what he was seeing in the game to color his opinion of how long to leave Kershaw in maybe longer than he should have. Maybe, right there with that admission, the leash was a millimeter too long. Which played to the crystallizing narrative that Roberts sometimes lets his emotional loyalties obscure the analytic objectivity required to make the tough decisions (also see: Jansen, Kenley).

Down 3-1 in a best-of-seven, we looked like toast. Fangraphs gave the Braves an 82.8% chance to win the NLCS. And, discouragingly, I started coming to grips that if the results were to play out as statistics were leaning, that there would be no other objective choice than to move in another managerial direction this off-season.

And this realization actually pained me, like a punch to the gut. I'm talking physical pain in my stomach, seriously.

Sure, I want the Dodgers to win. But I want Dave Roberts to win as well. And Clayton Kershaw. And Justin Turner. And all those guys in the clubhouse, especially those who have battled through self-doubt and admitted cheating and major injuries and boo birds and doubters and haters and mean people.

I want Dave Roberts to win.

So bad.

And now, we are going to the 2020 World Series, and we have a shot at all of that.

So before we get ahead of ourselves, I also want to take time to offically explode the narrative that Roberts' eyes are clouded by loyalty and appreciation of legends in his midst. We need to take the breath and recap how we got from down 3-1 to a World Series ticket.

Roberts' management of NLCS Game 5 was impressive, running a bullpen game and letting Will Smith and Corey Seager tee off to achieve a 7-3 victory. Roberts also allowed Kenley Jansen to work a three-strikeout ninth inning, in a non-save situation, to secure the victory in an elimination game, and boost Jansen's confidence knowing that we'd need it.

In NLCS Game 6, Roberts again managed to mastery, allowing the Dodgers' early strikes on Max Fried to hold up through a gutty Walker Buehler performance, but also making the right bullpen decisions in Blake Treinen (one ER), Pedro Baez for the eighth, and then Jansen again for the save in a three-batter ninth.

And then, for a culminating Game 7, Dave Roberts played a hand free of any aces and face cards, and still proceeded to run the table. Roberts' momentous and correct decisions in this game were multifold. Yanking Dustin May after one nervous inning (one might criticize the team for only informing May of his starting role hours before game time, but that's another topic altogether). Pulling the plug on Plan B, Tony Gonsolin, after two equally nerve-racking frames. Trusting Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol for three no-hit innings. And the biggest pitching decision of all, allowing Julio Urias to pitch the last three innings of no-hit ball to ice the game, and the series, for the Dodgers.

Which is not to forget the biggest decision on the other side of the game: pinch hitting Kike Hernandez for Joc Pederson to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Hernandez' game-tying pinch-hit HR, an eight-pitch AB that bounced off the second deck, was a backbreaker.. (And later that evening, following Cody Bellinger's equally majestic go-ahead, game-winning HR to right, Hernandez was a shoulder-breaker, as well.)

And also, Roberts rightfully trusted crafty veterans like Justin Turner, whose 2020 postseason has paled in comparison with prior heroics, to make amazingly heady plays like the momentum-shifting fourth-inning double play. Or letting Mookie Betts--whose bat has also not yet risen to postseason stage expectations--shine like a supernova in right field with three straight nights of game-saving defensive web gems, ranging from shoestring catches turned double plays, to over-the-wall grabs to deny potential home runs.

Roberts is trusting Max Muncy, who even when not hitting to form, is grinding out key walks (Muncy had nine in the NLCS). And A.J. Pollock, whose 2019 postseason was disastrous but has come up big this year. And Corey Seager, 2020 NLCS MVP and postseason juggernaut, who is finally shining on the postseason stage after prior seasons of average performance. Even Bellinger, who has spent the entire 2020 season tinkering with his batting stance and approach (to mixed results), has been given patience in the six-hole--a strange spot for someone who won the MVP award last year--but obviously this trust paid off huge in Game 7, when Bellinger won the game for us with his solo shot.

The Dodgers win Game 7. We're going to the World Series, in improbable fashion. It's unbelievable.

Which brings us back to Dave Roberts. He made all the right decisions in Game 7. He did not allow allegiances to get in the way, forgoing a third-straight Jansen appearance in the ninth or a hail-mary feed to Kershaw in the late innings of a tense winner-take-all game. And we should take stock and acknowledge this, contradicting the narrative that has percolated of late.

This 2020 NCLS, Roberts rose to the moment. Sure, Roberts probably has more potent weapons on this year's team than in prior seasons. But it still takes a skilled operator to play to victory, not to mention victories in three straight elimination games.

And afterward, on stage, emotional and voice cracking, you could FEEL Roberts' understandable emotion about the game and series victory. (Go ahead and watch the video @ the top of the post. I'll wait.)

The very ingredient that many of us Dodger fans wished Roberts would exhibit less--emotion--was now on full display and it was wonderful to see. Roberts was able to channel it in Game 7 (if not Games 5 and 6, as well), not let emotion cloud his vision, and only let it out here at the end, on the post-game stage, accepting the Warren C. Giles National League Championship Trophy.

