Thoughts on Dodgers’ Injuries and Motivation

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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.

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14 thoughts on “Thoughts on Dodgers’ Injuries and Motivation

  1. It is obvious that Muncy is not close to being 100%. I think getting him and Turner ready for the playoffs is the main thing. Belli has 11 games to step it up. He has been no where near the player he was the first 8 weeks of the season. His slump has lasted well over a month. Smith is in a serious funk also. My hope is that over the next week and a half that the offense starts hitting on all cylinders again. Ryu and Kersh looked so much better. Some complained about Buehler only going 5 yesterday. But according to Roberts after the game, that was all he was going to get anyway. He is evaluating pitchers for the post season pen. I think they will list 4 starters for the NLDS. Ryu, Kersh, Buehler, and I would use Gonsolin. Hill will not be ready, Urias has been very hittable lately, as a matter of fact, Saturday’s loss is on Julio even though it went to Kelly. Kelly hit a batter, bu Julio hit one walked another and then gave up the bases clearing hit on a change up. Terrible pitch in that situation. And his control has not been all that. Kolarek has opened up some eyes. He has a 0.00 ERA since he came over. Gyorko makes the roster only if something is seriously wrong with Freese. Lux is borderline to make it. I do like his range and defense though.

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    1. Agree with all that Bear. There is still time, but it’s getting short. I don’t expect Smith to get back to an OPS over 1.000, but I hope he isn’t as done as he looks. And Andy, I have to give a lot of value to a team on a roll AND to home field. Maybe it isn’t as important to the Dodgers, as they are very experienced at “being there”, but I’d hate to lose home field from being cautious the last two weeks. AL teams have played with the DH all year and most of them have a #3 or #4 hitter in that role. NL teams have second stringers DHing. I believe that is huge. And giving the Braves home field means we coughed it up. That better not happen at this point.

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  2. Agree that JT should sit out until Friday but I’m not sure Muncy’s problem is rest at this point. He was out quite a while and maybe the best thing for him is just as many at bats as possible. That’s assuming his wrist is OK and maybe it isn’t.
    I’d also like to see Bellinger hit leadoff for the next week or so. Maybe he would take a different approach to hitting and would convince himself that he doesn’t need to hit a homer every time up. I love it when I see him poke something to left field (the one time out of a hundred he actually does it). He needs to bunt for hits more often also and maybe hitting leadoff would encourage him to do that.

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    1. Muncy was cleared by medical to play. If his wrist isn’t ok, somebody either screwed up, or another examination is needed. Until further notice I’m with you. He needs more at bats. Hit him second behind Bellinger. And if I’m coaching Bellinger I tell him to choke up and shorten up. Start making contact again, then maybe you can ease back into the all or nothing swing for which you’ve become famous.

      I think the guy that looks like he needs a vacation is Smith. He’s been terrible for a month. Bullpen is mostly decided.

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      1. How do we break the news to Doc that we’re now in charge of making out the lineup?
        We don’t need Smith. We have Barnes. It would sure be a nice story if he wound up as Series MVP. Of course, first we’d have to get to the WS and then he’d have to play. Minor details.

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      2. These are things we would do. Bellinger/Muncy at the top of the lineup for a few games makes perfect sense to me. Roberts of course won’t do it.

        Yeah, we have Barnes. And it’s a sad testament to our Major League catching prowess that we may play him over Smith. The lineup looked a lot better when Smith was hitting .349 and OPSn 1.400. Remember that? I told you it wouldn’t last. What I didn’t know was he would drop to .156 and .500 in the last month of the season.

        I just read some more grumblings about Roberts’ pension for matchups. This particular writer thinks Kolarek should go a full inning. Kolarek is not Vasquez. Kolarek is a LOOGY. Kelly, Baez, Garcia, Maeda, Urias, May, Floro, Ferguson, Sadler and Sborz can go an inning. Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, and Gonsolin hopefully will go at least 6.

        Best team since the end of May? The Braves.

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      3. Muncy was cleared and he did have some nice AB’s down at AZ, but that’s not against pitchers throwing BB’s at him. I think his timing is a little off. Turner is another matter. Ankles can be fickle. I sprained both of mine more than once and doing anything for a while was painful. Rumor mill is already heating up. There is one floating around that the Dodgers will seriously pursue Rendon this winter and put Turner at 1st for the final year of his contract. You are right Scoop, time to teach these boys some situational hitting again and using the entire field. Especially when the defense gives you the whole left side of the infield to just poke the ball through and if the left fielder is playing way off of the line it is an instant double. Cataract surgery this morning, but will be done in time to watch the game on Youtube.

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      4. Good luck with the surgery Bear. I hope the game will be worth watching.
        If we get Rendon and move JT to first, where do we play Muncy if Lux is our second baseman? Actually, I’m not at all sure he couldn’t play some left field which would enable us to trade Joc who only has one year left on his contract. That said, I would be amazed if we were high bidders for Rendon since our need for him just isn’t as great as a number of other teams.

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      5. It would only be for one year. Besides, on the Dodgers the only 2 players who play almost everyday are Bellinger and Seager. Surgery went fast and was painless. Thanks for the good vibes. Weird lineup tonight with Freese leading off. And one page says Strip is starting and the lineup says Ferguson….

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      6. Glad the surgery went well. Now let’s hope you don’t have to cover your eyes when we see how the game goes.
        Freese probably leading off because they want to get him as many at bats as possible and will probably pull him part way through the game.

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  3. Turns out we got very lucky and we owe the Pirates a great debt of gratitude.
    MLBTR reporting Vazquez has just been arrested on charges related to child pornography. Assuming that there is some truth to those charges (guilty until proven innocent), can you imagine how we’d be feeling right now if we had traded Ruiz and Gray and a couple of other prospects for Vazquez?

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      1. I would have traded Ruiz straight up, but not in a package and now I am very happy they did not. Vazquez is facing multiple charges. He is on the restricted list now. But personally, if the charges turn out to be true, he should be banned from baseball. That guy should never be allowed to participate in a sport where children idolize the athletes. Personally if true, I would string him up by his balls.

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      2. I’m still very high on Ruiz. I don’t trade a starting catcher for a reliever.

        Yeah, looks like Velazquez is a pervert. Glad the Dodgers aren’t dealing with this nonsense.

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