The Dodgers Won their 100th game of the season on Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over the Dbacks at Chase Field in Arizona. Despite being 44 games above .500 and having the second best record in baseball the Dodgers are not going to win the NL West this year. With six games left to play the Dodgers remain two games behind the Giants and even the most ardent delusional fans now have to admit that the Dodgers are going to play the red-hot Cardinals in the NL Wild Card game. The Dodgers are very good, but management hopefully learned valuable lessons this year in several areas.
If the Dodgers take away anything this year, it’s three things that management should remember as they prepare for the Wild Card game. No more load management. Make sure you have enough healthy starters and build a better minor league roster.
- Stop scheduling off days
Just three games into the season the Dodgers had already scheduled off days for some of their best hitters. Guys like Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger were purposely penciled out of the lineup for no reason. The Dodgers had already made the decision during spring training that they were going to give their regulars scheduled off days throughout the season. The thought process was that this would help prevent injuries and keep them fresh during a long season.
Unfortunately baseball doesn’t work this way. You can’t schedule baseball games. It didn’t keep players off the injured list (the Dodgers were plagued with injuries in 2021) and all it did was doom the Dodgers to lackluster lineups with guys like Zach Mckinstry, Luke Raley and Sheldon Neuse wasting important at-bats. Every baseball team has about 20 scheduled days off during the regular season. Don’t get this twisted. I understand players do get tired, or hurt and need a day off every once in a while. 1 or 2 days off every month is reasonable, but the Dodgers took this way too far. Stop doing this.
- Put a premium on starting pitching
Another reason the Dodgers are playing in the wild card game instead of winning the division was because they didn’t place enough importance on having enough healthy starting pitchers. They thought they could get away with having just Tony Gonsolin and an occasional start from David Price as depth. Then Clayton Kershaw got hurt. Then Trevor Bauer went crazy, and Dustin May got hurt, Julio Urias got hurt, and they were left with just two starting pitchers for a good chunk of the season. It was obscene. They did multiple bullpen games nearly every week. They had no idea who was pitching from inning to inning let alone game to game. Bullpen games are extremely poor strategies. Even if you have a good bullpen, the heavy workload put on them effects availability. It was no surprise when multiple relievers were dropping like flies. Starting pitching is the name of the game folks. This will never change.
- Too many minor league retreads
Another problem was that almost every minor leaguer called up was horrible. The Dodgers didn’t build a good farm system this year, and because of the injuries had to rely on below replacement level players and reclamation projects claimed off waivers. Guys like Luke Raley, Zach Mckinstry, Sheldon Neuse, Steven Souza Jr. Evan Phillips, Andy Burns, Zach Reks, Edwin Uceta, and Darien Nunez all sucked this year. Those guys don’t even tell the entire story of the incredible amount of Minor league bums the Dodgers used this season. Lesson learned for them, build better minor league rosters, and make sure you have at least a few respectable players you can call up from the farm system.
Despite all of this the Dodgers still won 100 games in 2021. It’s a testament to the core talent this squad has. Yet if you take a closer look at the Giants, you’ll see the difference. The Giants had five healthy starters almost the entire season and rarely employed bullpen games, and only when they absolutely had to. The Giants have a strong farm system, most of their minor leaguers contributed and were productive. The Giants did not do much load management this year putting their best lineups on the field, and when they did rest guys, it was more because of injuries and less due to scheduled rest. If the Dodgers lose the Wild Card game, they can look back to all of these stupid strategies as contributing factors.
4 thoughts on “Dodgers Win 100th Game, But Learn Valuable Lessons This Season”
Agree, Scott. Have to stop the scheduled rest days, especially during the last couple of months of the season. It is ridiculous to rest 3 key starters on the same day, and call up the taxi squad of AAA wanna’ be’s. If they do not make it past the Wild Card, then what have they accomplished by resting players?
Also, they should stop the damn bullpen games, and assign a legit 4th and 5th starter… anyone from their pitchers pool. Just give them the job and run with it. As soon as Kershaw and Gonsolin went down, they should have immediately shopped for replacements, instead of being overly optimistic that they would come back strong.
Find a lineup that works, and stick with it. There was one stretch where they one like 8 in a row, and DR basically had the same lineup every night. As soon as he shuffled the lineup, they started losing.
The days of the glass half full attitude are long gone. Kershaw and Gonsolin are unstable, and Buehler has been struggling. They have been running on glass half empty for quite some time now. It is time for them to go all in now. No more excuses.
Well, it looks inevitable that the Dodgers will have to play the Cards in a Wild card playoff. If only these brain farts by DR could only have been avoided, the Dodgers would be the #1 seed in October. It is obvious that injuries played a roll in many losses, but there is no excuse for these dumb moves by DR, that led to costly Dodger loses.
1) The decision to pass on the possibility to sweep a series, and instead play a AAA lineup and be content with a series win.
2) The decision to schedule rest for his stars, sometime resting two or three in the same game.
3) The decision to play down to to the bottom feeders and post an inferior lineup, instead of going for the jugular.
4) The decision to stick with Jansen in several key save situations, even though Kenley was in a deadly spiral. 5 blown saves, including 3 in a row…. One to the lowly Rockies, and then followed by two humiliating blown saves to the Gnats.
5) The failure to groom starters to go deep in games, yanking them early and expending all the bullets in the bullpen. Starters tend to run out of gas by the 4th-5th inning, or after 80 pitches.
6) The failure to groom a backup 5th or 6th starter in the minors. This became critical when May, Gonsolin, and Kershaw went down this year, forcing DR to resort to too many bullpen games by an abused and overused bullpen.
7) In the process of trying to “optimize” his roster, DR shuffled players to different positions, leading to shabby defense. Players playing out of their normal positions.
8) Instead of establishing a consistent, steady lineup, DR continued to spin the bottle and shuffle the lineup.
9) DR stuck with a slumping Bellinger too long, instead of sending him down to work things out, and clean up his act (nice haircut, right?)
Just one or two games is all they needed to avoid a one game NL West playoff, or dreaded Wild Card matchup with the red hot Cards. You heard me…. I stressed the importance of all the inexcusable losses all season long. Dodger fans and DR just shrugged them off. I hate to say I told you so, but do you believe me now?
Post Season is going to be a wild ride. Aside of Urias, Buehler, and Scherzer starting pitching will be key. Kershaw, Gonsolin, and Price do not appear to be ready for the playoffs. Oh yeah, Scherzer will be wasted in game 163 or the Wild Card, meaning they will only have two strong arms for the divisional series. Offense showed some spunk against the bewildered Padres. HR’s are exciting, but can they hit with RISP? Only time will tell.
Hang on to you Dodger Caps and Dodger Blue shades, Dodger Fans. It may be a short post season for us all.
Well, Kershaw took the ball. He knows he may need career ending elbow surgery. Chances of returning after surgery are slim due to his age. His contract year in free agency have disappeared too. Why team doctors had not seen this earlier and shut him down are beyond me. Instead, they fed the team and fans on a false hope that Kershaw was coming back strong for October run.
Now, it is too late to find a replacement. No farmhands are fully groomed to assume a starter role. Now, the Dodgers are down to just three starters and a shaky Gonsolin. No way they can survive a playoff series.
Things are not getting better. A repeat seems impossible at this point.
Valuable lessons indeed!
106 wins means squat. All comes down to one game against the red hot Cards, just to survive and make it to the NLDS vs. the hated ones.
The Dodgers were definitely caught with their baseball pants down to their cleats. If they only played every game with pride, integrity, and intensity, they would not bee in this position. I repeat, just one or two more wins was all they needed to avoid a one game playoff to stay alive in October. Instead of taking care of their own business, they chose to depend on other teams to beat the Gnats. It is almost certain that the Pads decided to roll over and play dead in game 162 against the Gnats, choosing to revert to a meaningless bullpen game. Instead of taking advantage of games vs. the bottom feeders,, the Dodgers chose to take them for granted lowered their guard. Instead of working to manufacture runs, the Dodgers chose launch angle and HR’s over productive hitting, leading to a very pathetic number of RISP. All this did was subject them to disappointing one run and extra inning loses. Just one or two more wins, in all they needed. Sad, but true.
If the Dodgers had clinched the NL West, maybe they would not have played Max in the final game. Now we may have lost Max for the entire playoffs. The biggest disappointment was the loss of Kershaw. This was a thorn in the side of an already questionable starting rotation, which will now have to rely on a bullpen game, with only 3 viable starters able to respectfully command the bump. Instead of relying on false hope and bullpen games, that Kershaw could be 100% by October, the Dodgers should have obtained, or groomed a pitcher to take his spot in the starting rotation. The acquisition of Scherzer may have been a little too late. As soon as Dustin May went down, the search for a viable replacement should have commenced, but Friedman chose to dumpster dive, and he came up with several dead mackerels and lame duckin the process.
The only hope is that the offense can give some run support and help their pitchers out for a change. Take command of the game early, and put their opponents on their heels from the start.