There’s been a lot of talk, both here and elsewhere, about “making the playoffs”. Well, guess what? This is the playoffs. This is the last chance the Dodgers have to make up ground on Arizona on a head-to-head basis, and don’t think that the rest of the country isn’t paying attention to this race: both tonight’s game (ESPN) and Saturday’s (FOX) are nationally televised. How big is this series? Well, we never do game previews around here, so that should give you a pretty good idea. In fact, let’s not even do the entire series just yet. You can only win one game at a time, so nothing is more important than tonight.
Friday: Dan Haren vs. Derek Lowe
Advantage: Haren…ish. No, I won’t pretend that I have more faith in Derek Lowe than I do Dan Haren, one of the best pitchers in the game. That said… Haren’s got a 5.36 ERA over his last 7 games. 7 games, for a starting pitcher, is not just a slump. That’s nearly a quarter of their season – although the fact that he’s still got just a 3.24 ERA illustrates how great he was before that. Fortunately for us, the Dodgers aren’t facing the Dan Haren of the first half; they’re facing the same guy who they got 10 hits and 5 runs (including two dingers) off of last week. Also, in some admittedly small sample sizes, the Blue have a couple of hitters with huge success against Haren in the past. Manny has a ridiculous 1.638 OPS in 19 plate appearances, while Casey Blake’s got an even 1.000 in 21 appearances. And while Matt Kemp’s only had 9 shots at Haren, he’s still managed 4 hits, including a homer.
As for Lowe, he’s been great lately. He allowed just 4 hits in 6 shutout innings against Arizona last weekend, and he’s got a 3.53 ERA in his last 7 starts. That’s a little deceiving, though, because in one of those starts he was bombed, giving up 8 runs in just 3.1 innings in St. Louis. He hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in any of the other 6 starts.
In other Lowe news – and I have conciously tried not to discuss offseason free agent decisions or trades just yet, not with a pennant race going on – we’ve got some bad news if we expected some draft picks coming to LA if Lowe signs a big deal elsewhere, as expected. Without getting into the fancy contractual details, free agent players can either be designated as a “Type A” or “Type B” free agent. If the team offers them arbitration and they decline to sign elsewhere, the original team receives draft pick compensation. If the player is Type A, the original team recieves the signing team’s first round pick (assuming it’s not in the top half of the draft – if it is, the original team gets their second rounder) and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. If he’s Type B, they only get the sandwich pick.
All of this is a long way of saying that since Derek Lowe has been a solid, consistent starter his entire time in LA, many of us thought that he would be designated as a Type A free agent, and if the Dodgers offer him arbitration and he leaves, they’d be entitled to two first-round picks. But this may not be so: via MLBtraderumors, the blog Detroit Tigers Thoughts claims to have figured out the formulas behind ranking free agents, which I believe comes from a combination of OBP, ERA, blood type, Zodiac sign, and whether you make Santa’s naughty or nice list. Their verdict? Type B for Lowe. Not good, should he sign elsewhere.
But that’s something to discuss in October. Right now? This is the first game of the rest of the season. Go Blue.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness