Dodgers Postseason Breakdown: NLDS vs St Louis

1403926686006-USATSI-7971516  It’s set. The Dodgers will face the NL Central Division Champs St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. This will be the Dodgers 2nd straight postseason and once again will enter as NL West Division champions which is something they haven’t done since 2008 and 2009 seasons. It wasn’t easy and it was indeed a stressful road but come a week before the All-Star break and some the Dodgers manage to climb back into the NL West and take back the lead. You can say that this regular season was indeed a memorable one but now we move into the Postseason things will go up a notch. Dodgers will get the luxury of getting the first two games in the NLDS at home which can play a good part for certain teams. In the Dodgers case starting Game 1 and 2 at home would help the Dodgers because it’s pitcher friendly. Another thing that make the NLDS very interesting is that it is a rematch of last years NLCS which is against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dodgers fell to St Louis in the NLCS in 6 games which saw mismanagement,  errors, and lack of run productions from the Dodgers. Let’s also not forget Hanley Ramirez ribs being broken after getting hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly which really hampered his production in that series. This year Dodgers won the season series 4-3 and the games were indeed close outside of the 6-0 Dodger victory back on June 29th. Dodgers are playing some pretty good baseball going into the Postseason and you always want your team going. What are some key factors towards a Dodgers series win? Let’s go ahead and look into it.

Starting Pitching: Both the Dodgers and Cardinals have solid starting rotations. Both have dominant Aces (Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Cardinals Adam Wainwright) and solid pitchers behind them. Looking at the Dodgers rotation Kershaw and Greinke speaks volumes for themselves but when you go into the rest of the starters then that’s where things start becoming a question mark. Hyun Jin Ryu is coming off an injury that hampered him in the 9-0 loss in San Francisco and hasn’t really pitched since then. Dan Haren on the other hand has been pretty up and down but during the last two months of the season Haren has really put it together. St Louis on the other hand has Wainwright who has had an outstanding season going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA this season. Another pitcher who really has been flying under the radar is Lance Lynn.  Though he went 15-10 he posted a solid 2.74 ERA. Between the two teams the Dodgers statistically have a better rotation than St Louis but when it comes to postseason the Cardinals always seem to put it together pitching wise. What it’ll come down to for Los Angeles is solid games from their starters. We know Kershaw and Greinke tend to have solid games when locked in but from then on it’ll come down to Ryu and Haren who will most likely go games 3-4 in St. Louis. Both Ry and Haren really haven’t had much success against the Red Birds and with them going into Busch Stadium where it’ll be humid and the ball flies around a lot then it’ll be really interesting to see. St Louis on the other hand they’ll have to take advantage of Dodger Stadium being a pitchers park as well and keep the Dodger bats quiet for 5-6 innings. It’s a mystery on who will be starting game 2 but we do know Wainwright will take the task on putting the Cardinals in position to win a game in Los Angeles.

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Matt Kemp bat has come around at just the right time but can he keep it up in the Postseason?

Bullpen: The Dodgers and Cardinals pen has been less than impressive this season and is a huge question mark coming into the postseason. The Dodgers bullpen has really been up and down the whole season ending with an ERA of 3.80 (12th in the NL). Guys like Brian Wilson, who was lights out last season, has really struggled this season and really haven’t  gotten much from Chris Perez or Jamie Wright. There are some bright spots for the pen however. Brandon League hasn’t really been adding fuel to the fire and rookies like Pedro Baez has stepped up. Now the Dodgers will have to figure out what pitchers they will use for the NLDS. Last year Mattingly went against the grain by stacking then pen with power throwers opposed to going with left handed pitchers which St Louis struggled batting against. St Louis bullpen has also been up and down fairing no better a little better than the Dodgers. The Cardinals have done some moving around as well as trading to acquire some pieces to improve the pen. Opposing batters are batting .240 against the Cardinals bullpen, which is an average higher than their NLDS opponents (Dodgers pen allowing a .239 BA). Pat Neshek has really been lights out pitching a 1.87 ERA coming out the pen and Trevor Rosenthal is no pushover as well when it comes to closing games but the rest of the pen has been shaky at best. It’ll come down to who’s bullpen can hold the lead come late innings. Dodgers have yet to really do that in close games on a consistent basis especially Jansen who has been up and down all season as well. If Mattingly can manage the Bullpen correctly and effectively than the Dodgers may turn a weak point into something effective.

Batting: This is where things really get interesting. Dodgers and St Louis are known to have a pretty good offense and coming into this series I expect nothing different. Looking at Los Angeles offense they can be really exciting or really frustrating to watch. Dodgers during the regular season batted .265 which was 2nd in the NL and out of the NL teams in the Postseason is one of the best. You look at guys like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Juan Uribe that are really hitting the ball coming into the Postseason but now you have Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, and Carl Crawford hitting and lets not forget that the Bench has been hitting as well. (Scott Van Slyke- .297, Darwin Barney .303, Justin Turner .340) Dodgers batting all over has been pretty deadly coming into the postseason. Even as a team they’re hitting with runners in scoring position (.289 1st in the NL) which sums up their 4.4 runs per game stat. Now the Dodgers kryptonite has been hitting with bases loaded where the Dodgers bat a lousy .191 and has yet to hit a grand slam. One thing for sure is that the Dodgers going into the Postseason are really hitting the ball and scoring some runs big time. The Cardinals are also a dangerous team with the bat and will strike when least expected especially in October. This season hasn’t really been as impressive with them hitting .253 coming into the Postseason which is middle of the road. Guys like Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Matt Adams are dangerous hitters and can really hurt you at anytime. Coming into the Postseason the Cardinals hitters has really struggled. Key guys like Adams and Carpenter have seen their numbers go down and Molina hasn’t been hitting well since returning from injury as well. Their two rookies Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong bats are nowhere to be seen and coming into the Postseason that’s never a good thing especially for rookies. Both are going to get challenged by pretty good pitching staffs. Right now the Dodgers are getting hot with their bats at the perfect time. During the 7 regular season games the Dodgers batted .261 against St Louis pitching while the Cardinals batted .214 vs Los Angeles pitching. One thing the Dodgers have to do is not fall into their bad habits batting and play smart baseball in order to make life tough for St Louis and grab early runs to get to the bullpen. St Louis has to do the same as well and we all know what the Cardinals are capable of doing in October.

Los Angeles Key Factor To Win The Series:  The Dodgers key factor towards winning the series rest on the hands of their defense. I say this because the Dodgers have the 2nd most errors in the National League at 109. When you play a team like the Cardinals you really have to be on it defensively and can’t afford to have missed opportunities to get out the inning or take you out the game.  Guys like Hanley and Dee will have to really bring their gloves for this series and not throw the ball away. Last season the Dodgers committed a good set of errors where it allowed the Cardinals to get away with close victories. Catchers like AJ Ellis and Drew Butera will really have to keep pitches that go into the dirt in front of them. Any balls that go past them will hurt against St Louis.

St. Louis Key Factor To Win The Series: The Cardinals key factor towards winning will been their pitching. With their bats struggling coming into the Postseason their pitching will have to keep the Red Birds in prime position to win games. Cardinals will send Adam Wainwright out to the mound for game one but as mentioned earlier who pitches game two is a mystery but not really a problem. St. Louis can go with Lance Lynn who’s been pretty solid this season, John Lackey who is 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA in the Postseason and won a World Series with Boston last season, or go with Shelby Miller who is also a very solid pitcher and they still have Michael Wacha who came out of no where and really put it to the Dodgers last Post Season. One way or another St. Louis Starting rotation will have the task of keeping the Dodgers bat quiet and in order for St Louis to put L.A. on it’s heels they’ll have to have quality starts.

Overall and Prediction: This is going to be a compelling series between the two teams. St Louis has history to turn things around in the Postseason but the Dodgers are playing some very good baseball at just the right time. Los Angeles hasn’t forgotten last years NCLS against the Cardinals and that Game 6 in St. Louis. Right now I guess you can say the Dodgers are catching St. Louis at just the right time this season. The Cardinals are below .500 on the road and last time their bats have not been stellar in the 2nd half of the season. If the Cardinals want to win the series they’ll have to steal a game in Los Angeles and best way to really stun the Dodgers is taking one against Clayton Kershaw in game one. On the Dodgers end they’ll have to take advantage of their good play and get stellar outings from their pitchers. They also have to get to Wainwright early and often which means keeping up their stellar hitting and get some runs. I think this series comes down to pitching and who can steal a game on the road. I can see this going 5 games and coming down to Wainwright and Kershaw once again but I think the Dodgers are getting things going at just the right time and the Dodgers tend to play pretty well on the road as well. Dodgers in 4 Games.

 

Westcoast Rivals Battle for NL West

LA_SF  This weekend a crucial series that will swing momentum in the NL West. For a whole season the division has been Dodgers/Giants and it has been a pretty interesting one. 1st half of the season the Giants had a lead as large as 9.5 games over the Dodgers where many were saying the race was over but by All-Star break the Dodgers managed to overtake first place in the NL West and in the lone series after the break the Dodgers swept the Giants in San Francisco in impressive fashion. This month the Dodgers and Giants will play 6 more times which pretty much will decide the NL West. With the margin close momentum can swing either way which likely sets up a series for the NL West in Los Angeles with the teams best 3 pitchers facing off.

The Dodgers come into the series leading by two games over the Giants and winning 5 of their last 6 games. They also have Greinke, Ryu, and Kershaw lined up to pitch against the Giants as well. You can say the Dodgers pitching wise are in a position to win the series an extend the lead in the division but the Dodgers batting has been what you can say a hit or miss. The Giants on the other hand come in playing what you can say their best baseball since the second half of the season. Los Angeles has their sights on more than the division, They’re thinking World Series and taking 2 of 3 from the Giants in San Francisco will be a huge boost to themselves. In order for the Dodgers to take the series they must help out the pitching staff and need key players to really step up and help. Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez have gone cold with their bats and at a very important part of the season. Dodgers will need for both players to snap out of their cold streak and contribute t make their line up that much more deadly. The Giants pitching staff is also nothing to sleep on so the Dodgers bats have to show up for this series. Both teams have a lot at steak here and this series means much much more than just the division. It’ll be interesting how the last 6 games against one another turnout. 2 games is all the separates the two and the outcome can be so many things. We could see the lead extended by the Dodgers, The Giants take the lead in the division, or a tie. One way or another this will be very interesting. You can expect these games to be played as if it’s a Playoff Series.

September Stretch

adrian-gonzalez-zn  Baseball fans, We have reached the last month of regular season baseball. This is where teams in Division and Wild Card races have their last shot at gaining postseason positioning and where Division leaders have the shot at clinching. This is the month that will make or break a team. The Dodgers right now find themselves up 2.5 games ahead their rivals the San Francisco Giants due to the Giants catching fire and the Dodgers dropping 2 of 3 to the Padres. Los Angeles missed out on some key times to really push the lead a few times, hit with key injuries, Slumps from Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig as well as offensive woes (Swinging at the first pitch), and Bullpen issues. Dodgers ended August by salvaging a game and avoiding the sweep against the Padres in San Diego thanks to a huge inning in the 8th and Hyun Jin Ryu coming off the DL dealing. A win like that can help the Dodgers gain some momentum heading into this month.

September will be a very very crucial month for Los Angeles. They start off with a Washington Nationals team that have been playing some really good as of late and that is never an easy series. Now a Even bigger thing here that needs to be looked at is the remaining two series with the Giants. The Giants have been on fire the last few games and capitalized off the Dodgers mishaps. Those two series will be the most important ones in the NL West and from the looks of it Postseason positioning as well. Right now coming into September the Dodgers have a lot of questions that need to be answered and fast. With the top of the order not producing, Offense going cold a bad times and the Bullpen being shaky and questionable Managing the Dodgers have to figure out a few things. I always usually say that one game can really make a difference and I hope yesterday and tonight are the ones that can spring Los Angeles forward. Not only is this a huge and crucial stretch for the Dodgers but it’s also the time where the roster expands from 25 to 40 which means the Dodgers will see Alex Guerrero, Yimi Garcia, and Joc Pedersen. This can be their shot to make an impact in a tight and heated division race. So not only will we see a heated and tight divisional race but we’ll get to see some top prospects in action.

The Dodgers have to not beat themselves and worry about a San Francisco team that has found it’s stride. If the Dodgers want the NL West then they have to get it together and right now. This week the Dodgers have a Nationals team that’s really been playing really well. Pitchers outside of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu have to get it in order, the offense has to hit with runners in scoring position, and the Bullpen has to help keep the team in  the game. At this point Dodgers have to really want to win or risk being way behind in the NL West and possibly be sitting at home come October. Someone in the clubhouse have to get these guys going. Earlier in the season I mentioned the lack of leadership in the clubhouse and how that can affect the team. This is the time where someone in the clubhouse start to speak up because it don’t seem like they are right now. Then again we can only speak from the outside. All I can say is that this will be a wild ride so be ready for it.

Goodbye Albuquerque and Hello Oklahoma City?

Isotopes Could the Dodgers be parting with the Isotopes after the 2014 season? Well according to a report from The Oklahoman the Dodgers will likely purchase the Oklahoma City RedHawks which will make them their Triple A affiliate in 2015. After news of this broke yesterday many people started to wonder what will this mean and if this will be a good move? Well the Albuquerque Isotopes PDC (Player Development Contract) will be up in mid September and the agreement will be up at the end of the 2014 season as all the Dodgers current Minor League Affiliates. Right now both the Dodgers Player Development and Isotopes Managing partners are saying that it’s just a rumor right now and that noting have been discussed internally but you have to think once the 2014 season is up something is going to change in the Minor League System.

   Albuquerque have been apart of the Dodgers organization for 38 years until the Dodgers partnered with Las Vegas in 01. So it won’t be the first time the Dodgers left. If Oklahoma City do become the Triple A affiliate of the Dodgers you have to think it’ll have to do with player development. In Albuquerque the elevation usually leads to inflated numbers and it’s hard to really get an accurate scout on players out there. To me I always believe that the Dodgers making the switch from the Isotopes would really benefit Player scouting and the players as well. Oklahoma City can be humid at night during the spring so the ball can carry more but not like Albuquerque. Now I’m not trashing Albuquerque at all because they have been great to the Dodgers over the years. Always enjoyed hearing about them and if the Dodgers do part with the Isotopes then I wish the Topes the best.

  Oklahoma City in my opinion is the best option for player development on the Dodgers part and a pretty decent baseball city that many Dodger fans will enjoy if they make a trip out there. While Albuquerque is closer to Los Angeles (Not by much really) Oklahoma City is a better place to catch a ball game as well as see the city too. Nothing has been set in stone just yet as this is all speculation for the most part so anything can indeed happen between now and then.

Joc Pederson: Is It Time To Call Him Up?

Joc+Pederson+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+v+Texas+Rangers+WWynS0L0LKol  This season the Dodgers outfield situation has been a rather interesting one. First there was the question of how would Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford would handle the whole platooning situation and if one of them would be traded. Then came the Center Fielding issues where Kemp was moved to Left Field then the drama between Kemp and the Dodgers where he was moved to Right Field and played really well as well as Puig being moved to Center Field where he has been playing pretty great as well. Let’s not forget about Scott Van Slyke holding his own where he’s getting some pretty good playing time and Andre Ethier apparently preparing to get playing time at 1st Base. If you managed to some how follow the cliff notes version of this whole thing then congratulations. While all of that was going on there’s one player that is currently in the Dodgers farm system making a case for himself and that player is Joc Pederson.

While the Dodgers have been playing musical outfielders (Now between Crawford/Ethier/Van Slyke) Pederson have been helping the Albuquerque Isotopes by tearing up the Pacific Coast League and putting up outstanding numbers.  In 103 Games Pederson has bat .303 with 26 HR/62 RBI’s/26 Stolen Bases which is really impressive. Joc has been so impressive that Don Mattingly has gone on to say that Pederson is one of the best Outfielders in the Dodgers organization. Joc’s name has been thrown around in some trade rumors and offers but the Dodgers have been very reluctant to trade him or any elite prospects. So seeing Joc will stay a Dodger for the foreseeable future come’s this question that many have been asking. When will the Dodgers bring Pederson up?

There was a time where the Dodgers were very close to calling up Pederson over Puig when the two were in Double A Chattanooga but the Dodgers ultimately went with Puig and well the rest was history. Pederson right now is indeed Major League ready and has the potential to be a great player. While he may not have the same spark as Puig did when he came up, He can have a good effect on the Dodgers and at a time where the pennant races are heating up. I think he can put up pretty good numbers in the Majors as well. So what’s the problem with bringing him up? Well there’s a few things that’s stopping that from happening with One is being the 40 man roster. While Joc did play a handful of games with the Dodgers during Spring Training he is currently not on the 40 man roster and in order for him to be called up the Dodgers would have to release someone and place Joc on there. Whether the Dodgers do it or not before September call up’s will remain to be seen at this moment.  Another issue being the crowded outfield situation that I mentioned earlier. Joc is indeed  affected by that log jam in the Outfield which isn’t freeing up anytime soon. With Puig finding a new place in Center Field and Matt Kemp finding new life in right that leaves Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Unless one of the two get traded or anything I don’t Joc coming up anytime this season. Let’s not forget Scott Van Slyke is there but he’s better suited as a bat off the bench for the Dodgers. It was said before that Pederson would be a victim of a crowded Outfield and very much so. It seems like every day we see an update on him hitting a home run or just destroying it in Triple A and wonder “What is taking so long?”.

It’ll be a matter of time until Joc Pederson is in a Dodgers uniform but until there’s room to place him on the 40 man roster he’ll continue to put up great numbers down in Triple A. I think the Dodgers can make room to put him on the 40 man roster and call him up in September to get him some Major League at bats. While Center and Right field are locked up he can make a place for himself in Left Field. With Crawford and Ethier struggling this season with the bat and Van Slyke not really a real defensive option it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give Pederson a try. Someone with such talent can’t be left down in the Minors for long but as long as Ethier and Crawford are there and the 40 Man Roster currently full then Joc will continue to be down there….At least for this season.

I-5 Bias: 2014 Freeway Series

i-5-bias-blog-medium  That’s right! It’s about that time we show a little bias. Tonight is the start of the yearly meeting between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels which we dub “The Freeway Series”. Some houses will be divided and friends will be foes when these two teams clash for 4 games. This also means something very special and that’s the return of I-5 Bias! Incase you’re knew to this or forgot about us then here’s how it works. A series of questions are answered in regards to the Dodgers and Angels as well as other baseball related topics about the two. Now I know you’re wondering who’s behind the Angels side of things? A good friend of the blog Kristen, who is a die hard Angels fan and runs a great blog This is a very simple game and I chat to talk Angels and Dodgers baseball and bring it to out blogs for you the readers to view. Today’s edition we talk about The Dodgers and Angels stellar play, Freeway Series, The West Coast Attention in Baseball, the Dodgers TV issue and Predict This week’s Freeway Series. If you have any questions that you want to ask us then please feel free to ask as we accept All Questions. So without further or due I bring to you. I-5 Bias!

 

 

The Angels and Dodgers both find themselves as strong playoff contenders in heated division races that are likely to come down to the wire. What has impressed you about both squads this season? What do you think of their chances in the postseason?

Matt: Well with the Dodgers I would have to say what impressed me about them is their starting pitching rotation. Having Kershaw Greinke and Ryu pitching is dangerous and always set the Dodgers up to win but now you have (Had) Beckett when he’s on it. The offensive serge that the Dodgers are on is really helping them as well. Even though the Dodgers got off to a really slow start it seems like they’re starting to find their groove and at the right time too. After sweeping the Giants and Braves they’re making it known that they are starting to get their groove and when they’re on a role then they’re a very dangerous team.

As far as the Angels I think they finally have their complete game finally figured out. They’re absolutely deadly with their bats and they managed to make some moves to improve their bullpen especially with the addition of Hudson Street, Joe Thatcher, and Jason Grilli. What impressed me more is how Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Erick Aybar are hitting with Mike Trout as well as the impressive play of Kole Calhoun. I think they’ve finally made themselves known as a legit World Series Contender.

Kristen: The Angels offense makes me giddy. They’ve been so hit and miss – pun most assuredly intended – these last few seasons, especially for having so much potential. But this season? Wow!! And it isn’t just the usual suspects – of course Mike Trout, etc., have been impressive, but so have Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun and Erick Aybar. It’s nice to feel spoiled with hitting again. The starting rotation is not as impressive as it’s been in years past, but they’re getting it done and I am impressed with the way Garrett Richards has really come into his own this year. But even more than all of that, I love the guys’ fight. Walk off wins, come from behind wins and, yes, plenty of decisive wins as well – this season it feels like the Angels have the fight and the drive to pull a win from just about anything.

I know there’s been some scoffing about the Angels chances in the postseason because the team doesn’t have the world beating pitching they’ve had in years past and, “as everyone knows” pitching wins championships. But, I have to say, the pitching is getting it done and in that scenario I actually think that the ability to fight for the win in close games is at least as important. And if you’ve ever followed this blog, you know that’s about as far as I will ever go in terms of making postseason predictions. I feel like there really is something to the old cliché about taking them one game at a time and, also, perhaps there’s a bit of superstition there for me as well.

As for the Dodgers, oddly enough I feel like I don’t know much about the team this season other than their strong record, and obvious highlights like Kershaw and Beckett’s no-hitters. In a normal season, Seth and I tune in to other games before each Angels game starts and after it finishes, frequently the Dodgers, although other AL West games feature highly as well. With nary a borrowed-from-the-original-minor-league-Angels LA logo in sight on TV most nights, I haven’t been able to follow the team.

 

August is unusually late in the season for the Freeway Series – normally we’re writing this column in June! What are your feelings on Interleague match ups this late in the season, just as the postseason races are really heating up?

Kristen: When the new schedule debuted, I thought I would hate having interleague play throughout the season, but as it turns out I don’t mind it. As long as we have interleague play – and I am one of the oddballs that actually looks forward to these unusual matchups, a baseball DC/Marvel crossover comic if you will – when we have it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in the way the teams perform. And here’s the thing, even before the current interleague format, September wasn’t strictly reserved for divisional play anyway and, depending on how the season goes, and doubly so the moment the wild card came into play, it isn’t a given that the most exciting end of season games will be divisional games. As for the Freeway Series, specifically, happening in August? I think this is the best Freeway matchup we SoCal baseball fans have seen in years and, to me, having the games mean so much on top of it just makes it feel like one of those series I’m going to wind up describing as a privilege to watch. What’s the downside?

Matt: It’s really interesting but at the same time out of place. We’re usually seeing interleague teams as early as late May and now it’s all over the place. How ever I do believe with rivalries like the Freeway series being this late in the season it put more at steak. Right now you have two teams in the southland and down the I-5 from each other battling for their division and this game will have a lot on the line in terms of Postseason positioning. If you had a game like for example the Tigers against the Cardinals at this point of the season and both teams were in division races then the causal baseball/Sports fan would be attracted to this. At the same time it takes away the meaning of planning your summer seeing teams from the other league that you usually don’t see as much so I guess you can say I have mixed feeling about it. It has it’s positives and negatives.

 

What key players/match ups should fans watch for in this year’s Freeway Series?

Matt: Well as far as key players for the Dodgers (Not Named Yasiel Puig haha) one would have to be Matt Kemp. Kemp has been on an absolute tear as of late with the bat since the “drama” towards the trade deadline. Kemp been hampered with injuries left and right and I think he’s starting to come around now (.386 BA Post All-Star break). Another key player to keep an eye on for Los Angeles Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu, Who is predicted to be in the rotation during the series, is one of those pitchers where they give up a lot of hits but once he’s locked in then he’s on it. Why I have Ryu up here as a key player? Because as of last season (Rookie season) the Angels are batting .065 against him and if he can repeat his performance from their last meeting then it could be a long night for Anaheim. As far as Match-ups It would have to be the Dodgers starting pitching rotation against the Angels line-up. Monday and Tuesday being Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw this will be the first time the Angels see the two Post All-star break and with the game at Dodger Stadium (NL Park) it’ll be very interesting to see what line-up Scioscia puts out there. Then comes the games at Angels Stadium and the DH in effect you’ll have the struggling Dan Haren and Hyun Jin Ryu facing the Angels with their dangerous offense. I think that’ll be the key because you have one of Baseball’s best offenses in the Angels taking on one of baseball’s best pitching rotation in the Dodgers.

Kristen: Well, there’s this young kid called Mike Trout, and I understand he’s pretty fun to watch. ;) I know, I know. Dodgers fans – and everyone else! – are already well aware. But you may not be as aware of the combination of Trout and Calhoun. They’re brilliant together in the outfield and a blast – often quit literally – to watch hit back to back in the lineup. I realize that my defensive bias is showing a bit here – this chick thinks homeruns are very nice indeed, but what she really digs is a perfectly executed 4-6-3 – but I will never tire of watching the fielding combination of Aybar, Kendrick and Albert Pujols. As for pitching matchups, I am most excited about Richards vs. Zack Greinke at the first game.

 

As you are probably aware, Time Warner and a number of cable providers are currently in a huge standoff over SportsNet LA, which controls the Dodgers’ TV rights, with the result that 70% of the Los Angeles Market is without Dodger games. As baseball fans and sports fans what are your thoughts on this issue and is this becoming a growing issue in sports television?

Kristen: As a fan of the game, this is such utter bullshit. I don’t usually swear on this blog, but let’s call a spade a spade. And, yes, I do see this as a growing problem in sports, not just in this sport. I think it really comes down to a question of what do teams owe their fans? The financial perks of lucrative, exclusive TV deals cannot be denied and often, though certainly not always, those benefits are reflected in the quality of the team the owners are able to put on the field. But if the fans can’t afford to see that team play? Or, as in this case, can’t have access to see them play even if they can afford it? Quite simply you have not done right by the fans. TV deal money needs to be balanced against fan access. If your team goes all the way to the playoffs and you don’t get to watch them until October, does the victory still count? Absolutely. But unless you were able to jump up and down in your living room or at your local sports bar with friends, family and even random strangers for all of those key moments throughout the season, there is no way that victory tastes as sweet.

At the risk of being very long winded – I know, too late! – seasons like this Dodgers season make baseball fans, and I’m not talking about fair weather and bandwagon fans. No, I’m talking about the children of adult fans who grow up with the memory of a magical season, of the year their parents let them stay up late all summer just to watch the games because the team was that good, of the time they got to see their unshakable grandfather shed tears of joy over a long hoped for playoff berth…you know the kind of season I’m talking about because, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re a baseball fan and largely because of memories just like these. I know that’s my story. Now, what if that magical season, the season, wasn’t broadcast on television where you could see it? Managers and GMs are always talking about the need to consider the bottom line importance of the intangibles. I think owners need to keep them in mind as well.

Matt: I think this whole thing is outrageous. You have a 70% of fans who can’t watch a game in their local market because cable companies don’t see eye to eye with each other on what price to pay to carry a channel? I think if you look or pay attention to this whole issue you have to say all parties involved are responsible. The Dodgers because they knew that when they took this deal the potential for fans not to see their team play and the Cable companies because all they’re doing more finger pointing than working to reach a possible deal for the people. For me I’m getting by just fine attending games and listening on radio but it would be better to actually get this channel that I’ve heard about. This is really becoming a growing issue in sports because it’s becoming about the money more than the fans being able to see their team play on TV. I mean you have the Pac-12 Network and their ongoing issue with DirecTV where people can’t see certain college games. You also had the issue with the Lakers channel when they moved to Time Warner and most of the market couldn’t see Laker games until three weeks into the season. I can list more examples but I think the readers get my point haha. Point being that while the money being pumped into a franchise to pay the players that can help and having their own network but at what price are fans paying? I think franchises should at least think about those who put the money into their pockets.

