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What Were The Dodgers To Do?

As I walked out of the house to make an appearance at my office at Starbucks, my wife asked if I really wanted to read the nasty things people were going to say about the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw.  After all, I got enough grief and vitriol from two close buddies (diehard NYY and SFG fans) last week in Utah.  I said of course, I will read all the comments.  Everyone has the right to expound on their beliefs, even if they are wrong. 

I also said that nobody is going to say anything that is out of line about what most of us were thinking anyway.  Even as bad as the team played and #22 pitched, one game does not make for a series.  What will haunt me is the profile of Clayton in the dugout if this is in fact his last game as a Dodger.  The picture says it all, including the 35 pitches, 25 for strikes.  He served them up all night.

 

 

I recognize and heartily acknowledge that the Dodgers were at a distinct disadvantage with the rookie pitchers that were expected to be a major significant contributor to the pitching rotation, either as a starter or as a piggyback.  I am going to give Emmet Sheehan a pass for the 2nd inning in Game 1.  To ask him to come in and quell a team that was tattooing a HOF pitcher IN THE FIRST INNING, might have been a lot to ask of a 23 year old rookie.  He was working on adrenaline in the 1st, but after the adrenaline subsided in the 2nd inning, he was quite pedestrian.  I think his 3rd and 4th innings were more reflective as to what he can contribute.  I expect Sheehan to be available for multiple innings in the third game, and I expect him to be competitive.

I read a comment on another site that Clayton Kershaw should not have pitched Game 1.  Going into the playoffs Kershaw was the best starting pitcher LAD had.  Since returning from the IL, he started 8 games and compiled 36.1 IP.  He had a 2.23 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, 7 HR, and a .686 OPS against.

In Bobby Miller’s last 8 games started, he pitched 49.0 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 6 HR, and a .624 OPS against.  Miller’s (3.58) FIP was significantly better than Kershaw’s (5.40).

Both pitchers pitched against the DBacks in late August at Dodger Stadium.

  • Kershaw – 08-29-2023 – 5.0 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
  • Miller – 08-28-2023 – 6.0 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Kershaw beat Merrill Kelly and Miller beat Zac Gallen.  That is how it was set up to go in the playoffs.  Do the Dodgers really start the rookie over the HOF pitcher in Game 1?  The HOFer is arguably pitching better than the rookie down the stretch.  I know that #22 does not have the best track record in the playoffs, but he has pitched well often enough at home in the playoffs to believe he could still dominate the DBacks for 5.0 innings.  Anyone who predicted the beating Kershaw took did not say so before the series.  If they did, I do not remember it.  I certainly never saw that trouncing coming.

I also read elsewhere that Kershaw should have been the #3 pitcher because he does not have the swing and miss capabilities anymore.  Here is a fact supported by metrics.  This year, Kershaw has better Chase, Whiff, and K percentiles than does Miller.

 

Bobby Miller Statcast – End of 2023

 

Clayton Kershaw Statcast – End of 2023

 

It is still too early for an autopsy of the 2023 season.  But there were a couple of comments that I wanted to react to.

Jordan Montgomery ??

He was really the only deadline starting pitcher that was effective.  A lot of fans were calling for Lucas Giolito (including me), and that turned out to be a disaster.  I have always believed that Jordan Montgomery would have been a plus addition.  I said so last year when St. Louis acquired him from NYY for Harrison Bader.  Really?  The Dodgers could not have done better than Bader?  I said the same last year.

On 07-30-2023 – St. Louis traded Jordan Montgomery and RHRP Chris Stratton to Texas for the meager cost of 29 year old MLB LHRP John King, 21 year old middle infielder Thomas Saggese, and 21 year old RHP Tokiah Roby.  Saggese was Texas’ #14 prospect and is now St. Louis’ #9 prospect.  Roby was Texas’ #11 prospect and is now St. Louis’ #5 prospect.  Basically it was Montgomery for prospects Roby and Saggese, and Stratton for King.

Could the Dodgers have beat that cost?  Sure.  How does anyone know they didn’t offer a comparable deal?  Maybe St. Louis liked the age of Roby.  Maybe the Cardinals were not as enamored with Maddux Bruns as the Dodgers and many (too many IMO) fans are. I am not saying Bruns was in any discussion, just speculating as to who might have been offered. 22 year old LHP?  Why not?

Landon Knack is 26, Kyle Hurt is 25, River Ryan is 25, Nick Frasso is 24, and Gavin Stone is 24.  The Dodgers have exactly one middle infield prospect…Jorbit Vivas.  Maybe St. Louis values Sagesse over Vivas.  Vivas is at a disadvantage as he is on the 40 man, and St. Louis would have to make room for him, while they did not for Sagesse.  Did the Dodgers overreach on adding Vivas to the 40 man two years ago?  The Dodgers only got cash for Eddys Leonard, another infielder that was added to the 40 man they needed to move to make room.

