Back in about 1995, a friend of mine who worked for NBC said, “The patient is critical but not dead yet.” His lament was about how cable was eroding the viewership of network television. I suggested maybe it was crappy shows but I digress. The fact is the Dodgers are critical but not quite dead yet. They are still mathematically alive for a postseason slot but have to become Cincinnati Reds fans in order to receive a jolt of energy.
This team can play game 163 if the Reds take their final two games from the Cardinals while the Dodgers are winning their remaining pair of games against the Giants. At this point, it seems like both the Reds and Giants, who clinched their divisions weeks ago, are simply using their series finales as a way to set up a playoff rotation.
Monday night, Giants manager Bruce Bochte announced starting pitcher Matt Cain would be limited to 75 pitches. Cain went five innings and threw 68 pitches in a Dodgers 3-2 victory. Meanwhile, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo threw 73 pitches before he was yanked. So who knows how much help the Dodgers will get from the home of Skyline Chili. The sad part is how the Dodgers put themselves in the position of rooting for their one-time division rivals.
If there was a “turning point” this season, it was the first week of September. On Labor Day, the Dodgers were only 4.5 games out of the NL West lead and a half-game out of the wild card. But they would go on a terrible run of losing six of their next seven games, all to teams within their division (San Diego, San Francisco, and Arizona). Then when the best the Dodgers could do against the team they were chasing for the wild card, the Cardinals, was a split of a four game series, they were pretty much turned into scoreboard watchers.
Still, the Dodgers are wrapping up the season in a way that brings hope well beyond this week. They have won seven of their last eight, including winning their last six in a row. This recent streak reminds fans of just how much Matt Kemp means to this team.
Kemp, who was hampered early in the season by a pulled hamstring as well as not appearing to be 100% after running into a wall in Colorado at the end of August, has gone 11 for 24 with four home runs in his last half-dozen games. It makes you wonder where the Dodgers would be if Kemp could have stayed healthy.
No shortage of shortstops
When 2013 rolls around, the Dodgers infield situation may take on a whole new light given the emergence of 10 year minor leaguer Luis Cruz. Cruz, called up in July as a result of a plethora of injuries to Dodgers infielders, is batting .301 with 39 RBI after 75 games with the Dodgers. That would project out to about a dozen home runs and 84 RBI over a full season. Pretty solid numbers for a shortstop. His performance may mean the Dodgers could have three men fighting for the starting shortstop position next year-Hanley Ramirez, who just looks more comfortable at short than third, Dee Gordon, and Cruz.
Platoon isn’t just a movie
A winter of discontent might be awaiting outfielder Andre Ethier. Ethier is batting just .218 against lefthanders and Don Mattingly’s idea of “platooning” him is not going over so well with the two time All-Star outfielder. Read about it here.
Reading to fall asleep by(?)
Former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, whose accomplishments are tainted by him admitting to steroid use, has a new “tell-all” book out. Too bad our friends over at thinkbluela.com are calling it a “NON-tell-all.”
Numbers don’t lie
Although it appears the Mets R.A. Dickey(20-6, 2.69 ERA) is the most likely choice for the NL Cy Young award, the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw (12-9, league leading 2.58 ERA) might have been a serious contender for a second straight award if his offense could have scored a few more runs for him. Kershaw has a somewhat pedestrian 12-9 record but gave up just two runs or less in six of those losses. The Dodgers scored an average of 2.6 runs in his other three losses.