AJ Ellis has gotten 38 of the 46 plate appearances for catchers in the month of September. Drew Butera has four. Tim Federowicz has four.
What does it matter? Plenty. While none of the three of them have many hits this season, AJ Ellis is the tried and true backstop that manages all of the pitching staff. He needs some rest. We can’t afford an injury to Ellis ahead of the playoffs. Also, while he doesn’t collect many hits, he has collected enough free bases this year to push his OBP (on-base percentage) to .322.
I guess it made sense to start him all three games in the all-important Dodgers-Giants series over the weekend. But now, give him a rest. I’m surprised to see him starting today in Colorado.
Now the Dodgers have pushed their lead to three games, thanks to a sweep of the weak Diamondbacks, coupled with the Tigers managing one victory out of three games against the Giants. Last weekend featured the last of the major strength of schedule differences between the Dodgers and the Giants. The rest of the nineteen game remaining schedules for the two leading National League West clubs are very similar:
1. Home and home three game series with each other
2. Home and home three game series with weak NL West teams with identical 59-84 records (Dodgers versus the Rockies and Giants versus the Diamondbacks).
3. Host the Padres for a single series (the Padres are at Chavez Ravine for three games, then they finish their season with four games at AT&T Park).
4. Travel to a weak team for one series: The Dodgers are at the Cubs (64-79) for four games, while in the same week the Giants are at the Padres (66-76) for three games.
Will the Dodgers be able to hang on and win the division? A lot of the answer will depend on the six games with the Giants. The rest of the answer will be based on the Dodgers’ ability to win series and sometimes sweep the weaker teams remaining on their schedule.
After Donnie mismanaged Wednesday’s game, the Dodgers find themselves just two games ahead of the Giants with twenty-two games left to play. A big chunk (six of the 22) will be head-to-head matches with the Giants. But this weekend, the Dodgers play the GM-less D-Backs while the Giants take on the Tigers in Detroit. This difference in strength of schedule will hopefully advantage the Blue, and give us a chance to increase our divisional lead over the weekend.
So, will we be watching the scoreboard? You betcha. But the Dodgers need to take care of business on the field. It won’t be easy, as the offense has been pathetic. Yes, Justin Turner is still red-hot. Carl Crawford is pulling his weight. But Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig have gone stone cold at the top of the lineup. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez are not helping a lot. Matt Kemp can help, but will Donnie put him in the lineup? Meanwhile, Joc Pederson has misfired in his first three games, contributing five strikeouts in his first eight at bats.
As for the bullpen, an article by Dustin Nosler in yesterday’s Dodgers Digest pretty much sums it up. http://dodgersdigest.com/2014/09/04/dodgers-bullpen-needs-saving-but-dont-expect-pedro-baez-to-do-it/ Our bullpen stalwarts are Kenley Jansen and JP Howell. Other than that, the bullpen is weak.
With a little help from the Tigers, we may still win the division. Another big determining factor in that success is the fact that Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to start games against the Giants in both of our final head-to-head series against them. But success in the playoffs looks gloomy given the offense and the bullpen.
The song to this point has been somewhat slow…
Oh, it’s a long long while
From May to December
[February to October/November???]
But the days grow short
When you reach September
When the autumn weather
Turns leaves to flame
[Will 2014 burn like an ever glowing star, or become just more embers of a season that's been charred???]
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game
Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few
The team has played well enough to find themselves sitting a top the N.L. West, on this first day in September. They have managed to improve upon the early season errors and overall lack of good fundamentals. Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw have given us two no-hitters that will forever be looked upon as bright spots. Matt Kemp has turned a frustrating few years, back into one of potential. Puig has maintained a nice line across the board in his sophomore season. We have a guy in Gordon who has pleasantly and somewhat quietly taken over and improved upon the lead-off spot and second base position. Kenley Jansen has been for the most part all business when given the chance.
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you
As far as I can tell, everyone on this blog, that was here in [was it late February] when Boy’s embarked upon 2014… Is still around as we head into the final stretch. Over 3 million fans have shown up to watch the team in person. Season ticket sales were up across the board, so much so, that after closing down sales, the Dodgers then re-opened ”said sales”, even if at a higher premium than before. The faithful have even endured a season in which the beloved Vin Scully has only been view-able to a select few. A season in which he announced his intentions to return in 2015.
I don’t know what the Dodgers September song will be???
I do hope it will be one with an upbeat tempo…I do hope it will be a prelude to an October chart buster…I hold out hope that the September Song will showcase the talents of Kemp, Hanley, Gonzo, Puig, Uribe and yes, even Ethier lighting up the billboard. I trust that Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu will give the teams song a solid foundation on which to perform.
The team has one road trip remaining. Which takes them through San Francisco, Colorado and Wrigley Field in Chicago. Meaning, whatever song the team decides to sing…the majority of it will be sung in front of the hardworking, and loyal fan-base, in what once was referred to as DodgerLand..
It sure would be nice to see the Boy’s put together something that has us all humming the same tune… A tune that will forever stick in the minds and blue-bleeding hearts of us all…
Cue the music… It begins tonight, with the energetic Nationals arriving for the show…