BTW, Montgomery could only complete 4.0 IP after being staked to a 10-4 lead in Game 2.

You cannot just say that the Dodgers should have traded for Montgomery without knowing whether they tried or not.  Maybe they preferred Eduardo Rodriguez and believed he was in play (until he wasn’t), and spent way too much time on trying to consummate that deal.  The Montgomery deal went down before Rodriguez blew off the Dodgers.  I do not know the reason they did not get Montgomery, but I do absolutely believe they tried, and I do believe they preferred Rodriguez.  Some may want to blame AF/BG for that, but I still believe the villains were Rodriguez’s agent and/or Scott Harris (Detroit’s President of Baseball Operations).

Scott said:

I think a lot of us here have differing opinions on this. Dionysus is not giving up until the last out, (god bless him). Bear dislikes the week off, and thinks it makes a difference (it could affect the pitchers more than the position players), Badger recognized the lousy pitching staff and thinks they need to win by outslugging their opponents (he’s not wrong). Norcal and Dave think the injuries played the most part, and it’s hard to predict (not with May and Gonsolin). Not sure what Jeff D thinks yet.

 Okay:

I am starting to come around somewhat on the bye scenario.  2 out of the 4 teams with a bye lost last year, including three 100 win teams (one being a wild card team – NYM). It took NYY 5 games to beat a weak Cleveland team, and it took Houston coming from behind in two games to beat Seattle.  The third game was 1-0 Houston in 18 innings.   This year, the three 100 win teams lost the first game in the Divisional Series, and one (Baltimore has already lost the first two).  The 2nd AL bye team split at home.  In 2023, the bye teams have played 6 games, and lost 5 of them.  Or in other words, the favored team lost 5 of 6 games at home.  Does it mean something?  Impossible to say for sure.

I disagree that it is the pitching that is most affected with the bye.  I believe it is the hitting.  Merrill Kelly had the same time off as did Kershaw.  Hitting is far more affected with delays due to timing.  You cannot replicate the timing of top pitching in intrasquad games, or hitting against MiLB pitching.

I also believe that the teams in the Wild Card were fighting for a spot in the playoffs up to the end.  Some until the final day.  That competitive edge was present all the way, and did not disappear after one day before the Wild Card series started.

Atlanta and LAD won their divisions handily and the races were in fact over in early September.  Milwaukee won the Division by 9 games and were effectively in the playoffs mid-September.  While Baltimore did not win the Division early, both Baltimore and Tampa Bay were early playoff entrants.

OTOH, Arizona had to keep winning thru the last weekend to beat out Chicago (1 game behind), Cincinnati (2 games), and San Diego (2 games).  If San Diego had made the Wild Card, they would have been extremely dangerous with how they played the last month (20-7), and 15-3 over the last 18 games.  Texas, Houston, and Seattle fought all the way through the last weekend to make the playoffs.

I also think there is something to playing a team in the same division in the Divisional Series.  I think the Wild Card entrant has an advantage.  I cannot metrically support that theory, but it sure does seem to bear out.

With respect to injuries to the starting pitchers, I voiced my concerns about Tony Gonsolin early and often.  He was not the same pitcher after being diagnosed with forearm strain last year.  With respect to Dustin May, I had no reason to believe he would come down with another elbow surgery.  I am not a doctor, and I have never seen any of the medicals on either pitcher.  Apparently the Dodgers were not as concerned with what the medicals were showing as were the non-doctor fans with no evidence.

One correction, while Gonsolin was hurt often (shoulder inflammation – 2021 and forearm strain – 2022), he did not have any major arm surgery until this year, and Dustin May has only had one. There were no multiple major arm surgeries. If that is a concern, should the Dodgers just trade Walker Buehler this Winter?  Should the Dodgers stay away from any pitcher who has had arm surgery (shoulder or elbow)?  If that is a concern, why do so many fans want Shohei Ohtani?  Still? A $500MM++ DH?

I still want to wait for the season to be over before I provide any autopsy thoughts, but I assume for those who believed the Dodgers should have signed or traded for pitchers to replace Gonsolin and May, that Nathan Eovaldi should not have been a FA consideration with his two TJ surgeries.  They would have been wrong, IMO.

Yes AF/BG are responsible for providing pitchers for the playoffs.  But the last time I checked Gerrit Cole was not available.  Neither was Merrill Kelly, nor Zac Gallen, nor Justin Steele, nor Sonny Gray, nor Kevin Gausman, nor Luis Castillo, nor Pablo López, nor Framber Valdez, nor Blake Snell, nor Spencer Strider, nor Zack Wheeler…What difference making pitcher could the Dodgers have signed?  Traded for?  And BTW, how does anyone really know who the Dodgers tried to trade for?

