Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and there are only 19 games left in the season.
It’s nervous time
The Dodgers won two of three from the Rockies and now sit one-half game behind Colorado for first place in the NL West. Sure, a three-game sweep would have been nice, but the Rockies are a good team and winning two of three is nothing to complain about. The Rockies are 78-64; the Dodgers are 78-65.
Let’s take a look at the remaining schedules for all the teams in the NL West and at the wild-card hunt. First, the wild-card standings.
Remember, the top two teams make it to the one-game wild-card playoff. The games behind refers to how far they are behind the second team.
St. Louis, 79-64
Dodgers, 78-65, 1 GB
Arizona, 76-67, 3 GB
Philadelphia, 74-68, 4 1/2 GB
DODGERS (19 games left)
HOME (6): Colorado (3), San Diego (3). Note: The final homestand of the season is Sept. 17-23.
AWAY (13): Cincinnati (3), St. Louis (4), Arizona (3), San Francisco (3)
HOME (11): Arizona (4), Philadelphia (4), Washington (3)
AWAY (9): San Francisco (3), Dodgers (3), Arizona (3)
HOME (9): Chicago Cubs (3), Colorado (3), Dodgers (3).
AWAY (10): Colorado (4), Houston (3), San Diego (3)
HOME (9): Pittsburgh (3), Cincinnati (3), Detroit (3)
AWAY (9): Chicago Cubs (3), Pittsburgh (3), St. Louis (3)
ST. LOUIS (19)
HOME (13): Pittsburgh (3), Dodgers (4), San Francisco (3), Milwaukee (3)
AWAY (6): Atlanta (3), Chicago Cubs (3)
HOME (12): Washington (3), Miami (3), New York Mets (3), Atlanta (3)
AWAY (8): Atlanta (4), Colorado (4)
If the Dodgers win every series they have remaining, they will finish 91-71. Will that be enough to make the playoffs? It’s impossible to say with any certainty, but I think it would take at least 91 wins to do it.
I get a lot of questions about what the Dodgers would do if they are in the one-game playoff. Will they start Clayton Kershaw? Will they still play the percentages instead of going with the hot bat? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and set those questions aside until we really need to figure it out.
Speaking of questions
I’ve been getting a lot, and in my typical lazy, yet amiable, style, I will answer them here.
Will the Dodgers re-sign Yasmani Grandal?
In the last newsletter, I pointed out his defensive deficiencies, of which there are many. He’s not valueless, because he does contribute on offense. His OPS+ has been over 100 every season of his career, he walks a lot and he has power. Will the Dodgers re-sign him? It’s a legitimate question. Assuming Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith aren’t quite ready to become the everyday catcher, and with Austin Barnes’ struggles at the plate this season, they have no obvious candidate to replace him. However, some team is bound to offer him a huge deal. Will the Dodgers match it or go for a cheaper replacement for a season while waiting for Ruiz and Smith? Other free-agent catchers this offseason are: Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Ellis, Martin Maldonado, Nick Hundley, Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco, Rene Rivera, Matt Wieters, Jeff Mathis and Drew Butera. Ramos would come at a pretty penny, but the rest could be available for a one-year deal, depending on how the market plays out. They also would not be a significant upgrade over Grandal, and some would be much worse. There are always trade possibilities too.
Will the Dodgers re-sign Manny Machado and/or Brian Dozier?
Anything is possible, but I still don’t think Machado is coming back. Win the World Series and all bets are off. Based on their comments when they traded for him, I don’t think the Dodgers are going to be aggressive in re-signing him. Dozier is an interesting case. He has not hit well since coming to L.A. (.191/.309/.348/79 OPS+), but plays Gold Glove-level defense. A lot will depend on how many other teams are interested in signing him. I don’t see the Dodgers overbidding for him, but if they can bring him back on a cheap one- or two-year deal, it’s possible he’ll return.
By the way, Dozier said a couple of days ago that he has been nursing a knee injury all season.
Of course, a lot of the free-agent moves for the Dodgers will depend a lot on whether Kershaw opts out of his deal.
How many lineups does Dave Roberts plan on using this year?
The Dodgers have played 143 games and have used 139 batting lineups. They have used four lineups only twice, the rest only one time. The four lineups they have used twice:
Dozier, Turner, Machado, Kemp, Freese, Hernandez, Taylor, Barnes
Taylor, Hernandez, Kemp, Bellinger, Barnes, Farmer, Verdugo, Locastro
Dozier, Turner, Machado, Kemp, Hernandez, Taylor, Puig, Barnes
Pederson, Machado, Muncy, Grandal, Kemp, Bellinger, Taylor, Verdugo
But keep this in mind something before you bash Roberts for changing the lineup all the time. He doesn’t always come up with the lineup by himself. He gets input from Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi and a couple of others. For better or worse, the Dodgers rely heavily on analytics, which is why a player who is six for his last 12 will sit on the bench in a game in which he would be facing a pitcher he has little success against.
Is Roberts coming back next year? And if not, will Mike Scioscia get the job?
I think, and this is only a guess, that if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, he is gone. They have a team option on his contract, and the fact they haven’t picked it up yet speaks volumes. It’s possible they don’t retain him unless they win the World Series, and they could always resort to “We thank Dave for getting up this far, but we think we need someone else to get us to the next level.” Then they offer him a cushy front office “advisory” role. If that does happen, don’t look for Mike Scioscia to get the job. A guy who isn’t a huge fan of making decision by analytics working for a front office that lives and dies by them? Not going to happen. Plus, Scioscia hasn’t officially parted ways with the Angels yet.
Also, if Roberts doesn’t come back, it won’t be too long until some other team picks him up. Dave Roberts managing the Angels?
Is Justin Turner the best hitter in the NL?
You can certainly make a case for it. Since the All-Star break, Turner is hitting .385/.474/.708. That would be first in batting average, first on OB% and third in slugging in all of baseball, not just the NL (minimum 150 plate appearances). He’s a lot of fun to watch. He rarely over-swings and never gives at-bats away. The big question is at what point does he pass Ron Cey to become the best third baseman in Dodgers history? He’s probably my favorite current Dodger.
When are you going to start a soccer or a boxing/MMA newsletter?
Funny you should ask! We launched a soccer newsletter last month. You can sign up here. We are launching a boxing/MMA newsletter tomorrow. You can sign up for it here. They are both very good (well, I have faith the boxing/MMA one will be very good) and I’m not just saying that because I am in charge of all the sports newsletters. (Full disclosure: No one has actually asked me this question, other than my boss, but I wanted to work a cheap plug for our newest newsletters in here somewhere).
I just went to Dodger Stadium and found $20 for parking to be very reasonable
I don’t care how many different email addresses you use, I still know this is you, Frank McCourt.
The new guys
Since joining the Dodgers, here’s how the new guys are doing:
Brian Dozier, .188/.309/.342/77 OPS+.
Manny Machado, .270/.349/.476/121
David Freese, .429/.529/.714/233
John Axford, 16.20 ERA, on the disabled list with a broken leg
Ryan Madson, 7.71 ERA
These names seem familiar
What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):
Charlie Culberson, Braves, .277/.325/.482, 115 OPS+.
Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 6-3, 4.92 ERA (on the 60-day DL with right knee tendinitis).
Yu Darvish, Cubs, 1-3, 4.95 ERA (on 60-day DL and out for the season with an elbow injury).
Curtis Granderson, Brewers, .247/.351/.438, 118 OPS+ (Traded by Toronto to Milwaukee on Aug. 31 for prospect Demi Orimoloye).
Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 22 saves, 1.47 ERA (on 10-day DL with right biceps tendinitis).
Tony Watson, Giants, 4-6, 2.88 ERA.
Chris Hatcher, A’s, 3-2, 4.08 ERA, Recalled from minors on Sept. 1.
Luis Avilan, Phillies, 2-1, 3.80 ERA, two saves.
Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .117/.162/.211 (removed from the 40-man roster and sent to the minors). Hitting .213/.278/.363 for triple-A Charlotte.
Wilmer Font, Rays, 2-3, 5.93 ERA (on 60-day DL with a lat strain).
Sergio Romo, Rays, 3-3, 3.20 ERA, 19 saves.
Logan Forsythe, Twins, .291/.385/.333, 99 OPS+.
Monday, 3:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Alex Wood, 8-6, 3.37 ERA) at Cincinnati (Cody Reed, 0-2, 4.81 ERA)
Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.: Dodgers (Hyun-jin Ryu, 4-2, 2.16 ERA) at Cincinnati (Luis Castillo, 8-12, 4.79 ERA)
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.: Dodgers (TBD) at Cincinnati (Anthony DeScalafini, 7-4, 4.56 ERA)
Dodgers will give away virtually nothing in this bobblehead promotion. Read all about it here.