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Dodgers Dugout: Dodgers are in the driver's seat, but face a trap series against San Diego

Dodgers Dugout: Dodgers are in the driver's seat, but face a trap series against San Diego
Teammates mob Chris Taylor after his walkoff homer on Tuesday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and there are only nine games left in the season.

Life in the fast lane

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The Dodgers swept the Colorado Rockies and now have a 2½-game lead over the Rockies for the NL West lead with nine games to play (the Rockies have 10 games left). Everyone, including me, has penciled the Dodgers in for the playoffs, but there is a trap series this weekend against the San Diego Padres.

The Padres are 61-92, and are barely ahead of Miami in the “race” for worst record in the National League. The Dodgers are 12-4 against San Diego this season, so that’s why this is a trap. It’s easy to subconsciously look past them, but believe me when I say that the Padres would love nothing more than to take the wind out of the Dodgers’ sails. The Dodgers have shown an amazing ability to play to the level of their opponent this season, but, hopefully those days are gone, because they certainly looked like the 2017 Dodgers in the sweep of the Rockies.

I get a lot of questions about the Dodgers’ lineups and how they seemingly change daily. Here’s why: The Dodgers front office believes heavily in analytics and in using past performance to predict future results. So, they look at what players have done against: a) that day’s starting pitcher and b) righties or lefties and make their lineups accordingly. That’s why a person who is red-hot suddenly rides the bench for a game or two. We can debate whether this is a good idea or not, but the fact is the Dodgers have won five consecutive division titles and are close to a sixth. The argument against platooning so strongly would be a lot more effective if the Dodgers were in last place. And this is coming from a guy who thinks they get a little carried away sometimes.

Jorge Castillo took a great look at platooning in a story you can read here. In the meantime, here’s a look at how prominent Dodgers hitters have fared this season against righties and lefties, courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

Austin Barnes

vs. righties: .157/.307/.193

vs. lefties: .234/.346/.306

Cody Bellinger

vs. righties: .272/.357/.504

vs. lefties: .232/.313/.390

Brian Dozier

vs. righties: .216/.294/.415

vs. lefties: .221/.335/.331

David Freese

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vs. righties: .273/.329/.460

vs. lefties: .301/.371/.455

Yasmani Grandal

vs. righties: .243/.344/.483

vs. lefties: .204/.342/.366

Kiké Hernandez

vs. righties: .234/.321/.473

vs. lefties: .239/.316/.418

Matt Kemp

vs. righties: .295/.346/.454

vs. lefties: .269/.319/.497

Manny Machado

vs. righties: .291/.355/.531

vs. lefties: .306/.394/.547

Max Muncy

vs. righties: .251/.392/.583

vs. lefties: .263/.375/.547

Joc Pederson

vs. righties: .264/.341/.550

vs. lefties: .173/.200/.308

Yasiel Puig

vs. righties: .304/.363/.572

vs. lefties: .216/.281/.384

Chris Taylor

vs. righties: .257/.326/.445

vs. lefties: .233/.323/.442

Justin Turner

vs. righties: .308/.396/.507

vs. lefties: .346/.457/.567

Chase Utley

vs. righties: .224/.309/.320

vs. lefties: .154/.250/.231

Team

vs. righties: .250/.333/.450

vs. lefties: .238/.322/.404

The NL West standings

Dodgers, 85-68

Colorado, 82-70, 2½ GB

Arizona, 79-74, 6 GB

The wild-card standings

Milwaukee, 87-66

St. Louis, 84-69

Colorado, 82-70, 1½ GB

Arizona, 79-74, 5 GB

Philadelphia, 78-74, 5 ½ GB

Remaining schedules

DODGERS (9 games left)

HOME (3): San Diego (3)

AWAY (6): Arizona (3), San Francisco (3)

COLORADO (10)

HOME (7): Philadelphia (4), Washington (3)

AWAY (3): Arizona (3)

ARIZONA (9)

HOME (6): Colorado (3), Dodgers (3)

AWAY (3): San Diego (3)

MILWAUKEE (9)

HOME (3): Detroit (3)

AWAY (6): Pittsburgh (3), St. Louis (3)

ST. LOUIS (9)

HOME (6): San Francisco (3), Milwaukee (3)

AWAY (3): Chicago Cubs (3)

PHILADELPHIA (10)

HOME (3): Atlanta (3)

AWAY (7): Atlanta (3), Colorado (4)

If the season ended today, St. Louis would play at Milwaukee in the wild-card playoff. The winner would play the Cubs in one NLDS and the Dodgers would play the Braves in the other NLDS.

