Another season has come to an end, and another year where Dodgers are left wondering what might have been.
Once again, Clayton Kershaw leaving the mound, head bowed, was the lasting image of a season that could possibly be his final one in Dodger Blue.
Questions loom surrounding Dave Roberts‘ lineup construction and bullpen usage all year. The righty/lefty matchups gave fans many chances to discuss the prudence of them. Injuries blasted the lineup, and almost no one was immune. Roberts handled it all in his calm, upbeat way, and was a steadying force that navigated the roller coaster year that was, and somehow got the team back to the World Series.
Blame could be placed at feet of the front office. Last year they saw first-hand how bullpens are the key to winning a World Series. Yet this year, in their ultimate quest to lower payroll, they did not get anyone better than Ryan Madson to help out Kenley Jansen and Co. We will see how that resetting of the the luxury tax aids the team going forward.
Maybe none of that matters, though. On the other side of the field, the Boston Red Sox seemed to be a team of destiny, united under their rookie Manager Alex Cora, a seamless unit. While the Dodgers kept it together during one of the most up and down seasons in history, they just couldn’t quite surmount what the Red Sox had to throw at them.
In the coming days, we here at Think Blue Planning Committee will be breaking down off-season moves, signings, and anything else that Dodger fans need to know. But for now, we will pause to reflect on another incredible season, one that didn’t end the way we would have liked, but still saw the Dodgers returning to the World Series for the second year in a row, and that in itself is a huge accomplishment. From the resurgence of Matt Kemp, to the acquisition of Manny Machado, to the World Series heroics of David Freese, and everything in between, it was a season for the history books. We thank you all for following along with us on this ride, and we can’t wait to see what the off-season and 2019 have in store.
11 thoughts on “The 2018 Dodgers Were Worth All the Ups & Downs”
I’d just like to thank you both, Andy and Dennis, for the great site you have here. You always provide thoughtful comment and a place for the rest of us to exchange our views without being combative or rude. With all of the tribalism in the world these days, it’s nice to have someplace to hang out and get away from all of that. I look forward to a busy winter, starting in 3 days with CK’s decision.
Thanks for reading and the thoughtful discussion, Jeff!
Thanks guys. Andy and Dennis. My favorite column. Looking forward to the off season.
I’m new to the site and I loved it. Thx Andy and Dennis for all the hard work and thoughtful analysis . Fun group to be a part of. It was a crazy season. Lots of highs and lows. But Dodgers are a great group of guys and easy to root for! Fun to be a part of October baseball! Let’s do it again in 2019!
Welcome aboard Rich, and thanks for the time, and all the hard work you and Dennis put in, Andy. Looking forward to talking about the off season with all you guys, even though non of us will have a clue about what Andrew and Farhan are going to do.
“Questions loom surrounding Dave Roberts‘ lineup construction and bullpen usage all year. The righty/lefty matchups gave fans many chances to discuss the prudence of them.”
It’s true that fans did question Roberts’ moves. I saw it everywhere I went. But the fact is, Friedman and Zaidi never questioned it. Fact is they expected it. They designed it. Roberts was, and will continue, following the FAZ script. He’s only doing what is expected of him. And, the truth is, had the players accomplished what they are paid to do, there would have been more than 5 games played in that series. The $35 million ace lost two games and had a series ERA over 7. The overpaid closer (still owed about $58 million) blew 2 saves. The team hit .180. The pitching staff had an ERA near 5. The FAZ formula, I call it The All or Nothing approach, was good enough to get there, but came up Nothing in the end. Everyone knows the Red Sox were the better team, but the dice rolling All Dodgers had an outside chance of pulling it off. It’s the Kasten model. (See Braves ‘91-‘05)
What’s next? Well, why would anyone expect something different? It almost worked and the Dodgers made bank in the process. They again easily outdrew everyone in attendance and we know how much tv money is rolling in. 6 straight playoff appearances. I read this morning the Dodgers are early favorites to do it again next year. As a business model, the formula is working. The team will of course look a little different next year, but the on field strategies will not change.
Scoop, I would like to vehemently disagree with everything you have just said, however…………………..I can’t. It’s time everyone stopped blaming the front office and Roberts and put blame on the players. If they were just lacking in skill you could say that Andrew and Farhan didn’t get us the right roster, but most all these players have shown they are capable of quite a lot. Problem is they don’t seem to be able to do it with any consistency. That makes Doc’s job all the more difficult because he never knows what any specific player will deliver for him on any specific day. Maybe my memory is faulty but I don’t remember this happening in 2017. Maybe we’ll be back on track again in 2019.
It’s my opinion that the reason we didn’t beat the Red Sox, and we had opportunity to do so (2 Blown Saves) is the simple fact they do the little things much better than we do. By little things I mean they put the ball in play when necessary and they can close. We strike out, a lot, in key situations, and we blow some save opportunities. Obviously the Dodgers do the big things, home runs, often, but in a series like this the team that is incessant will be the one that wins 4 first.
They also had a bullpen with 2 guys who threw 100 mph and Kimbrel, we had Madson, Alexander and the guy with 2 Blown Saves. That is 3 innings of weighted advantage Red Sox.
I’m sure I’ll get pushback by saying it, but frankly I saw very little difference between how Cora and Roberts did their jobs. They are both driven by analytics. Cora “outsmarted” Roberts because quite honestly he had better players. They came through in the clutch for him. The Dodgers did not for Roberts. (Did I mention the 2 Blown Saves?)
The overall final hitting stats were closer than one might imagine. Neither team hit particularly well (Dodgers .180/.248/.302, Sox .222/.303/.386). Advantage Red Sox. But Boston clearly out pitched LA (pick a stat, they were better). We needed Kershaw and Jansen to perform near perfection and neither played well.
So what next? Well, we do what we did from ‘17 to ‘18 – we win the West and hope that when flipped, the All or Nothing coin comes up All. Good luck with that.
In the mean time watch out for Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Chicago. Oh, and I expect the Cardinals to be back as well. The West? Meh, we should win that again. If we don’t should all over ourselves.
I’ve enjoyed reading this site. You have good writers and smart posters. I look forward to the off season comments. Thanks for the opportunity to be a small part of it.
As long as you and the Dodgers are satisfied with just getting to World Series,They’ll never win one.
Sorry scoop. It’s always about management.
Stop me if I’ve said this before. We platoon 6 of our 8 position players because they are not good enough. You don’t platoon good players. We like to call it depth but it’s really just average or worse players. Didn’t see platooning in Boston or houston or new york. Guess they dont have depth!
I disagree in part Gordon.
Management never plays an inning. The Dodgers front office puts together the roster they feel gives the manager the best chance at winning IN THE DIVISION IN WHICH THEY PLAY. So far, it’s worked quite well hasn’t it. It became a different matchup against the best baseball team in MLB. And, they had the opportunity to make it a series. They blew it.
Let me be clear, I’m not crazy about what the Dodgers do. I’m old school. The teams on which I played, and the ones I coached, all could bunt, hit and run, drive the other way when pitched the other way and put the ball in play with 2 strikes. Outfielders backed up bases too. The Dodgers do none of that. And something else I feel needs to be pointed out – none of the players we platoon regularly would have made it to the majors if they didn’t hit same side pitching successfully in the minors. By constant platooning we help to create the problem we are trying to solve. Seems counterintuitive to me. You want a player to hit same side pitching let him have 100 cuts a day against it, then show confidence in him and put him in the lineup. The best hitters will put the time in and learn. This is a coaching issue.
And the Red Sox did indeed platoon. You must have missed it. They platoon second and third. And Benintendi often sat against lefties throughout the year. All teams use analytics now. Platooning is part of it. Some more than others. The Dodgers more than anybody. (I believe).