The Dodgers were historically pathetic on Thursday evening after their 8-4 loss to the Cubs in game 5 of the NLCS. The Dodgers lost game 4 by a 10-2 score, meaning they were outscored 18-6 in games 4 and 5. During perhaps the most important games of the season the Dodgers went out like meek little girls instead of paper tigers. Lackluster performances from starting pitchers Julio Urias, and Kenta Maeda put the Dodgers in tough situations but the bullpen and defense ultimately let them down. Let’s not forget about the offense as well.
Look I am not going to sugar coat anything for you guys. You know how I am, very critical but always loyal and supportive. I will always give it to you straight. The Dodgers still have a small chance of winning this series and advancing to the World Series to play the Cleveland Indians. The odds are against them, but there is a chance. I think it’s important to know how we got here and important to learn from previous mistakes. The odds were against the Dodgers since the beginning of the postseason because of the lack of starting pitching that they had.
The Dodgers were able to split the first two games of the NLCS in Chicago thanks to a brilliant performance from Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers could have won the first game but after the Dodgers had tied the game in the eighth inning Joe Blanton then went on to give up a grand slam home run to pinch-hitter Miguel Montero. Imagine if the Dodgers had won the first game. The Dodgers lost game 1 by an 8-3 score and then won game 2 by a 1-0 score. The second game saw the Dodgers make a solo home run from Adrian Gonzalez stand up behind Kershaw and Kenley Jansen.
The series shifted to Dodger Stadium and the boys in blue beat the Cubs by a 6-0 score in game 3. Rich Hill was dominating over 6 shutout frames and Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner each hit huge bombs off of Jake Arrieta to give the Dodgers a 2-1 series advantage. Everything looked great and the Dodgers seemed to be playing with such confidence. Then the wheels fell off.
Julio Urias started game 4 against veteran angry man John Lackey and things looked ok for the first three innings. Then the Cubs scored a run. Lackey was removed after 4.1 innings and the Cubs bullpen took over from there. The Dodger bullpen was called upon in the fourth inning again as Urias was unable to give the Dodgers any length. Once again as in game 1, the bullpen faltered. Pedro Baez surrendered a huge home run to Addison Russell, the shortstop which broke a 1-0 game in the top of the fourth inning. In game 5 Blanton gave up another soul crushing home run to again Russell which broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth inning.
You can’t blame Dave Roberts for going to Blanton. He’s been the seventh and eighth inning guy all year and he’s done a solid job. The numbers support this. A 2.48 ERA in 75 innings pitched, 80 strikeouts, a 1.01 WHIP. He’s done his job but he’s been garbage this series and is hanging pitches. This goes back to the increased workload on the bullpen because of the lack of innings from the starting pitching, and that goes all the way back to the decisions the front office made in 2014.
The front office threw money down the toilet by signing two injury riddled mediocre starters (Brett Anderson, and Brandon McCarthy) who have contributed next to nothing to the Dodgers. You can say all you want that expensive pickups don’t work, but the Dodgers gave those two bums nearly 75 million dollars combined and are still paying the price. I mean if they were willing to offer Zack Greinke 150 million then they could have given that 150 million to say Johnny Cueto and they’re probably in the World Series right now. Or maybe they could have even picked up a more reliable cheaper option and proven postseason performer like a John Lackey.
The point is that when you waste money on injury riddled pitchers who are constantly hurt it puts a huge strain on the bullpen. The workload on the relievers has been huge and it’s starting to show during the long postseason. If the front office had been better at evaluating talent then they would have a more reliable starting rotation and less innings on the bullpen. They’re still suffering because of it and that is entirely on Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi.
Another thing to consider is the decisions to use these all-right handed lineups against lefties. The Dodgers were the worst team in the Majors this season in hitting left handed pitching. However the lineups they put out against left handers have greatly contributed to that. As I have said before if you lose with your best hitters in your lineup than there is no shame in that. When you place your worst hitters in your lineup and lose then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. These lineups have been generally unsuccessful all season long and I still can’t believe the Dodgers would do it in one of the most important games of the season.
It’s almost as if the Dodgers believe that any left handed bat will work because the percentages will play out in their favor. Wrong. If you put terrible hitters in the lineup then you will get terrible results regardless of the lefty/righty match-ups. Kike Hernandez is a terrible hitter and the numbers prove this.
Kike hit .189 against left handed pitching with an OPS+ of 66 this season. The Dodgers had him batting lead-off against one of the best pitchers in baseball. To nobody’s surprise Kike is without a hit in the series and has committed a throwing error. When you bat the worst hitter on the roster and perhaps in all of baseball lead-off against Jon Lester then you are going to get what you get, which is nothing. I like Carlos Ruiz and he’s gotten a couple of big hits this postseason for the Dodgers, but why was he batting cleanup? Just play the regulars man and if you lose with them, then you lose but at least you’re losing with your best. It’s infuriating to see the Dodgers putting out another lineup that has zero chance of scoring runs.
So now the Dodgers need to win two games at Wrigley Field to advance with Kershaw pitching game 6, and Rich Hill pitching a potential game 7. The Cubs will undoubtedly start Kyle Hendricks in game 6 versus Kershaw and Jake Arrieta in game 7 against Hill.
More than likely the Dodgers are finished and this is going to go three different ways in game 6. Option 1 is Kershaw gets hammered early and the Cubs score like 8 runs off him. Option 2 is he pitches like Kershaw for most of the game and implodes in the seventh inning similar to years past and either Joe Blanton or Pedro Baez come in and allow all inherited runners to score. Or option 3 is Kershaw pitches brilliantly and throws a shutout but the offense doesn’t score and they lose 1-0 or 2-1. I’m leaning towards predicting the latter happening.
Or something else could happen. We’ve been here before. The Dodgers were on the verge of being eliminated in the NLDS against Washington and won two elimination games in a row. They would have to win two more to advance, for a total of 4 elimination wins in a row. The 1981 Dodgers won 5 elimination games in their championship season. It’s certainly possible with Kershaw and Hill on the mound.
Something else to consider is the curse of the Chicago Cubs. If the Cubs are really a cursed team than somehow they will find a way to lose these next two games and the Dodgers will advance. I don’t know if that will happen and the odds are against it, but it could happen. Only three teams in MLB history have gone on to win the series after losing game 5 and being down 3-2 in the series. Are the Cubs actually cursed? We’re about to find out.
We’re also about to find out what the Dodgers are made of. If the Dodgers are going to get to the World Series it’s going to be on the backs of Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen and maybe with a little help from the billy goat.