Again, I still want to wait until the Dodgers win (or lose) the playoffs, but one other consideration is that the Dodgers did not know the outcome of the Trevor Bauer suspension until almost every FA pitcher signed.

One final thought, I agree with Scott and tedraymond that winning the division and 100 win seasons are great, but they cannot be considered a success unless the team is lifting the WS trophy.  Meanwhile, I look forward to Bobby Miller besting Zac Gallen to even the series 1-1.

 

 

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Badger

Thought provoking piece Jeff.

Starting a well rested Kershaw in Game 1 made perfect sense. The question I have is whether Kershaw himself in warmups knew his stuff wasn’t working. What to do if it wasn’t working? Good question. A veteran opener then go to Miller or Sheehan? I’m thinking Kershaw knew it, but wasn’t going to say anything. But, did Prior know it?

We all knew pitching was the Dodgers Achilles heel. That hasn’t changed and won’t change going forward. The Dodgers have to hit. If they don’t this will end quickly.

Kershaw. It’s sad to see his career fade as it has. The great pitchers of the modern era all pitched closed to 40. Many pitched past 40. Verlander is now 40 and is still mowing them down. Kershaw is 35, was dominating for a few years but now frankly looks finished. He will no doubt be in the Hall but it won’t be because of how he has pitched post turning 30.

Today? I look for Miller to pitch well and for the Dodger bats to wake up. The Dodgers are the better team. They should beat these guys.

Last edited 7 months ago by Badger
Jeff

Are they the better team? I’m not so sure. It is not luck that they are kicking our ass.

Dionysus

I learned exactly one thing from that game: Kershaw will not be with us next year. It’s time.

Dave

I am not criticizing Roberts here. But in hindsight, and in similar situations, a relief pitcher(Kelly?) is brought in to put out the fire and end the inning. Then bring in the long reliever (Sheehan)to start a fresh inning and get through as many innings as possible.
Bringing Sheehan in in the middle of the inning to bail out a hall of famer, when he expected to come in @ the 6 th inning didn’t set him up for success as much as giving him a clean inning to start with.

Oldbear48

This is a must win game. Go to Arizona down two and it is over. I just do not see them winning three in a row if they have to win two at that ballpark. Kersh is terrible there. 8-11 with a 3.91 ERA. He has also given up 18 homers there. I totally dislike the gap between the bye teams last game, and the first game of the Division series. This needs to be changed. Also, no days off between home games in the division series. Whoever thought that up is a moron. Baseball is a flow sport. Players are creatures of habit. Jeff is totally right about hitters being affected more than pitchers. Kershaw was on extra rest. But his stuff, well he hung more pitches than he threw to fool hitters. This is what they are and what they have. It worked in the regular season, now we need to see if they have the desire and the guts to pull this out.

tedraymond

It’s easy to look back on the season and second guess the hell out of it. To answer Jeff’s title of “what were the Dodgers to do?” is difficult.

To begin with the starting staff was questionable at the start of the season. First May went down, Syndergaard was a disaster, Urias was up and down, Gonsolin eventually fell to the knife. Only Clayton Kershaw, our future hall of famer, provided some exceptional pitching. But, as in the past few seasons, he needed to take a month or so off for arm issues. With all this it allowed the team to bring up and preview several of their pitching prospects.

There was the surprising success of Bobby Miller. He has the whole package to become the Dodgers next ace. Gavin Stone, Emmet Sheehan, Michael Grove, and finally Ryan Pepiot had a chance to pitch with the Dodgers with the expected mixed results. The pitching future looks positive for the Dodgers.

With all that was and had been going on with their pitching, AF and the front office definitely had to make some moves to shore up the starting staff for the postseason. My top choice was Lucas Giolito. We ended up with Lance Lynn. I was not happy with that trade with the fact that he was having a horrible season and was at best an innings eater. The Rodriguez deal feel apart and other trades (I’m guessing) didn’t happen. So, Lance Lynn it was. Lynn provided some stability to the staff, ate his innings, and continued to give up lots of home runs. Overall, he was a positive. Giolito went to the Angels and was a complete disaster. Would he have been better with the Dodgers? We do not know.

So, AF and his staff were hamstrung to signing free agents by MLB with the Bauer situation before the start of the season. Then at the trade deadline other teams didn’t want what they we selling. Rodriguez declined to play for a winner because of the extra couple of hours it would take to visit his family in Florida. Most of the starting pitchers that were traded at the deadline didn’t pitch well. To bottom line this, it was bad luck at the start of the season and there was no real help at the tradeline. We had to go with what we had. I was somewhat optimistic and still am for the playoffs.

