Dodgers Dugout: A tough lesson for Walker Buehler

Walker Buehler can only watch as Ronald Acuna Jr. circles the bases.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and there is not a lot of turnaround time between Games 3 and 4.


In all the talk about how great Walker Buehler pitched down the stretch for the Dodgers, it was easy to forget that he is just 24, with barely a full season in the majors under his belt. And he looked young and inexperienced in his very first postseason appearance, walking the opposing pitcher with the bases loaded and grooving a pitch that Ronald Acuna Jr. hit for a grand slam. But, after that, he settled down and retired the next 10 batters, allowing the Dodgers to rally and tie the score.


That experience will serve him well in future postseason games, hopefully this season. My only question regarding it all is, why didn’t someone visit him to sort of slow the game down a bit? It looked like he was rushing everything and a visit from an infielder or Rick Honeycutt could have served as a reset button for Buehler.

A couple of questions I got after the game from readers:

Why did Dave Roberts let Alex Wood pitch?

Well, I probably would have gone with Caleb Ferguson, but Wood pitched OK down the stretch out of the bullpen. Of course, Freddie Freeman was six for 15 against him lifetime with a home run. Make that two home runs now. It was the sixth inning, so perhaps Roberts was saving Ferguson for later. Personally, I would have saved Wood in case the game went into extra innings, but bringing in Wood wasn’t something that overly bothered me.

Why did they let Brian Dozier bat with a right-hander on the mound? Why let him make the last out?

There was no one left to play second base. Dozier replaced Kiké Hernandez, and Chris Taylor was also out of the game. You could put Austin Barnes there, but then you would have an out-of-position player. This is one of the problems with carrying 13 position players.

I have not taken the time to analyze whether having 13 position players and 12 pitchers is actually better than the old days, when you had 15 (sometimes 16) position players and 10 (sometimes nine) pitchers. So, I can’t say it’s a huge mistake with any facts backing me up. I do know that it often leaves teams short-handed at the end of games and it does seem odd to me, because I remember a time when the Dodgers carried two players (Manny Mota and Vic Davalillo) who were only used as pinch-hitters and rarely played the field.

Why do the Dodgers strand so many runners?

They do seem to fail a lot in the clutch. They were 13th in the 30-team majors in batting average with runners in scoring position this season, and 29th with two out and runners in scoring position. So yes, it can be very frustrating watching them leave the bases loaded. I get frustrated when I see players come up and swing for the fences instead of just trying to put the ball in play. But keep in mind something else: The teams with the best offense often are among the league leaders in runners left on base simply because they have more runners on base than the teams with a bad offense. So, it’s not always just an inability to hit in the clutch. I’m not going to sit here and say the Dodgers are a great clutch-hitting team, I just want everyone to look at the big picture too.

Also, let’s not forget that the Dodgers are playing a good Braves team. Atlanta isn’t just going to roll over and die. Arodys Vizcaino made some good pitches in the ninth.

So, while we criticize the Dodgers, let’s not forget to give some credit to who they are playing too.

I still feel confident the Dodgers will win the series. I almost hope the Braves win Game 4 just to see who the Dodgers would start in Game 5, Hyun-Jin Ryu or Clayton Kershaw?

NLDS schedule

Game 4 — Monday, 1:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Rich Hill, 11-5, 3.66 ERA) at Atlanta (Mike Foltynewicz, 13-10, 2.85 ERA). TV: FS1

Game 5* — Wednesday, 5 p.m.: Atlanta (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA). TV: FS1.

* — if necessary. All times Pacific.

Fun fact

Mike Foltynewicz led the NL with two complete games this season. In 1986, Fernando Valenzuela led the NL with 20 complete games.

And finally

Ross Stripling will probably be added to the NLCS roster, provided the Dodgers make it. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.