 

We joke about our I-5 bias, but the truth is that baseball has taken a huge shift out West. The Dodgers and Giants are battling it out for control of the NL West in a race where the loser is mostly likely to head to the playoffs anyway as a wild card team. The A’s and Angels currently hold the best records in baseball and are locked in a similar race in the AL West. In the AL, there’s even a chance that both wild card teams could come out of the AL West if the Mariners go on a tear. Would you say that having this many West Coast teams in such tight races is good for MLB?

Matt: Two years ago when we first did I-5 Bias I said that baseball’s power shift was swinging out west. Here we are with 5 teams out west gunning for the Postseason (Sorry Padres and Diamondbacks). The Dodgers, Giants, Angels, and A’s are making playoffs baring any big big collapse and the Mariners are right there in the thick of the wild card race. Yes this is great for the MLB right now because for once all the attention is out here. I think Baseball media’s east coast (And Midwest) bias is finally realizing that the excitement is really in the AL and NL West as well as the Wild Card races. To think this all triggered with the spending of the Angels, the ownership change with the Dodgers, the out of nowhere push of the A’s, the Giants as hard for me to say and now Robinson Cano and the Mariners. This is what we’ve been waiting for.

Kristen: Tight baseball races going down to the wire make for a great season for everyone, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter what division they occur in – though, this is definitely a case of the more the merrier. There’s a reason that, when I Google “the best night in baseball ever,” every single reference on the first page is to September 28, 2011. I didn’t even have a team still in the running at that point and I still agree with that title. As far as the West Coast more or less owning the wild card race this season, I’d say it’s a definite improvement over the idea that the then one wild card spot would almost certainly go to the second place East Coast team, and one step closer to true competitive parity, where those wild card berths are hotly contested across all divisions right up until the end. Because as much as I love my West Coast teams, I think that would be the most fun for baseball fans in general.

 

Care to make any Freeway Series predictions?

Kristen: I hate predictions! *cue Stevie Wonder’s Superstition* But in this case I always make an exception because it’s the done thing. When the series was 6 games, I always came down in favor of my Angels because, well, history. Yes, I said it. Cope. But with only four games and the Angels once again down a key starting pitcher (C.J. Wilson came off the DL just in time for Tyler Skaggs to go on it), I predict the Angels and Dodgers will split the series.

Matt: I know I may sound biased here but I am indeed very realistic with this. I believe the Dodgers will take 3 of 4 in the Freeway series. The Dodgers have been playing very good baseball as of late during the past 8-9 games. Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig to name a few have been hitting pretty well after the All-Star break and the Dodgers pitching rotation falls into their favor especially against a team like the Angels. Also the Dodgers hold a good but slim lead over the Giants and they can’t afford to allow that lead to trim especially at this point of the season. The Angels on the other hand have been struggling on offense as of late and headed into the series with the Dodgers against that pitching staff is really something that Anaheim can’t afford to do. They’ll also be without Tyler Skaggs who has been pitching pretty well for them. Now honestly it could go either way and CAN even be a split like last season but I think the writing is on the wall for the Dodgers to take the series over their interleague rivals.

 

Dodgers Standing Pat At The Trade Deadline

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Dodgers GM Ned Colletti stood pat yesterday but that doesn’t mean he DIDN’T Try to make a move.

The trade deadline as come and gone. Teams like the Tigers, A’s, and Cardinals managed to make some trades to improve their team while the Red Sox retooled their roster for 2015. As for the Los Angeles Dodgers? They ended up standing pat during the trade deadline. Yes the Dodgers did not make a move yesterday though they pushed hard to get more pitching help for the back end of the rotation and bullpen. Los Angeles was linked to pitchers John Lackey and Andrew Miller from Boston and Joaquin Benoit from San Diego but the prices were either too much for the Dodgers or other teams outbid the Dodgers offering what the selling teams wanted. Leading up to the trade deadline it was reported that the Dodgers were in on elite pitchers like John Lester, David Price, and Cole Hamels as well as potentially trading Outfielder Matt Kemp. As days went GM Ned Colletti stated that Matt Kemp wasn’t going to be traded and the Dodgers didn’t want to part with their top prospects which meant they were likely out of grabbing an elite pitcher. Well Lester ended up being traded to the A’s while the Phillies took Hamels off the market. David Price on the other hand? The Dodgers and Rays did talk but Tampa Bay ended up trading Price to the Tigers in a three team trade.

I’m know many Dodger fans were thinking that the GM Ned Colletti would make an aggressive push to strengthen the pitching staff and yesterday that wasn’t the case. One thing for sure you can’t fault him for not trying to do anything. Dodgers were indeed in on a lot of pitchers yet the prices were too steep for the Dodgers to pull the trigger. Ned Colletti talked about keeping Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias and was a man of his word. Yes the Dodgers are a team that’s built to win right now and could use the help but the Dodgers do want to contend for many more years to come and not just this season which I didn’t have an issue with. Something I do question is how aggressive the Dodgers were on getting help for the back end of the starting rotation. Dan Haren and now Josh Beckett have been struggling and I question how they can hold up going forward. Guys like Ian Kennedy for example were out there and I felt the Dodgers could’ve made a tougher push for that. Bullpen helped ended up becoming steep as well. Dodgers kicked the tires on Joaquin Benoit and just couldn’t get the Padres to drop the price that they were asking (NL West premium price).

