The Dodgers have won 16 out of their last 21. They’d won 6 series in a row before dropping 2 of 3 to San Francisco this weekend, and it could have very easy been 7 series in a row with just one well-placed groundball on Sunday.
So why’s everyone acting like the sky is falling? Just look at the headlines.
“Dodgers make pennant race interesting at the end”, Los Angeles Times.
“Dodgers lose game and precious ground”, Los Angeles Times.
“Dodgers’ NL West lead continues to shrink”, Los Angeles Daily News
“Any Dodgers pressing?”, Riverside Press-Enterprise
Yes, the Diamondbacks have played better lately. I get it, they’re not going to just completely give up and die. But let’s not act as though the Dodgers have reverted to the Little League outfit they became during that 8-game losing streak just yet, shall we? The odds are still squarely in the Dodgers favor – 94.7% to 5.3%, in fact, according to the latest Playoff Odds Report on Baseball Prospectus.
* Being as it’s an off-day, I’d like to continue what would be an epic jinxing by updating the playoff roster predictions I made earlier in the month. At the time, I included Brad Penny, Rafael Furcal, and Jeff Kent. We’ve got the latest news on the three, also from Baseball Prospectus and Will Carroll’s invaluable “Under the Knife” report:
The Dodgers seem ready to slide into the playoffs, but there’s as much work to be done by Stan Conte and his staff as there is for Joe Torre and his field staff. The Dodgers are waiting to see if they’ll have Kent and Furcal back, but putting either on the playoff roster would be a real gamble. Kent still can’t run, but can hit, giving LA scribes an easy comparison to Kirk Gibson. Torre, for his part, won’t commit to having Kent on the roster for the Division Series, with most indications being that Kent would be left off while continuing to rehab. The news isn’t as good with Furcal, who still has back problems, including pain shooting into his leg, after his back surgery. His addition to the lineup looks extremely unlikely, though he too will continue to rehab. A Kent/Furcal keystone combo is certainly better than what they had out there on Sunday (Blake DeWitt and Angel Berroa). The news is clearer on Penny—he’s done for the season after another cortisone injection in his pitching shoulder, and will be shut down.
The loss of Penny, combined with the news that Torre will in fact use 4 starters, means that I’m going to replace him with Greg Maddux, who I’d initially left off. I’m also going to say that either Furcal or Kent makes the roster, but not both, so as horrified as I am to entertain this possibility… you might actually see Pablo Ozuna out there. I know, I know. I just can’t see them going with Chin-Lung Hu over him, or ever allowing Delwyn Young to play second base again.
* Speaking of looking ahead, Cubs fans are already discussing who they might face in the playoffs. It’s starting to look almost certain that it won’t be the Dodgers, unless the Brewers turn it around and overtake the Mets for the wild card. The Chicago Tribune ranks the Dodgers #2 in terms of preferred opponents, harder than Arizona yet more preferable than New York or Philadelphia, saying:
Reasons to believe: Los Angeles was a sub-.500 team as recently as Sept. 2. For the season, the Dodgers rank 13th in the NL in runs and home runs. The injury to closer Takashi Saito unsettled the bullpen. Saito has returned, leaving Joe Torre to choose between Saito and Jonathan Broxton in save situations.
Causes for concern: No NL team has been hotter than the Dodgers, who have gone 16-4 since Aug. 30 as Manny Ramirez (above) and Andre Ethier have turned around a stagnant lineup. Derek Lowe is the hottest starter in the NL, going 5-1 over seven starts with a 1.14 ERA since Aug. 15. Torre’s teams have gone 16-9 in postseason series, winning four World Series.
Frankly, I’d rather play the Mets and their disaster-a-second bullpen than the Cubs, anyway. Cubs blog Wrigleyville23 looks at it another way…
All of the teams have bats, but pitching wise:
1. The Brewers are what they are, which is CC and a bunch of nothing if Sheets is hurt.
2. The Mets are Santana, Pelfrey and … absolutely no bullpen?
3. The Phillies are Hamels, Myers, Lidge and a bunch of crap.
4. And the Dodgers are way out there on the West Coast. Long way to fly.
I’m not sure whether to be pleased that other people think the Dodgers offense is suddenly on par with bashers like the Phillies and Brewers… or insulted that “pitching wise”, the biggest strength of the team that’s still leading the National League in ERA is flight time.
* This isn’t Dodger-related, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read it, regarding the Mets signing up with Buffalo to be their new AAA affiliate:
“Of all the organizations, I don’t know of one that is more baseball-oriented than the Mets,” Bisons president and owner Bob Rich Jr. said.
Because while the Mets focus on baseball, the Dodgers spend 20% of their time on their indoor volleyball team? The Cubs worry about their used-car dealership?
No game tonight. Let’s go Cardinals! Especially because I really like the picture I found for what would be magic number 4.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness