COMMENTARY | Games like the Los Angeles Dodgers' 8-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 25 are going to happen. The Dodgers couldn't possibly continue to play .800 baseball for the rest of the season (even if it seemed like they could, at times).
They're 46-12 in their last 58 games, good for a .793 winning percentage. Not .800 baseball, but also not realistically sustainable, either.
"I think it's a good little lesson for us because if we're going to be fortunate enough to do anything or get anywhere, that's the kind of pitching you're going to see," Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. "You're going to see teams with game plans and veteran pitching that knows what they're doing."
He's right. Come October, the Dodgers will face those kinds of pitchers seemingly every night. As the cliche goes, good pitching always beats good hitting, but the good hitting has to show up sometimes against the good pitching -- and it has.
The Dodgers have beaten the likes of Matt Harvey (twice), Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee (twice), Adam Wainwright and Jordan Zimmerman (to name a few) this season, all pitchers capable of throwing eight scoreless innings in a playoff start.
Peavy, who has essentially owned the Dodgers in his career, was masterful last night, allowing just a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez.
Now, the Red Sox didn't have to face Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke in this series, so let's stop the "World Series preview" talk right now. But the offense faced the Red Sox's three best pitchers in John Lackey, Jon Lester and Peavy. Things would likely have been different if Kershaw and/or Greinke had pitched, but they didn't. When that happens, the onus is on the offense to step it up.
Gonzalez, the Mattingly-proclaimed team MVP, has stepped his game up a bit by hitting .317/.349/.488 in his last 10 games. But he's been about the only guy hitting of late. Andre Ethier is hitting .313/.389/.531 in his last 10. That's the Ethier L.A. fell in love with. Too bad he's not around more often.
Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig couldn't be expected to hit .370-plus the rest of the season -- not because they don't have the ability to do so, but because it's hard to do. In their last 10 games, Ramirez is hitting .237/.293/.474 and Puig is "hitting" .167/.200/.310. Yet, both hit eventual game-winning home runs in the last 10 games -- go figure.
Just as Ramirez and Puig start regressing closer to the mean, the Dodgers could get Matt Kemp back to give the offense a spark.
Kemp could go on a minor-league rehab assignment this week. If so, he'll be back in early September after rosters expand. If Kemp is anything like he was in his last 11 games (which, sadly, spans almost a month), the Dodgers could be sitting pretty.
From June 25 to July 21 (11 games, 10 starts), Kemp hit .324/.390/.622 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored and four walks. He was the Kemp of old, and he'll find his way back into the starting lineup (likely at the expense of Ethier).
When fully healthy, it's hard to find a better 2-3-4-5 than Puig-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Kemp (I assume that'd be the lineup). That doesn't even include Carl Crawford, who's having a very Carl Crawford season; A.J. Ellis, who isn't having an A.J. Ellis season; and Mark Ellis, who's been moderately decent at second base. Oh, and Ethier is warming the bench waiting for his name to be penciled in at DH come mid-to-late October.
The Dodgers have the bats to take on good pitching in the playoffs. It's a matter of being healthy and clicking at the right time. All their hitters aren't going to be on all the time. If so, they'd score 10 to 12 runs per game. But it just takes two guys in the middle of the order to carry a team, as Ramirez and Puig displayed for two-plus months.
The Dodgers will likely go only as far as their pitching carries them. With Kershaw and Greinke, it's hard to see them not going far. But on the days Hyun-Jin Ryu and/or Ricky Nolasco (who was masterful against the Red Sox on Aug. 23) pitch, the offense might need to be on its game a little more than usual.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Red Sox
- Don Mattingly