"This is OUR YEAR!", said Roberts. I sure as hell hope so.

But I'm so proud of Coach Roberts, and for everything he did for the team in this game, this series, this year--not to mention the four years before this. I really am grateful and thankful he's our manager.

Let's go win this one for Doc.

The Mookie Factor

photos by Robert Gauthier/LA Times

Sunday, October 18, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 7 Thread: Oct 18 vs Barves, 5p

Will this become the Dodgers' iconic image of 2020?

Mystery Man #1 Dustin May vs Mystery Man #2 Ian Anderson

Game 7!

I am by nature a cynic, so I admit when the Boys in Blue went down 3-1 in this series I thought they were toast. But Mookie & Co. have so far proven this asshole wrong and soon we'll find out if the 2020 Dodgers can be called comeback kids.

The winner of tonight's tilt will advance to the World Series against the team with the AL's best regular-season record, the Tampa Bay Rays, who first went to the World Series in 2008. The Dodgers have the NL's best regular-season record, so how about some symmetry, boys?

As a bonus, Joe Davis will be calling tonight's action on Fox.

GO BLUE!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 6 Thread: Oct 17 vs Barves, 130p

Buehler vs Fried

They say don't judge a man's tight pants until you've Walkered a mile in Buehler's tight pants. Or something like that. The Dodgers' season is in Walker Buehler's hands — specifically, hands that are calloused with two critical blisters that tend to affect his delivery. The Barvos counter with Max Fried, who blew the Dodgers away in Game 1. Must-win? You bet your tightpants. GO BLUE!

Friday, October 16, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 5 Thread: Oct 16 vs? @? Braves, 6p

May vs. TBD.

Well, Clayton's return to Texas hasn't gone so swimmingly. But last night's loss wasn't his fault, not when Kiké Hernandez is airmailing throws into the crowd, or Brusdar Graterol picks a fine time to stop sniffing glue, or the Dodgers offense decides that 15 runs the day before gives them the right to an off-day. So now we go with Dustin May, likely against Max Fried, the first of three must-win games for the Dodgers. God help us.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 4 Thread: Oct 15 @ Braves, 5p

Flashing the guns. We're ready.

Kershaw vs. Wilson.

Wow, what an opening to NLCS Game 3.. And though it might be slightly unfair to expect another first-inning outburst tonight, it would live up to the pattern if the Dodgers exploded yet again for Game 4. SoSG Gnomes corrected me that yesterday's road game was not the first of this 2020 postseason; our other road game was NLDS Game 3, in which we won 12-3 over San Diego.

These two 2020 road games account for two of the Dodgers' top five most prolific playoff performances all time. And tonight's another road game. So let's do it again!

Which would be great of course, especially given Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for us today after being scratched in Game 2 with back spasms. Hoping Clayton's back is settled and he is able to rise to what pundits are already dubbing "the most important of his career", which they seem to say for every single one of Kershaw's playoff starts, anyway. That's why he's an ace. It comes with the territory.

We're winning tonight. Remember the happy times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 3 Thread: Oct 14 @ Braves, 3p

Urias vs. Wright.

So the Dodgers are now down 2-0 in the NLCS, our offense and dugout were "flatter than a third grader" (as one of the Sons, who will go unnamed, put it in our WhatsApp chat), and our pitching is in complete disarray. I confess that I was drinking Pessimist last night after the game (see photo, above; it's a pretty solid wine).

But I still believe that it's the Dodgers' time to shine. And last night's late rally, which fell one run short of a comeback, was a very good sign that the moribund bats of Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, Will Smith, and Cody Bellinger just might be waking up for the first time this series. Not to mention that of the 85 teams that have trailed 2-0 in a best-of-seven series, only 13 have prevailed (15%) BUT six of those 13 (almost half!) involved the Dodgers (to be fair, only three of them positively).

And here's the kicker: Game 3 is a road game for the Dodgers, who played better on the road in 2020 (22-8 vs. 21-9). We haven't played a road game yet in the 2020 postseason 2020 NLCS, so the change of scenery (and uniforms) will be refreshing. So don't go digging up rebuttal points like "we're in the same damn field, though," or "that's only a 3% difference in performance", dammit. We're winning tonight. Remember the happy times.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 2 Thread: Oct 13 vs. Barves, 3p

Gonsolin vs Anderson

Welp. WELP. Things were going swimmingly until they weren't. The Barves punched the Dodgers in the mouth yesterday in Game 1 and now we get the news that Clayton Kershaw has back spasms and won't start Game 2. Tony Gonsolin will take his place.

One thing that impressed me about the Lakers' title run this year was that they never lost two in a row in the playoffs. When they lost, they made adjustments in the next game. Let's face it: Until last night the Dodgers hadn't been challenged in the playoffs beyond Game 2 of the Padres series. Can we make adjustments after being punched in the mouth?

Time to find out what we're made of!

Monday, October 12, 2020

2020 NLCS Game 1 Thread: Oct 12 vs. Braves, 5p

Buehler vs. Fried

The Lakers have won their title. Which means now the entire focus of Los Angeles is squarely on the Dodgers, back in the NLCS for the fourth time in five years.. And though we are 5-0 in the postseason so far, it's not without uncertainty, namely the snowballed disappointment of Kenley Jansen, currently unfit to be our closer; not to mention how the Dodgers (or any team, for that matter) can muscle its way through a postseason series with no off-days.

The Dodgers are the "home team" to start, which is weird at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, but at least we've gotten three games under our belt in this cavernous stadium where home runs come to die. The Braves feasted on Fish in homer-happy Minute Maid Park. And their pitching has been spot-on as well: shutouts in four of their five postseason games.

So you guessed it: I'm nervous again. Let's go, Dodgers!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Congratulations, Lakers

From 2010: Congratulations, Lakers

From 2009: One-peat!

Thursday, October 08, 2020

2020 NLDS Game 3 Thread: Oct 8 @ Padres, 6p

May vs. Morejon

Last night was a heart attack: Cody Bellinger's game-saving catch over the wall, Joe Kelly's tightrope to save Kenley Jansen's ass in the ninth. And after a heart attack, things in life always seem a lot clearer. Like the fact that Kenley Jansen is not fit to be our closer any longer. Or that Doc Roberts isn't going to depend upon tenure and history to make decisions. Or that Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger are starting to heat up again...which is exactly what we need.

Look, all season long, the Dodgers' bats have picked up this team in the few times when the bullpen has faltered. Last night's cardiac ninth inning was nuts but the Dodgers were were still due 9-1-2 in the bottom of the ninth, and I for one had a feeling that Mookie would have come up big again. But I'll take the win nonetheless.

Tonight we are the "visiting" team so we need to get out there and score runs early and often. Let's do this.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

2020 NLDS Game 2 Thread: Oct 7 vs. Padres, 6p

Mookie Betts, about to open up the can of Dodgers whup-ass.

Kershaw vs. TBD

The Padres opened up Game 1 last night well, despite the early exit of Mike Clevinger, holding the Dodgers hitless through the first five frames. But with one out in the sixth during a 1-1 tie, Mookie Betts hit a double, and then the floodgates were open. By the end of the frame, the Dodgers were up 5-1 and didn't look back, thanks to a rock-solid bullpen performance across Dustin May, Victor González, Blake Treinen, and Kenley Jansen.

Also, nice to see Max Muncy get a double and Cody Bellinger get a RBI single in Game 1.

So now we turn right around and play another "home" game in Globle Life Field. Tonight, my wish is to start our hitting before the sixth inning.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

2020 NLDS Game 1 Thread: Oct 6 vs. Padres, 6.30p

Buehler vs. Clevinger

Though MLB's four Division Series all feature divisional rivalries (all the Central teams were knocked out in the Wild Card round), the Los Angeles-San Diego one seems the spiciest. In yesterday's LAT, Dylan Hernandez characterized this rivalry as revered class vs. brash upstart.. All I see is a smokin' hot offensive team (Manny Machado, Feernando Tatis Jr., and Wil Myers, to start) vs. an offense that, besides Mookie Betts and Corey Seager, has been inconsistent or injured or flailing for most of this shortened season.

While one could see the Milwaukee Brewers lose life and energy with every inning, the Padres won't have any of that in this series. And we already know that the baseball gods continue to be cruel. So yeah, I'm worried about this one. Game 1 is critical.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Doc Joins Outraged Dodgers Fans About ESPN's In-Game Interview Scheme

Dodgers fans watching Wild Card Game 1 were incensed to hear Karl Ravech and crew pepper Dodgers 3B Justin Turner with questions WHILE HE WAS ON THE FIELD DURING PLAY. Notwithstanding Turner was beset with a faulty earpiece anyway, it seemed like a very intrusive idea, especially for a broadcaster who won't even consider putting its own play-by-play team in the Stadium, yet has no qualms about poisoning the athletes themselves.

Well, Doc Roberts is pissed off at ESPN, as well:

Interviews with managers or inactive players during a game are a fixture of national broadcasts these days, but in-game interviews with players on the field are becoming increasingly common. They are often seen in spring training and the All-Star Game, and even in the regular season lately. Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo received praise for one such appearance in spring training this year.

However, interviewing a player as he attempts to play in a postseason game, which is infinitely more consequential than a spring training or All-Star Game, rubbed at least one person the wrong way: Turner’s manager.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Friday that he only learned of ESPN’s plan an hour before the game and said there would be no repeat performance on his team.

I like ESPN but this experiment was a stupid idea. Glad that Roberts is telling them where they can stick their (faulty) mikes.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

2020 Wild Card Game 2 Thread: Oct 1 vs. Brewers

Kershaw vs. Woodruff, 7p

The Dodgers eked out a 4-2 victory in Game 1 thanks in large part to Corey Seager's seventh-inning 447-foot HR to give the Dodgers that deciding two-run cushion. That said, the game ended with Kenley Jansen allowing the tying run to the plate and the Dodgers squandering run-scoring opportunities in the early innings, not to mention an embarrassing Max Muncy error in short right field which didn't lead to a run, but was sloppy as hell anyway.

Justin Turner, distracted by a dodgy in-game microphone not to mention inane questions from ESPN's Karl Ravech, went 0-for-4 on Wednesday; both Will Smith and Edwin Rios went 0-for-3. Is it right that we expect someone else in the lineup besides Mookie Betts to have a multi-hit game (Betts was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored)? Let's go, Dodgers! Expectations are high.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

2020 Wild Card Game 1 Thread: Oct 1 vs. Brewers

Buehler vs. Suter, 7p

I realize that MLB did its best to put forward a season after COVID-19 made most of life (not just baseball) a logistic nightmare. But of all the changes to this year's season: the universal DH, seven-inning double-headers, the three-batter minimum for relief pitchers, runners starting on second in extra innings--the one change that I hated the most was a first-round best-of-three series. In baseball, where anything can happen, a best-of-three series is incredibly capriciou, and the best team can easily come out on the wrong end. And without fans in the crowd, there is no homefield advantage enjoyed by the Dodgers, after their hard work resulted in the best record in baseball.

Only one of the four AL home teams won their first game yesterday. My stomach is going to be knotted. Let's hope the Dodgers can be a lot looser and play like the powerhouse team that they are.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Series Thread (Games 58-60): Sept 25-27 vs. Angels

Fri 9.25 6.30p: Kershaw vs. Heaney
Sat 9.26 6p: TBD vs. Bundy
Sun 9.27 12n: TBD vs. Canning

Well here we are, at the final series of the season. And with the Dodgers having clinched home field advantage, there is no reason to play these last three games all-out. Now is the time to take it easy and get ready for this crazy first-round series that begins Sept 30. As for this series, against an Angels team that find themselves just outside the AL's top eight, there are no stakes so we should just rest. We may lose, and we may win. But we will never be here again. So open up, I'm climbin' in, to take it easy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Series Thread (Games 45-47): Sept 22-24 vs. A's

Tues 9.22: May vs. Montas
Wed 9.23: Urias vs. Manaea
Thu 9.24: TBD vs. Fiers
All games 6.30p

Home stretch, six games to play (all at home), with the Dodgers wielding a four-game lead over San Diego. At this stage it's just about getting our pitching roles defined, now that Caleb Ferguson is out for the year, and we are crossing our fingers to find out if Walker Buehler is blister-free.

The last series in Colorado, as predicted, did pick up our bats a bit; Cody Bellinger finally looked like he found a swing that didn't cause him to lose all balance (not to mention his helmet, distressingly), Gavin Lux went yard, and Chris Taylor showed he is getting hot at just the right time. I'm starting to give up hope on Max Muncy this year, but I have this feeling he is going to prove me wrong in the postseason (remember Game 3 of the 2018 World Series? No? Well, I've put a reminder below).

The A's have clinched the AL West with a 6.5-game lead over the Cheaters. That said, Dodgers-A's: It's always a fun time @ the Ravine. (Skip to 6:34 for the big fly (and a shot of me, on deck.)

UPDATE 9/22 10:04 PM: 8TH CONSECUTIVE DIVISION TITLE!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Series Thread (Games 41-44): Sept 17-20 @ Rockies

Thu 9.17 5.30p: Urias vs. Freeland
Fri 9.18 5p: TBD vs. Castellani
Sat 9.19 5p: Kershaw vs. TBD
Sun 9.20 12n: Gonsolin vs. Senzatela

Hot off of another series win in San Diego, the Dodgers now travel to Colorado for their last road series of the "season". It would be great to get some bats working here, especially since our bullpen is beleaguered (Kenley Jansen: shaky; Caleb Ferguson: injured; Joe Kelly: pouting; etc.). Max Muncy is right below the Mendoza line at .199, and I have a feeling he's due. Joc Pederson (.174) and Gavin Lux (.152), I'm not so sure. Nothing like four games @ Coors Field to get some Dingers going!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

PLAYOFFS BABY

Monday, September 14, 2020

Series Thread (Games 48-50):Sept 14-16 @ Padres

It's a heavyweight matchup.

Mon 9.14 6p: Kershaw vs. Lamet
Tue 9.15 6p: TBD vs. TBD
Wed 9.16 1p: TBD vs. TBD

In a first for this blog, I'm going to write the words "this series between the Dodgers and Padres is a heavyweight matchup." What seemed like a ridiculous statement in any of the blog's 14 years of existence is now suddenly realistic, a by-product of a coronavirus-shortened season as well as the potent powers of Fernando Tatis Jr. and ephemeral Dodger Manny Machado. The Padres are only 2.5 games behind the Dodgers with 13 games to play, with both teams having beaten up on the NL West (LA is 22-11, SD is 19-13), but their head-to-head record is pretty balanced (LA 4 games to SD 3). Tatis is tied with Dodger Mookie Betts for the NL home run lead (15), with both in the conversation for NL MVP.