Sometimes the best deals are the ones that aren’t made. Los Angeles as of today have won 6 straight games and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Giants in the NL West. They’re on a role so we will see what happens as time goes. The speculation however is not done because there’s still the Waiver wire deadline where pretty impactful deals. Remember the Dodgers made that HUGE blockbuster deal to get Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett. It’s been mentioned that Carl Crawford could be shopped this month but we’ll see what happens come that time. For now let’s enjoy the play of the Dodgers as they make their push towards October and push towards winning the World Series.

Dodgers NL Postseason Race

image   At 56-46 the Dodgers find themselves in a heated divisional race with their rivals from the Bay in the San Fransisco Giants. As things stand the Dodgers are a game back of the Giants but how the way things been playing out that could change in an instant. Now not only are the Dodgers in a fight for the division but they’re in a fight for their postseason lives as well. Right now the NL has at least 8 teams in division races and if you don’t count the teams that’s already in first place in their respective division then that’s 5 teams battling for the wild card spot. Yes the NL is that deep and that close together right now where the margin for error is not that great.

For the Dodgers this will be a big challenge for them because they have to hold on to a possible Wild Card Birth while fighting for the NL West with the Giants. We all know Los Angeles want the division but they’ll have to play more consistent baseball if they want that to happen. Right now their schedule is a very tough one but can also help the Dodgers out a lot. This weekend they have a very crucial series with the Giants that could really swing momentum in the NL West race between the two teams. It gets tougher after that because the Dodgers return home to kickoff their home stand in a 3 game series with the Atlanta Braves who are also in a race with the Washington Nationals in the NL East as well as in a Wild Card Battle with the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Reds. The schedule isn’t going to get any easier for the Dodgers as they face their Rival from up the 5 Freeway and AL in the Angels, The Braves in Atlanta and the Brewers in Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Talk about brutal.

As of late the Dodgers have been pretty inconsistent yet still find themselves right in it. You have this sense that with the talent the Dodgers have that they will click and get it together anytime now. There’s no doubt the Dodgers really do need help in the bullpen and need an effective 5 Starter due to the struggles of Dan Haren. Lets not forget the offense could use a little help and the ongoing drama with Matt Kemp and the Outfield positioning. One thing is certain and that’s that the Dodgers need a huge spark/pick me up to get it going and whether it’s a big trade or building a few wins or calling up a top prospect (Joc Petersen?) but this team needs to get it going and at least show some fire. Many fans are wondering what happened to the Dodgers that showed fire from last season? They also need everyone healthy. They have Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both hurt from their series with the Cardinals but Puig will likely play tonight while Hanley likely will be headed to the DL. Many think the Dodgers are reeling and the older roster is hurting them yet they’re still in a great spot. This upcoming series with the Giants favors them when it comes to the pitching and Giants have been struggling as of late so this is a great chance for L.A. to get it going. If not then what will that say for the Dodgers? The NL Postseason race is hot right now and as close as it is for the boys in blue this will either light a fire under them or break them.

What Could The Dodgers Do At The Trade Deadline?

th The Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and many are wondering what the Dodgers are going to do come the trade deadline. Now let’s go ahead and point out a few things here before we get into this article. Los Angeles is currently sitting in first place and .5 games ahead of the Giants and seems like they’re getting into a groove. Some are even asking if the Dodgers should even make a move come the deadline. Well let me be the one to say that yes the Dodgers should make a move as they’re still holes that need to be filled. The Dodgers are going to be buyers and going to look add that key piece that could propel them to a World Series. Dodgers have been linked to a few players and a few Dodger players could find themselves out to other places soon. What’s going to happen? Who knows but this is a great time to look at the possibilities.

Dodgers dealing with Tampa Bay: There are two players that are on the Dodgers radar that are currently playing for the Rays. Their names? David Price and Ben Zobrist. David Price was on the Dodgers list during winter meetings and once again one of teams that could get him. Right now the Dodgers starting pitching have been pretty stellar with Ryu pitching pretty good, Beckett being solid, and Harren just getting the job done but having a guy like Price in the rotation would make the Dodgers very deadly. Let’s not forget that Josh Beckett, Paul Malhom, and Chad Billingsley are in the last year of their contracts and Price is under contract through 2015. Without a doubt the Dodgers have the pieces to make such a move but how much would it cost them? Most likely it’ll cost top prospects like Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, and/or  Julio Urias and the Dodgers want to re-build their farm system so they will have to make a tough choice. Move their future to add to an already strong starting pitching rotation and keep away from potential October opponets and the Giants or pass up on him for their future. Ben Zobrist on the other hand is a player who will likely be moved. Zobrist is a popular target come the deadline because he can provide power and speed off the bench and can play multiple positions (OF, 2B, and SS). Los Angeles can use a player like him off the bench because he can really provide so much. Yes Justin Turner and Miguel Rojas have been playing pretty well as of late but Zorbrist is indeed an upgrade off the bench. He likely won’t cost much but Dodgers will have to outbid for a half-season rental.

What Outfielder could be on his way out?: No Yasiel Puig isn’t apart of this group so let’s not think this at all. It has been reported that All outfielders not named are on the block. Coming into the season the Dodgers had this issue with 4 Everyday outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford. Many knew that Puig would play Right Field everyday but when it came to the rest it was all up in the air. I do remember before the season saying that it would be wise to hold on to all four outfielders because the injury bug could hit at anytime. Right now Crawford is Injured, Kemp is playing pretty good in Left Field and Ethier is platooning with Van Slyke out in Center Field. So comes the ultimate question. Who will the Dodgers move out of the three? If you want to look at the safe bet and cheaper option then it’ll likely be Ethier on the move. His batting may not be what we expected but Ethier has been a very solid defensively in Center Field. Now if the Dodgers wanted to move Crawford or Kemp them most likely that’ll require them to eat some of their contracts that they’re paying now but the issue with Crawford is that he has an issue to be injury prone which really hurts his value and as far  as Matt Kemp the Dodgers could eat some of his contract to move him and get some pretty good value back. Kemp out of the three has the most value and upside. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Boston try to do something to get him. One way or another an Outfielder will be moved come the deadline.

