Dodgers Dugout: No Corey Seager. Blocking the plate. Culberson, Puig and Taylor step up. What else can happen?

League Championship Series - Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Charlie Culberson slides into home as Willson Contreras blocks the plate in the seventh inning.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. I don’t mind games with that much drama as long as the Dodgers win.

Game 1 review

That was a crazy Saturday. Let’s review.

Corey Seager out


The big news before the game was the Dodgers releasing their roster for the NLCS and Corey Seager not being on it. He hurt his back sliding into second in Game 3 against Arizona, and the Dodgers ruled him out. Instead of hoping he can come back for a Game 6 or 7, they left him off the roster and added Charlie Culberson.

The initial reaction was “That’s not good.”

Can Seager come back in the NLCS? Yes, but only if another player gets hurt and has to be taken off the roster. The player they take off the roster would also be automatically ineligible for the World Series.

But I wouldn’t count on Seager coming back. Dave Roberts said that Seager wouldn’t travel with the club to Chicago for Games 3, 4 or 5, and the MLB would look very, very closely at any “injury” the Dodgers would come up with to get one player off the roster and Seager back on.


And would Seager be ready to come back in the next round? Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

Does losing Seager hurt the Dodgers? Of course. But championship teams find ways to overcome adversity.

Who starts in Game 1?

With the Cubs starting left-hander Jose Quintana, the Dodgers went with Culberson in Game 1. Why? There were three options at short: Culberson, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor. If you go with Taylor or Hernandez, then that means Curtis Granderson or Joc Pederson would have to start in the outfield. And they hit lefties about as well as I do. Plus, an outfield defense of Hernandez, Taylor and Puig is better than an outfield defense of Granderson, Hernandez and Puig. And with Culberson driving in a run and scoring one, it turned out to be the correct call.

By the way, the only other roster change the Dodgers made for the NLCS was to add Luis Avilan and remove Pedro Baez. (Whoops! It wasn’t Avilan, it was Pederson! I was just testing all of you when I originally wrote this. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

Jose Quintana

Remember how the Cubs’ plane was forced to land in Albuquerque on Friday morning because of a medical emergency? Turns out it was because Quintana’s wife, Michel, had an irregular heartbeat. She is apparently fine now. Quintana and teammate Javier Baez remained in Albuquerque with Michel and arrived in L.A. late Friday night.

I saw some people on Twitter were happy with all of that because it might give the Dodgers an extra edge. If you are happy a person has a health issue that makes a flight land early because it might give your team an edge, then your priorities are way out of whack.


Best wishes to Michel Quintana.

Pulling Clayton Kershaw

Dave Roberts hit for Clayton Kershaw with score tied, 2-2, a runner on second and two out in the fifth inning. The move was questioned by some, but at that point Kershaw had already thrown 87 pitches, was struggling with his command and was about to face the heart of the Cubs’ order. Pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer made an out, but it was the right move.

The play at the plate

A controversial moment came in the seventh inning when Culberson attempted to score on Justin Turner’s single to center. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras stuck out his left leg moments before the ball arrived, preventing Culberson from touching the plate. Culberson was called out. The Dodgers asked for a review, and the replay umpire reversed the call, saying Culberson was safe because Contreras illegally blocked the plate by putting his leg there before he had the ball. Which he did. Here’s the rule, 7.13(2):

Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.

The overturned call caused an irate Joe Maddon to get thrown out of the game and sent TBS analyst Ron Darling into a lengthy diatribe about how the rule is stupid and shouldn’t be a rule at all.

If you are like me and grew up watching Steve Yeager and then Mike Scioscia block the plate constantly, you may wonder why this rule is in effect.


In 2011, Giants catcher Buster Posey’s left leg was broken in a collision at home plate. You can watch it here. He was out for several weeks. Posey was then a rising young star and MLB didn’t like one of their stars getting hurt. In 2014, they instituted this new rule, which not only prevents catchers from blocking the plate without the ball, it also prevent runners from targeting catchers by deviating from their path to run into them.

But here are the two big takeaways from Saturday’s play: It didn’t change the outcome of the game, and if the rule wasn’t in effect, then Culberson would have just knocked Contreras over. Contreras wouldn’t have caught the ball and he would have been safe anyway.

And the rest…

Yasiel Puig is hitting .467 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs this postseason. Last year the Dodgers tried to trade him, but no one wanted him. This year, he’s the postseason star.

Hey Charlie Culberson, when you have a chance, Google the name Brian Doyle.

The Dodger bullpen threw four innings of perfect relief.

Kenley Jansen struck out all four batters he faced.

Kenta Maeda has pitched three perfect innings in the postseason and has two wins to show for it.

Game 2 preview

Jon Lester vs. Rich Hill

Dodgers vs. Lester

Andre Ethier: .500 (3 for 6), 1 homer

Austin Barnes: .500 (1 for 2)

Cody Bellinger: .500 (1 for 2), 1 homer

Corey Seager: .412 (7 for 17), 1 double

Curtis Granderson: .296 (16 for 54), 2 doubles, 3 homers

Yasmani Grandal: .250 (2 for 8), 1 double

Enrique Hernandez: .235 (4 for 17), 2 homers

Chase Utley: .167 (2 for 12)

Chris Taylor: .167 (1 for 6), 1 double

Yasiel Puig: .154 (2 for 13)

Logan Forsythe: .077 (1 for 13), 5 strikeouts

Justin Turner: .050 (1 for 20), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Pitchers: .400 (2 for 5)

Team: .246 (43 for 175), 7 homers, 46 strikeouts

Cubs vs. Hill

Kris Bryant: .667 (2 for 3)

Leonys Martin: .333 (2 for 6)

Ben Zobrist: .200 (1 for 5)

Alex Avila: .000 (0 for 2)

Anthony Rizzo: .000 (0 for 2)

Javier Baez: .000 (0 for 2)

Addison Russell: .000 (0 for 2)

Pitchers: .000 (0 for 2)

Team: .208 (5 for 24), 8 strikeouts, no extra-base hits


(All times PDT)

Game 2: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Chicago (Jon Lester) at Dodgers (Rich Hill), TBS

Game 3: Tuesday, 6 p.m., Dodgers (Yu Darvish) at Chicago (Kyle Hendricks), TBS

Game 4: Wednesday, 6 p.m. (will move to 5 p.m. if ALCS is complete), Dodgers (Alex Wood) at Chicago (Jake Arrieta), TBS

Game 5*: Thursday, 5 p.m., Dodgers at Chicago, TBS

Game 6*: Saturday, 1 p.m. (will move to 5 p.m. if ALCS is complete), Chicago at Dodgers, TBS

Game 7*: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Chicago at Dodgers, TBS

* if necessary

And finally

This needs no explanation. Just watch.

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