And the Padres meet the Dodgers with multiple starters sidelined (Buehler, May), not to mention continued offensive struggles from Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger (whom I hope are just starting slow, but whom are running out of time here). The one positive note is Will Smith, who has lit it up recently to provide some pop behind the plate. But of course Will Smith is rocking it now; after all, we're talking about the Wild Wild West.

Holy smokes, that video doesn't hold up well.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Series Thread (Games 46-47): Sept 12-13 vs. Asterisks

Sat 9/12 5p: Urias vs. Valdez
Sun 9/13 5p: TBD vs. Tiny Head

Spectrum SportsNet Dodgers recently re-aired 2017 WS Game 1 and it was disgusting, the pre-game interview with Asterisks manager A.J. Hinch saying how proud he was to get to the World Series in three years through all that hard work. He didn't mention the cheating, the trash can banging, the likely under-jersey buzzing. Those smug fuckers. I couldn't even watch.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are limping into the final quarter of the season. The starters, alreday depleted by the losses of Walker Buehler (IL with a persistent blister) and Dustin May (comebacker which hit him on the ankle), also have to own up that their conssitent short outings have taxed the bullpen, which is now starting to fray a bit. We won our last series over Colorado only with two comeback victories and some strokes of fate (Rockies running through stop signs or making fielding errors). The Asterisks won't have Joe Kelly throwing at them this time, so they might be more ready for revenge.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Series Thread (Games 43-45): Sept 8-10 @ Snakes

Vin Scully's 1988 World Series ring can be yours for a mere $100,000-$300,000 (projected winning bid).

Mon, 6:30p: Walker Buehler vs Luke Weaver
Tues, 6:30p: Clayton Kershaw vs Taylor Clarke
Wed, 6:30p: Dustin May vs Madison Bumgarner

The invincible Dodgers have been felled, at least temporarily, by the sub-.500 Rockies. Colorado's series win marks the first series the Dodgers have dropped this season. Fortunately, providence has us visiting the hapless Snakes after we swept them at home last week. Can the $220 million-payroll Dodgers repeat the feat? Or will Madison Bumgarner dig deep and find his Dodger-killing form in a rare bright spot for the Diamondbacks?

Friday, September 04, 2020

Series Thread (Games 40-42): Sept 4-6 vs. Rockies

Fri 9.4 6.30p: May vs. Senzatela
Sat 9.5 6p: Gonsolin vs. Márquez
Sun 9.6 7p: Urias vs. TBD

Two-thirds of the way through this "season" now, and the Dodgers have opened up a six-game lead on the Padres, thanks to winning 12 of their last 14 games. Clayton Kershaw passed 2,500 career strikeouts last night; Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Kike Hernandez have all clawed their way over a .200 batting average; and Mookie Betts and Corey Seager continue to be red-hot. Speaking of red-hot, Los Angeles is going to be beastly this weekend. No better time to stay indoors and watch these games!

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Series Thread (Games 37-39): Sep 1-3 vs. D'backs

Tues 9/1: Urias vs. Young
Wed 9/2: Kershaw vs. TBD
Thu 9/3: TBD vs TBD
All games 6.40p

Home sweet home come the Dodgers, fresh off a prolific August in which they hit a NL-record 57 home runs (remember: we're playing with the designated hitter this year, so it's not exactly apples-to-apples). And here to greet them are the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who are probably just happy to not be playing indoors where COVID-19 can flourish. That's all I got right now, sorry. Rough week at work.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Farewell, Chicken Strips

The Dodgers just traded Ross Stripling to the third-place Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for two players to be named later. If this trade was based on weight, one might think this was a sly attempt of Andrew Friedman to re-obtain Hyun-Jin Ryu. However, I think it will actually end up to be two separate players.

Across five seasons with the Dodgers, Stripling went 23-25 with a 3.68 ERA, however 2020 was his Dodgers' nadir: 5.61 ERA across seven games, and a 78 ERA+ (in no other year was he below 100, with a career ERA+ average of 110). His career WAR is 3.9 but that includes a -0.8 this season. Stripling made the All-Star Game in 2018.

All the best, Ross!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Series Thread (Games 34-36): August 28-30 @ Rangers

Fri 8.28 5p: May vs. Minor
Sat 8.29 4p: Stripling vs. Lynn
Sun 8.30 11.30a: Gonsolin vs. Gibson

This year, a new era for the Texas Rangers begins with the opening of Globe Life Field in Arlington. According to the Rangers' website, "the beautiful baseball-only facility serves as the centerpiece of a 270-acre complex which solidifies Arlington, Texas as an entertainment giant in the Southwest." Except no fan is able to attend a game this year! COVID-19 clearly threw a spanner in the works here, but to be fair, naming your new baseball park "Globe Life Field" when the "old", now multi-purpose field is called "Globe Life Park", is really frickin' confusing. All in the name of retractable roofs, and air conditioning.

