(Probably) Final DodgersFYI Post On Clayton Kershaw and His Apologists

It’s all been said.  Here, here, here, and here.  Yet somehow, it’s worth saying just once more, after what HAS to be Kershaw’s magnum opus of choking, as well as his apologists’ (decreasing but still strong) defense of him, at the expense of others…

Circumstances for failure are always given AFTER the fact with Kershaw.  In the eyes of many, the blame will always fall primarily on someone or something else. Always.  Last night was more of the same.

Kershaw is the same age as Strasburg, pitched on the same amount of rest as Strasburg, and (for now) makes more money than Strasburg. Yet many have convinced themselves that having him pitch to more than one batter was inexcusable for Dave Roberts.

Dave Roberts, similar to Don Mattingly before him, was a baseball legend and a classy guy.  Now, he’s an ostracized pariah.  Sure, he had his flaws as a manager, as did Mattingly.  (MAN, did Mattingly have flaws!)  But neither of them deserved the amount of criticism, nor degree of rage, thrown in their direction, by the fans, by the media, and especially diehard Kershaw apologists disguised as journalists.  (Those on Twitter know who that third category is in reference to.)  But now, Dave Roberts will likely suffer the same fate as Mattingly.  Such is life for those who are Clayton Kershaw’s manager- Kershaw gets all the credit when succeeding, the manager gets most of the blame for “setting Kershaw up to fail” in October.  At this point, it basically comes with the job description of Dodger manager, and will come with the next one- if Kershaw is still even pitching for the Dodgers next year.

For the Dodgers sake, they’d better hope that the money they spent on re-signing Clayton Kershaw doesn’t take them out of the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes.  Until then, the Dodgers will get to watch the playoffs on TV like the rest of us, and wonder what might have been.  Again.

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2019 NLDS Pregame 3- Trouble Lurking in the Shadows

Now that the Nationals have (wisely) opted to push Max Scherzer back to Game 4, that makes Game 3 all the more critical for the Dodgers to win.  It’s not quite a proverbial “must win”, but let’s put it this way- if the Dodgers do not win a game featuring Aníbal Sánchez, the least menacing starter for Washington, they will likely be at a disadvantage for the next two games.  With The Gruesome Twosome (aka Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg) starting for the Nationals over the next games- assuming there is a Game 5- the Dodgers will likely find themselves in a hole at some point during those games.  It’ll be up to the offense to get their pitch count(s) up, get the Nats’ awful bullpen in the game, and hope to take it from there.  If either DC starting pitcher is still around for the seventh inning, it would be almost shocking if they weren’t pitching with a lead.

As for Game 3, it would be nice if Cody Bellinger and/or Corey Seager didn’t leave all the heavy lifting to Justin Turner and the rest of the lineup.  There’s a saying that you can’t predict baseball, but with this team making it to postseason after postseason, that saying is being tested to its limit.

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NLDS Game 2 Recap- Over and Over and Over and Over

 

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This picture isn’t from game 2- but it might as well have been.

Let’s forget the narrative, because it’s no longer a narrative- it is a fact.  Forget about how Clayton Kershaw does in the postseason relative to his regular season, which is no longer the best but still better than most.  Clayton Kershaw’s October performances are AT BEST comparable to a typical number three starter.  This is even more unacceptable, when considering that he opted out for more money, and got it.  A normally pragmatic front office gave him everything he wanted.  And in his first postseason performance of 2019, he gave them more of the same.

Stephen Strasburg, Kershaw’s counterpart in more ways than one, dominated the way he typically does in the postseason.  Once removed from the game- one of two highly controversial moves by Dave Martinez- Max Muncy did what he normally does, putting the ball into the seats, making the game a one run affair.  But the Nationals quickly got the run back, and while the Dodgers threatened in the ninth- thanks in part to Martinez’s other questionable move, intentionally putting the tying run (Muncy) on base- it was not to be.  Ironically, the unintentional walk of Will Smith to load the bases probably saved the Nats from another bullpen meltdown, as Corey Seager came up short.  Seager and Bellinger, and especially Bellinger, have been pretty disappointing in their postseason careers.

But again, this comes back to Kershaw.  I shouldn’t be surprised by now, but the reaction from the public at large continues to be very different from other athletes in similar positions.  At this point, it’s unavoidable even for them to point out how many times he’s been lousy in October.  But the kind of reaction isn’t nearly as rabid as we’d see for other athletes in a similar position.  In fact, Kenley Jansen, the greatest closer in Dodger history, has endured more wrath for a few bad months this season than Kershaw has heard in his entire postseason career!  And sorry, but it’s not enough that he’s the greatest regular season pitcher of his generation, or that he’s a great guy, or a great philanthropist.  Others have gotten more wrath for his failings (“Why was he left in so long?” “Why doesn’t the offense score more?” “Why wasn’t he the starter for game 7?”) than Kershaw himself has. Most Dodger fans and bigwigs throughout sports media are “sad”, “disappointed”, or “confused” about Kershaw’s failings.  Given the prestige, the expectations, and the contract situation, it’s not unfair to point out that Kershaw’s actually been lucky to not hear more- WAY more- how often he’s come up short.

Anyway, the 2019 Dodgers go to Washington now, where they will have two chances to earn a plane ride back.  At least we won’t have to talk about Kershaw’s shortcomings over there.  But Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger might be another matter.  We shall see.

 

LA vs DC Rematch (sans Harper)

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Juan Soto after his dramatic hit, completely indifferent to his baserunning error

Well, the 2019 MLB postseason started off with a much needed bang.  After a relatively noncompetitive season, with no memorable races and too many home runs, the Nationals and Brewers played one of the most exciting, drama-filled postseason games we’ve seen in some time.  Regardless of who was going to win, the Dodgers were going to rematch with somebody– that’s what happens when a team makes the postseason an astonishing seven years in a row- but the Nationals are a particularly interesting case.  Given that Steven Strasburg- who was great- and Max Scherzer- who wasn’t- have already been used, the Dodgers have a great opportunity to take a 1-0 lead, particularly since the game is at Dodger Stadium.  The Nationals bullpen is atrocious, and although spoiled Dodger fans have booed Kenley Jansen for much of the season, his subpar performance would probably be above average for the Nats’ hapless bullpen.  Both teams have great starting pitching and terrific offenses, so the Dodgers’ advantage will likely be in the later innings.

There’s really not much more to say about this series, and since I’m not getting paid for this, I won’t even try.  For a recap of the last time these two teams met up, click here.  Until next recap- whenever that may be- enjoy the game(s)!