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Dodgers Dugout: Road to the World Series starts in Washington

Dodgers Dugout: Road to the World Series starts in Washington
Adrian Gonzalez (Denis Poroy / AFP/Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m wondering how much the Ryder truck rental company paid to get the naming rights to the Ryder Cup.

It's time for Dodgers playoff baseball

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The Dodgers open their NLDS series against the Washington Nationals on Friday. Let’s compare the two teams:

Category              Dodgers                Nationals

Record                         91-71                          95-67

Batting Avg.                .249                             .256

OB%                             .319                              .326

SLG%                            .409                             .426

Runs per game            4.48                             4.71

ERA                               3.70                            3.51

Reliever ERA                3.35                            3.37

Starter ERA                  3.95                           3.60

WHIP                          1.191                           1.192

SO/9                              9.4                                9.1

Inh. Runner scored%    25%                              28%

The Dodgers won five of six from the Nationals during the season.

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What does all that mean? Not much. Everyone starts at zero again for the playoffs, but here's what to look for:

--Don't worry about the Dodgers losing five of six to end the season. Momentum going into the playoffs doesn't mean much. Teams that slumped into the playoffs have won it all and teams that were on a hot streak going into the playoffs have lost in the first round. Just look at the four days off between the season and Game 1 as a chance to regroup.

--Who is going to step up on offense? The Dodgers need a couple of guys to go on a hot streak starting Friday.

 --Since the wild-card era began in 1995, the team with the best record in baseball has won the World Series only four times, so the Cubs are not an unstoppable juggernaut.

 --Of course, the way the Dodgers’ luck has run the last few seasons, the Giants will probably win it all.

Playoff roster

Catchers

Austin Barnes

Yasmani Grandal

Carlos Ruiz

Infielders

Charlie Culberson

Adrian Gonzalez

Corey Seager
Justin Turner
Chase Utley

Outfielders

Andre Ethier

Howie Kendrick

Joc Pederson

Yasiel Puig

Josh Reddick

Andrew Toles

Pitchers

Luis Avilan

Pedro Baez

Joe Blanton

Grant Dayton

Josh Fields

Rich Hill

Kenley Jansen

Clayton Kershaw

Kenta Maeda

Ross Stripling

Julio Urias

Playoff predictions

Dodgers over Nationals in 4

Cubs over Giants in 4

Red Sox over Indians in 4

Rangers over Blue Jays in 3

Dodgers' playoff schedule

Game 1—Friday at Washington, 2:30 p.m. PT, TV: FS1

Game 2—Saturday at Washington, 1 p.m. PT, TV: FS1

Game 3—Monday at Dodgers, TBD, TV: FS1/MLBN

Game 4—Tuesday at Dodgers, TBD, TV: FS1

Game 5—Thursday at Washington, TBD, TV: FS1

Ask Ross Porter

This is the final "Ask Ross Porter" for the year, but he will be back next season to answer more of your questions, so keep e-mailing them in. His latest:

Barbara Massa: Hi Ross. I read your answer about the 1951 National League playoff series last month, and it sounded eerily similar to the 1962 playoffs. If I remember correctly, the Dodgers led the league almost to the bitter end, then blew it in a playoff with the dreaded Giants. But I can't remember the name of the Dodger pitcher that walked in the winning run for the Giants. I think I cried for a week. Can you help fill in some of the details of that 1962 playoff series?

Ross: The pitcher you are referring to is Stan Williams. There is an ironic and personal twist for me.

When Williams graduated from high school in Colorado and signed with the Dodgers, he was 17 and was sent to the Dodgers' class D farm club in Shawnee, Okla., my hometown. The year was 1954.

I was 15 and in my first season of announcing minor league baseball. Shawnee had a strong team, but Stan was the only pitcher on the club with a losing record (3-5).

Yet, in less than four years, the New Hampshire-born Williams made his way to the major leagues, joining the Dodgers in 1958. If you are curious as I was about New Hampshire natives making the big leagues, there have been 58, including Birdie TebbettsRed RolfeCarlton Fisk, and Mike Flanagan.

In that third and deciding playoff game against the Giants in 1962, the host Dodgers led 4-2 going to the ninth inning. It was 4-3 when Walter Alston brought in Stan to pitch in relief. Coach Leo Durocher wanted to use Don Drysdale in that spot, but Alston said he was saving Don for the World Series. The Giants won, 6-4, then lost to the Yankees.

Stan Williams later was a major league pitching coach for 14 seasons. This very nice man celebrated his 80th birthday last month.

In case you missed it

What our great crew of Los Angeles Times reporters are saying about the Dodgers:

What others are saying

And finally

Vin Scully gives a final farewell. Watch and listen 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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