There are only two weeks left in the Dodgers regular season, and I want them to go very slowly. If nothing else, the last two seasons have taught me that the postseason is a crapshoot, left up to whether your bullpen and/or bats will actually produce when they need to the most.
The Dodgers have already clinched the division, as we know, and barring a huge collapse in the coming days on their part, will have home field advantage throughout the NL part of the playoffs. They have clinched home field for the NLDS, and still have a four game lead over Atlanta for home field in the NLCS, too. They are currently two games behind both the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros for home field for the World Series, should the baseball gods be on their side to make it back for a third time in a row. Home field might be important, but the next two weeks are for getting the team healthy and ready to play, no matter which stadium they are in.
Justin Turner and Max Muncy specifically have some healing to do because the Dodgers just won’t be the same without one or both of those bats producing in the lineup. Turner hasn’t played since September 7th due to a nagging mild left ankle strain. Manager Dave Roberts has originally announced that Turner would be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Dodger Stadium, but he has since walked back those remarks, as told to Ken Gurnick on MLB.com
Just talked to J.T., and we’ll see where he’s at,” Roberts said. “I know I was aggressive as far as Tuesday. He’s still — if he’s not 100 percent where he needs to be, I have no problem pushing it back. He’s still feeling it. It’s an ideal situation to get him in there on Tuesday. If it doesn’t happen, there’s still plenty of time to get him ready for the postseason. It’s still a sprain. Every day he’s gotten better.”
The Dodgers have an off day today, and an off day on Thursday. In my humble opinion it would be best to just let him rest until Friday’s series. There aren’t many more important players on the Dodgers than a healthy JT.
Max Muncy was hit by a pitch in the wrist on August 28th, and has been back in the starting lineup for three games. In those three games he’s only reached base three times, one hit and two walks. He also struck out in half of his at-bats. That’s not the Muncy we know, and he also should be rested until his wrist is fully healed.
There’s been some debate amongst fans about momentum and motivation. Will the Dodgers, being so far ahead in the division, be able to turn it on when it really counts? Will a team like the Atlanta Braves, who ate super hot lately or a team trying to make it to the Wild Card game have more momentum from working so hard to just get there? I’m sure there is something to be said for being on a roll. And fighting for it definitely means something, as the Dodgers proved just last season. But this team has been to the cusp of it all two years in a row, and if that’s not enough to get them motivated in the postseason, then I don’t know what will.
Get healthy, and get the ring. Where is happens is less important than it actually happening.