The Dodgers are sitting home resting and awaiting to see who they’ll play in the NLCS which begins on Saturday at 5:08 PM PST at Dodger Stadium. They’ll play either the Cubs or Nationals who wrap up their series tonight with a decisive game 5 in Washington. Side question: Who do you want to see the Dodgers play in the NLCS?
After their joyful sweep of the Dbacks in the NLDS, the Dodgers learned a few things about their pitching staff. We learned along with them. So here are a few lessons to ponder on as the division series round comes to a close.
Clayton Kershaw is human
As it turns out, Kershaw is not some invincible unstoppable pitching machine. He’s wonderful but he needs a little help from time to time much like the rest of mortal world. Dave Roberts had said before the NLDS started that Kershaw would not be pitching on short rest. Kershaw tossed 6.1 innings and gave up 4 home runs in the Dodger’s 9-5 game 1 win over Arizona. Three of those home runs were in the sixth inning or later and two were hit in the seventh inning. Here’s a telling stat; Kershaw’s postseason ERA in the seventh inning is 21.86. Kershaw will be fine, but the Dodgers will need to watch him carefully when he approaches that devil’s frame.
Pedro Baez can’t be trusted to pitch under pressure
Pedro Baez will most certainly be on the NLCS roster, but the Dodgers have finally figured out that he simply can’t be trusted to pitch in the postseason under pressure. Oh sure he can toss an inning or two in a mop-up role without problems, but can the Dodgers ever trust him again in the seventh or eighth innings when the game is on the line? The answer is definitely no.
The proof is in the numbers. Baez has appeared in 11 playoff games pitching 9.2 innings and has posted a 6.52 ERA. He’s given up 11 runs on nine hits and walked 7.He’s blown leads in almost every series over the last few years. The Dodgers stayed away from him in the NLDS. He didn’t appear once in the series as the Dodgers decided to go with a better mix of Brandon Morrow, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, and Kenta Maeda to set-up Kenley Jansen. You go with what works. Look for poor Pedro to ride the pine again in the NLCS. Speaking of Maeda…..
Kenta Maeda pitches better out of the bullpen then in the rotation
This is so obvious I’m surprised the Dodgers didn’t figure this out sooner. Maeda tossed two scoreless frames in the NLDS striking out 4. He looked dominant, and I would love to see him continue in his new role as seventh or eighth inning set-up guy. With Maeda, Morrow, Fields, and the rest of the guys, the Dodgers have a strong bullpen. There’s no reason to push Kershaw when you have such a dominant group of relievers.
The Dodgers quest for the pennant begins on Saturday.