17 September 2013

Big Rob's Take: Ice Cold

Big Rob on the Dodgers' recent struggles:

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a complete game 2 hitter last night. What a pitching performance! Only one problem, one of the two hits was a home run to Goldschmidt after he had given up his only walk of the game. That guy Goldschmidt should be caged.

The Dodgers have now lost four straight and can’t hit in the clutch to save their lives. Last night they couldn’t hit at all. They had four hits. The usually reliable Gonzalez has looked terrible. I hope they clinch the west soon so Gonzalez can have about a week off.

The Dodgers' great play after the All-Star game and the poor teams of the National League West will make them the division champs. After that, things don’t look promising. If they were going into the playoffs tomorrow, I would bet on three and out. The Dodgers have reverted back to the team we saw in May.

It appears that Hanley Ramirez is the key to this team. Hanley is out with a bad back and hamstring. They need to get this guy back healthy before the playoffs. Matt Kemp was activated yesterday. He came in to pinch hit and struck out. I think Kemp is just going to gum up the works. He should have taken the rest of the year off.

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You've got a point, Big Rob. The team is playing arctic-level ball at the moment. Now -- is this just the natural regression that undoubtedly comes after a monumental stretch of play like the one earlier or have the wheels really begun to come off?

The benefit of having pretty much wrapped up the division is that we can send out the B-squads and rest the weary. A.J. Ellis looks gassed and I'd like to see Butera and Federowicz get more time behind the plate so that A.J. is fully rested for the postseason.

The optimal playoff lineup will not include Punto, Schumaker, and Chili Buss. If the team limps in these final few weeks -- I'm okay with that, as long as the limp heals before October 1. Kemp has these two weeks to audition for the postseason. He can't be allowed to play hurt and negatively affect the rest of the club. But it's hard to argue that he wouldn't help the team as long as he proves he's healthy enough to contribute.

The silver lining here is that Ryu pitched well and that no one else got hurt. The 9th inning decision to bunt Uribe would have made me furious in June but doesn't bother me so much now that the season is wrapped up. Hopefully Donnie will learn his lesson.

Finally, the most interesting topic that no one seems to be talking about is the finite number of spots on the playoff roster versus the multitude of active ballplayers on the current roster. The Dodgers clubhouse currently hosts 36 players. Who will make the postseason bullpen? Do you let Marmol, Wilson, League, and Volquez on the roster? Do you leave off Chris Withrow? How about the bench situation? Punto, Hairston, Schumaker, Young, and Kemp can't all be on the postseason squad. And Michael Young CANNOT start ahead of Uribe under any circumstance.

The final weeks of the season will be fascinating to watch in some ways and an absolute bore in others. September always has this saddening effect on me with football overtaking everyone's attention and the race for the postseason taking a back seat. Teams like the Mariners, Angels, Padres, Mets, and Twins play out the rest of their purgatorial schedules with no real hope of anything (except a higher draft pick.) Hopefully we get a few nice races for the Wild Cards and some neat moments like the Longoria walk-off two seasons ago or the Pirates clinching the division for the first time since my 20 year-old brother was in diapers. Either way, the Boys of Summer have come and gone and the Ghosts of early Autumn are here to stay until the postseason begins.

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