Tag Archives: Dodgers

Dodgers Drop Game 4 of NLDS to Nationals, 6-1, to Force Decisive Do-Or-Die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium

Dodgers Drop Game 4 of NLDS to Nationals, 6-1, to Force Decisive Do-Or-Die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium

It started with a light drizzle on a mild 78-degree Monday night in the Nation’s Capital. As the fifth inning rolled around, a robust wind picked up and the rain roared down upon the 36,487 in attendance at Nationals Park.

The storm wasn’t supposed to arrive until after midnight, but it crashed down upon the Dodgers with one thunderous swing from the longest tenured National in team history.

On September 1, 2005, the Washington Nationals selected third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from nearby Virginia with the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft. He was the first player selected in the team’s history. 15 years later, he would help rewrite it.

The Dodgers usually win games like this. The Nationals do not, but as the rain poured down on the “W” logo in straightaway centerfield, Zimmerman would change that narrative with one swing.

Zimmerman delivered the biggest hit of the Nationals’ season when he smashed a 97 MPH fastball from Pedro Baez off that logo in center to give Washington a decisive 6-1 win in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

As the ball flew over the fence, Baez’s head dropped into his hands like a wilted flower. The Dodgers postseason demons reappeared, as thoughts turned to a do-or-die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.

In the spring of 2015, Rich Hill and Max Scherzer were relaxing in West Palm Beach ready to begin another baseball season. Hill had just signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, and was competing for a spot in the rotation. Hill did not make the Opening Day roster, and was released by Washington two months later, vanquished to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball where he would resurrect his career with the Long Island Ducks.

As fate would have it, the two friends who met in Florida would inexplicably have their paths cross repeatedly over the next five years. First, against each other in a winner-take-all Game 5 in the 2016 NLDS. On Monday they met again on the same field with multiple ramifications on the line. A win for Hill and the Dodgers would advance to their fourth straight NLCS. A win for Scherzer, and the Nationals would force a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.

“You want to play the best because at the end of the day, I feel like it’s much more gratifying to go against somebody at the top of their game,” said Hill who remembers Scherzer as intense and competitive from their time together. “Looking across the way, when you talk about guys that you really enjoy watching pitch, he’s definitely up there for me.”

Hill’s journey to this moment was more turbulent than Scherzer’s. Hill had to reinvent himself as a pitcher just to make an MLB roster, and injury-plagued season in 2019 put Hill on the outside looking in of a spot on the playoff roster in early September.

“Obviously, I put in time and the effort to get back. I worked really hard with our training staff,” said Hill of his rehabilitation regimen. “Those guys put in a lot of time and effort to make sure that the program that I was on was correct for getting back and being efficient on the hill and getting back to not where I was, but just getting back to where everything felt comfortable enough and strong enough to go out there and compete. It was just something I wanted. This is what I have a love for…I’m not going to say it was easy, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t get back.”

With less than two weeks to go in the season, Rich Hill, finally proved he could pitch in the MLB Playoffs during the final game of the regular season.

“His last start against San Francisco,” said Dave Roberts of when he knew Hill had enough to make the NLDS roster. “It looked good, came out of it well, the side session after that, trainers, Rich, his own words, his confidence level, my eyes seeing how it looks, all that gave us the confidence that he deserves to make this start and we feel good about whatever length he can give us.”

So Hill was called upon in Game 4 to close out the series and christen the visiting clubhouse with a champagne celebration. Unfortunately for Hill, things didn’t go according to plan.

Maybe it was Hill’s lack of command, or Doug Eddings strike zone, but the soon-to-be 40-year-old left-hander struggled to find the plate, and after issuing three walks in the third inning, he was undone by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Rendon that leveled the score.

Meanwhile, the man they call “Mad Max,” lived up to the billing. Every bit as intense and competitive as advertised, the Nationals’ irrefutable ace dominated the Dodgers over seven spectacular innings.

Scherzer extinguished the Dodgers lineup that was saturated with lefties to weaken him. For over three hours, he flummoxed every hitter he faced with a devastating combination of fastball, slider, and change-up.

After a swing-and-miss slider in the first inning, Scherzer tried to surprise Turner with a 96 MPH fastball. He missed high, and Turner sent the pitch into the Dodgers’ bullpen—almost in the identical spot he did in Game 3—to give Los Angeles an early 1-0 lead.

But that would be the only run the Dodgers would get off Scherzer. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed just one run, on four scattered hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in the victory. If Scherzer is Washington’s Batman, then he will now pass the baton to his Robin, Stephen Strasburg, in the decisive Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

It took the Dodgers five games to dispatch of the Nationals in the NLDS in 2016. Kenley Jansen pitched three innings of relief, and Clayton Kershaw earned the first save of his career in the win.

Dave Roberts was in his inaugural year as manager of the Dodgers during that season, and Game 5 was his first taste of an all hands on deck, winner-take-all playoff game.

“That game was crazy,” Roberts said multiple times when reminiscing about the experience. “I don’t look forward to revisiting that one.”

On Wednesday, he’ll have to.



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Familiar Narrative For Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, as Nationals Defeat Dodgers, 4-2, to Even NLDS at 1-1

Familiar Narrative For Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, as Nationals Defeat Dodgers, 4-2, to Even NLDS at 1-1

The postseason has always been a seesaw sensation for Clayton Kershaw. Some games are great, and vintage Kershaw is unveiled. But when the Dodgers have fallen with him on the mound, the painful memories of playoff past get revived and the old rhetoric of his inability to pitch under pressure is reborn.

Kershaw allowed three runs in the first two innings on Friday night, and the Washington Nationals defeated the three-time Cy Young Award winner, 4-2, to even their best-of-five National League Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1-1. 

The conversation of Kershaw’s playoff imperfections will likely be all that’s discussed among Dodgers’ fans on Saturday. Not the sensational start by Stephen Strasburg, or the dormant Dodgers’ offense. 

The Dodgers are not Moses, and the postseason is not the Red Sea. The other playoff teams will not part at their feet, providing a clear path to their first championship in 31 years.

After recording a franchise record 106 wins and securing a seventh consecutive NL West Division title in 2019, they are now just two losses away from perhaps the greatest disappoint in franchise history. 

NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 2NBC4 Postgame Playoff Wrap Up NLDS Game 2

It all began innocently in Game 2. Justin Turner, plagued with back problems in recent weeks, couldn’t handle a first-pitch grounder down the third base line.

The leadoff double was cashed in four batters later, when former Dodger Howie Kendrick recorded a redemption RBI that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Kershaw limited the damage by striking out Kurt Suzuki to end the inning, but the lesson was learned: don’t give Washington extra outs, not with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. 

“I was able to get out of that first inning with limited damage,” said Kershaw. “That inning could have gotten bigger, so I was thankful to get out of that allowing just one, but that’s not what killed us.”

In the second inning, buried beneath an avalanche of hit-by-pitches, walks, and hard contact, Kershaw allowed two more runs, and the Dodgers found themselves down 3-0 before fans could find their rally towels.

“The second inning tonight was not good,” continued Kershaw. “That was the difference in the game. When you get two strikes on a hitter with two outs, they shouldn’t score any runs and they scored two more, and that was the difference in the game.”

As it turned out, three runs was all Strasburg needed. The San Diego native was perfect through four innings on Friday and retired the first 14 batters he faced before Will Smith lined a single to center field for the first hit of the game. 

“I had a feel for what he was trying to do to me,” said Smith of the at-bat against Strasburg. “He tossed me a change-up, which I think went against his plan, but I kept it in the back of my mind and got the base hit.”

They scored their first run an inning later, when pinch-hitter Matt Beaty roped a single to right field, advanced to third on a double by Joc Pederson, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Turner.

With the tying run at the plate in A.J. Pollock (whose had success against Strasburg), the 31-year-old right-hander rose to the occasion and snagged a comebacker to end the threat.

“You try and do your homework and look at their weaknesses a little bit,” said Strasburg. “But they’re a pretty deep lineup so sometimes there’s not many weaknesses there and you just got to go out there and pitch to your strengths.”

For six sensational innings, Strasburg pitched to his strengths and was virtually unhittable. Throwing a combination of change-up, fastball, and curveball, he struck out 10 batters in all manners and fashions: swinging, looking, check-swinging, it made no difference to Strasburg. 

“I just learned over the years that pressure’s a funny thing and I think it’s something that you have complete control over,” said Strasburg, who lowered his postseason ERA to 0.64. “There’s obviously a lot of expectations, there’s a lot of excitement in games, but I really tried over the years to train my mind into thinking that every single game is just as important and just sticking to my approach.”

An unexepected turn of events occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning when Game 3 starter Max Scherzer entered the game in relief and struck out the side. 

Friday would normally be a bullpen day for Scherzer, but the move to bring in the three-time Cy Young Award winner showed that Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez would rather put the ball in the hands of his capable starters, than his capricious relievers.

“I talked to Max before the game,” said Martinez of the risky maneuver to go to Scherzer. “Today was his bullpen day. We held him back. He said he was good to go. I specifically told him that I will not use him in the 9th, but I would have to probably use him in the bridge, the 6th, 7th inning. So and that worked out good.”

Scherzer has appeared In relief four times during his postseason career, and is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and eight strikeouts.

“This is the playoffs,” Scherzer said. “You lay it on the line every time you touch that field.”

Dodger Stadium Debuts New Food Specials For NLDSDodger Stadium Debuts New Food Specials For NLDS

Meanwhile, Kershaw was a shell of his former self in Game 2. Sure, a late-inning homer for Max Muncy off the Nationals bullpen made the final score look a lot closer, but that doesn’t take away from the sloppy start by Kershaw. 

His once elite fastball barely eclipsed 90 MPH. Nowadays, his best two pitches are his slider and curveball, when they’re on, he can still be lights out, but when it’s not, like you saw in Game 2, its pedestrian at best. 

Nevertheless, Kershaw should not be left alone in isolation to shoulder the blame for this game. The Dodgers offense averaged an NL-best 5.47 runs per game during the regular season. They scored only two in Game 2 and struck out 17 times.

“Strasburg was very good tonight,” said Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts. “He was getting ahead all night and putting us away with that…we just really couldn’t put anything together against him.”

As I wrote on Thursday after their 6-0 victory in Game 1, it’s only one game. But beneath the backdrop of bad Octobers for the Dodgers and their ace, the blaring message that comes from this loss means so much more. 

These current Dodgers will always be haunted by the ghosts of October past until they rewrite the script and change the narrative. As they head into hostile territory in the Nation’s Capital this weekend, these next two road games will offer them the opportunity to begin to do just that. 

The reality for the Dodgers was always going to come. The regular season—albeit historic—was never going to be the narrative of this team. It was always going to be about the postseason and hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Stephen Strasburg deserved to win this game. The Dodgers did not. They let an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this short series slip away and the heartbreak of previous playoff disappointments crawl back into their psyche. They’ve gone all year without a setback, without a reminder of how the final game of the past two seasons ended. Now, they will be tested, and how they respond is how they’ll be remembered.



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Dodgers Do All The Damage in Game 1 of NLDS, Defeat the Nationals, 6-0

Dodgers Do All The Damage in Game 1 of NLDS, Defeat the Nationals, 6-0

The tension was palpable at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night. Teetering between excited and terrified, the sold out crowd of 53,095 was ready to embark upon another postseason journey. Hoping against hope that this one wouldn’t end like the last six consecutive have…in heartbreak.

So needless to say, when the Dodgers went the first three innings without a hit, the widespread panic reached a fever pitch. That’s when a former Dodger came to the rescue.

Howie Kendrick made two small mistakes. One of them costly, and it helped the Los Angeles Dodgers take Game 1 of the National League Division Series, 6-0. 

Los Angeles put together a small, two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Cody Bellinger walked. Chris Taylor singled, and Max Muncy hit a groundball to first base that went through Kendrick’s five-hole for an error, and the second run of the game.

“You see some weird things in the playoffs,” Kendrick said of the mistake. “But sometimes things just happen.”

It was the second error of the game for Kendrick, and as it often is in baseball, it was damming. Not only because it gave the Dodgers an insurance run, but because Washington never seemed to be able to overcome it. 

“You try to make every play, and tonight it didn’t work out,” Kendrick said following the loss.”Unfortunately it’s in the postseason, but I wouldn’t change anything about the way I tried to make that play. Just one of those times you miss it. You try to suck it up and hope you make it up on the other end. We weren’t able to do that.”

Suddenly, the team that was celebrating their first ever playoff victory in a winner-take-all game just two nights ago, was silent as the sheeted dead, staring at a series deficit straight in the face.

Sure, it was just one game, but in the postseason when everything is magnified, mistakes, be them large or small, will impact the outcome, especially in a short series.

NBC4 Dodgers Postgame Playoff Wrap Up – NLDS Game 1NBC4 Dodgers Postgame Playoff Wrap Up - NLDS Game 1

Fresh off vanquishing their October ghosts, and removing the proverbial monkey off their back, the Nationals looked like the doe in the headlights on Thursday night. 

In his first taste of postseason action, Washington starter, Patrick Corbin, walked four of the first seven batters he faced to hand the Dodgers the extraordinary rare gift of an early run without allowing a single hit. 

“In the first inning I think he got a little amped up,” said Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez of Corbin. “His front side was opening up a little bit and he couldn’t get the ball. He was spiking a lot — when he starts spiking his sliders like that, I mean really bad, and his fastball’s just running all over, it’s usually because he’s opening up. He did the first inning and then he settled down.”

Corbin became just the second pitcher in MLB history to issue four walks in the very first inning of his first career postseason game since St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Art Reinhart did in the 5th inning of the 1926 World Series.

Photos: Memorable Dodger Moments From the 2019 SeasonPhotos: Memorable Dodger Moments From the 2019 Season

Dodgers’ starter Walker Buehler danced around some damage in the fourth inning when he walked the bases loaded before inducing a weak ground ball back to the pitcher to escape the jam.

In all the years Buehler has been pitching, he’s often encountered moments where he momentarily lapses and the next thing you know the bases are loaded. In those moments, the 25-year-old would say he just needed a second to compose himself and he would regain his confidence.

Dodgers’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt sensed the magnitude of the moment as well, and came out of the dugout for a mound visit. Exactly what Buehler needed to get out of the inning unscathed. Buehler would exit the game after six innings, allowing no runs, one hit, with three walks and eight strikeouts.

“Obviously I have a lot of trust in Honey and Will,” said Buehler of the meeting on the mound. “There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that we do that kind of leads to decisions we make and I’m not going to go into the details of it, but we felt good about it, so I made a pitch and got out of it.”

For the first six and a half innings, the opening game of the NLDS resembled exactly what Buehler predicted it would be before the series began: old school baseball. 

No openers started the game, and there was no talk of “juiced” baseballs. Just a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel between two of the game’s best. Corbin and Buehler combined for 17 strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

“There’s guys that want those opportunities and like those big moments and want to be the guy,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts about Buehler. “That’s a really good lineup over there and for him to go six it was really — we needed that one.”

Despite being handed two runs, the Dodgers had a quiet confidence that at some point they would find the big hit and break the game open. They knew the Nationals’ bullpen was nowhere near bulletproof, and once Corbin was chased from the game, the floodgates opened.

“We did a good job of making him work and getting guys on base,” said Taylor of the game plan against Corbin. “We grinded him out, and got his pitch count up. We got him out of the game and got into their pen, and that’s what we wanted to do. It took us a little bit to get that big hit, but we finally got it when Muncy stepped up.”

Muncy finally provided the first big hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run single off Fernando Rodney to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

“The biggest changes I made was mental attitude towards the game,” said Muncy. “To me it’s kind of been one of the biggest things is these are big games, they’re big moments and you got to try to go out there and enjoy them as much as possible because you don’t know how many there are going to be, and when you do that you tend to relax and just play the game.”

Muncy finished with three RBI, and became just the second player in baseball history to start the playoffs with three or more RBI in back-to-back years.

One inning later, in his first career postseason at-bat, 21-year-old rookie Gavin Lux hit a pinch-hit, home run to right-center to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

“I didn’t even have enough time to think about anything,” admitted Lux who ran from the dugout straight to the batter’s box when he was called to pinch-hit. “It was a surreal moment. This is what every kid dreams about. It was a special moment.”

At 21 years old, Lux became the youngest player in Dodgers history to hit a pinch-hit home run in the playoffs, and the second youngest player to homer in his first plate appearance of the postseason.

“If you had told me four months ago that I would be playing in the postseason I probably wouldn’t believe you,” said Lux who found out he made the NLDS roster just 24 hours earlier.

Two batters later, Joc Pederson crushed a pitch off the right field foul pole and the Dodgers comfortably had a 6-0 lead, and a 1-0 lead in the NLDS overall.

If Washington was the upset special that experts were predicting, then the Dodgers certainly did not get the memo. They are on a mission 31 years in the making, and they will take down anyone standing in their way.

“We’re built for this moment,” said Muncy to ESPN following the victory. “We’re built for October. We went out and showed it tonight.”



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‘Juiced’ Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

'Juiced' Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

The Los Angeles Dodgers have stepped into the batter’s box over 5,500 times this season. On 253 occasions they have belted the baseball over the fence for a home run. Believe it or not, that’s a National League record.

On Wednesday night, it was Joc Pederson who homered in his first two plate appearances to tie the record and then ultimately break the record of 249 homers set by the Houston Astros in 2000, a mark set during the peak of the steroid era in baseball.

Jeff Bagwell, a Hall-of-Famer hitter and admitted steroid user, hit 47 home runs that year.

Richard Hidalgo, a likely PED user (although he never tested positive), hit 44 home runs—he had only 24 combined in his three previous seasons and never surpassed 28 in a single season after that.

Moises Alou, a player whose name was on a list of reported PED users in 2003, had 30 home runs that year, and Ken Caminiti, another admitted steroid user, had 15 for Houston.

That same year, all 30 MLB teams combined to hit a record 5,693 home runs. That record stood for nearly 17 years, as the league cracked down on PED use, extended their testing, and fortified their policy.

Only once in the 10 years that followed did the teams combine to hit more than 5,000 in a single season (5,042 in 2009). Then, in the 2016 season, the ball began to fly out of the ballpark like it never had before.

In 2016, the 30 MLB teams combined to hit 5,610 home runs. Just 83 shy of the all-time record, and the most since the steroid era ended. 

A year later, with players savvy to the influx in home runs and beginning to adjust their swings to account for launch angle and exit velocity, the record was shattered. The 30 MLB teams combined to hit 6,105 home runs in 2017, nearly 500 more than the previous mark.

During that season, the New York Yankees broke the all-time MLB record for home runs by a team with 267. The Dodgers will likely surpass that mark this year. The Yankees will too, and the Twins have already shattered it with a record 272 homers and counting.

More than likely, all 30 MLB teams will easily eclipse the record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017. As of the publication of this story, they have combined for over 5,900 homers, and are projected to hit at least another 600 before the season ends on September 29. 

There’s no doubt that home runs are being hit by teams, and the league overall, at a historic pace, begging the obvious question: WHY?

If you ask the players, we have now entered into the “juiced ball era” in baseball.

Research suggests that the official Rawlings baseballs were altered in the middle of the 2015 season. After the All-Star Game that year, more home runs occurred in the second half by a vast quantity. By 2016, the new, more aerodynamic ball, had been fully implemented and the home run numbers began to surge.

USC’s Keck School of Medicine performed research on the new Rawlings baseballs compared to older authenticated balls purchased on E-Bay. Researchers x-rayed both balls, and then the balls were sent to Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry where they were dissected and studied.

The findings from both universities reveal the same conclusion: the new balls changed in density and chemical composition found within the baseballs core.

Baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game had a core (pink outer core) that was 40 percent less dense than it was before, and weighed 0.5 grams less on average. The research proves that the new balls are both bouncier—due to 7 percent more polymer in the core—and less air resistant than before.

The players have noticed as well. During his rookie campaign in 2017, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger broke the National League rookie record with 39 home runs. That record was originally set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956. Bellinger broke it in just 132 games.

Last week, New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, surpassed that mark just two years after it was set. A record that stood for 67 years, was broken in less than two. Alonso is also close to eclipsing the all-time home run record by a rookie, set by known steriod user Mark McGwire in 1987 with 49. 

Bellinger, who started the 2017 campaign in Triple-A Oklahoma City, said that it seemed like the ball traveled further at the Big League level than it did in the minors. He also pointed out the advent of smaller stadiums in the Major Leagues as a potential reason why there was an uptick in home runs.

After the Dodgers broke the all-time NL record on Wednesday night, opposing manager Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies had this to say about the increase in home runs. 

“It’s been going on all year,” said Black. “I’m not going to comment on all the theories, but this is a different year, there’s no doubt about it. It’s evident what’s happening in Triple-A, it’s evident what’s happening in the Big Leagues. There’s been studies…but this is a different one for sure. I think that’s something to address when the season is over and the people who are part of this great game talk about what happened this year with the amount of home runs.”

To be fair, the escalating amount of home runs in Major League Baseball has been occuring since the 2016 season, but to Black’s point, this year it will reach it’s apex and everyone in and around the game has started to notice. 

Perhaps, the Dodgers front office noticed a lot sooner and have used the altered baseballs to their advantage. 

It’s no secret that the Dodgers have one of the most advanced analytic and research departments in all of baseball. It’s also no coincidence that since the implementation of the new “juiced” baseballs that the Dodgers have advanced to three consecutive National League Championship Games and two World Series since 2016.

It’s not like the Dodgers have a roster full of bash brothers or larger than average human beings. What they do have however is an understanding that the ball is indeed different, and the information that shows how players can incorporate launch angle and exit velocity in order to capitalize on the direction the game is headed.

This season, the Dodgers front office took it a step further, when they hired launch angle hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown as their new hitting coaches before the 2019 season.

In an interview with the L.A. Times before the season began, Van Scoyoc discussed his philosophy and emphasis on launch angle as more of a common sense measure: that the chances of reaching base or recording an extra-base hit increase significantly when the ball is hit in the air, rather than on the ground.

In order to accomplish this, Van Scoyoc, Brown, and his hitting team, scour through hours of videos of each hitter’s swing. They then develop an individualized plan specified to each player. Everything about the player is taken into account and the swing is repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Despite the differences in each player’s swing, the philosophy is mostly the same: that in order to maximize launch angle and exit velocity, the bat needs to get onto a plane with the ball as soon as possible. The sooner that happens, the more time the player has to adjust to the movement and velocity of the pitch.

The results speak for themselves. In the five years before the introduction of the new “juiced” baseballs, the Dodgers never hit more than 138 home runs in a single season. Between 2010 and 2014, they combined to hit just 625 homers.

Since the introduction of the new baseballs in 2015, the Dodgers have increased their team home run total each and every year. Breaking the franchise record with 235 last year, before breaking the all-time National League record this year. In the five years since the ball was introduced (2015-2019), the Dodgers have combined to hit 1,085 home runs and still have 19 games left in the 2019 season to add to that total.

There’s no doubt that baseball wants more offense. With attendance and ratings down, the increase in home runs creates more of an exciting game for the casual fan.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros saw a record 25 home runs hit in the series, and its no coincidence that the 2017 Fall Classic has been called the most exciting and historic World Series in recent memory.

Pitchers will certainly have a gripe with MLB and a valid reason to be upset about this new chapter in baseball history, but the new balls appear to be here to stay. That means fans should sit back and enjoy the ride, leaving the debate on where this puts the current players home run records in the overall context of history for future generations to argue over time.



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‘Juiced’ Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

'Juiced' Baseballs Have Changed the Game of Baseball, and the Dodgers are Capitalizing On It

The Los Angeles Dodgers have stepped into the batter’s box over 5,500 times this season. On 253 occasions they have belted the baseball over the fence for a home run. Believe it or not, that’s a National League record.

On Wednesday night, it was Joc Pederson who homered in his first two plate appearances to tie the record and then ultimately break the record of 249 homers set by the Houston Astros in 2000, a mark set during the peak of the steroid era in baseball.

Jeff Bagwell, a Hall-of-Famer hitter and admitted steroid user, hit 47 home runs that year.

Richard Hidalgo, a likely PED user (although he never tested positive), hit 44 home runs—he had only 24 combined in his three previous seasons and never surpassed 28 in a single season after that.

Moises Alou, a player whose name was on a list of reported PED users in 2003, had 30 home runs that year, and Ken Caminiti, another admitted steroid user, had 15 for Houston.

That same year, all 30 MLB teams combined to hit a record 5,693 home runs. That record stood for nearly 17 years, as the league cracked down on PED use, extended their testing, and fortified their policy.

Only once in the 10 years that followed did the teams combine to hit more than 5,000 in a single season (5,042 in 2009). Then, in the 2016 season, the ball began to fly out of the ballpark like it never had before.

In 2016, the 30 MLB teams combined to hit 5,610 home runs. Just 83 shy of the all-time record, and the most since the steroid era ended. 

A year later, with players savvy to the influx in home runs and beginning to adjust their swings to account for launch angle and exit velocity, the record was shattered. The 30 MLB teams combined to hit 6,105 home runs in 2017, nearly 500 more than the previous mark.

During that season, the New York Yankees broke the all-time MLB record for home runs by a team with 267. The Dodgers will likely surpass that mark this year. The Yankees will too, and the Twins have already shattered it with a record 272 homers and counting.

More than likely, all 30 MLB teams will easily eclipse the record 6,105 home runs hit in 2017. As of the publication of this story, they have combined for over 5,900 homers, and are projected to hit at least another 600 before the season ends on September 29. 

There’s no doubt that home runs are being hit by teams, and the league overall, at a historic pace, begging the obvious question: WHY?

If you ask the players, we have now entered into the “juiced ball era” in baseball.

Research suggests that the official Rawlings baseballs were altered in the middle of the 2015 season. After the All-Star Game that year, more home runs occurred in the second half by a vast quantity. By 2016, the new, more aerodynamic ball, had been fully implemented and the home run numbers began to surge.

USC’s Keck School of Medicine performed research on the new Rawlings baseballs compared to older authenticated balls purchased on E-Bay. Researchers x-rayed both balls, and then the balls were sent to Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry where they were dissected and studied.

The findings from both universities reveal the same conclusion: the new balls changed in density and chemical composition found within the baseballs core.

Balls used after the 2015 All-Star Game were 40 percent less dense than they were before and weighed 0.5 grams less. The research proves that the new balls are both bouncier—due to 7 percent more polymer in the core—and less air resistant than before.

The players have noticed as well. During his rookie campaign in 2017, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger broke the National League rookie record with 39 home runs. That record was originally set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956. Bellinger broke it in just 132 games.

Last week, New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, surpassed that mark just two years after it was set. A record that stood for 67 years, was broken in less than two. Alonso is also close to eclipsing the all-time home run record by a rookie, set by known steriod user Mark McGwire in 1987 with 49. 

Bellinger, who started the 2017 campaign in Triple-A Oklahoma City, said that it seemed like the ball traveled further at the Big League level than it did in the minors. He also pointed out the advent of smaller stadiums in the Major Leagues as a potential reason why there was an uptick in home runs.

After the Dodgers broke the all-time NL record on Wednesday night, opposing manager Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies had this to say about the increase in home runs. 

“It’s been going on all year,” said Black. “I’m not going to comment on all the theories, but this is a different year, there’s no doubt about it. It’s evident what’s happening in Triple-A, it’s evident what’s happening in the Big Leagues. There’s been studies…but this is a different one for sure. I think that’s something to address when the season is over and the people who are part of this great game talk about what happened this year with the amount of home runs.”

To be fair, the escalating amount of home runs in Major League Baseball has been occuring since the 2016 season, but to Black’s point, this year it will reach it’s apex and everyone in and around the game has started to notice. 

Perhaps, the Dodgers front office noticed a lot sooner and have used the altered baseballs to their advantage. 

It’s no secret that the Dodgers have one of the most advanced analytic and research departments in all of baseball. It’s also no coincidence that since the implementation of the new “juiced” baseballs that the Dodgers have advanced to three consecutive National League Championship Games and two World Series since 2016.

It’s not like the Dodgers have a roster full of bash brothers or larger than average human beings. What they do have however is an understanding that the ball is indeed different, and the information that shows how players can incorporate launch angle and exit velocity in order to capitalize on the direction the game is headed.

This season, the Dodgers front office took it a step further, when they hired launch angle hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown as their new hitting coaches before the 2019 season.

In an interview with the L.A. Times before the season began, Van Scoyoc discussed his philosophy and emphasis on launch angle as more of a common sense measure: that the chances of reaching base or recording an extra-base hit increase significantly when the ball is hit in the air, rather than on the ground.

In order to accomplish this, Van Scoyoc, Brown, and his hitting team, scour through hours of videos of each hitter’s swing. They then develop an individualized plan specified to each player. Everything about the player is taken into account and the swing is repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Despite the differences in each player’s swing, the philosophy is mostly the same: that in order to maximize launch angle and exit velocity, the bat needs to get onto a plane with the ball as soon as possible. The sooner that happens, the more time the player has to adjust to the movement and velocity of the pitch.

The results speak for themselves. In the five years before the introduction of the new “juiced” baseballs, the Dodgers never hit more than 138 home runs in a single season. Between 2010 and 2014, they combined to hit just 625 homers.

Since the introduction of the new baseballs in 2015, the Dodgers have increased their team home run total each and every year. Breaking the franchise record with 235 last year, before breaking the all-time National League record this year. In the five years since the ball was introduced (2015-2019), the Dodgers have combined to hit 1,085 home runs and still have 19 games left in the 2019 season to add to that total.

There’s no doubt that baseball wants more offense. With attendance and ratings down, the increase in home runs creates more of an exciting game for the casual fan.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros saw a record 25 home runs hit in the series, and its no coincidence that the 2017 Fall Classic has been called the most exciting and historic World Series in recent memory.

Pitchers will certainly have a gripe with MLB and a valid reason to be upset about this new chapter in baseball history, but the new balls appear to be here to stay. That means fans should sit back and enjoy the ride, leaving the debate on where this puts the current players home run records in the overall context of history for future generations to argue over time.



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Dodgers Could Pass 1975 Cincinnati Reds, Become Earliest to Clinch Division

Dodgers Could Pass 1975 Cincinnati Reds, Become Earliest to Clinch Division


The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers are a juggernaut.

They’ve held the best record in baseball for most of the season and currently hold the best record in the National League. The Dodgers have been in cruise control for most of the dog days, and are on the verge of clinching their seventh consecutive NL West division title. 

Another division title is certainly nice, but after two straight seasons of watching their opponent celebrate winning the World Series on their own field, the Dodgers have their sights set on lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy this season.

Thanks to a rather weak division, the Dodgers have had the luxury of holding a 20+ game lead for the better part of the summer. Heading into their four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, the Dodgers’ magic number was nine.

The magic number is a combination of Dodger wins or opponent losses (in this case the Diamondbacks, second in the NL West) needed to clinch the division. With the two teams playing head-to-head, the Dodgers had the opportunity to lower that number to as little as one, had they swept Arizona.

Instead, the Dodgers dropped three of four games, despite holding a lead in every game of the series. That currently puts their magic number at seven entering their six-game homestand.

Los Angeles could clinch the division title as soon as this Friday. If so, they would set a MLB record for the earliest a team has ever clinched a division crown, surpassing the 1975 Cincinnati Reds who clinched the NL West over the Dodgers on September 7, 1975.

In order for that to happen, the Dodgers will need to sweep the Rockies and get some help from the rival Diamondbacks. Even if they don’t beat the Reds record, they could still become one of the earliest teams to clinch their division in the Wild Card era.

Since 1995, the earliest team to clinch their respective division has been the Cleveland Indians on September 8, 1995.

After that, the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 games, are the second earliest team to clinch, accomplishing the feat on September 9, 1998.

Over the last four seasons, the first team to clinch a postseason birth or division title has gone on to win the World Series in three of the last four years.

The Kansas City Royals were the first team to clinch on September 24, 2015 and went on to defeat the New York Mets in the Fall Classic.

One year later, the Chicago Cubs became the first team to clinch their division on September 16, 2016, and erased a 108-year World Series drought by defeating the Cleveland Indians in dramatic fashion in seven games.

The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were prime candidates to eclipse the 1975 Cincinnati Reds record, but they spiraled to start the month of September, losing 16 of 17 games before finally clinching the division on September 23, 2017.

They arguably should have won the World Series that year as well, but the heavily favored Dodgers fell to the Houston Astros in seven games.

Finally, the Boston Red Sox became the first team to clinch a postseason berth in 2018, but the second to clinch their division after the Indians beat up on a meek AL Central. The Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games and defeated the Dodgers in the Fall Classic in five games.

The Dodgers will have the opportunity to surpass all of them this season, and join the list of teams who clinch first, and go on to win the World Series if they’re able to finish the job come October.



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Kenley Jansen Has Struggled This Season and Dodgers Fans Are Worried

Kenley Jansen Has Struggled This Season and Dodgers Fans Are Worried


How do you solve a problem like Kenley? 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been burdened by bullpen woes all season. Early in the year, it seemed the only relief pitcher the Boys in Blue could rely on was closer Kenley Jansen. Boy, what a difference a few months make.

Flash forward to today, and their greatest strength has arguably become one of their glaring weaknesses.

At 31-years-old, Jansen is starting to decline. His signature pitch—the cutter—doesn’t cut like it used to. At least not consistently. His fastball velocity has been steadily declining over the last five years, and he’s on pace for career lows in 2019.

The latest thrill ride that has been Jansen’s rollercoaster season came on Saturday afternoon against the New York Yankees. Mostly due to some soft contact and fielding mistakes, Jansen loaded the bases with one out and a one-run lead in the ninth before striking out Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez to escape with the save. 

The outing before that, Jansen allowed a game-tying home run on to Blue Jays slugger Rowdy Tellez, recording his sixth blown save of the season. It was the second time in his last five appearances he had allowed a game-tying homer.

On the season, Jansen has blown six saves in 33 appearances, tied for third most in the National League. However, he has the most blown saves out of any designated closer in all of MLB.

After the homer to Tellez, Jansen’s ERA ballooned to a career-low 3.62. It was the eighth homer he allowed this year, second most in a season, and just five behind his career-worst 13 in 2018.

Last year, Jansen had a career-low FIP of 4.03 and a career-worst strikeout per nine innings ratio of 10.3. Jansen’s current WHIP of 1.048 is the second highest of his career, and worst since 2014.

All of this mounting evidence speaks to Jansen’s inevitable decline, and begs the question:

Should Jansen remain as the Dodgers closer moving forward?

On its face, the question sounds preposterous. Jansen is without a doubt the best closer in Dodgers franchise history. That includes Brooklyn and Los Angeles. He’s the all-time franchise leader in saves (294) and ERA at 2.32.

He will likely enter the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown wearing Dodger blue, but that doesn’t mean fans have forgotten his inability to close out four separate games over the last two World Series combined.

With the current rendition of the Dodgers on pace to be better than both of the last two NL Pennant winning teams, Dodger fans across the globe understandably have concerns about Jansen come October.

Many of those fans that booed Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez in May, booed Jansen off the field on Wednesday, and are now calling for Kelly or Baez to take over the closer role. The irony in all of that is outright comical.

“I get it,” said Jansen when asked if he heard the boos and how he felt about them. “Boo me. I’d boo myself. I didn’t want the results. I was hurting myself out there.” 

Irony aside, there’s a point to their argument. Kelly has been lights out over the last three months. Since June 1, he’s 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA with 39 strikeouts. Over that same span, Jansen has an ERA of 4.13 with 30 strikeouts and six walks. The most glaring statistic however is Jansen’s four home runs allowed compared to Kelly’s one.

“At this point in time, I’m not tempted,” said Roberts about removing Jansen from the closer role. “I do think that this is a performance based business. I expect him to work through things. But there’s no guarantee for anyone—nor should there be—if performance doesn’t warrant it. That’s something that from Day One I’ve said that my job is to do what’s best for the Dodgers, not for an individual player.”

Jansen and Kelly could swap roles, but there’s not much difference in allowing the tying home run in the eighth inning compared to the ninth inning. When asked about perhaps surrendering his stranglehold on the closer’s role, Jansen was defiant in his response.

“Why would I worry about not being the closer? asked Jansen flippantly. “I’m going to be there…’Oh let me worry about not being the closer…’ Why? I’m putting a drama that is not there.”

The Dodgers have 22 blown saves this season. That ranks in the bottom five in the league, and their 59 percent save percentage is among the lower half of all teams in MLB.

Jansen is a big part of those numbers. His individual save percentage stands at 81 percent, good for the 33rd best in baseball, not numbers you want to see from an All-Star closer.

The Dodgers failed to acquire another closer or dominant backend reliever at the trade deadline and it could cost Los Angeles come October. On one hand, having another reliable arm like Felipe Vazquez, Shane Greene, or Ken Giles could have fortified the pen even further, but the front office made it known that Jansen would remain the closer no matter who the team acquired at the deadline.

If the price of any of those pitchers is a bounty of prospects that could turn into future All-Stars, the Dodgers were right in standing pat. Sure a combination of Kelly and Vazquez could have bridged the gap to Kenley, but what’s the point if Jansen still surrenders the game-tying or go-ahead homer in the ninth?

It’s too late for Los Angeles to add another elite reliever now. Their only option is to get Jansen back to form as quickly as possible. He may not as dominant as he was in 2016 or 17, but with a few adjustments, he can still be effective.

The changes Jansen needs to make begin and end with his cutter. His trademark pitch doesn’t have the same movement or velocity as it once did and Dodgers’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has noticed. 

Between 2011 and 2017, opponents had a slugging percentage of just .315 off Jansen. In 2018 it rose to .403, and this season it’s over .465. Over the last nine seasons, Jansen has thrown his cutter 90 percent of the time, this year, he’s thrown it just 76 percent of the time. That’s because Honeycutt and the front office are encouraging Jansen to incorporate a mixture of pitches, including his slider, in order to keep hitters off balance. 

“Guys know it’s coming,” said Dodgers’ catcher Will Smith about Jansen’s cutter. “When he misses, usually the cutter doesn’t stay up, but it still has depth to it. It’s kind of a work in progress.”

Despite the insistence that he changes his style like many pitchers before him have when entering the back half of their career, Jansen has been reluctant to change. Sticking with “old reliable,” whenever he gets into a jam. A fact that was evident by what happened against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Jansen began the ninth inning with three consecutive cutters to Randal Grichuk. He overmatched the veteran hitter as Grichuk didn’t come close to making contact on all three.

“Sometimes I get myself in trouble, because when I blow hitters out like that with a few pitches, it’s like, ‘Aw s—, I got it today,” said Jansen. “And it’s like, ‘Hey use your mind.’ It gave me all the signs to change [on Wednesday], and I didn’t do it. You know what? It’s okay. It’s a mistake, you learn from it. No excuses, man.”

Jansen proved he could change on Saturday. After six straight cutters to start the ninth, Jansen began incorporating his slider and two-seamer. Players made soft contact on the slider, but he didn’t surrender any back-breaking home runs like he has previously.

“I have one goal and that is to just have fun and enjoy the moment,” said Jansen after the save. “I need to stop worrying about the results. We’re having an unbelievable season this year and I need to enjoy watching all my teammates doing really well and let that motivate me. That’s what I did today.” 

Jansen’s change in attitude came after a long meeting with Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman after the game on Wednesday. Both people gave the closer a vote of confidence and told him to go back to having fun and enjoying himself, and not allow his anger to consume him. 

“The biggest step for me is to be happy and stop being angry and worrying about the results,” said Jansen. “People need to understand with Doc and the front office and all that, we’re in this together. We want to win a championship. When we have a meeting, today with Andrew, people are pulling for you, they believe in you. Andrew believes in me. Doc believes in me. My teammates believe in me. Why should I worry about what people think or fans or media?” 

For now, Jansen is determined to ignore the outside noise and focus solely on what he can control: changing his pitch sequence, and living in the moment. When he does that, and the adrenaline is flowing like it was on the mound against the Yankees, good things can happen.



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If the Weekend Series With the Yankees was a World Series Preview, Then the Dodgers Are in Trouble

If the Weekend Series With the Yankees was a World Series Preview, Then the Dodgers Are in Trouble


“It’s all about matchups.”

At least that’s the reigning thought when it comes to sports, individual and team.

If matchups are meaningful in sports, than that must mean they are even more magnified in the postseason, where every matchup can mean the difference between winning a championship or going home empty-handed.

So with that in mind, if this weekend’s series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers was a potential World Series preview, then fans across Southern California should be both excited and concerned.

The highly anticipated matchup between the two teams with the best records in baseball lived up to its billing. All three games featured sellout crowds with the attendance surpassing 160,000 in total. Each game had a playoff atmosphere, was packed full of action, and contained a plethora of drama, but at the end of the day, it was predominantly one-sided.

The Bronx Bombers outscored the Dodgers 16-to-5 during the three-game series and hit nine home runs compared to just two for Los Angeles.

Many loyal Dodger fans will be clamoring for a rematch this October, mostly because of hype and history. However, the real rematch they should be rooting for is with the Houston Astros.

To put it simply, the Yankees are a bad matchup for the Dodgers.

Much was made before the three-game series that both teams were so similar to each other. Not only did they have the best record in their respective leagues, but both teams hit homers and score a lot of runs, they have a mix of young players and veterans, their starting pitching is solid, their bullpens are admirable, and their bench is deep. All of these things are true, but if they are similar, then they are more of a mirror image, and a mirror tends to reveal in reverse. 

For example, the Yankees top four home run hitters are all right-handed. It’s a list that does not include Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, or Giancarlo Stanton. All of which are also right-handed. Their lineup is broadly blessed with a bevy of right-handed hitters, and they all have one thing in common: they crush left-handed pitching.

Overall, the Yankees offense is better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. Selectively, their right-handed hitters are significantly better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching.

The Yankees right-handed hitters are batting a combined .280 against left-handed pitching this season with a .501 slugging percentage. Against left-handed starters the numbers are even better: .287 BA  with a .507 slugging percentage.

The Yankees have faced more right-handed pitchers this season than southpaws, and their splits are good against both, but when they face a right-hander, the drop-off is noteworthy: .271 BA with a .486 slugging percentage and .266 with a .481 against a right-handed starter.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, their starting rotation is stocked full of left-handed pitchers, and that plays right into the hands of New York.

Take this weekend’s series for example: The Yankees faced two All-Star left-handed starters in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw. They won both of those games, and by a combined score of 15-to-3.

Ryu is the frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award, and he’s been dominant at Dodger Stadium. Yet, the Yankees had no regard for those statistics when they scorched Ryu for a season-high seven runs on nine hits including three home runs in just 4 and 1/3 innings, the shortest (non injury) start of the season for Ryu.

Against Kershaw, things went a little differently. Kershaw arguably had his best start of the season, striking out 12 batters with no walks over seven innings. Nonetheless, he allowed three home runs as well, albeit all solo shots.

“I thought I threw the ball better. I felt really good. I thought everything was coming out decent. I made four mistakes and three of them went over the fence,” said Kershaw after the loss. “That’s no fun, and frustrating obviously.”

Only four mistakes, and three of them were home runs. That’s indicative of how good the Yankees are, specifically the right-handed power hitters like Judge, who hit just the second home run off a Kershaw curveball in two years.

So if Ryu and Kershaw can’t beat the Yankees, especially in their own ballpark, who can? Walker Buehler maybe. Tony Gonsolin—a right-hander—got the job done, but it’s doubtful he’ll be in the starting rotation come the postseason. If Rich Hill’s left arm is healthy, the postseason rotation will likely be Ryu, Kershaw, Hill and Buehler. 

Offensively, the Yankees matchup well with the Dodgers potential postseason rotation, and many of you might be thinking L.A. can just outscore them with their own high-octane offense come October. Wrong.

As noted in the aforementioned mirror comparison, the Dodgers offense is almost a mirror-image of the Yankees. Yes, they too hit for power and slug, but the top three home run hitters on the Dodgers are all left-handed.

Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Joc Pederson round out the top three, and Justin Turner is the only right-handed hitter in the Dodgers lineup with over 20 homers on the year. After that, the Dodgers other top two hitters overall are Corey Seager and Alex Verdugo. They are also both left-handed.

The Dodgers have the depth to matchup with anyone, as they’ve proven over the past two NL-pennant winning seasons, but when you take a deeper look into the statistics, they are significantly worse against left-handed pitching than right-handed.

As a team, the Dodgers are batting .251 with a pedestrian slugging percentage of .445 against left-handed pitching. When you isolate those numbers just to the left-handed hitters we mentioned, they’re batting .261 with a .457 slugging percentage. 

Against a left-handed starter, the lefty hitters are even worse with a .245 average and a .441 slugging percentage.

However, when they face a right-hander, the numbers are significantly better: Dodgers’ lefties are batting .276 with a .539 slugging percentage this season.

The Dodgers saw plenty of southpaws against the Yankees over the weekend. On Friday, they were puzzled by left-handed starter James Paxton. On Saturday, it was savvy veteran C.C. Sabathia who stymied them. They finally ran into a right-hander in Domingo German on Sunday, but after he exited in what was still a close game, he handed the ball off to left-handed relievers Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman. The Dodgers failed to score the rest of the way. 

In a seven-game series, they likely won’t face Sabathia, but instead they would face another strong southpaw in J.A. Happ. 

When asked about the matchups, specifically both lineups against the largely left-handed starting rotations of both teams, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said he liked the matchup between the teams overall, but admitted his team still has some work to do if they want to beat the Yankees in October. 

“They outplayed us,” said Roberts. “For us, our biggest takeaway was our at-bat quality. You have to give credit to the pitchers that pitched us well, but when you talk about having a plan and staying in the strike zone, it’s on the hitter.”

Roberts is right of course, but the numbers don’t lie, and they dictate that when the Dodgers’ hitters face the Yankees left-handers, they are playing into their weaknesses, and not their strengths.

If you don’t think matchups are important, then you should look at the last two World Series overall. The Dodgers matched up well with the Astros who predominantly had more right-handed starters and relievers than left. They were able to get to those pitchers and had leads late in the game in five out of seven games in the series. They arguably should have won that series and their first championship in 30 years. Instead they lost, and one matchup that was not in their favor might be to blame.

Yu Darvish dominated the Diamondbacks and Cubs in his first two postseason appearances with the Dodgers in 2017, but when he ran into a familiar foe in the World Series he was beaten like an old fashioned rug that needed the dust shaken out.

The first five years of Darvish’s career began in the American League West, where he faced the Houston Astros 14 times, second most against any opponent. In those 14 games, they hit 10 homers and 12 doubles off Darvish, the second most by any team in his career thus far.

Needless to say, the matchup of Darvish vs. the familiar Astros lineup in Games 3 and 7, played into right into Houston’s hands.

In 2018, the Boston Red Sox were not only the better team, but a bad matchup for the Dodgers. Similar to the Yankees, the Red Sox top three home run hitters were all right-handed (J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Boegarts), and they were extremely effective against left-handed pitching.

As for Boston’s starting pitchers? Chris Sale, David Price, and Eduardo Rodriguez were three left-handers that the Dodgers struggled against in the Fall Classic.

There’s no guarantee that either the Dodgers or the Yankees advance to the World Series in 2019, but if they do, remember to take a look at the matchups, and be careful what you wish for.



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Dodgers Return Home This Week For Highly Touted Matchup With New York Yankees

Dodgers Return Home This Week For Highly Touted Matchup With New York Yankees

The Clash of the Titans is upon us.

The two best teams in baseball converge this weekend at Dodger Stadium, as the Los Angeles Dodgers (82-44) and the New York Yankees (83-43) meet for a three-game series at Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers return home after a rollercoaster road trip against two National League East teams in the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves.

The Marlins are the worst team in the NL, and they proved as much as the Dodgers pounded Miami by a combined score of 24-2 in the first two games of the series before losing the finale, 13-7.

Next, the Dodgers traveled to Atlanta where they took on the first-place Atlanta Braves in a potential postseason matchup. After dominating the opening game, 8-3, Los Angeles lost the next two games by a combined three runs.

After an off day on Monday, the team hosts the Toronto Blue Jays for a trio of games with MLB’s only Canadian team. Toronto has not played at Dodger Stadium since 2007, so Canadian fans living in Los Angeles should be excited to see their team for the first time at the Ravine in over a decade.

Following the three-game set with the Blue Jays, everyone in the baseball world will have their eyes trained on the highly anticipated matchup of the two best teams in baseball over the weekend.

The Yankees own the best record in all of baseball, and the Dodgers are one-game behind them. Needless to say, the three-game series over the weekend could have huge implications on which team finishes with the best record at the end of September, and which will end up with home field advantage in the World Series should one or both teams meet there.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know for the upcoming three-game homestand.

Tuesday, August 20, 7:10 PM vs. Blue Jays

Tuesday’s opener features a pitching matchup between Sean Reid-Foley and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. The game marks the first time Kershaw has pitched against the Blue Jays in over three years and coincides with Lakers night at the Ravine. Newest Laker superstar Anthony Davis will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in celebration and all fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/Lakers will receive a limited edition Dodgers and Lakers jersey.

Wednesday, August 21, 7:10PM vs. Blue Jays

Walker Buehler will toe the rubber for the Boys in Blue on Wednesday, and the first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a free “LA Bleeds Blue” hat presented by Security Benefit.

The game also marks Social Media Night and all fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/SocialMediaNight will receive a free Dodgers social media t-shirt and an opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with Dodgers’ pitcher Rich Hill.

Thursday, August 22, 7:10PM vs. Blue Jays

Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda will start for the Dodgers on Thursday in the finale of the three-game series with Toronto. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Kiké Hernandez bobblehead presented by Pirelli. Hernandez was activated off the injured list before the series, so fans will be able to see the fun-loving player in person against the Blue Jays.

Thursday is also Cal State LA night at the Ravine, and fans who purchase tickets at www.Dodgers.com/CalStateLA will receive a free limited edition Dodgers hat in Cal State LA colors.

Friday, August 23, 7:10PM vs. Yankees

The Dodgers welcome the Yankees in a Battle of Titans on Friday with Cy Young frontrunner Hyun-Jin Ryu expected to start for the Dodgers. The series is the first-time the Yankees have played at Dodger Stadium since 2013, and coincides with MLB’s annual Players Weekend.

Rather than wearing the traditional uniforms, both teams will be wearing monochromatic black and white uniforms that will showcase the players passion for the game. Each player’s nickname will be listed on the back of the jersey, and players can wear custom accessories and equipment.

 

Latin singing sensation Becky G. will perform the national anthem before the game, and after the game stay in your seats for Friday Night Fireworks set to a playlist of music selected by the players themselves.

Saturday, August 24, 1:05PM vs. Yankees

Saturday afternoons starters are still to be determined, but the Dodgers are expected to give rookie Tony Gonsolin another turn in the rotation. During the game, wives and girlfriends of the players will be selling mystery bags containing autographed baseballs at the Left Field Plaza, Club Level, and Loge Level. Bags can be purchased for $60 each or two for $100 and all proceeds will benefit Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

Sunday, August 25, 4:05PM vs. Yankees

Clayton Kershaw is expected to start again for the Dodgers in the finale of the three-game series with the Yankees. The matchup will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and will be aired nationally. Before the game, fans can attend a Viva Los Dodgers event at the historic 76 station behind centerfield. The event starts at 2:00PM.

Enjoy this epic homestand and we’ll see you out at the Ravine!



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