Improving the Bullpen: There’s no doubt the Dodgers really need to improve their bullpen. If Los Angeles really wants to compete come October then their Bullpen will have to be a lot better than what it is now. Most likely this is what we’ll see from the Dodgers and that’s trade to upgrade the bullpen. Now likely it won’t require much to obtain pitchers to come out the pen and come closer to the deadline teams will be placing more players on the market. One report out there states that the Red Sox may place some pitchers on the market and you can believe that Los Angeles will be the first ones to make a call to Boston. Joakim Soria from the Rangers is another guy who the Dodgers could get and likely won’t cost much. The Rangers are in last place in the AL West and for sure will be sellers come the deadline. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers aren’t one of the teams that look to improve the pen. Phillies Johnathan Papelbon has been linked to the Dodgers and some believe the Dodgers will most likely end up with the Phillies closer. Kenley Jansen is already the closer for Los Angeles but how the way Brian Wilson been pitching this season it won’t shock me if they do end up trading for Papelbon. There’s more guys out there like a Hudson Street but most likely Anaheim will end up with Street.

More Starting Pitching Help: Outside of David Price, Los Angeles have been linked to a few top pitchers like Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. it’s highly unlikely due to 2 things that the Dodgers don’t want to do and Thats part with 3 of their top prospects and eat salary that the two pitchers have. Ned Coletti already mentioned the unwillingness of wanting to part with their farm system and not doing anything big but whether it’s a bluff or he’s serious remains to be seen. However the Dodgers want to add another starting pitcher to the back end of their rotation due to the health of Josh Beckett and the inconsistency of Dan Haren. A pitcher like a Jake Peavy could be on the Dodgers radar or another pitcher to add to the back rotation. It may not be something Dodger fans expect but it’s what the Dodgers are planning to do especially if it means holding on to the farm. Acquiring a second tire starter like Bartolo Colon (gulp) or a Jake Peavy but I won’t count the Dodgers out on major starter just don’t expect it really.

 

July 31st is two weeks away and we can expect the Dodgers to do something to help Los Angeles win the NL West and make a deep run in the MLB Post Season. To be honest I think the Dodgers will pull something huge off at the Deadline. The Dodgers have the Giants right there on them in the NL West as well as the whole National League. Things do change based off one trade. What do I expect? Well to be honest I have no clue on who will be out and who will be here but it will be interesting that’s for sure and Los Angeles are in win now mode so you can bet they’ll do something that can help them propel to that World Series that’s been missing since 1988.

A No-No for Mr Clayton Kershaw

 

 

 

 

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Kershaw being interviewed after pitching his first career No Hitter

Last night was beyond anything that I could ever put into words and I’m sure every Dodger fan can say the same thing. 46,000 went to Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers attempt to sweep the Colorado Rockies at home with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. What happened that night was something many didn’t expect at all. June 18th Clayton Kershaw threw his first career No Hitter against the Colorado Rockies. This was the first No Hitter at Dodger Stadium since July 14, 1995 by Ramon Martinez and the 2nd No Hitter in the MLB since May 25 of this year pitched by his teammate Josh Beckett. It’s amazing on the type of pitching performance that Kershaw was having that. The way Kershaw was striking out the side early on in the game you just had a feeling that something special was bound to happen. Kershaw was perfect through 7 innings until an error committed by Hanley dashed any hopes of a Perfect game but the No-No was still intact. Clayton also had 15 strikeouts in his No Hit pitching performance.  Only one pitcher has had more in No Hitter performance and that was Nolan Ryan. Twice Ryan has struck out more batters during a No Hitter (17 in 1973 and 16 in 1991). Now here’s something very amazing for everyone and this was an incredible thing that I found out. Clayton Kershaw is the first pitcher EVER in MLB History to Strikeout 15 without allowing a single or walk. Not only did fans witness No Hitter but we witnessed probably the best start in baseball history. Let’s not forget that the Colorado Rockies are one of the hottest hitting teams in Baseball and best batting team in baseball as well so that makes this performance very very impressive.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the game and like the rest of the fans there I didn’t know what to expect. You can feel the anticipation just build pitch by pitch and just the whole atmosphere in the stadium was electric and amazing that I couldn’t find the words to really put it. To think that I was close to not going is crazy to the point where I really can’t think about it. This will be something that I will never forget and it will really be a story that I will share for years to come. I was lucky enough to get video of the final out and you can just feel the electricity of the Stadium as everyone erupted. Yeah I’m not going to lie when I say that I was a little scared to take the video in fear of jinxing it but I had to catch video of this and I am glad that I did but even more glad to be a witness to a No Hitter at Dodger Stadium pitched by a future Hall Of Famer in Clayton Kershaw. It’s not everyday you get to witness something like this but when you do it sticks with you for life and I am very grateful to be one of the many in attendance for this special night. This will be something where years from now people will look back and ask “where were you for Kershaw’s first career no hitter?” I can answer that I was there at field level and the Bullpen overlook checking out a brilliant performance. As you’ve heard people say many times, This is why You don’t leave games early.

 

Teammate's pile up to celebrate with Kershaw after the final out of his No Hitter

Teammate’s pile up to celebrate with Kershaw after the final out of his No Hitter

Kershaw dancing with Teammates during his interview.

Kershaw dancing with Teammates during his interview.

 

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