In the American League, Oakland would play at New York in the wild-card playoff. The winner of that series would play the Red Sox in one ALDS and Cleveland would play Houston in the other ALDS.

To take a look at the postseason schedule, click here. The one-game NL wild-card game would be Tuesday, with the NLDS starting on Thursday. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Shameless plug

Kevin Perez-Allen and Clint Pasillas (better known as Fat Ryan Gosling, which makes me want to change my name to fat, balding and far-less-handsome George Clooney), who host the Blue Heaven podcast on Dodgers Nation, had me on as a guest Wednesday. Listen to it here!

Also, longtime Dodgers Dugout friend Greg Bergman, who hosts a Dodgers postgame show for Dodgers Nation, can now also be heard after each game on ESPN Los Angeles’ Twitter, which you can find here. The podcast (all of them, not just the one I’m on) and Greg’s show are very entertaining and worth your time.

Ask Ross Porter

Hi, fans! It’s good to be back with you to answer your questions during this baseball season. Please send your questions to Houston, and he will pass them on to me. List the city in which you live.

Carl Bates of Long Beach asks: I am pretty sure it was you that taught me to concentrate on the loss column and not go for that 1/2 game stuff, especially late in the season. But I hardly ever hear or read that the Dodgers are 2 games ahead of the Rockies and 6 ahead of the D-Backs. Could you explain why it’s the loss column that matters?

Ross: A first-place team controls its own destiny. A second-place team does not. Unplayed games you can always win, but losses are permanent. You can always win more, but can't un-lose them. Loss column is just a talking point.

Rich Mulvany asks: Ross, have opposing pitchers ever thrown nine innings of no-hit ball in the same game?

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Ross: In 1917, Fred Toney of the Reds and Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs did not give up a hit for nine innings. Chicago got a hit and a run in the 10th. The odds of pitching a no-hitter in a big-league game are 13,000-1.

Ted Andrews of Binghamton, N.Y,. asks: Who puts together the baseball schedule?

Ross: From 1980 to 2005, a husband and wife, Henry and Holly Stephenson, compiled it in their Staten Island home, not far from you, Ted. A supercomputer has been used the last 13 years. The major leagues play 2,430 games a season. There are 52 series scheduled, 24 of them divisional (76 games), 20 interdivisional (66 games), and 8 interleague (20 games). No single contests are scheduled except for making up a postponement.

Fred Sornoso of Monterey Park asks: Hi, Ross. Has any MLB pitcher hit for the cycle?

Ross: Yes, Fred. Jimmy “Pony” Ryan of the 1888 Chicago White Stockings.

Golfers are now registering for the 13th annual Ross Porter Celebrity Golf Classic which will be played Nov. 5 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana. All proceeds go to Stillpoint Family Resources for buying homes for special needs adults who have no one to care for them. In 12 years, 88 different celebrities from the sports and entertainment world have participated. For more information, click here. Please join us. You will enjoy the day.

Up next

Friday, 7 p.m.: San Diego (Eric Lauer, 5-7, 4.74 ERA) at Dodgers (Rich Hill, 9-5, 4.02 ERA)

Saturday, 6 p.m.: San Diego (Jacob Nix, 2-3, 5.75 ERA) at Dodgers (Ross Stripling, 8-4, 2.77 ERA)

Sunday, 1 p.m.: San Diego (Joey Lucchesi, 8-8, 3.74 ERA) at Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, 5-3, 2.18 ERA)

And finally

Tennis legend Billie Jean King is joining the Dodgers’ ownership group. 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.

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