Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and this should be a great series.
Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Padres is here, so let’s take a look at San Diego.
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The big news is that the Padres might be without their best two starting pitchers in Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet. Clevinger has an elbow injury, Lamet a biceps injury. Clevinger had a 2.84 earned-run average this season (2.35 FIP), while Lamet had a 2.09 ERA (2.48 FIP).
We won’t find out whether they will play in this series until sometime today, when the rosters are announced.
Possibly playing without one or both of their aces, the Padres might have to rely on their top-notch offense to lead them. Seven of the nine players in their usual starting lineup have an OPS+ of better than 100 (making them above league average), including an impressive three above 150:
Wil Myers, 159 (.288/.353/.606, 15 homers)
Manny Machado, 158 (.304/.370/.580, 16 homers)
Fernando Tatis Jr., 155 (.277/.366/.571, 17 homers)
Eric Hosmer, 131 (.287/.333/.517, nine homers)
Jake Cronenworth, 128 (.285/.354/.477, 15 doubles)
Trent Grisham, 122 (.251/.352/.456, 10 homers)
Jurickson Profar, 113 (.278/.343/.428, seven homers)
In contrast, the Dodgers had six of nine above 100, and two above 150 (Will Smith and Corey Seager).
So the starting lineups are pretty even, but the Dodgers’ bench is a little better. Since both teams played the same competition this season (the NL West and American League West), we can make some direct comparisons:
When you factor in that the Dodgers play in a park that favors hitting more than the Padres, that bring the teams a bit closer, but you have to give the Dodgers the smallest of edges on offense.
Without Lamet and Clevinger, the Padres’ starting pitcher is worse than the Dodgers’. And the Dodgers’ bullpen is better. However, the Padres have two solid closers in Drew Pomeranz and Trevor Rosenthal, though it appears Pomeranz has settled in as the primary set-up man. Rosenthal did not allow an earned in 10 innings with the Padres this season, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out 17. Pomeranz yielded three earned runs in 18-2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and 10 walks while striking out 29. The rest of the bullpen is good to below average at best. And though the entire Padres bullpen pitched well in the wild-card round, it wasn’t as consistently effective as the Dodgers’ bullpen this season.
Just like against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Dodgers would be best served getting to the starting pitchers. The reason the Padres have such a reputation for comebacks is because they frequently trailed late.
The other thing to keep in mind about the Padres: They are a confident, cocky group. You are going to hate watching them. They are the type of guys you love to have on your team but hate on other teams. Think of a team with about 20 Yasiel Puigs. Plus they have Machado, so, going by his tenure on the Dodgers, we can expect to see him fail to run out some ground balls and spike the Dodgers’ first baseman a couple of times.
There’s no big secret flaw on either team. The Dodgers and Padres are the two best teams in the NL (though you can make a case for Atlanta). It’s going to be a tough series.
But the Dodgers will win in five.
Kenley Jansen, closer no more?
Good news for the 50% of you who voted “Kenley Jansen should no longer be the closer” in our recent poll. You might be getting your wish. Manager Dave Roberts said Sunday, when asked whether Jansen would be the ninth-inning guy from here on out: “Not in every game. He might, but putting ourselves in that situation, where I can’t use him in a situation where I feel he’s the best option, isn’t the best decision for the Dodgers right now.
“There are still going to be times that I might need him in a different inning, and he’s on-board with whatever to help us win baseball games. It’s a title, but I think that in practice, there are certain innings and certain parts of the lineup that I think he’s the best option. We’ll proceed that way.”
My interpretation: The Dodgers are going with a closer-by-committee. Jansen will be part of that, but Roberts is too nice to come right out and say Jansen is no longer the full-time closer.
Why Arlington, Texas?
The Dodgers and Padres are playing their NLDS at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers. The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics are playing their ALDS at Dodger Stadium. Why? When Major League Baseball set up these bubbles for the rest of the playoffs, its first priority, obviously, was to prevent a coronavirus outbreak among teams, just like the NBA has done so well. It also didn’t want a team such as the Dodgers (or Astros) to play in their home park the rest of the playoffs when other teams would not be able to. So, it put the NL playoffs in AL parks and the AL playoffs in NL parks. And because only Texas and California were going to be used for playoff games, that meant sending L.A. and San Diego to Texas and Houston to California.
One thing to keep in mind, Globe Life Field is definitely a pitcher’s park.
Here’s the NLDS schedule. The Dodgers will be the home team for Games 1, 2 and 5. All times are Pacific.
Game 1: Tonight, 6:30 p.m., San Diego (TBD) vs. Dodgers (Walker Buehler), FS1
Game 2: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., San Diego (TBD) vs. Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), FS1
Game 3: Thursday, 6 p.m., Dodgers (TBD) vs. San Diego (TBD), MLB Network
Game 4*: Friday, 6 p.m., Dodgers (TBD) vs. San Diego (TBD), FS1
Game 5*: Saturday, 5 p.m., Dodgers (TBD) vs. San Diego (TBD), FS1
* If necessary
Got a lot of emails from readers wondering who the announcing crew for the NLDS will be, since so many of you were disappointed in the ESPN crew. Joe Davis will be the main announcer for all four games that will be on FS1. No word yet on who the MLB Network crew will be for Game 3.
Who would you rather see the Dodgers face in the NLDS? After 9,469 votes, the results:
RIP, ‘Sweet’ Lou Johnson and Ron Perranoski
It has been a tough week for Dodgers alumni. First Jay Johnstone died, and then Lou Johnson and Ron Perranoski.
Johnson, 86, died Thursday night. He might be best known for hitting a solo homer off Jim Kaat in the fourth inning of a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the decisive seventh game of the 1965 World Series. As Mike DiGiovanna wrote in his obit, in a 2001 interview with The Times, Johnson said he gave his World Series ring to a Seattle drug dealer in 1971 as collateral for a cocaine transaction. When he returned two hours later with the money, the dealer and the ring were gone.
“I was at my lowest ebb,” Johnson said in 2001. “It was the only thing I had of value, and now I had given that away.”
Nine years later, the troubled Johnson returned to the Dodgers and asked for help. Don Newcombe, the former Dodgers pitcher who was the team’s director of community affairs, sent Johnson to a substance-abuse center. Then-Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley paid for treatment.
Johnson cleaned up and began working for the Dodgers’ community-relations department as a drug-and-alcohol counselor.
Perranoski, 84, died Friday night.
“Ron Perranoski played a major role in the success of the Dodgers as a great reliever and a mentor to many great young pitchers over his 30-year career in the organization,” team president and chief executive Stan Kasten said in a statement.
Perranoski was close with Orel Hershiser, helping him develop a sinking fastball that made him one of the best pitchers in the game.
In a chart in the most recent newsletter, it said Sandy Koufax struck out 15 Yankees in the 1962 World Series. Of course, it was the 1963 World Series. There are three possible explanations for this mistake:
1. I was testing you to see whether you were paying attention.
2. Whose bright idea was it to put the 2 and 3 key so close together on the keyboard?
3. I’m lame sometimes and didn’t double-check my work carefully.
I’ll let you decide which of the three is correct (spoiler alert: it’s No. 3).
Your first Dodgers memory
I have thousands of responses, so if I don’t get to yours right away, don’t worry, I will eventually. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, it’s first Dodgers memory, not favorite Dodgers memory. Thanks.
Ted Pappageorge: My parents gave me a record album that I have long ago lost that had entertainers like Stubby Kaye and others singing songs about the Dodgers. I was around 8-years-old then so that was around 1968. There were pictures of Dodger greats like Sandy Koufax on the album and I would play that album over and over on my record player. I fell in love with the Dodgers and fell asleep many nights with my transistor radio in my ear under the covers so my parents could not hear, listening to Vin tell those glorious stories.
Robert Horito of Orem, Utah: My very first Dodger memory is back in the Spring of 1971. I was 10-years-old and was playing baseball in Southwood Little League in Torrance for none other than the Dodgers. My grandparents lived in Culver City and they came on a Saturday to pick me up for a sleepover at their house. My grandfather kept a horse in Baldwin Hills, and after going to what he called “the barn” to feed and take care of Tex-Ann (the horse’s name), we road up to Chavez Ravine for my very first Dodger game. I of course had to wear my Dodger little league uniform, and we sat up in what Grandpa called “the crow’s nest,” aka the upper deck. I can remember walking through the tunnel for the first time into the stadium and seeing this magnificent baseball diamond with amazing green outfield grass. The scoreboard stood high above the outfield bleachers in left field and it was a warm and sunshiny California spring afternoon.
That year the players had the names of Maury Wills, Wes Parker, Willie Crawford, and a new all-star named Richie Allen who would only play in Los Angeles for one year. Claude Osteen, Don Sutton and another newcomer, Al Downing were the main Dodger starting pitchers. I wish I can remember who the opponent was, but I can’t. I wish I can remember who was pitching, but I can’t. But what I do remember, and what is my first Dodger memory, was who was playing in centerfield (my position); Willie Davis. I do not remember how many hits he got, if any, but what I remember is how fast he was as he patrolled the outfield. When a ball was hit to centerfield, he would race over as gracefully and effortlessly as if he had wings on his feet and catch what I remember as every ball that was hit to centerfield (maybe my memory is off, but probably pretty close). I became an instant Willie Davis fan and will always remember how fun it was to watch him play. I wanted to play just like Willie Davis, and after that first memory, I have had hundreds, if not thousands of others and have been a life-long Dodger fan.
Bob Altizer of Phoenix: While I remember the Dodgers moving to L.A. in 1958, my first vivid memory was was when I was 10 years old. It was August 31, 1959, and I was at the Coliseum for the game that Sandy Koufax struck out 18 Giants — including Willie Mays twice. It was an amazing night and the place was packed; I was behind the “Moon Shot” netting in left field and the Ks just kept piling up. To top it off, Wally Moon hit a three-run homer over the net in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. I was hooked as a Dodger fan and have been ever since.
In case you missed it
Dylan Hernández: Establishment Dodgers to take on the cool-kid Padres in NLDS
Lou Johnson homers in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. Watch it here.