COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers' magic number is 12. They have a 12-game lead in the National League West over the Arizona Diamondbacks with 23 games to play. This is a luxury foreign to this team in recent years, and manager Don Mattingly is taking full advantage of it.
In the last four games, Mattingly has taken the liberty of resting Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez (twice). The Dodgers' record in those games is 3-1. So, no claims of the Dodgers "tanking" games, as ESPN Radio 710 AM's Twitter feed suggested Sept. 5.
Mattingly is even going to have a chance to set up his rotation the way he wants for October. He's skipping Hyun-Jin Ryu's Sept. 6 start because the big man could use a break and the Dodgers will need him in a month.
For the first round of the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw will be the No. 1 guy with Zack Greinke backing him up. The No. 3 guy depends on matchups. If the Dodgers face a left-handed-heavy team, Ryu will likely get the call. If the team is right-handed-heavy, expect Ricky Nolasco to be the man. Either way, the Dodgers have some extremely good options going forward.
But the Dodgers aren't terribly concerned with capturing the best record in the National League and/or Major League Baseball. If it happens, it happens.
The Dodgers are 83-56 and don't necessarily need to have the best record in baseball going into the playoffs. In fact, the last time the team with the best record in the NL won the World Series was the Atlanta Braves in 1995. If you trust the data, it might be better for the Dodgers to not have the league's best record.
Mattingly is absolutely doing the right thing. Having the Dodgers' sluggers and hurlers ready for the playoffs is priority No. 1 at this point.
The Dodgers ran this lineup out Wednesday evening against the Colorado Rockies:
Jerry Hairston LF
Nick Punto 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Michael Young 1B
Scott Van Slyke RF
A.J. Ellis C
Juan Uribe 3B
Skip Schumaker CF
Edinson Volquez P
The most offensive part of that lineup is Volquez getting an ill-advised start in Colorado, but it's also a lineup with just three regulars. It's definitely a "house money" lineup, and the Dodgers almost won with it (lost 7-5). Expect to see a few more of these before the end of the month.
But while the Dodgers are at it, they could at least make things a little exciting with theses Quad-A lineups. Why not recall outfield prospect Joc Pederson and let him get a little major-league experience?
Pederson, 21, isn't on the 40-man roster, so a move would have to be made. I understand not wanting to start his service time and arbitration clock early, but Pederson probably doesn't have a long-term future in Los Angeles, and it has nothing to do with his ability. He's likely to repeat as the organization's minor-league player of the year for a second consecutive season.
It'd be nice to see Pederson don a Dodgers uniform and see him patrolling center field on the days Ethier gets off. It won't happen, but it'd be cool if it did.
But like I said, the Dodgers' primary concern is having their guys ready to go, and Mattingly will make sure that happens.
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
- Don Mattingly
- Hanley Ramirez