Dodgers Dugout: Is it better to play the Mets or Padres?

Max Muncy smiles as he celebrates his home run with Justin Turner
Max Muncy smiles as he celebrates a home run with Justin Turner.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and finally, what we’ve all been waiting for: the postseason.

A lot of fans are worried because the Dodgers have been in a bit of a slump offensively the last few games and that it means they aren’t ready for the postseason. Much ado about nothing. A study of baseball history tells us there have been many teams that have slumped their way into the postseason and won it all, and teams that have been red-hot going into the postseason and lost in the first round.

The postseason is a beast of its own. And despite protestations otherwise, it is only human nature to let up a little when you clinch everything you can in the regular season and are waiting for the playoffs to begin.

Of course, I got similar concerns last season when the Dodgers had to play hard in every game while trying to overtake the Giants. People said it would cause burnout, and pointed to their loss to the Braves as proof. But correlation does not equal causation.


Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.

There’s just no way to know what will happen. The playoffs last a month, and at the end one team will be crowned the best in baseball. But, you could start the playoffs all over again the day after the World Series ends and probably get a different outcome.

The Dodgers need to win 11 more games to win the World Series. I believe they will do it. But they could also get knocked out in the first round.

There has been debate as to if the regular season becomes meaningless if the Dodgers don’t win the World Series. And while meaningless is a bit too harsh, the truth is that the season will have a disappointing ending if they don’t win the World Series.

Sports fans who came of age in the 1980s were spoiled by the Showtime Lakers and the Tommy Lasorda-led Dodgers. Magic Johnson said every year that the season is pointless if the Lakers don’t win the NBA title. Lasorda talked over and over about the goal being to win the World Series and nothing else matters.

It doesn’t mean there weren’t great moments in the season. There were. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have enjoyed the ride, you should. But if you waited six months to go to Disneyland, anticipating it each day, and when your parents drove you there it was closed, it would ultimately be disappointing. It doesn’t mean the anticipation or the car ride wasn’t fun though. But “all that buildup just for it to be closed?” is not a good way to end your trip. And yes, I’m stealing the plot of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” for that analogy.

Questions answered

Time to give our Dodgers beat writer, Jack Harris, a chance to chime in with his thoughts as we head into the postseason.

Q. The Dodgers will face either the Mets or Padres in the NLDS. The Mets are the better team on paper, but the Padres would be extra fired up to eliminate the Dodgers. Which team would be preferable?


Harris: If I’m the Dodgers, I definitely want to see the Padres. They didn’t lose a single series to San Diego this year. They’ve been good against Joe Musgrove, and have at least gotten Blake Snell out of games early. It would also make for easier travel, which certainly wouldn’t hurt in a more condensed postseason.

While the Mets have looked human of late, they are still a 100-win team. They still have perhaps the best top-three rotation in the majors (though they probably won’t be able to line it up perfectly coming out of the wild-card series). I think they still have a more versatile lineup, too, especially if Starling Marte is back by the NLDS (though that’s no given).

Q. The most-asked question I got in the last month was: Why didn’t the Dodgers give James Outman another look? He hit well in his brief time with the team, and continued hitting well at Oklahoma City. Why didn’t they give him another shot?

Harris: Two main reasons: They already had a plethora of left-handed sluggers (especially in the outfield with Cody Bellinger and Joey Gallo). And Outman wasn’t quite a finished product, evidenced most notably by a 27% strikeout rate in the minors, and seven punchouts in 13 MLB at-bats.

The 25-year-old undoubtedly raised his organizational stock this year, going from double A all the way to a brief debut in the majors. He showed up at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, as well, as part of the group of players who will stay hot during the postseason in case of injuries.

Next spring, he’ll surely be an interesting name to watch. But this year, the club didn’t seem to think he was quite ready for a full-time MLB role.

Q. Many Dodger fans are not thrilled with Joey Gallo and can’t believe he will be on the postseason roster. So why is he?

Harris: The short answer: Because the Dodgers haven’t abandoned the hope he will hit home runs, draws walks and play better defense in the postseason than some of their younger internal options.

Obviously, Gallo wasn’t very good down the stretch this season.

After a solid couple weeks with the team following his trade from the Yankees, he went just six for 53 with three homers, 10 RBIs and 28 strikeouts to only eight walks over his final 20 games. Roberts acknowledged the slugger was working through some swing-and-miss struggles, as well.

Still, the Dodgers went out and acquired him for a reason. They think he still has value — and potential — in a part-time role in the playoffs. And if he hits a key home run or two this October, that might be more than enough to validate the decision.

Q. Do you anticipate any surprises on the NLDS roster?

It probably depends on if you consider Craig Kimbrel a surprise.

Right now, I think there are 11 locks on the pitching staff: Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin in the rotation; Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol, Tommy Kahnle, Chris Martin, Yency Almonte and Andrew Heaney in the bullpen.

