Doc & “Petey” Clearly Having An Affair

Does anyone think the Dodgers have a snowball’s chance in hell if they lose home field advantage in the playoffs?  They’re well on their way to losing it.   Still kind of a long shot, but they keep playing like this and it’s quite possible.

Another loss to the Mighty Phils last night in the City of Brotherly Love.  Or should we rename it the City of Man Love like the man love between Dave Roberts and Pedro Baez?  I mean, they must be having a wild, torrid love affair.  That could be the only reason outside someone literally holding a gun to Doc’s head that he would still use Pedro Baez in a close game.  How could he possibly use him with a 2-1 lead in the 7th, and why on God’s green earth would he leave him in to just lose the game?  It was almost as if it was done on purpose!   There were plenty of opportunities to use someone else.  Tony Cingrani, who’s been fairly decent, was warm and ready to go.  Yet, he stuck with “Petey,” after the triple, after he hit Alfaro, after he walked in the tying run!  He actually let him stay in to lose the game to the league’s hottest hitter, Rhys Hoskins.  What the hell is wrong with Dave Roberts??  It’s become clear to me and a lot of fans that his odd commitment to Pedro Baez supersedes his commitment to winning baseball games and his commitment to the team. 

Supposedly, he believes in Baez.  Why?  Baez pitched well only sporadically the first part of the year.  He still gave up big homers and blew games.  What is the big deal about Pedro Baez?  Why is he so coveted by Roberts and Dodger management?  Because he throws 97-98?  So what?  He gets lit on a regular basis.  He only has a fastball, over which he has little or no command.  Why do they insist on continuing to use him to the detriment and frustration of both the team and the fans?

it was mind-boggling to watch the game on TV and watch Roberts just sit there with his arms folded while letting Baez cough up the game to the lowly Phillies.  It was a helpless feeling for the fans and for Baez’s no doubt infuriated teammates, many of them scratching their heads in utter dismay.  I heard from a reporter the club’s priority is to figure out their post-season roster over finishing with the best record.  Really?  First of all, that’s dumb as hell and secondly, they still haven’t figured out that Baez should NOT be on that post-season roster??

Look, it certainly appears we’re steamrolling toward a Tribe/Nats or Tribe/D’Backs World Series.  The way the Dodgers are playing, I’m fairly certain both the Rockies, Cubs, and possibly even the Brewers have a better shot than they do.  Meanwhile, this is a really bad time to stink, and Corey Seager stinks.  Not as bad as Kike, but he sure stinks a lot right now.  Chris Taylor is taking more called third strikes than I’ve ever seen (though a lot of them have been off the plate) and, bottom line, this team just dropped 2 in a row to the second worst team in baseball.  Yu Darvish had a decent 5 and a 3rd innings, but not great and not playoff caliber by any means.  How he blows that play on that soft grounder to Bellinger, I have no idea.  The think that irks me, is, if the Snakes actually drop a 3rd consecutive game to the Dads and the Dodgers can miraculously pull out a win against the Phils, the Dodgers will likely engage in a raucous champagne celebration in Philly tonight.  I certainly hope if that happens, it’s a subdued celebration.  I’d hate to see this team go nuts with the bubbly when they really haven’t accomplished anything and have been playing like crap for a month.  Does anybody really think that, after watching this team play this way this close to the playoffs, and witnessing the decision-making on the part of Dave “I’m In Love With Petey” Roberts, that this team still has a shot to go to the World Series?  I certainly hope I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like they have any shot.   The Dodgers are terrible and that’s gonna need to change drastically if they’re going to win one game in the post-season.  Here’s a champagne toast to anything’s possible, I guess.  Meanwhile, I hope Doc and Petey will be very happy together.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

…unless you’re a fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” which is coming back in October.  And to be honest, I’m more excited about Larry David’s return to episodic television than I am about the Dodgers’ chances in the fall.  Everyone is relieved the losing streak ended at 11 games and at a gruesome, hopeless 16 of 17.  Last week, after an odd 11th consecutive loss following a 2 1/2 hour rain delay in San Francisco where the Dodgers and Giants played til 2:11 in the morning, the Blue finally beat the worst team in the National League (at least record-wise) 2 games in a row!  What an accomplishment!  Not only that but the Mighty Diamondbacks were busy losing a couple of games to the Mighty Rockies.  Before you knew it, the Dodgers were in D.C. beating the Mighty Nats 2 out of 3 and started their own little 4 game winning streak, before getting shut down last night by Strasburg.   What did all this sudden, crazy winning do for the Dodgers?  Well, it lowered their magic number to win the West to 3 games after tonight’s Snakes loss to the Dads and gave them a better than reasonable chance to still finish with the best record in the league and home field advantage. A lot of fans and pundits breathed a collective sigh of relief.  The nightmare is over!  Or is it…?

Sorry to say, I’m not convinced.  That losing streak, as I mentioned in previous posts, was devastating.  It shed light on huge problems in their lineup and in their pitching staff and pretty much put an end to their swagger.  I was certain they’d get swept in D.C., but let’s face it, they got to face Edwin Jackson in the first game.  Edwin Jackson should’ve been out of baseball 5 years ago.  In fact, I think he’s out of baseball now and just doesn’t realize it.  Apparently, neither does Dusty Baker.   The Nats had just clinched the East and Dusty decided to play it slow the first couple games against the Dodgers.  No Scherzer, no Gio Gonzalez, so Roark.  But Jackson is the worst there is and the Dodger bats explained why.  The next night, we got to face A.J. Cole. Once a promising young arm, but not so much anymore.   The Dodgers barely eked out a 3-2 win.  The real test was yesterday against one of the league’s top pitchers, and Stephen Strasburg schooled us.  Behind Strasburg, the Bryce Harperless Nats beat the crap out of us.   And, finally, tonight, we went into Philly.  Philly, the home of the second worst record in the league, and all we could manage against 5-10 Nick Pivetta, owner of an ERA of almost 7.00, was 4 lousy hits, including a couple of blasts by CT3 (inside the park) and J.T.  So, Clayton Kershaw, the single greatest pitcher of our generation, hangs a slider with 2 outs and the bases juiced in the 6th to Aaron Altherr and there goes the game, there goes the 2017 Cy Young for Kershaw, and there goes whatever confidence the Dodgers had managed to rebuild the last few days.

The last thing the Dodgers need right now is another losing streak.  The thing I fail to understand is how, after losing to Washington yesterday, Dave Roberts can use such an impotent lineup behind Clayton Kershaw.  Did Corey Seager really need to rest against a weak right-handed pitcher the day after a loss?  I mean, righties are pretty much all Philly’s gonna throw at you, but why rest Seager when Kershaw is pitching?  Why not try to get a win when he’s on the mound?  So, Doc goes with Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Cody, Puig, Barnes, then, that’s it.  Lineup’s over.  I love Utley, but he’s not exactly hitting in the 290’s.  Or the .280’s.  Or the .270’s.  or the .260’s.  Or the .250’s.  Or the .240’s.  Try the low .230’s.  Granderson managed to hit his first home run in a month, but the dude’s hitting .207.  Kiké Hernandez played short instead of Seager.  Kiké’s hitting a whopping .206.   I’m sorry for being the dissenting voice once again, but don’t you have to at least try to give your team a chance to win?  What do Alex Verdugo and/or Andre Ethier have to do to break into that incredibly shitty second half of the lineup?  The reason the Dodgers don’t have J.D. Martinez or Justin Upton – 2 big righty bats we desperately needed – was the refusal to trade Alex Verdugo.  I could see if Granderson or Pederson were hitting even .250 with any production at all why you’d be hesitant to put a newbie like Verdugo out there.  But Granderson and Pederson suck Heinz 57 different varieties of ass.  So, WHY THE HELL NOT Verdugo??  If he’s so damn great that you can’t part with him to get the players you need, then it stands to reason he should play, no?  NO???  Am I wrong?  No.  I am not wrong.

And WHY, OH WHY is it that Dodger brass insists on playing Logan Forsythe at second base against lefties?  And please don’t tell me he doubled last night against Strasburg, because he didn’t.  It was a fairly routine deep fly ball to center and how that wasn’t scored an error on Michael Taylor, I have no idea. Ball hit him in the heel of the glove.  E-8. (By the way, so fun listening to the ESPN crew, especially that dumb ass Jessica Mendoza, rooting heavily for the Nats for some reason.  Does everyone hate the Dodgers?)  Do the Dodgers think that, suddenly, Forsythe is just gonna start raking?  Guess what?  He won’t.  Ever.  Please tell me again why Chris Taylor, who played some second early in the year, and plays a great shortstop, can’t play second base?   Of course that would mean they’d have to play someone else in center those games.   I think Trayce Thomspon would do a better job than both Granderson and Pederson.   But, I think you can see the problem here.  In case you don’t, I’ll spell it out for you in caps:  THE DODGERS DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH OFFENSE THROUGHOUT THEIR LINEUP BECAUSE THEY HAVE LOGAN FORSYTHE, CURTIS GRANDERSON, CHASE UTLEY, YASMANI GRANDAL, KIKE HERNANDEZ, AND ADRIAN GONZALEZ ALL HITTING UNDER .245 AND UNDER .220 SINCE THE ALL-STAR BREAK!!   I think we’ve had enough sample size to know what these guys can and can’t do and there’s no better time than the present to see if Verdugo and Ethier can do better.

And, look, Clayton Kershaw appears to be struggling to find it.  He did not look good in 2 out of his last 3 games and the post-season starts in 2 weeks. I’d say we’re in trouble.  Darvish looked good in his start against San Fran, but that SF lineup is awful.  How will Yu look in his next outing?   Wood looked pretty good against the Nats, but he’s only throwing about 91.  Scary slow and quite hittable.    Hill threw 5 decent innings, but is he our number 2 now, our number 3?  Which Rich shows up?  Our pen looks pretty mediocre.  Stripling is not much of an option.  Ravin has proven to be the drunk guy at a party you wanna stay away from.  I would be frightened to use Baez or Watson or a Fields.  Look,  I’m afraid this team just peaked too early and their manager and management just don’t seem to care enough about winning baseball games to play a winning lineup.  I just don’t understand how Roberts can afford to rest Seager after a loss with Kershaw on the mound.  If anyone saw the post-game interview, thy could see Kershaw, who doesn’t suffer fools or foolish media gladly, was both furious and sarcastic.  But he should also have been pissed at Doc after looking at a lineup card that included Kiké Hernandez starting at short.

CT3 hit the ball hard a couple times, but his average is dipping.  Seager is good, not great yet.   I love Cody, but the rookie gives you one or 2 decent at bats a game, then usually looks silly in the others. Too many AB’s where he looks like your 10th batter in a Little League lineup.   Or like a pitcher who’s played in the American League his entire career.  Rookie of the Year?  Of course.  But he still has so many adjustments to make.  J.T. Is starting to rebound, but not hitting fastballs the way he used to.  Puig would be more reliable if he was hitting .290 instead of @.260.  My point is, perhaps there may be too many chinks in the armor and too many areas where there is no armor that have been exposed.

I just think that a powerhouse Arizona team, a Washington Nats team with their top 3 starters going and a healthy Bryce Harper, a resurgent Cubs team, and a tough Rockies lineup, would all beat the Dodgers fairly easily in any series if they played tomorrow.  And tomorrow is in a couple weeks.

 

From First to Worst!

The Dodgers are now the worst team in baseball.

There’s no question.  Don’t feed me any lines about the 92 wins, (that they’ve been stuck on for over a week) or that they still have Kershaw and Seager and Bellinger.   Don’t talk to me about the standings or the likelihood of the playoffs.  They stink more than the Giants, the Phillies, the Mets, the White Sox, the A’s.  They just stink. No one is as bad as the Dodgers.  No one in the history of sports will have choked to the extent the Dodgers are choking.  I was wrong.  I thought they’d drop 3 out 4 at home to the Rockies.  They got swept all four.  They have lost 15 our their last 16 games and have lost 12 1/2 games in the standings in only 2 weeks12 1/2 games in TWO WEEKS!!!!

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball.  Talk to me in a week.  They won’t even have the best record in the National League.  That could help them to a degree, because if the Snakes lose a few games and the Dodgers still manage to back in to the West title, they would likely draw the struggling Cubs in the NLDS rather than the Mighty Snakes or Nats.  Does that mean they’d have a chance to win?  …Absolutely not.  In my opinion, this team has zero chance to win.  It’s all over.   Why?  And how?  As Dave Roberts and the pundits and experts search for answers, I think I have most of them under 2 major headings.

1) Dave Roberts and/or Upper Management SUCK.  Doc is a great guy.  In fact, he’s too great a guy.  He sticks with guys too long and insists on running the same struggling guys out there, obtusely refusing to make the necessary adjustments and changes.  Now, I’m not 100% sure whether these are all Dave’s decisions or if it’s the genius dictators, Friedman and Zaidi pulling the strings, but whomever is responsible, it ain’t workin’ out.  Cases & points:

A) Doc says he’s reluctant to move CT3 to second base.  Why?? He played a good second base before, so why not now?  I mean, you just can’t keep sending Forsythe out there.  So, he hit one bomb the other  night.  Big deal.  He’s awful and should never play.

B) Why is Granderson even still on the team, let alone starting in right over Puig?  He’s 7 for 70 as a Dodger,  7 FOR 70!  They need to DFA him as soon as yesterday.   He should not make the trip to San Fran.  If I go 7 for 70 for my new team in September, I expect my season will be over.

C) Why is Joc Pederson starting and playing in games?  Joc Pederson is done.

D) Why is Austin Barnes not your everyday catcher every day?  That may have finally changed.  Just how bad Grandal truly is, has now been well documented.

E) Why does Doc think Pedro Baez is good?  Why is it so important that he stays with him?  Why?  He was never that good even when they were winning.  Pedro Baez is gasoline on a fire and he shouldn’t pitch for the Dodgers anymore.

F)   I know they  just called him up, but what does Alex Verdugo have to do to break this awesome lineup?  Can he possibly do any worse than Granderson & Pederson?  Verdugo is the reason we don’t have JD Martinez, the reason we don’t have a variety of bats we actually really needed.  So, at this point, why is he not freakin’ playing??

G) Why are they messing with Clayton Kershaw’s rhythm?  Why are they over-coddling him and over-resting him?  I think the reason he stunk it up the other night was because he was over-rested.  Let him do his thing and hope for the best.  Make him happy and comfortable.  That’s right.  It’s not about what you think is best for him, it’s about what he thinks at this point.

H) At this point, I think their starting lineup should be:

1) Taylor, 2B (Such as he’s become)

2) Ethier LF

3) Seager SS

4) Bellinger 1B

5) J.T. 3B

6) Barnes C

7) Verdugo CF

8)  Puig RF

Why not try it?  At this point, what do they have to lose? On days they want to play Utley, they move CT3 back to center and they sit Ethier or Verdugo.  I guarantee you this is the best lineup right now and I guarantee you they won’t do it.

I) If I were a GM, I’d also be to blame because I wanted them to land Darvish.   Obviously, however, the trade deadline choices upper management made were the wrong ones.  I was so excited when we got Darvish.  Now, I can’t wait for him to leave.  He just can’t find his delivery and he looks like he’s in over his head in every start.  Strikeouts are fun, but they don’t always win ball games.  Their scouts should’ve been able to recognize what a bad year he was having in Texas and that he had the potential to be just as much of a liability as an asset.   Meanwhile neither of the Tonys is a game changer (though they haven’t been that terrible)  and Curtis Granderson retired and didn’t tell anyone.  Bad pickup.  They needed J.D. Martinez, Justins Verlander & Upton.  They should’ve made a huge trade with Detroit that would’ve cost them Verdugo, but may have helped them to avoid the free fall they’re in right now.

2) The Team Simply Isn’t That Good, and they were playing way over their heads for over 3 months.  Possible?  Very.  This is the absolute truth.  Look, you’re only as good as your starting 8, and your pitching staff.  The fact is, I believe the Dodgers had an amazing run, but peaked too early and we all found out they just were never really that good to begin with.  Cases & points:

A) The starting 8:  You just can’t compare our stars to the core four on the Nats, the Rockies, or the Dbacks.  For shit’s sakes, we don’t have a Nolan Arenado or a Charlie Blackmon or a DJ Lemahieu.   Add Parra and Reynolds and a dangerous Cargo and that’s a tough lineup.   Look at the numbers.   Our guys don’t have the impact of a Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, David Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and a Trea Turner.  We don’t match up with Paul Godlschmidt, Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock. J.D. Martinez, and David Peralta.  We have our four or five stars:  Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, and maybe Puig.  (You can maybe think about adding Barnes).  We have young stars and guys like CT3 who is likely playing a little over his head.  Puig is hitting .257, but he’s been more productive.  He’s no superstar, though.  Bellinger is just a kid and he’s doing the best he can, but he just strikes out way too much and has been leaving way too many runners on base.  I love Seager, but at 19 HR’s and only 65 RBI in September, kind of a disappointment compared to what I projected for him.  Swings at too many first pitches and doesn’t work counts anymore.  I thought he’d be more productive.  Turner, great BA and huge OPS, but has also not been very productive, only 19 HR and 65.   But the main problem, I think, are the other 4 guys in the lineup.  We just have too many guys hitting under .240.  No production whatsoever from Utley, Forsythe, Grandal, Granderson, Pederson, Hernandez, AGone.  In other words, our core guys have way too much weight on their shoulders now, where before, the supporting cast actually… supported.  But the Dbacks, Nats, Rocks and Cubs have more solid supporting casts who actually do good things on the field to help their teams win.

B) The starting pitching was over performing.  They suck now.  Kershaw was Kershaw, but they we getting amazing starts from Alex Wood, who was never supposed to be that damn good to begin with.  Remember how surprised everyone was when he fought his way into the rotation and got off to that amazing start and made the All-Star team?  Well, surprise, again!  He stinks.  He can’t locate his pitches anymore and he lost a yard off his fastball.  Rich Hill has been consistently inconsistent all year and Ryu and Maeda were benefiting from bygone run production and decent control.  With no runs behind them, they just give up too many runs to win.  Darvish was supposed to be the savior, the element they needed to get over the top.  Turns out, not so much.   Compare their staff to the Diamondbacks: Greinke, Ray, Walker are more reliable than any three guys we have.  The Cleveland Indians.  Corey Kluber heading a solid, professional staff that wins most of the time: Carrasco, Clevinger, Bauer, Salazar or Tomlin.  That’s a pitching staff.  The Dodgers have Kershaw and some guys who are surprisingly good sometimes and who are sometimes, not so surprisingly bad.

C) The bullpen had a nice run.  They suck now too.  Look, I never thought “Petey” Baez was any good and I’ve never been able to comprehend Doc’s strange love for him.  The guy throws hard, but he takes forever to throw the ball, and when he does, he’s usually watching it go over the wall soon thereafter.  Other than Kenley Jansen, there’s not one guy in that pen whom I truly trust day in and day out to be on the mound.  I don’t care what the first half numbers say.  Overall, they’re just not that good.

My feeling is the Dodgers will lose another 6 or 7 games in a row.  I think they get swept in San Francisco and definitely get swept in D.C.  If I’m wrong, I’ll be both happy and surprised, but I still think they’re done, whether they win a few more games or not.  This team is just not that good.

 

 

Turns Out the Blackout’s a Good Thing

Ever drive past a gruesome accident on the freeway?  Everyone instinctively slows down to look, but often you regret it and wished you’d just looked straight ahead.  So, maybe it’s a good thing that the majority of Dodger fans don’t have to see this.  Can’t see this.  Because, lemme tell ya, it’s gruesome.  Anyone who isn’t extremely concerned after watching the Dodgers plummet from the penthouse like a failed investment banker from a Manhattan skyscraper is, frankly, either crazy or in an intense denial.  What we’re witnessing is a failure of epic proportion.  They have dropped 10 1/2 games from their lead over Arizona in just 12 days!!   I mean, can you imagine if they only had a 10 game lead in late August instead of a 21 game lead?  It would be wiped out completely!  They’d be in second place. People would be going nuts! “Dodgers Blow 10 Game Lead!” is what the headline would read.   Well, friends, that could possibly happen for real in the next couple of weeks.  With the exception of a few Kershaw starts, I’m not sure this team is gonna win again.  They are a whole new kind of terrible.

Now, with decent starting pitching their last few games, their offense has gone completely kaput.   No one is really hitting.  Seager continues to sit on the bench with the bad elbow.   Their bullpen has looked piss poor.  What we seem to have here is a pretty bad baseball team.  Not sure why so many people are saying they’ll rebound from this.  But, let’s say they do somehow rebound and start winning again and hang onto the West title.  It almost doesn’t matter now.  They’ve lost the season series to the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-8, losing the FINAL 6 GAMES IN A ROW!!  The better of two teams usually doesn’t get beaten 6 straight games by the other team in a 9 day period.  Usually the team that won the 6 games in a row is the better of the two.  So, I think we can say, without argument at this point, that the Diamondbacks are certainly better than the Dodgers.  Much better.  Some people might say, “Well, the Dbacks never faced Kershaw in those 6 games.  True.  Doesn’t matter.  Kershaw can’t do everything.  He would’ve had to practically pitch a complete game shutout to keep from losing. The Dbacks pitchers had the Dodgers’ number.  They couldn’t hit crap.  So, who would they likely play in the first round of the playoffs?  That’s right.  Arizona.  A super-confident Arizona still fresh from pushing the Dodgers around like a 6th grader vs. a kindergartner.  And if the Dodgers only win the games Kershaw starts, if Arizona doesn’t catch them, Washington might.  There goes home field advantage in the NLCS.  But I seriously doubt they make it past the NLDS.  Not the September version of the Dodgers.

Okay, with all things being equal and all the numbers taken into consideration, do they actually have a real chance of losing the division to the Dbacks?  Ask me on Sunday, but my guess is, yes, it’s possible.  Not likely, but possible.  If they lose 3 of 4 to the Rockies, and the Dbacks sweep the Dads (they will) the Dodgers could be only 7 1/2 up with 19 games to play.  Going at the rate they’re going, the D’backs could conceivably find themselves only 3 out by the end of next week.  Remember, this isn’t just a little slump.  This appears to be a free fall. I don’t see it reversing course any time soon.  But none of it matters.  Barring a miracle, the Snakes will beat the now hapless Dodgers in 4 games in the NLDS.

Last night’s game was a joke and it has to be placed on Doc’s doorstep.  In a 1-1 tie in the 9th, Chris Taylor reaches base with no one out against Fernando Rodney.  Up comes Granderson.  Apparently Granderson isn’t a good bunter, so Doc lets him swing away.  He flies out to center.  A desperate CT3 tries to advance and is thrown out by A.J. Pollock.  But, when you’ve lost 4 straight and 9 out of 10 and are being swept by your division rivals in a tied game in the 9th, don’t you kinda need to get that runner into scoring position for YOUR 3 & 4 HITTERS TO TRY TO DRIVE IN THE WINNING RUN?!?!?  If Granderson can’t bunt, shouldn’t you put in a guy who can??  Apparently not. Unbelievable.  Why didn’t Bob Geren mutiny at that point?  Why didn’t Bob Geren slap Doc in the face?

Then, in the 10th inning, to add insult to injury, you bring in Pedro Baez?  WHY on God’s green earth would you do that???  He’s done. Fini. Over.  He has no confidence and, by the way, he shouldn’t because he’s horrid.  He walks the first 2 guys.  That’s it.  1 out, runners on 2nd & 3rd, grounder to Turner, he fires home. the throw nicks off the runner, Hermann and Grandal can’t react in time to catch the ball.  You know my feelings about Grandal.  I think that ball still could’ve been caught, but he can’t fkn’ react in time because of that stupid hockey mask he’s wearing now.  And because he stinks.  Yasmani Grandal is a bad defensive catcher.  Any arguments?  He leads baseball in passed balls.  He’s terrible.  But maybe none of that happens if Doc puts the team before his odd man-love for “Petey” Baez.

Tonight’s game was a another joke.  Maeda was actually pitching surprisingly well.  So why take him out after 85 pitches?   And Avilan?  Really?  You couldn’t have gone with someone who didn’t stink his last time out?  The Dbacks have an Archie Bradley.  We don’t have anything close to an Archie Bradley except Jansen, and he’s our closer.  The Dbacks have hitting throughout their lineup.  The Dodgers have three guys hitting .235 or under in their lineup.  Too many guys who are just plain terrible.  Like I said a few posts ago, we’ve been exposed, and in a rather cruel way.

J.T. gets run by a thin-skinned umpire who missed a call by 6-8 inches.  Why can’t umpires ever just let that go once in a while?  You blew a strike call badly.  You gotta know you missed the call.  If someone wants to let you have it from the dugout, it’s not because you were good in that case.  So, just let it go.  The bad call notwithstanding, bottom line, folks, the hitting is over.  This team has completely stopped and, unlike Doc, who assures us “they’re going to win the division,” I’m not so sure they’ll turn it around.  I mean, with what?  The players they have now?  Half of his at bats, Bellinger looks like he’s in Pony League.  (He was, just 6 years ago.)  CT3 still makes occasional contact, but he’s not himself.  Probably wiped out.  When was the last time he played this many games?  Seager has a bad wing and has no more pop.  Turner is a different hitter.  Different in a bad way.  Forsythe stinks.  Yasmani stinks.  Puig is hitting ok, but still under .260.  Utley is hitting .232.  Granderson stinks.  AGone’s back is hurting again.  Done.  Kike stinks.  Barnes is good, but doesn’t play enough.  Verdugo seems nervous.  Not ready.  Pederson stinks.  The team is quite obviously just not as good as we thought they were.  It happens sometimes.  Not at this magnitude, but it happens.  Thank God, we have Darvish going in a couple nights.

I’ve been right about a lot of guys that stink that the Dodgers should get rid of and a lot of people have argued with me.  Greats like Carl Crawford, Chris Hatcher, Scott Van Slyke, and Joc Pederson.  (Pederson is back, but only as a September call-up)  Does anyone think Pedro Baez will be a Dodger next year?  I sure don’t.  Logan Forsythe?  Nope.  Kike Hernandez?  They like him a lot, but I doubt it.  Can’t hit.  Granderson?  Gone.  McCarthy?  Gone.  Kazmir?  Gone.  Darvish?  Gone.  Grandal?  I think he could be gone.  Ethier?  Gone.  Gonzalez?  Likely gone.  Utley?  Likely gone.  Fields?  I hope he’s gone.  Avilan?  Gone.  My point is, how good is a Dodger team that has so many guys that will likely no longer be Dodgers in a few short months?  What this recent losing skein has shown us is this team is really not that good.

There was an old Monty Python sketch where a man (the great John Cleese) returns a dead parrot to the pet store where he bought it.  The parrot is lying on it’s back in the cage, stone dead, yet the proprietor insists he’s just resting, then comments on his beautiful plumage.  Cleese disagrees and tells the proprietor the parrot is deceased.  The proprietor insists the parrot – a Norwegian Blue (no such thing) –  is simply “pining for the fjords.”  “Look,” complains Cleese, “I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there!”  The proprietor continues to insist the dead parrot is still alive.  Listening to Dave Vasseigh on Dodger Talk right now, it’s beginning to remind me of that old sketch.  More and more, the Dodgers are beginning to resemble that dead Norwegian Blue lying still on the bottom of the cage, and Dave Vasseigh keeps arguing he’s just pining for the fjords.

Yu Stink! We stink!

A dream isn’t always a nightmare, and apparently, a nightmare isn’t always a dream.  What happened to our Dodgers?  So many things, all bad.  The bottom has fallen out and the ship is sinking fast.  Is it time to panic?  Uh…  Yeah,  I’d say pretty much.   You certainly have my permission.  They have gone from best to worst rather abruptly and to say I’m concerned is the understatement of the year.  This team stinks right now.  Stinks.

What this is called is a “slump,” and I guess it’s better it happens now than in October, but whose to say it won’t continue into October?  The thing about this slump is it looks foreboding and malignant.  There’s something very wrong beyond just the team being a little flat.  You need to go back to a few posts ago where I discuss the lack of a true MVP candidate on the Dodgers.  The Dodgers have some great players, but only young Cody is close to having truly impressive, MVP-type stats.  Could it be that the offense was just gelling for 3 months and has now fallen out of sync?   It could be, in other words, that the team is playing closer to how they’re really supposed to play than the team we saw in June, July, and August.  Not saying that’s necessarily the case, but a truly great team doesn’t usually experience a free fall of this magnitude.  I mean, come on.  We just dropped 3 in a row to the Dads.  The damn San Diego Padres.  I don’t think you can just assume the Dodgers will return to the way they were playing those 3 months.  As I said in the last post, I think the answer to who this team really is lies somewhere in the middle, but they’re clearly not as good as we thought they were.

But, let’s leave the offense out of it for a minute.  Let’s focus on the pitching.  Yu Darvish appears to be a major bust.  You can argue with me, but if you like numbers, then look at Yu’s.  Darvish’s numbers since joining the club are extremely bad.  And does anyone remember the outing he had against Miami when he was still with the Rangers?  He gave up 10 runs in less than 5 innings in a 22-10 loss to the Marlins as recently as July 26th.  We all thought or hoped that was just an aberration, but maybe not.  Maybe he stinks.  He has just a few starts left before the playoffs.  Are we really gonna keep sending him out there if he continues to be this bad?  If Darvish and Wood are no longer effective, then who’s our #2 guy to follow Kershaw in the playoffs?  The Jeckyll & Hyde Hill?  Ryu? Maeda?  Walker Buehler?  Or do we keep sending Darvish and Wood out, hoping they’ll get it together?  Do any of these scenarios sound appealing to you?

If you’re Dodger Talk host, Dave Vasseigh, you’re looking at everything through Dodger blue-colored glasses, you’re trying to calm everyone down and keep them from panicking by reminding fans the Blue still have the best record in baseball, home field advantage in the playoffs and the lowest ERA, and a 13 1/2 game lead in the division, etc, etc.  That’s because Dave is nothing more than a paid homer and an obsequious one at that.  Dave, those numbers mean nothing now.  The only number that means anything, really, is 13 1/2, which, a week ago, was 21.  Sure, he’ll occasionally criticize the club, but he won’t let you do it, no matter what the situation is or how dire it’s become.  In fact, he actually had the nerve to say that, even though they’ve now lost 8 of 9, “they’re not in a slump.”  After that, he tried to sell us snow shoes made in Oahu.  He blames the whole problem on their starting pitching and not having Seager.   Cory’s rather valuable, but truth be told,  he hadn’t really been doing much the 4 weeks before he got hurt. Was it the elbow that contributed to his loss of power?  Perhaps.   And Vasseigh seems convinced that the pitching problem will be solved.  How, Dave?  The way the pitching has looked the last couple weeks, the only way to solve that problem is to score 10 runs a game.  We can barely score 2.  I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a very strong chance the Dodgers will only lead the West by 10 1/2 by Thursday.

So, why is this happening?  Well, first off, the starting pitching has indeed been atrocious.  Kershaw pitched his usual gem in his triumphant return from a long DL stint against the Dads, but the next 3 games  were a disaster.  Brock Stewart had to give way to Wilmer Font – yes, Wilmer Font – after 3 innings in the first game of the double header yesterday.  Then, after a miracle 2 run blast on a hanging curve by J.T. to tie it in the 9th, in comes the illustrious Pedro Baez, who promptly gives up the game winning home run the the great Yangervis Solarte.  Look,  I don’t care that Baez has an ERA under 2.00.  I’ve said time and time again ERA for a one-inning reliever doesn’t matter.  It’s how effective they are with inherited runners and how many runs score while they’re on the mound.  Pedro Baez just gives up way too many blasts.  He reminds me of a Dominican Tom Niedenfeuer.  He’s not an 8th inning guy.  I don’t know what he is, frankly.  All I know is he can’t be trusted.  Problem is, we really don’t have an 8th inning guy,  unless you think it can be Morrow or Cingrani.  (Morrow had a meltdown the other day.)  We really needed to get Justin Wilson or someone like him, but Friedman and Zaidi settled for Tony’s Watson & Cingrani, so, we failed.  But, there’s Dave Vasseigh reminding his listeners that the Dodgers bullpen still has the lowest ERA.  Jeez, Dave.  Optimism is great, but are ya watching the damn games?  The Dodgers pen is taxed, overworked, and simply is no longer as good as they were.

Then Yu Darvish gave us what’s become his typically awful performance in the night cap.  I was one of the big proponents of the Darvish trade.  I thought it was a great deal for the Dodgers.  I was wrong.  Darvish is terrible.  He had a good outing vs the Mets in his Dodger debut, was mediocre in spite of striking out a bunch of guys in his second start, and has hovered between being frighteningly weak and extremely horrific in his subsequent 4 starts.  He gets hit with alarming regularity.  He just can’t find it and he doesn’t have much time to look for it.  He’s a deer in the headlights and the headlights are getting closer.   If I’m Dodger management, I have to be considering leaving him off the post-season roster at this point.  He was not having a stellar year in Texas and he’s simply continuing where he left off here in L.A.  We’ll need to replace him unless Rick Honeycutt can fix him quickly.  So much for our big deadline blockbuster.

Alex Wood came back off the DL yesterday and he looked like crap.  Getting hit hard and often and giving up home runs.  So much for the magic of Alex Wood.  Sure seems to have worn off.  Tonight, we have Rich Hill, who tanked his last time out against the D’backs.  The same D’backs who have won 10 straight, though they’ll be winning without their slugger, Paul Goldschmidt, who’s having an MRI on his elbow.   My guess is Hill will still lose.  The D’backs are just too good.  And regardless of how Hill pitches, rest assured the Dodgers will certainly lose.  The lineup that Roberts is trotting out there includes Logan Forsythe, Kike Hernandez and Charlie Culberson.  My feeling is they have absolutely no chance, and whatever chance they do have, Doc is taking it away.  Then we have Ryu and Maeda again and not Kershaw against the team that’s actually better than us.  Not sure why Kershaw, who threw Friday and is clearly healthy, can’t throw again Wednesday, but I guess Dodgers management doesn’t really care if they ever win another game against Arizona.  I’m looking at another D’backs sweep, this time in L.A.  A sweep of the Blue at the Ravine without Goldie should certainly give the D’backs the confidence and momentum they need to beat us in the playoffs.

Is this Dave Robert’s fault?  To a degree.  He was so sure they’re gonna win, he took his foot off the gas and allowed the team to become complacent.  Overly concerned about resting guys for the post-season, he forgot about the regular season and he ignored momentum and the culture of winning.  Instead, he opened the door to the culture of losing.  The Dodgers are now very used to losing.

So, what can the Dodgers do to stop the bleeding at this point?  The Dodgers are still not hitting great, especially with runners on.  Sure, Cody got his 35th and 36th homers the last couple games, but it’s a case of too little too late and not enough runners on base when he does it.

  1. They need to get a bat behind Cody to protect him.  I suggest Seager when he returns, or Puig.
  2. They need to stop playing Logan Forsythe.  Completely.  Play Utley and Culberson or move CT3 to second when Corey comes back. Or play Barnes.  Forsythe is hitting .227 and he’s an out.  When there’s a guy on first, he’s 2 outs.  No one seems to talk about how bad he is.
  3. Tell Grandal to catch the fkn ball.
  4. Replace one of your starting pitchers with Walker Buehler and/or other Triple A guy(s) and see what happens.  Couldn’t do any worse than Darvish.  Or Wood.  Or Ryu.  Or Maeda.
  5. McCarthy is done.  Transferred to the 60 day DL.  Consider using Morrow, a one-time starter, and see how many innings he can go.   Probably won’t work, but right now, it’s just like it’s been every year since they let Greinke go.  Can’t count on anyone but Kershaw.  Hasn’t boded well in the playoffs, has it?
  6.  Stop using Pedro Baez in close games.  Or just stop using Pedro Baez.
  7. Long shot: Hope Seager’s elbow improves and just return to the lineup and rotation they were using before they acquired Darvish, Granderson, and got AGone back, and see if that combination can start working for them again.
  8. Doc needs to stop resting guys and start behaving as if they’re fighting for their lives, because, frankly, they are.

So, let’s all assume the Dodgers win a few more games and hang onto this thing and win the West.  Does anyone still believe it’s a foregone conclusion they’ll get past the D’backs and the Nats and get to the World Series?  I sure don’t.

Chris Taylor and Kike just struck out AGAIN.  That’s 4 times for those 2 guys and it’s only the 4th inning!  The Dodgers are losing 2-0 on yet another blast by D’backs J.D. Martinez off of Hill.  The Dodgers do not have a hit yet against Robbie Ray through 5.  Hill is pitching well, in spite of the Martinez blast, but I fear we may actually be witnessing a perfect game for Ray.  That’d certainly help get us on track, won’t it, Dave Vasseigh?  Wait a minute…  We got a hit!  Who got it?..  Logan Forsythe of all people.  Thank God Charlie Culberson is up now to drive him in…

Our dream has indeed become a nightmare.  Could we be witnessing the most catastrophic free fall in the history of sports?  I hope not.  Keep watching if you have the stomach for it.

Exposed!

The Dodgers, for the first time in recent memory, and certainly for the first time this year, have dropped 5 straight and have been swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.  Their starting pitching in each of those 3 games was the worst I’ve ever seen and they continue to be fairly flat on offense, in spite of scoring a few runs in the first 2 games of the series.  Rich Hill was putrid.  Could be one of the worst first innings I’ve ever seen.  What a difference a start makes.  Hyun Jin Ryu was equally terrible and, this afternoon, Kenta Maeda was the worst of the three.   Suffice it to say, neither Ryu nor Maeda did much to help their cause for making the post season roster as starters.

The Dodgers looked like they were sleepwalking.  They didn’t seem to care as they let their division rivals walk all over them the past 3 days.  At least Josh Ravin protected his teammates by firing a 98 mph fastball into the side of A.J. Pollock today, but that was after the game was virtually over and why didn’t he hit Goldschmidt?  After all, their guy, Chafin, threw a purpose pitch at our big power guy, Cody Bellinger last night.  It was fun to see Yasiel Puig take a day off while he was actually playing, allowing Gregor Blanco to turn a routine single into a double, and so heartening to see Blanco notice Maeda wasn’t even paying attention to him as he practically walked to third base.  Complacency.

Our guys can’t really hit much anymore, save Grandal.  Yes, Grandal!  He got a bunch of weak singles, but he got hits.  He actually did square up nicely on one pitch.  Otherwise, our offense simply isn’t getting it done.

So, what did we witness these past five games?  Well, I still don’t think it’s time to panic.  But it’s getting there.  And I know my readers are going to resent this and point to win-loss records, but I honestly feel the Diamondbacks are a much better team than the Dodgers right now.  Look, the Dodgers still have an amazing record, but it’s getting less amazing each day.  And, as I’ve said all along, it’s not about records.  It’s about who’s hot come playoff time and it’s almost playoff time.  The Snakes simply appear to have better players than we do, and now that they’re all healthy, they’re going balls out and kicking ass.  Sure, we have Seager hurt now, and we’ve had Kershaw and Wood on the shelf, but let’s face it, Seager’s basically stunk the last month and Wood has lost a yard off his fastball.  Justin Turner has been weak and Bellinger is no longer the kid who came up and energized us in May, June and July and, frankly, he hasn’t been for over a month, (on top of being hurt).  Phillies OF, Rhys Hoskins may have even eclipsed him for ROY if he keeps going the way he’s going.  (Though I doubt it).

So, is this an aberration, like many fans and the Dodgers brass thinks and hopes, or has the team returned to earth and are they showing us who they truly are?  I think the answer is somewhere in between.  I can say this with confidence: They’re definitely not as good as their record was.

Meanwhile, the Snakes are great.  The Dodgers are certainly a better team on paper, but right now the D’backs have 4 position players who are arguably better than anyone we have.  Paul Goldschmidt (why do we even pitch to him?) is my choice for NL MVP.  He’s amazing and he kills us.  Jake Lamb is only hitting .256 but that’s a high average for our guys. In the meantime, he has 27 homers and 96 RBI’s with an .875 OPS.  A.J. Pollock has missed a huge chunk of the season, but he’s a Chris Taylor-like catalyst with power who could be the best center fielder in the league.   He’s just gonna get better.  J.D Martinez has an OPS of .971 and has 29 blasts while hitting .275.  And I’m not even mentioning David Peralta.302/13/44/.815.  (Well, I guess I just did).  We have a slumping Justin Turner, a great rookie in Bellinger who seems to have been figured out by the league, a still snappy Chris Taylor (could be the team’s MVP) and a Corey Seager who has a sore elbow and hasn’t hit a double in over a month, and Yasiel Puig who thrills us no end, but still frustrates the hell out of us from time to time.

Our starting pitching stinks.  They average only 5 1/3 innings per game!  Can you believe that?  Kinda taxing on our pen, no?   The D’backs pitching?  Well, other than Kershaw, Robbie Ray is better than anyone we got.  Zack Greinke and Ray are, at the moment a better one-two punch than Kershaw and Darvish or Hill.   That could be a real problem in a best of 5 NLDS.  If the post-season starts next week, I take the Snakes in 4.

The starting pitching is the scariest aspect of this, because, if you recall from my last post, I think Darvish kinda stinks.  Ryu and Maeda have been fairly solid, but they sure stunk it up this week, didn’t they?  I mean, you almost don’t wanna hand them the ball again, they were so bad.   And Hill, after no-hitting the Bucs through 9, now stinks.  And Wood stunk before he went back on the DL.  All potentially good hurlers, but you’re now counting on not one, not two, but five pitchers who have all stunk in their last outings to suddenly not stink.  That’s a lot of pitchers to expect to abruptly stop stinking.

Luckily, the post-season doesn’t start til October, and that may just be time enough for the Blue to right the ship.  But right, now we’re lost at sea and, aside from Kersh coming back tomorrow with a strict pitch count against the foundering Fathers, I don’t see the slightest sign of land.  Maybe bringing up Alex Verdugo will give the Blue a boost.

Justin Turner is my favorite player, but I disagree with him that this losing streak is “good for the team.”  How is a five game losing streak where you find out just how bad you can be, good for you?  They don’t need to learn to overcome adversity in the beginning of September.  They need to get healthy and confident.  You don’t take your foot off the gas and that’s exactly what management did, over-resting and over DLing everyone.   And, damn it, unless it’s gonna be CT3 we need a fkn second baseman who can swing it.  Logan Forsythe is awful and Kike is hitting .209.  We should just let Utley play til he collapses.  We really could have used Brandon Phillips, but the Angels, who are surprisingly still in this thing, are actually trying to win and they just acquired him, along with Justin Upton.  Now, with Garret Richards coming back and Houston tanking, you may have to take the Halos seriously.  Could it be possible they make it to the Fall Classic and the Dodgers don’t?

I was so tired and wary of Joe Ross and Orel Hershiser squawking about how the Dodgers are “the best team in baseball,” over and over again.  Vin Scully would never do that.  He knew better.  And the jinxy Sports Illustrated piece that asks “Best Team Ever?’  Shit, we’re not even the best team in the NL West.  Think we’re gonna win 116 games?  The way we’re playing, we’ll be lucky if we can get from 91 to 100 before October.  Looks like we may be in a free fall and we may have to scratch and claw for every win we get from now on.  But that’s okay, Doc.  You keep putting your .232 hitter (Forsythe) and your .209 hitter (Kike) out there.  And by all means, rest everyone.  Apparently, that’s more important then continuing to win.

So, this is what we have as the dog days of August come to a close. I don’t know about you, but I’m yawning:

Chris Taylor: The most consistent player on the team who can play everywhere, but right now, almost too much being asked of him.

Corey Seager: Putting up pretty much the same numbers as last year, but unevenly and seems to have lost a lot of pop.  Now he’s hurt.  He’s not the dominant guy I thought he’d be.

Justin Turner: His average has plummeted over 60 points since the break.  Power appears to be gone,  and, though he squared up a couple of pitches this series, not the same J.T.

Cody Bellinger: Waiting for him to truly return.  He’s striking out at an alarming rate and looking like a Little Leaguer doing it.  Getting fooled often.

Curtis Granderson: Has hit a few important blasts, but beginning to see why he was the 4th and sometimes 5th outfielder for the lowly Mets.  Beyond his 23 homers, he doesn’t really hit much.  Beginning to think he should be the 4th outfielder for the Dodgers.

Yasmani Grandal: Meh.

Yasiel Puig: Having a great year home run-wise.  He’s hitting under .260, but have few complaints about Yasiel, as he’s the best right fielder in the game and offensively, still playing above expectations.  But still has mental lapses.  Just ask Gregor Blanco.

AGone: He’s in there, trying.  Some key knocks, but his bat seems kinda slow.  Clearly, not the same stud.  Limited playing time is in his future.  (As it is in mine).

Logan Forsythe: When are we gonna give up on this guy?  Some tough at bats once in a while, but he’s just not very good.

Chase Utley: Getting older, but still laying out and gotta love the way he plays.

Austin Barnes: Love him, but he’s not a game-changer yet.  Needs more reps.  Should play every day against lefties.

Kike Hernandez: Fun guy, plays a lot of positions, but he’s practically an automatic out.

Clayton Kershaw; Best there ever was, but he’s coming off a “back injury” (he was fine) so, he’s gotta start practically from scratch.

Yu Darvish: Solid pitcher for years, lots of crafty pitches and potentially dominant, but we’ve only seen glimpses of that this year, both in Texas and in LA.  Worrisome.

Alex Wood: Had an amazing first half. Not a great second half and here’s hoping he’s healed and can return to form.  If he doesn’t, we could be screwed.

Rich Hill: Jekyll and Hyde.  Crazy guy with, overall good numbers the last few years, but he could be amazingly good or amazingly bad.  I don’t know if I completely trust him in an important game.

Kenta Maeda;  Not sure I hand him the ball again after today.  What a piss poor, gutless performance.

Hyun Jin Ryu:  Same as with Maeda, but his velocity has been up a tick.  I’d be curious to see what he could do his next time out.

Brandon McCarthy: Won’t be a factor.

Brock Stewart: Why bother?

The Pen: Beyond Jansen, overrated.  Solid numbers, but over-worked due to starting pitching that can’t pitch beyond the 5th.  I like the way Morrow and Cingrani have looked.  I don’t care for Avilan, nor Fields.  Jury is still out on Tony Watson.  Stripling and Ravin are hit and miss.

The Dodgers announcers to a man are saying that the team doesn’t have to play for anything in September because they have the division wrapped up.  If I were them, I’d keep their mouths shut about that.  They’re playing like a team that’s coasting and can’t get the engine started again.  A 21 game lead just became a 16 game lead.  In a week, it could be an 11 game lead, and in 2 weeks, a 6 game lead, and in 3 weeks, a 2 game lead.  It’s virtually impossible, but if anyone can get that done, it’s our Los Angeles Dodgers.   Let’s hope this is all just a nightmare that’ll end next week when the Snakes come back to town.  Messages need to be sent.

 

 

Slumpy Slumpington. Time to Worry?

Well, they finally lost a series.  At home to a Brew Crew struggling to stay in the Wild Card hunt.  They look stone cold.  They look flat.  They look sluggish.  They look weak.  Everyone except for Puig, Utley, Barnes has stopped hitting.  Oh, you say Seager hasn’t?  Yes he has.  Dude’s collapsing that back leg again.  His knee is on the ground when he swings.  No power.  (Why is Turner Ward letting him do that?)  Hasn’t hit a double in – I think – more than a month!  Looking silly striking out with alarming frequency.  Sure, he squared up on one ball today and he’s hitting .311, but truth be told, he has not looked like a force in a long time.  J.T. is opening up too quickly and he seems to have lost it altogether.  The Red Dream is becoming the red nightmare.  If it’s not for a weak sun double today, he’s 1 for his last 20 with no hard hit balls since mid-August.  Forget the batting title, let’s just hope he can get to 60 RBI and help the team in the playoffs.  Wither CT3 goes, we follow, and CT3 has hit into bad luck and is slumping.  So, we go nowhere.  Grandy giveth and Grandy taketh away.   He had one decent at bat today, where he wound up flying to left for the final out, but he’s looked weak the last few days.   Grandal, in my opinion, aside from an important blast the other day, is a waste of space.  His at bats are not competitive and he can’t seem to recognize a hanging curve.  Forsythe is still trying to find it.  Kike’ is quickly plummeting toward the Mendoza line and soon, a decision will have to be made about his post-season services.  Utley’s had a few clutch hits, but he’s still only hitting .236.  Puig has had some great at bats and is hitting a productive .259, but A Gone was gone again after 2 AB’s with a recurrence of back tightness.  To say we need Cody back is an understatement.  Is it his absence that’s causing this malaise? Or is it A Gone’s presence?  The Dodgers very much resemble the team that played in April and early May.  Weak.

If the post-season started Tuesday and I had to make a decision as to who my starting staff was based on performance alone, Yu Darvish would be the odd man out.  We were all so excited about acquiring him at the deadline, but let’s face it, he’s looked like crap in most of his starts.  He’s had one truly strong outing – his Dodger debut.  Otherwise, in spite of some strikeouts, he’s looked shaky, shakier, and shakiest.  Misses location and gets hit hard and often.   Darvish was not having a stellar year in Texas, so he was kind of a risky get.  A little unsettling that he’s not really improving.  I just hope we don’t regret losing Willie Calhoun for this guy.  He’s got a month and a week to look like the pitcher we traded for, or you really have to consider not pitching him in the playoffs.  Why?  Because Hill, Ryu and Maeda have all been consistently better than him.  The jury is still out on Wood, but if it’s true that the shoulder/clavicle joint issue is what’s caused Wood to struggle of late, and if that issue is fixed, then Wood could be fine.

So, this is surreal, huh?  All this negative talk about a club that has 91 wins on August 27th and leads their division by a measly 19 games.  So, is it time to panic?  No.  Not at all.  Should we be worried?  Well… a little, yes.  Like I’ve said all along, the number in the “W” column can mean home field advantage in the playoffs, which is huge, but doesn’t mean a whole lot else.  It’s about momentum going into the post-season and it’s important the Dodgers don’t go into a protracted slump or become too used to losing before that time.  I think it’s important to try to break out of this as soon as possible.  If this complete lack of offense continues, we could be in trouble.  Not really in danger of losing the division, but could be in danger of losing confidence, swagger, and, eventually, a playoff series.  Is it a case of peaking too early?  Could be.  We’ll have to see.  I only know that the team I’ve been watching the past week and a half – yes, even the team that won 3 out of 4 in Pittsburgh – looks like a slightly different team.  Not hitting with runners in scoring position, not having competitive at bats.  If teams like the Cubs, Nats, Snakes, Rocks or even the Marlins get hot as hell and can take that momentum into the post-season, a flamed-out Dodger team could end up repeating recent playoff history.

But, I don’t think that’ll happen.  We have Kershaw and Bellinger coming back this week, and hopefully, that’ll give the Blue the boost they need.

What’s scary is any starting pitcher who’s halfway decent has pretty much shut the Dodgers down these past couple weeks.  Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Williams, Zach Davies, and today, Jimmy “Big Sweat” Nelson.  (God, I’ll be happy to see these dumb ass “Players Weekend” Little League uniforms go away).  The Dodgers have to start beating some good pitchers again.  Maybe Turner Ward can remind Yasmani Grandal what a curve ball does, and if he wouldn’t mind hitting one.

Doc needs to play his guys.  I think resting guys is important, but too much resting promotes complacency.  Is this team getting complacent?  Well, did you see Seager on that potential inning-ending double play grounder in the first that cost us a run?  Terrible.  That’s not Corey Seager.  Or how about pretty much every at bat by Grandal?  And, by the way, how many passed balls does Grandal have in the last month?   30?

So, what do Dodger fans take from losing their first series since the first week of June?  Worry a little, but don’t panic.  This team should be just fine.  I’d rather they go through this now, than in October.  Let’s just hope this malaise ends sooner than later.