Your NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, so far in the NLCS:
85 PA, 14 H, 0 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 24 K
Your Seattle Mariners utility infielder Robert Andino, in 2013:
85 PA, 14 H, 0 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI, 7 BB, 27 K
Hell’s bells, Trudy!
It’s that bad!
And it gets worse!
Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier might not play, giving eight to ten plate appearances to Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker. Oh, and Cardinals ace slash playoff dynamo Adam Wainwright will start Game 3 in LA tonight. Ahem:
That curveball has been a playoff pestilence since 2006. Click for schadenfreude.
We’ve covered the Dodgers bench before. A collection of hypothetical Replacement Players would have performed ever-so-slightly better. Los Angeles paid for premium talent around the field, but filled their bench lazily, with creaky veterans. This roster is ill-equipped for injury and facing injury at the second-worst possible time.
A series of ESPN hot zones will help us visualize why the Dodgers are in trouble tonight. All of them show the batter’s batting average over the last two years against right-handed pitchers. (These can be found on each player’s ESPN page.)
You can be sure that, aside from the gains in batting average, Hanley and Ethier would also provide much more power potential than their backups. I don’t want to overdo it with the zone maps, so you can look for yourself at ESPN. It checks out.
Here’s one for fun. Mark Ellis isn’t a bench player, and actually he’s been a serviceable starter this year. He is in many ways a throwback second baseman, with quick hands, a good glove, solid contact rates and not a lot of power. And since Donnie Baseball is a throwback manager, he likes to bat Ellis second, so he can make productive outs and execute the hit-and-run. This is the folly of team baseball. Managers like Mattingly overvalue guys who make outs that, in some contexts, advance baserunners, all because it’s easy to point to that and say, “Aha, a consolation for out-making! All guys make outs, but this guy sacrificed himself for the team.”
That of course flies in the face of everything we now know about lineup optimization. Perhaps tactical errors like this need to be made in the limelight of the postseason for progress to be made. High-profile mistakes will raise discussion and get an owner’s attention.
Hyun-Jin Ryu probably won’t operate with much wiggle room tonight. The 26-year-old “rookie” lefty is a traditional four-pitch pitcher, with a fastball, slider, curve and change. His curveball doesn’t move like Wainwright’s, but that’s like saying he can’t run like Rickey. It’s still a good curveball, and a damn good fourth pitch.
Ryu’s best weapon might be his changeup. He throws it more than any pitch except the fastball, and for the season it surrendered only three extra-base hits (all home runs, strangely). Looking at just this season, Ryu’s change compares favorably to Wainwright’s curve.
- Ryu Change: 3 XBH, .168 BAA, .213 SLG, .195 BABIP (Count: 724)
- Wainwright Curve: 9 XBH, ,172 BAA, .226 SLG, .297 BABIP (Count: 1018)
Against the righty-heavy Cardinals lineup, Ryu’s changeup must be as extraordinary as it has been so far in his young career.