After that, it will depend on the health of Blake Treinen and Dustin May. If one or both aren’t healthy, then Kimbrel, Caleb Ferguson and David Price are the other options.

Kimbrel has the worst numbers of that group, but if the Dodgers feel the need for another right-hander capable of getting a strikeout, then he would make the most sense. We should have a better idea depending on who participates in the team’s simulated games over the week.

On the position player side, Miguel Vargas is the one wild card, with the potential to unseat utility infielder Hanser Alberto on the bench. However, the rookie struggled in limited playing time in September. Also, given Chris Taylor’s neck injury, Alberto’s defensive versatility in the infield — particularly as another option at shortstop — probably makes more sense for the NLDS.

Who’s next?

The Dodgers will open the NLDS on Tuesday against either the New York Mets or San Diego Padres. The Mets are heavily favored to beat the Padres, but who should Dodger fans be rooting for? The Mets are better on paper and feature the combo of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. But the Padres would be really fired up to defeat the Dodgers, just like the Dodgers were extra motivated to beat the Giants last season. The Dodgers were 14-5 against the Padres this season and 3-4 against the Mets.

So, who do you want to win, the Padres or Mets? Click here to vote in our poll.


The Dodgers ended the regular season with 111 wins, the most in franchise history. Freddie Freeman missed winning the batting title by percentage points after going three for four on Wednesday. He finished at .32516 while the Mets’ Jeff McNeil, who sat out Wednesday’s game, finished at .32645. Of course, it’s quite lame to sit out the season finale when you are in the batting race and know your opponent has to go four for four to beat you. But we won’t mention that.

Freeman and Trea Turner finished the season with 100 RBIs. A list of seasons in which at least two Dodgers had at least 100 RBIs, since 1901:

Andre Ethier, 106
Matt Kemp, 101

Shawn Green, 125
Gary Sheffield, 100

Gary Sheffield, 109
Eric Karros, 106

Eric Karros, 112
Gary Sheffield, 101

Mike Piazza, 124
Eric Karros, 104

Eric Karros, 111
Mike Piazza, 105

Steve Garvey, 115
Ron Cey, 110

Steve Garvey, 111
Jim Wynn, 108

Tommy Davis, 153
Frank Howard, 119

Duke Snider, 136
Roy Campanella, 107
Gil Hodges, 102

Gil Hodges, 130
Duke Snider, 130

Roy Campanella, 142
Duke Snider, 126
Gil Hodges, 122

Roy Campanella, 109
Gil Hodges, 103
Duke Snider, 101

Gil Hodges, 113
Duke Snider, 107
Carl Furillo, 106

Jackie Robinson, 124
Gil Hodges, 115
Carl Furillo, 106

Dixie Walker, 124
Luis Olmo, 110

Babe Herman, 130
Glenn Wright, 126
Del Bissonette, 113

Jack Fournier, 130
Zack Wheat, 103

Julio Urías won the ERA title with a 2.16 mark. Other Dodgers to win:

Hyun-jin Ryu, 2019, 2.32
Clayton Kershaw, 2017, 2.31
Zack Greinke, 2015, 1.66
Clayton Kershaw, 2014, 11.77
Clayton Kershaw, 2013, 1.83
Clayton Kershaw, 2012, 2.53
Clayton Kershaw, 2011, 2.28
Kevin Brown, 2000, 2.58
Alejandro Pena, 1984, 2.48
Don Sutton, 1980, 2.20
Sandy Koufax, 1966, 1.73
Sandy Koufax, 1965, 2.04
Sandy Koufax, 1964, 1.74
Sandy Koufax, 1963, 1.88
Sandy Koufax, 1962, 2.54
Johnny Podres, 1957, 2.66
Dazzy Vance, 1930, 2.61
Dazzy Vance, 1928, 2.09
Dazzy Vance, 1924, 2.16

Postseason roster

A predicted postseason roster. Note, I predict a roster every year and always get one player wrong. Who will it be this season?

Position players

Catchers (2)
Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Infielders (6)
Hanser Alberto
Freddie Freeman
Gavin Lux
Max Muncy
Justin Turner
Trea Turner

Outfielders (5)
Cody Bellinger
Mookie Betts
Joey Gallo
Chris Taylor
Trayce Thompson

Dave Roberts said earlier this week that Gallo would be on the roster, which leaves the final spot for Alberto or Miguel Vargas.


Starters (5)
Tyler Anderson
Tony Gonsolin
Andrew Heaney*
Clayton Kershaw
Julio Urías

*-Heaney will probably pitch out of the bullpen.

Relievers (8)
Yency Almonte
Caleb Ferguson
Brusdar Graterol
Tommy Kahnle
Chris Martin
Evan Phillips
Blake Treinen
Alex Vesia

On Wednesday, the Dodgers said they expected Dustin May and Treinen to be on the NLDS roster. That means a good reliever or two will be left off for at least the first round. I’m going to guess that they end up not putting May on the NLDS roster, because it would be tough to leave off any of the above relievers. They can let Heaney be the long guy, and bring May back for the NLCS, which lasts seven games and you might need more than one pitcher who can give you multiple innings out of the bullpen. So, my roster leaves off May, Craig Kimbrel and David Price.

NLDS breakdown

We will preview the NLDS in Tuesday’s newsletter. In the meantime, take these next few days to just not fret about the postseason. Go out and get some fresh air. This part of the season is supposed to be fun.

What Vin Scully meant to you

Chip Miller: My dad took me and my neighbor and best friend Jim Barr (later a pitcher with the Giants and Angels) to a Dodger game at the Coliseum and we saw Vin outside the stadium before the ball game (we would get there very early to watch infield and BP). A few days prior we watched a Dodger game from Candlestick and a thick fog rolled in after the third inning, it was so thick you could not see the outfielders. In those days on KTTV, they did not go to something else, they just kept telecasting the Dodger game and Vin kept the audience totally entertained by just talking I don’t remember how long, I was only 10, but it must have been over an hour. Eventually the fog lifted enough for the game to continue.

My dad approached Vin to tell him how much he appreciated the job he did during that delay. They talked for a few minutes and Vin asked who the two boys were and my dad introduced us to him. Vin rubbed the top of my head and told me to “take care of your dad, Chipper, he is a good man”. Years later, my draft number came up, not baseball draft unfortunately, the military draft. As a result, I enlisted in the Air Force. Here is where Vin did something special for my dad and I. I was married during my second year in the Air Force and we had a son, Jeff. I was then stationed at Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan. We took a picture of Jeff at six months old, propped up in a couch wearing a Dodgers cap and uniform holding a very small whiffle bat. We sent the picture and the negative to my folks back in California. My dad, as a surprise birthday present to me, sent the picture, blown up to 5x7, to Vin along with a letter as if written by our son telling where we were and why and asked if Vin could get a few Dodgers to autograph it. To show what a wonderful person he was, Vin took it down to the clubhouse and had Walt Alston, Don Drysdale, Manny Mota, Willie Crawford, Maury Wills, Bill Singer, Ken Boyer, Bill Russell, John Miller, and Jim Lefebvre sign it and Vin signed it also, “Much Love, Vin Scully”. That photo is one of my prized possessions. A point of interest, when my Dad communicated with him, Vin told him he recalled the conversation with some him years before outside of the Coliseum and that he remembered meeting Jim and me that day.

Glen Riley of Germantown Hills, Ill.: Vinny was instrumental in that by his character, he helped me to become a nicer and more respectful person and not to be judgmental. He taught me to be a better baseball fan and appreciate the players that do not have “Dodgers” on the front of their uniforms. I don’t think that I have ever met (and I had the pleasure a few times) anyone who led a more exemplary life than Vinny.

Phil Smithka of Port Charlotte, Fla.: Sometime in the early 1990s I attended a spring training game in Vero Beach. While walking toward the field, I noticed a car waiting in line. Behind the wheel was Vin Scully. I boldly walked up to him and told him I was a longtime Dodger fan who appreciated his contributions to the Dodgers and to baseball in general. Vin looked at me with appreciation and said, “How kind of you. I really appreciate your compliments.” I will always remember the warmth and sincerity of his comments to me, a total stranger.

This probably typifies the man: An elegant, humble giant of a person driving a nondescript car and patiently waiting in line for a parking place like the rest of us mere mortals.

Up next

Tuesday: Mets or Padres at Dodgers, Time TBD, Fox or FS1
Wednesday: Mets or Padres at Dodgers, Time TBD, Fox or FS1
Friday, Oct. 14: Dodgers at Mets or Padres, Time TBD, FS1
*Saturday, Oct. 15: Dodgers at Mets or Padres, Time TBD, FS1
*Sunday, Oct. 16: Mets or Padres at Dodgers, Time TBD, FS1

*—if necessary

Stories you might have missed

Is a World Series title the Dodgers’ only definition of success? It depends who you ask

Who will start Game 1 of the NLDS? Dodgers say give it a rest

Dodgers’ Trea Turner hopes to break bad habits and be his old self come playoffs

Dodgers have decisions to make, issues to resolve before playoffs

Talk through it: Dodgers stars share the secrets of their success at the plate

Shaikin: Yes, Dodgers’ Julio Urías is in the Cy Young race. Here’s why.

Plaschke: Dave Roberts hopes title-or-bust Dodgers fans can learn to enjoy the ride

And finally

An episode of “The Vin Scully Show.” Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.