LOS ANGELES – Winter here could start on Thursday. Not because Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made a series of unfortunate pitching decisions. Not because the president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, didn’t build a bullpen his captain could trust. Not because gardeners have lost some balls in the sun and let others remove their gloves.
After a 9-2 loss in Game 4, Atlanta leads the National League Championship Series three games to one, with a chance to win the pennant at Dodger Stadium. If the Dodgers really do finish off their 106-win season on Thursday, the scene of the crime will be the batter’s box.
Atlanta outfielder Eddie Rosario had four hits in Game 4. So did the Dodgers.
Roberts sounded exhausted after another three and a half hours of watching his batters return to the dugout. “I know it is not due to lack of work and preparation, so the last and most important part is the execution,” he said. “I have no answer. Every time I write the lineup I feel really good about our club and how we pair up, the records and what we’re going to do that particular night, but it just hasn’t been as consistent as I don’t think. , anyone expected. … I wish I had an answer. Trust me, I do. “
If the hitters do it, they didn’t share it on Wednesday; the Dodgers didn’t make Justin Turner, Mookie Betts or Corey Seager available. Outfielder AJ Pollock, who came off the bench to provide the Dodgers’ only hit with running backs in scoring position, also blamed the run. He didn’t deny that the past few weeks have been grueling – a fight through Game 162 for the division, a tight wild-card game, an intense five-game NLDS – but he insisted that fatigue wasn’t the problem. “We just have to run,” he said. “You can be tired and run.”
For the most part, the lineup hasn’t. Los Angeles is hitting .221 with runners in scoring position this postseason and .231 overall. He has left 72 runners on base in 10 games. On Wednesday, the top three in the lineup went 0 of 11 with a walk to continue a miserable NLCS for them: Betts is hitting .214. Seager is hitting .200. Trea Turner is hitting .167.
Every few days, the Dodgers seem to break through, shortening their punches and reducing the strike zone. They are beginning to resemble the team that led the National League in runs, scoring 5.12 per game. They took competitive at-bats and landed devastating blows, like Cody Bellinger did with a three-run bomb to bring his team back to life in Game 3. But each time, in the morning, the magic is gone.
Certainly the lack of pitching hasn’t helped. Roberts has only three viable starters – Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías – and because he doesn’t fully trust his bullpen, he has used them all in new roles this October. In the NLDS against the Giants, Buehler made his first career start with a short layoff. Scherzer and Urías have each pitched four times in a 12-day stretch. All three pitched poorly in their most recent outings, and Scherzer acknowledged that the extra work had cushioned his arm.
On Wednesday it was Urías’s turn. He allowed five runs in as many innings and seemed overwhelmed with frustration at times, slapping his glove on the mound and throwing his hands up. Roberts and Urías insisted that the pitcher wasn’t tired, that Atlanta’s lineup had just made good changes.
In any case, the 2021 Dodgers should be able to overcome a five-run deficit. Instead, they were hitless in four innings by the Atlanta bullpen, then fell in order in the last two frames. They attacked and missed 11 balls. They put another three in play for outs.
“If we’re going to chase, then there’s no reason for them to throw the ball in the strike zone,” Roberts said before Game 3. “So I think we have to make more sure in the strike zone.” And when we do, we’ll be more successful. ”He said that was“ absolutely ”the difference between the 2020 team and the 21 iteration.
There’s been a lot of talk about that 2020 club. That group also lost Games 1 and 2 to Atlanta, then won Game 3 and lost Game 4. Those Dodgers won the next three games and then the World Series.
These are not those Dodgers. Ace Clayton Kershaw injured his left elbow in his last regular season start and will see the playoffs off the bench. Two days later, first baseman Max Muncy dislocated his left elbow; It will take a miracle to return before the World Series. And on Wednesday, Justin Turner was left lame trying to beat a double play groundout in the seventh. Roberts said the team believes he has suffered a grade 2 strain in his left hamstring and is ready for the postseason.
If something doesn’t change soon, your peers will too.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.