So, here we are down one game and Miller heading to the mound tonight. I say start Lance Lynn in game 3. The offense has had success against Gallen. Speaking of offense, OhioDodger mentioned yesterday that the offense needed to wake up. When you’re down 9 runs after two innings I would think the offense had little motivation and just wanted the game to be over and move on. We’ll find out tonight. Bumsrap commented that Kershaw took one for the team. Really? By facing eight batters? I’m guessing that was said in humor.

To STB, I don’t think it’s a “problem” for a fan to want the Dodgers to have a entertaining and successful regular season and to follow that up with a World Series victory. It’s a disappointment (not a problem, certainly not torture) for this to happen so often. So, you’re suggestion on how to solve my problem is taken in jest because it’s not a problem. We’re talking about entertainment.

Carry on.

Last edited 7 months ago by tedraymond
Badger

Entertainment. Clearly the team entertained for the season leading all of baseball in attendance, distancing themselves from the second place Yankees by nearly 7,000 per game. As I mentioned in a satirical post yesterday, ownership has had a successful year no matter the outcome of the playoffs. Yay team.

Successfull. Yeah, I know they often show an operating loss, but, even the weasel McCourt, who ran the Dodgers into the mud, claimed bankruptcy, walked away with a billion, and a parking lot after selling. Interesting story actually. Long and short, he trades a parking lot in Boston for a parking lot at Chavez Ravine. Now? He’s a billionaire and that Chavez parking lot earns him an estimated $7 million a year.

I’m rambling. That’s history and maybe a story for another time.

Last edited 7 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

Regarding my comment on taking one for the team, that was in reply to Ohio’s comment but had the Dodgers lost 3 – 0 to AZ like Atlanta in their first game and Kershaw had pitched 5 innings of one run ball, all the negative talk would have been directed to the 9+ hitters. So he died for the sins of the offense and took one for the team.

I’d be impressed but that wasn’t what he was trying to do.

Jeff

No way would I start LL for game 3. He’s a disaster waiting to happen. I liked your last paragraph!

OhioDodger

Yeah, Kersh didn’t have it. But that just masked the fact that the offense also stunk. If our bats don’t wake up, we are toast.

Oldbear48

Burnt toast at that.

Oldbear48

Obviously, the worst start of CK’s career and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. When they needed him to be the man, he wasn’t up to the task. But every player can have that one really bad day in their careers. CK’s came on Saturday. If they make it to game four, I expect a different guy on the mound.

Oldbear48

I watched the game on MAX. It streams there, but no pregame or post game stuff. It starts just before the game starts.

Scott Andes

Dave Roberts was given the weakest pitching staff in 30 years, and he’s expected to do what with it? I’m not sure. I would like to see a little more transparency and accountability from the front office. Here’s some facts.

The Dodgers did not have a single starting pitcher make 30 starts (Kershaw led with 24)
The Dodgers did not have a single starting pitcher toss more than 135 innings (Kershaw pitched about 134)

That’s bad no matter how you slice it. Dustin May coming off Tommy John, Tony Gonsolin has been brittle and fragile his entire career. Syndergaard should have never been given as much rope as he was. I would have moved May and Gonsolin to the bullpen and opened with the rookies in the rotation and worked on building them up and stretching them out for 30 starts and 150 innings. That’s not asking much for a major league starter.

There’s a lot of excuses being thrown around. (not by you guys, just in general). The front office throws their hands up and says nobody was available, and we tried to get Eduardo Rodriguez. Tried. sure.

So they’re telling us that the Dodgers, the richest team with most resources in MLB were unable to find reliable healthy starting pitchers anywhere? In the world? I find that hard to believe.

Look at the Dbacks. They have at least two healthy and reliable starting pitchers and dont have half the money or resources the Dodgers do. What’s the excuse?

This is why I have respect for Ned Colletti. He may not have been the analytical genius Friedman is, but when the Dodgers needed something he would go out and get it, (Manny, Puig etc), and was given half the resources Friedman was given.

Dodgers have to do better. Pitching wins championships.

norcaldodgerfan

Miller has no control on off speed pitches allowing the D-Backs to sit on his FB. Mookie not playing like a leadoff hitter by weakly flying out on two pitches to lead off the Dodgers bottom of the first inning.

We will see Pepiot soon. Stage too big for Bobby.

Bisonjones

If Mookie and Freddie give us nothing, we have no chance. If you don’t play well, guess what: you lose. Maybe go with bullpen games the rest of the way, if we lose this one

Bluto

Yeah. Stole this line from the other board: When your two best starters and two best hitters are this bad, you won’t last long in October.

I wish Roberts did more, like start Betts with Freddie up, but that’s not Roberts.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bluto
Badger

Roberts? This isn’t on him. The team isn’t hitting and it starts at the top.

Bisonjones

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kiké in centerfield on Wednesday. Outman showing his rookie-ness in both games.

Bluto

Agreed. Over-reaction.

It’s not just the hitting. It’s the starters too

Jeff

Mookie, letting us down, again.

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