The Rangers are 11-19 this season and sit two games ahead of the bottom-feeding Angels in the AL West. They're 1-9 over their last 10, whereas the Dodgers have won 10 of their last 12. And the Dodgers are gifting Texas with our presence on Jackie Robinson Day, which really should have been a home game for us. Everything just seems weird about this, right?

Words from Jackie Robinson Narrated by Mookie Betts

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Series Thread (Games 31-33): Aug 25-27 @ Giants

The Giants DFAd Hunter Pence on Sunday (.096 average), but he already hurt Johnny Cueto on August 8 by spoiling his no-hitter bid. On Tuesday, there will be no Hunter Pence. Is this Cueto's time for Cueto's first no-hitter?!

Tues 8/25 6:45p: Urias vs. Cueto
Wed 8/26 6.45p: Kerhsaw vs. Gausman
Thu 8/27 5p: Buehler vs. Webb

Halfway through the season, and the Dodgers are 22-8 (best record in baseball) with a league-high four game lead over their closest opponent. But those statistics are biased seeing how this year's geographically-managed schedule forbids us from playing anyone out of either the NL or AL West. So it's way too early to get cocky--thirty games in may be halfway through this insane MLB season, but there's still plenty of time for storylines to change.

Which brings us to this series in San Francisco, where the Giants play better (they're 8-6 at home vs. a 6-10 record on the road) and the seagulls can defacate on any of the few fans willing to embarrass themselves with a cardboard cutout (to be fair, they're only $99 each, a discount to the Dodgers' pricing). I'd like to get out of this series without getting shit on, either. In that way, at least, Hunter Pence is way ahead of everyone.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Series Thread (Games 28-30): Aug 21-23 vs Rockies

Fri 6.30p: Walker Buehler vs. Jon Gray
Sat 6p: Dustin May vs. Kyle Freeland
Sun 1p: Ross Stripling vs. Antonio Senzatela

The Rockies were leading the NL West for a while there, before being overtaken by San Diego (four-game win streak, coupled with Colorado's four-game loss streak). Meanwhile, the Dodgers, boosted by Clayton Kershaw's excellent performance yesterday, have now gone all nine series without a series loss. This one looks to be scary on paper, though, with both Buehler and Stripling struggling to delivery quality starts.

On the flipside, being back at home might be the perfect place for Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy to try and break the Mendoza line. Let's see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

"Series" Thread (Games 26-27): Aug 19-20 @ Mariners

Wed 6.30p: Julio Urias vs. Taijuan Walker
Thu 4p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Yusei Kikuchi

Come, as you are, to Seattle. The Dodgers come with the major's best win streak (at seven games), against the team with the second-worst loss streak (also at seven games), an opponent with whom we should be comfortable by now. The Dodgers have won both slugfests and pitching duels, and little brother Corey (4-for-8, 4 RBI) seems to be barely outplaying his brother Kyle (also 4-for-8, with 3 RBI).

Not to mention our lineup, carrying Mookie Betts in the outfield; swear, he don't have a gun. It just seems that way after outfield assists like these (July 31, 2020):

Dodgers have a four-game lead in the NL West and seem unstoppable. No grungy nightclubs while up there, boys.

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Series" Thread (Games 24-25): Aug 17-18 vs. Mariners

Surely all this has to come crashing down, right?

Mon 8.17 6.30p: Ross Stripling (3-1, 3.97) vs. Justin Dunn (1-1, 4.85)
Tue 8.18 4p: Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Gonzalez (2-2, 3.97)

The Dodgers have won five in a row, including this weekend's sweep of the Angels on the road. Sunday's win even overcame some early game baserunning blunders by breaking out the whupping sticks for another four home runs (Dodgers lead the league with 43 HR). The Dodgers' +60 run differential is almost twice as much as the #2 team (Twins and Yankees, both tied at +35). And even resident LAT grump Dylan Hernandez posted a nice valentine column on the impact of Mookie Betts.

I honestly don't know what to think here. Years of disappointment have me steeled to what's to come. But here we are, almost halfway through the shortened season, and the Dodgers actually look...pretty good. I know this can't last, and honestly, I'm a little scared to even have a shred of happiness over what's transpired so far.

I guess you can say, I've been Gonsolin, being down don't bother me.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Series Thread (Games 21-23): Aug 14-16 @ Angels

Congrats on your latest Silver Slugger, Mookie! (Better make a macro for that line.)


Fri, 6:30p: Clayton Kershaw vs Patrick Sandoval
Sat, 6:30p: Walker Buehler vs Andrew Heaney
Sun, 1p: Dustin May vs Julio Teheran

So, Mike Trout. Best player in baseball. Hands down. I'm a certified Mookiehead and in awe of Aaron Judge, but Trout's dominance is indisputable.

The rest of the Angels? Well, put it this way: Arte Moreno didn't think adding Ross Stripling to his team "would make much of a difference." The Angels' pitching staff has a 4.54 ERA, 22nd in MLB.

But! Do the Dodgers play the Angels well? They do not. I'm not going to look up stats to back up my totally irrational hunch; just trust me on this one. But we have our top three pitchers going and Mookie and A.J. Pollack (!) carrying the offense. But, Mike Trout HEAD EXPLODES

Monday, August 10, 2020

Series Thread (Games 17-20): August 10-13 vs. Padres

 

The Dodgers are mashing like it's Home Run Derby (which is canceled this year--probably a good thing until they figure out how to manage those insanely wide fan sections down the first base line (field level is especially absurd))

Mon 8/10: Dustin May (1-0, 2.63) vs. Garrett Richards (0-1. 4.60)
Tues 8/11: Ross Stripling (3-0, 4.00) vs. Luis Perdomo (0-0, 5.40)
Wed 8/12: Julio Urias (1-0, 2.40) vs. Zach Davies (2-1. 2.87)
Thu 8/13: Clayton Kershaw (1-1, 3.60) vs. Chris Paddack (2-1, 3.18)
All games @6.30p

Two late-inning bombs on Sunday afternoon not only won us the game and series against San Francisco, but they extended the Dodgers' streak of games with a HR to 11 straight games, which the radio post-game show said led the majors. Despite their vaunted mashing, the interesting thing is that the Dodgers, with their fifth-best record in the majors, still haven't clicked on offense yet: Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Austin Barnes all sit with batting averages below .200, and only A.J. Pollock has an average above .300. Jack Harris of the LAT notes that the Dodgers are tied for the major league lead in HR, but are 14th in team batting average.

Is this a sign of fluky swinging for the fences giving us some positive breaks, while we wait for the engine to start firing on all cylinders? Will we be even more potent once the bats come back, and we're not so reliant upon the longball for victories? With over a quarter of this "season" already complete, there's not a lot of margin for much more error.

In positive news, we've seen Mookie Betts get his swing back, inching up from that .200 average in late July closer to .300 now (Mookie had a three-run HR yesterday, to match Pollock's three-run shot). I can't imagine Muncy and Bellinger bottom feeding for much longer (Barnes, on the other hand, gives me less hope). This four-game series with San Diego is due for one of those guys to break out.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Series Thread (Games 14-16): August 7-9 vs. Giants

Couldn't find a gif with the incredible CT3 throw to nail Padre tying run Trent Grisham at the plate for the final out. Instead, here's the happy aftermath celebration from his game-saving 93.3mph cannon shot.

Fri 8/7 6.30p: Julio Urias (1-0, 2.45) vs. Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 9.31)
Sat 8/8 6p: Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 0.00) vs. Johnny Cueto (0-0. 4.97)
Sun 8/9 1p: Walker Buehler (0-0, 5.19) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-1, 5.27)

What would normally be a weak series between a powerhouse and punching bag, suddenly tees up with some excellent pitching matchups all weekend long. Kershaw vs. Cueto is the heavyweight title bout on the card, but it will also be interesting to see if Urias can go a little bit deeper than his five-inning start vs. SF in July; as well as if Buheler can shake his early-season jitters (5 ER in 8.2 IP).

This would normally be a perfect weekend series that I'd attend at least two games. Alas, I'm watching at home again. At least the beer is cheaper.

Let's go, Dodgers!

Monday, August 03, 2020

Series Thread (Games 11-13): Aug 3-5 @ Padres

Mookie sends love to you! And the Dodgers! But not to John Henry!


Mon, 6p: Walker Buehler vs Chris Paddack
Tues, 6p: Dustin May vs Dinelson Lamet
Wed, 6p: Ross Stripling vs Garrett Richards

Let's get the bad news out of the way: Commissioner Rob Manfred, who previously derided the World Series championship trophy that bears the title of his office, recently implied that players choosing to opt out this season for safety reasons were "quitters".

Also — brace yourselves — we're still stuck in the hellscape that is 2020.

The good news: The 2020 Dodgers (7-3) appear to be coalescing into a powerhouse. They lead the NL in home runs (17); the bullpen, while not perfect, has shown encouraging consistency; and Clayton Kershaw impressed in his season debut yesterday, which gives us hope that he and Walker Buehler can lead the rotation.

But let's not sleep on the Padres (6-4), who feature rising superstar Fernando Tatís Jr. and old friend Manny Machado. Not to mention starters that generally own us, although I can't understand for the life of me why they traded Dodger-killer Eric Lauer (to the Brewers).

In any case, Game On! Enjoy baseball (while it lasts)!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Series Thread (Games 7-10): July 30 - Aug 2 @ D'backs

Thu July 30 6.30p: Ross Striping (1-0, 1.29) vs. Robbie Ray (0-1, 7.36)
Fri July 31 6.30p: TBD vs. Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25)
Sat Aug 1 5p: Julio Urias (0-0, 1.80) vs. Luke Weaver (0-1, 16.20)
Sun Aug 2 1p: TBD vs. Merrill Kelly (1-0, 1.17)

Fresh off a sweep of the Cheaters in Houston, the Dodgers take their 4-2, third-place record into the Arizona desert to see if we can wake some of these bats up. Besides Justin Turner's team-leading .333 average (Corey Seager is close behind at .320), we've got only Kiké Hernandez at .280...and then there's a big drop to find Chris Taylor (.211), Mookie Betts and Max Muncy (.200), and Cody Bellinger (.192). Neither Betts nor Bellinger have a HR through six games. It's early, so I don't want to sound the alarm bells...but honestly the only person who seems to be stroking is Seager.

Let's get the rest of the team started in this series. There isn't a lot of time to waste in this abbreviated season, guys.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Post-Game 6 Thread: Dodgers Vanquish Evil

DODGERS 4, CHEATERS 2 (13)

The Dodgers sweep the Cheaters with an extra-inning victory punctuated by a two-run Edwin Rios HR in the top of the 13th, which is officially MLB's first leadoff two-run HR. We didn't have the fireworks from Joe Kelly tonight, as he deals with his appeal following a eight-game suspension. But Mookie Betts had a clutch 11th inning double to go up 2-1 (the Cheaters tied it in the bottom of the inning, continuing the game); Corey Seager had a solo shot in the second; and Dennis Santana earned the win with a scoreless 2.1 IP to close the game (2 BB, 4 Ks).

Time to leave the Cheaters behind and let another team throw inside on them. We're off to Arizona.

available here

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Series Thread (Games 5-6): July 28-29 @ Cheaters

I get it, but it still tastes bitter.

Tues Jul 28 6p: Walker Buehler vs. F Valdez the Cheater
Wed Jul 29 4p: Dustin May vs. TBD the Cheater

With the high likelihood that this may be the last series we might play (that is, if the Marlins' coronavirus outbreak expands to the rest of MLB, curtailing the attempt to have a 2020 season), I suppose we'd better watch. But after suffering through two straight meager showings against a pathetic Giants team, Dodger fans can't be hopeful going into trashcan-ville again. You know that the Asterisks will be employing some underhanded and illegal cheating scheme again in this game, from rearranging cardboard cutouts to tip pitches, or still-unfound electrical impulse devices hidden under the players' jerseys. I'm not hopeful for revenge here.

Sadly, it's only Game 5 and I'm already forlorn.

(cries)

UPDATE 9:46p: GAME 1: DODGERS 5, CHEATERS 2

Friday, July 24, 2020

Series Thread (Games 2-4): July 24-26 vs. Giants

Pretty stark difference in player caliber here. I'll take it.

Fri Jul 24 6.30p: Ross Stripling vs. TBD
Sat Jul 25 1p: Julio Urias Alex Wood vs. TBD
Sun Jul 26 7p: Alex Wood Julio Urias? vs. TBD

The Mookie Betts-infused Dodgers passed their Opening Day game with flying colors, defeating both the San Francisco Giants as well as the Johnny Cueto Fan Club of ESPN broadcasters (little mention was made of Dustin May's Opening Day spot start (4.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks). Screw them. Now we're back to Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser to call the game appropriately.

Got off to a slow start yesterday but the offense came alive off the Giants' bullpen, and were helped further by some poor Giants baserunning and missed fielding opportunities (all of this, on national television). Let's keep this up this weekend.

Even At This Age...

MOOKIE WILL STILL BE OURS!

...and still be putting up an .850 OPS! #ForeverBlue

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Post-Game 1 Thread: Dodgers Bludgeon Giants 8-1

DODGERS 8, GIANTS 1

$365M man Mookie Betts may have grounded out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning. But that was the one low-light in another great Opening Day win for the Dodgers, led by Kike Hernandez (4-for-5, 5 RBI, 2-run HR in the eighth). Betts was 1-for-5 with a run and 2 Ks, but he had a great catch in right earlier in the game, and I have a feeling we might see one more highlight in that guy's Dodger career. Mookie also scored the go-ahead run to take a 2-1 lead on an infield hit, beating the play at the plate at home.

60-0 is still possible, Dodgers. Let's go get this.

Opening Day 2020 Game Thread: Giants @ Dodgers, 7p

Stubhub screenshot from Monday. Great seats still available.

Clayton Kershaw Dustin May vs. Johnny Cueto.

Holy shit, it's actually BASEBALL AGAIN!!! And though all respect goes to Clayton Kershaw for making his ninth Opening Day start, Kerhsaw scratched with back stiffness and hits the IL; Dustin May recalled and will make the start (3.30p) the biggest news will be seeing our own Mookie Betts play his first regular-season game in a Dodger uniform...his first of many games lasting through 2032. What a rush, what a day, what an incredibly hopeful day for Dodger fans.

It's a little bit of a bummer that Gavin Lux won't be on the Opening Day roster (to be fair, he reported late and he did look shaky, notwithstanding any service time conspiracy theories floating around). But it's all Mookie Mookie Mookie here. How I would love to see him hit a leadoff HR today. I would probably burst into flames right then and there.

We're posting this Game Thread incredibly early because there's no better time to say: IT'S TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL!!!

Update from SoSG Nomo, 9:50a:
Here's the Dodgers' Opening Day 30(!)-man roster: