Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Emotional, Moody Club

After four games of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers look more like the team that spent much of the first half of the season in or near last place than the one that won 42 out of 58 games, a streak that helped them breeze into first place to stay in the National League West.
The weaknesses of baseball's highest paid team have been exposed again--shaky defense, average to poor bench strength and lack of a reliable fourth and fifth starting pitcher.


add Dodgers: Obviously, losing shortstop Hanley Ramirez to a broken rib is a serious blow to the team's offense, especially against a team like the St. Louis Cardinals which has great pitching. And the Dodgers didn't expect Matt Kemp to be sidelined and Andre Either to be hobbled by an ankle injury. But this team's success has been sustained by an emotional high, generated mainly by first, the arrival, and then the play of outfielder Yasiel Puig.
So far in this series, the Dodgers have not hit a home run. In Game 2 of St. Louis, Puig struck out 4 times, and the emotional advantage that the Dodgers had for the first round went out like air out of a tire. Playing on emotion is fine as far as it goes, but in the playoffs the team that stays on an even keel for nine innings has the advantage, and that's why the Cardinals are ahead 3-1.


last add Dodgers: Some of Manager Don Mattingly's decisions have been questioned and critiqued in the print press and on television. On ESPN Tuesday night, Curt Schilling opined that Zack Grienke should have started Game 4 instead of Ricky Nolasco, even though Grienke would have been pitching on three days rest.
Others have made the same point, that in the past, pitchers  started games on three games rest all the time. Lew Burdette pitched three games in the 1957 World Series for the winning Milwaukee Braves. Mattingly chose Nolasco even though the right-hander was passed over in the divisional series against the Atlanta Braves, raising the question that if the Dodgers didn't want Nolasco to pitch then, why suddenly did they feel good with him to go with against the Cardinals?
The Dodgers are still in the NLCS, just barely, and it will be a longshot for them to win three straight.

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