NLCS Game 4: No, Still Not Over It Yet

I’m still pretty bummed about last night’s game, so I’m going to cheer myself up by picking on someone weaker than me. And look, I really don’t mean to turn this into the “FireBillPlaschke” blog (hmm… there’s a thought), but if he’s going to continue publishing things as mind-blowingly stupid as articles titled “Pitching depth does in Dodgers“, then I’m going to have to continue to keep calling him out on it.

You want to give Manny Ramirez five more years and $100 million?

Then you better be able to explain why Frank McCourt should not use that same money to improve the sort of pitching depth that probably just cost them their season.

Bill, did you only start watching this team six days ago? I’m not even going to dig up the stats that show how fantastic the Dodgers pitching staff was all season, because if you’ve been reading this blog at all then you’ve seen me trot these numbers out a thousand times. Remember all those times I said “let’s not go after CC Sabathia, because the pitching is fine and the offense is subpar”? Anyone who’s actually watched the team all year knows that to be true. I don’t even want to waste my time explaining it to you yet again.

If you want to blame someone, blame the organization for having to start Lowe on short rest in the first place. The Dodgers have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, yet don’t have a fourth pitcher for a playoff rotation?

Derek Lowe went five innings and gave up two runs, and retired 12 of 15 after a rough first inning. If anything, people are getting on Joe Torre for taking him out too soon. How exactly was starting Lowe the problem here? Were you even watching the game, Bill? Hell, you know how I feel about your colleague T.J. Simers, and even he’s wondering why Lowe was lifted after five.

The Phillies, starting Joe Blanton, didn’t have this problem. The Dodgers shouldn’t have this problem. This is the night when the absence of Jason Schmidt and Brad Penny finally came back to haunt them. They need an ace starting pitcher more than they need a Manny Ramirez.

Really? You’re bringing out the absence of Jason Schmidt? Who threw exactly zero pitches this season? You really think that if Jason Schmidt was starting this game rather than Derek Lowe – who as we just discussed, was not the problem here – the Dodgers would have won? I almost feel bad taking this article apart because no rational human being wanted to see Schmidt last night. I’d go so far as to venture that even Jason Schmidt didn’t want to see Jason Schmidt.

Also: “They need an ace starting pitching more than they need a Manny Ramirez.” BILL. BILL!! I cannot guarantee strongly enough that if the Dodgers had gone out and gotten Sabathia rather than Manny, they’re not in the NLCS. No question. The pitching was never the problem! They needed offense! I… ah, hell. I’m not going to keep repeating myself.

Lowe’s departure then highlighted another Dodgers issue — veteran bullpen depth.

First up, rookie Clayton Kershaw, making only his third relief appearance of the season. In a one-run NLCS game? A kid who has never pitched in a real game past September?

Kershaw walked the struggling Ryan Howard, gave up a single and bunt and was gone.

Only to be replaced by another guy who wasn’t ready for this role, Chan-Ho Park.

Kershaw went 1.2 scoreless innings in Game 2 – the same game, by the way, in which you yourself praised James McDonald, who has even less experience than Kershaw. He gave up a walk and a single, which obviously isn’t good, but it’s hardly like he came in and allowed four homers.

But what I particularly like here is Bill saying that an issue for the Dodgers is “veteran bullpen depth”, yet then turning around and bashing Chan Ho Park, who’s only 35 years old. How was Park “not ready for this role”? He only made 49 relief appearances this season.

But in the eighth, even after an out by Joe Beimel and a sizzling three outs by lefty Hong-Chih Kuo, the game was given to Cory Wade.

Great kid, great story, dead tired arm. Wade had thrown 33 pitches Sunday night and clearly wasn’t ready for the eighth inning Monday.

Plaschke at his best, glossing over the real story to make up his own point. Take three minutes to go around the Dodgers blogosphere, and you’ll see that the number one complaint everyone has is why Torre took out Kuo after letting him bat for himself in the previous inning. Besides, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Wade “wasn’t ready” – the homer Victorino hit cleared the wall by about three inches. Hardly a meatball that was crushed.

Anyway, I’m not even sure what Plaschke’s point is here, although that’s a pretty daily occurrence. He’s complaining about the “lack of pitching depth”, but it’s not like the Blue were running Jason Johnson and Tanyon Sturtze out there last night – Kershaw, Kuo, Wade, Broxton, and Park have all been huge parts of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball this year. They didn’t get the job done last night, and that’s painful. Let’s not pretend they’re all worthless stiffs.

Jason Schmidt. Really?!

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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