Dodgers End Season with 7-3 Loss to Nationals in NLDS Finale

It’s over when it’s over, ain’t it baby ain’ t it. Rips you like a dagger, can’t it baby can’t it. Wish we could do it over, Damn it baby damn it.  We had it in the air but we just couldn’t land it.

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Those who have been following this blog know that when I started writing here, I started all blog posts with song lyrics.  Tonight seemed like a good night to bring that back.

It all came down to a deciding Game 5 for the Dodgers—the first real time this version of the Boys in Blue have had their backs up against the wall all season. Mismanagement by Dave Roberts and misuse of the bullpen ultimately lead to the Dodgers downfall.

Before the game, Roberts said he was going to ride Walker Buehler for as long they could, and the righty took his team into the seventh inning surrendering just one run. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

The Dodgers started out well in the bottom of the first—a freak double off the bat of Joc Pederson ignited the Dodgers’ offense early. His hit went through an open part of the bullpen door, but not over it, causing it to be called a ground rule double. Max Muncy followed with a no-doubt home run. The Dodgers got two more on base with a Justin Turner walk and a Matt Beaty single, but the Dodgers failed to further capitalize.

Enrique Hernandez added to the Dodgers’ lead with a home run in the bottom of the second.

There were two incredible defensive plays by the Dodgers—Hernandez made an incredible diving play to rob Juan Soto of at least a double, and one by Cody Bellinger to rob Howie Kendrick of the same.

The Nationals got two on with no outs in the top of the fifth, but Buehler navigated around it.

Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, for his part, didn’t allow a hit past the second inning. In the end, it was enough.

In the sixth inning, Buehler allowed a leadoff double to Anthony Rendon. Juan Soto followed with an RBI single. But Walker worked around it, getting Kendrick hit into a double play, and striking out out Ryan Zimmerman to end the sixth with only one run crossing the plate.

Bellinger singled in the sixth and swiped his second stolen base, but the team failed to cash in.

In the seventh, Buehler hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch in the wrist, that then ricocheted into his helmet, knocking the helmet off his head, and ultimately taking him out of the game. He got two outs, and then walked Trea Turner. Buehler exited the game at 117 pitches, and Clayton Kershaw came on in relief. He promptly struck out Adam Eaton in three pitches.

Crises averted, for now.

For now, because Rendon connected on a low slider from Kershaw and sent it over the wall for a home run. And then, Soto went deep to right-center on the next pitch, and it was tied 3-3 in the top of the eighth. Kenta Maeda was then brought in and secured the next two outs.

Joe Kelly entered the game in the top of the ninth. He struck out two, and had a 1-2-3 inning. The Dodgers did nothing in the bottom of the inning offensively, and the game went to extras.

Kelly remained in the game, and loaded the bases before Kendrick’s grand slam to dead center. The Nats took the lead, and the series was over.

A 106 win season, all for naught. The Nationals won 7-3, and will take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2019 NLCS.

I’ll reserve comment for when I’ve had more time to think about it, but Kershaw shouldn’t have been brought in with deference to actual relievers, and Kelly shouldn’t have been in for a second inning. But it doesn’t matter, because in the end, the Dodgers’ bats were unable to capitalize and break the game open early.

I don’t know honestly how to end this. The Dodgers failed again to reach their goal. One of these years, they’ll do it. The team is too talented. But this year? It was not to be.

 

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30 thoughts on “Dodgers End Season with 7-3 Loss to Nationals in NLDS Finale

  1. Poor Kersh! Where does he go from here? He’s got to develop a changeup for next year or he’s unpitchable in the post season! And it’s gonna be a long off season for Roberts! Tough to see another season end with the other team celebrating at Dodger stadium. AF and team have a lot to figure out on how we get to the finish line. Gonna be a long off season!

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    1. Kershaw’s change up is his curveball. Both home runs came on sliders which has become his money pitch. He should have never been out there to start the 8th in the first place. He got Eaton out, that should have been it. Maeda should have been in there to pitch and hold the lead. Better hitting would have helped too. They left Bellinger stranded at 2nd twice. Seager struck out both times. 12 more K’s. Unacceptable Poor Kersh? Give me a break. The guy is making 31 million a year and he folds like a wet taco. Don’t let me get started about Roberts in game managerial skills. He made some bad decisions tonight and it ended the Dodgers season. Now the interesting part starts. Are they going to retain Friedman>? He hasn’t gotten them over the hump and this failure on the wings of a record setting season is a bitter pill for the fan base to swallow. Roberts was raked over the coals on the post game show by the analysts They all questioned his bring Kersh back out for the 8th. And the bugaboo that has plagued him all year jumped up and bit him in the ass tonight. They lost in part because of Kershaw’s arrogance and Roberts inability to stand up to his fading star. Then compounding his bad decisions by sending Kelly out for a second inning. Can the comparison of Kersh to Koufax end now? Kersh is no Koufax, on his best day he has never been as dominant as Sandy was. Sandy has 4 rings, Kershaw none. It is going to be a long winter folks. Ryu, Hill, Freese, Martin all most likely gone. I think after this debacle, they have to just let those older guys walk, and go with the kids. .

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      1. How is that a ridiculous statement Andy and please elaborate. I want to hear it. How would having an aging pitcher who is in steel decline signed to massive money going to help the Dodgers? You are thinking with your heart not your head dear. The truth is the best thing that could happen to the Dodgers would be Kershaw hanging up his cleats and Kenley opting out of his contract. Since we know the team isn’t going to go past the luxury tax this would give then the needed money to sign 2 young stars to build with young core already in place. Are you willing to tell me if you could only have one choice between bringing Kershaw back or signing someone like Gerritt Cole to a deal you would choose 89 mph Kershaw? C’mon.

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      2. First, don’t call me dear. Second, you’re making false equivalences between Cole and Kershaw. There isn’t a choice between the two at the moment, so that argument makes no sense. When Kershaw was signed, the extent of what his decline might be wasn’t known. I get that he’s not at the level he once was, but he’s also a generational pitcher, and needs to always be in Dodger Blue. He is now a number three pitcher for the team, and that’s fine. He’s way too young to retire, and good luck getting someone with that competitive fire to think that way. He specifically didn’t take a longer contract because he knew of what might be coming. I agree the Dodgers need to spend money on other talent, and I’m sure they’d do it even if they weren’t hampered with Kershaw’s contract. I’m just tried if Kershaw taking all the blame. I know he didn’t perform- but neither did anyone else not named Maeda or Muncy

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So you’re ok paying $30 million-plus for a #3 starter? Okie dokie then that makes great sense!! And to think I caught flak for saying Ryu was worth 3 years $60 million. Don’t mean to hurt your feelings but you’re seeing the Kershaw of 2011 not 2019. I also challenge you that I’m not making “false equivalences” as you say. It’s beyond fact now the team will not go past that line so wether it’s Cole or another player my point is you’d rather have that money spent on memory of a player who is long gone. It’s a results based business and there are no friends. Kershaw is worth half what he makes at best now. You have to take him off that pedestal if you want to win. There will be plenty of time to remember the great Kershaw after he’s gone but we are wasting many other young player’s pre-free agency years on a guy who makes a huge chunk of total payroll. It’s like saying Roberts deserves leniency for choking when it matters most because he’s a good guy.

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      4. Ok, so then the front office should get your ire, not me. I’m just trying to tell you that there’s no changing what’s happened with his contract, and what’s the point in that? Also, I am NOT seeing 2011 Kershaw, I’ve said many times he’s not what he was. Quit assuming you know what I’m thinking. I don’t pay the money, it’s not me that made the decision to do it. How long do you think Cole would be good for, and isn’t he going to demand a long contract?
        Also, Roberts deserves a ton of blame for last night’s loss. He completely mismanaged that bullpen.

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    1. It is ridiculous Alex simply because that is not going to happen. Kershaw is 31, he has declining skills, that is true, but no player with the amount of pride that guy has is going to throw in the towel. He won more games than any other pitcher on the team. He went 6 innings or more in the majority of his starts. He is not an ace, but he usually gets the job done. He blew a lead, but Roberts blew the game. He is not very good at in game management. And a ton of blame is going to fall on the shoulders of Friedman. This as Scoop says is a flawed team. A lot of us have been saying since spring that there are holes that were not plugged in the offseason, and the biggest question mark was the pitching staff. Laying the blame on Kersh alone does not make sense. Yep, he has not been the best in the post season. But he is not the only big name star who ever flamed out in that kind of environment. Roberts put him in that position. He made the wrong choice. Maeda was warm and ready and should have been brought in to start the inning, pitching Kelly, who over the last 3 weeks has pitched maybe 4 innings, and not been that good in any of them, should never have been sent out in the 10th, and Roberts should have had another arm warm and ready and removed him immediately after the walk. Bad managing period. Roberts is getting roasted on almost every Dodger blog and most are calling for his head. Friedman is getting pretty much the same. And again, a lot of the blame is on him because he is the one who constructed the roster and gives Roberts the talent pool from which to draw. Ultimately it is on the players to perform. You want the real reason the Dodgers lost? How about this, the Dodgers hit .220 in the playoffs. They had 9 homers and scored 22 runs. They struck out a whopping 64 times in 5 games, DC struck out 42. 2 of their best RBI guys, including the player that led the majors in RBI’s in September contributed ZERO. Their best HR hitter had no homers and no ribbies. Hell, Russell Martin was more productive at the plate than Belli. You want him to retire too? Yep, that was a totally ridiculous statement.

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  2. One last thought as the season for the Dodgers ends with a thud. I am going to take a couple of weeks off and decompress from baseball. I do not even want to think about the game. I will be back when I think I have something constructive to say without being overly critical. But I wonder what kind of spin ownership is going to put out there after this latest flameout.

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    1. I’ve been a Roberts supporter here, and there, as you know Bear. He’s done it the way management has asked him to do it. But a lot of this one is on him. I had a bad feeling about Kershaw being asked to shut that offense down. One left handed hitter, sure. But that’s it. The Nats already beat him in this series so it’s not like he was Madison Bumgarner out there. Really stupid move. And Kelly? I’ve never liked him. One inning. A second inning was dumb.

      This will be analyzed all winter but it looks pretty clear to me. Roberts played his part in this disaster. Seager and Bellinger, an integral part of the middle of our order, failed miserably, and our bullpen, not very good for most of the year, let us down.

      Like I said, this is a flawed team. Yes, they won 106. Impressive. But an all or nothing offense and a weak pen can be exploited by teams better built for October baseball. 7 straight years should be enough of a track record to recognize something is terribly wrong.

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  3. Shout out and thank you to Dennis and Andy for a great year and all your insightful writing and allowing all us old timers to rant and rave and show off just how much we don’t know. Thank you both. Rich

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here is the list of arbitration eligible Dodgers and their projected salaries, who gets non tendered? Baez, 3.3, Kike, 5.5, Joc 8.5, Yimi 1.1, Taylor 5.0, Seager 7.1, Strip 2.3, Barnes 1.3, Alexander 1.0, Muncy 4.6, Bellinger 11.6. Urias 1.7……I am not sure what the rules on arbitration are, but it seems to me, that Belli and Muncy who only have 3 and 2 years service time respectively need another year to be eligible, I just checked on his salary, his earliest arb eligible date is 2020. I would think that means after the season next year. Jumping from 605,000 to 11.6 million seems a little steep. I got those figures off of MLBtraderumors, they have a list of all the teams. My take is that Yimi, Alex, Barnes, have no shot at being retained, Kike and Joc are definitely trade candidates. Strip could be non tendered, but I also think he has enough value to another team to also be considered a trade option. Thoughts guys, and Andy???

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    1. Ah Bear, it hasn’t even been 6 hours since your “farewell for 2 weeks” post and you’ve already posted twice more. I know, you just can’t help yourself (and we’re the better for it :))
      With regard to the possible non-tender guys, if Alexander is healthy, I would guess that they re-sign everyone with the idea that they all have at least a little trade value if need be.
      Disagree on Barnes because there is no way that Ruiz starts next year on the 25-man and Martin is probably the guy we won’t see back, so Barnes becomes the backup again. Even he has trade value.
      That’s my take and I don’t plan to post again for at least 60 seconds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amazing what a little sleep will do for you. Now I plan to play my MLB video game where the Dodgers have actually won 10 world series in a row and the last time, a few days ago, we swept the mighty Yankees. Also plan to binge watch Hercule Poirot and Star Trek and Star Wars……all 21 movies.I need a life! LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bellinger has been a total flop in the playoffs since he joined the team. He won the MVP of the 2018 NLCS that is true, But he only hit .200. It was more for a game saving catch than anything he did in the series. He has 4 career playoff homers, none of which have been hit at Dodger stadium and his career post season average is .178. 52 K’s in 145 plate appearances. That’s pretty bad.

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  6. With Lux next year I just don’t see how we need both Kike and CT3 as utility guys on the bench. I think we need more pop. I still think JOC is good value and I don’t think Pollock is our full time left fielder. Sure hope Verdugo can recover. That would be a huge loss. The big question is will AF break the mould and sign a big free agent and who would be more valuable Cole or Rendon? AF and Co have to ask the question why we can’t get to the finish line and what to do to make that happen. Status quo won’t get it done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rich, AF is a free agent as of right now or will be the 1st of November. There are all sorts of rumors that he will go to Boston. Kapler was fired today by Philadelphia, so another managerial opening. Verdugo should be fine by spring. He has been out over 2 months with that oblique and back issues. You do know that they are going to stay under the luxury tax for at least the next 2 years right? Kershaw, Jansen and Pollock and Maeda have multiyear deals. Turner has one more year on his deal. Both Rendon and Cole are going to command 200 million plus deals. Don’t hold your breath waiting on either. Trades are more likely for this bunch. I think if they sign any free agents, they are going to be relief pitchers. They might bring Ryu back on a 3 year deal, maybe, but Hill is finished. They have 3 very young candidates for starting jobs. Gonsolin, May and Urias, who is certainly a lock to be in the rotation next year, so starting pitching is not going to be on their radar. The brunt of the fans displeasure at this point in time, is Roberts. He has been out managed in every post season.

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      1. I’m not saying that Friedman couldn’t possibly leave (although I would place at odds at less than 10%) but I’m not sure he would want to go to Boston. Their ownership group is known to be difficult to work with and all of their recent GM’s have been fired pretty quickly. Also their farm system was pretty much stripped by Dombrowsky before he was fired.

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  7. Hot in here.

    Kershaw. He is what he is. But I don’t pin this one on him. The bullpen mismanagement is on Roberts. Yeah, Kershaw was the best pitcher of his generation but that is history. Hell, he’s not even the ace of the staff. He had a decent year, but lost his start in this series. He sure as hell isnt a reliever. He got Eaton to end the inning. Thanks. Sit down. Also, Kelly a second inning? WTF?

    And…. 3 runs in the first 2 innings and 2 hits after that? 1 for 7 WRISP? In an elimination game? This offense had opportunities to put this game away and they went to sleep. This game was a microcosm of the macrocosm. We got issues. I’m very curious to see what management intends to do here. There are a lot of good managers suddenly available.

    I heard from an old friend first thing this morning. He said a few years ago this ownership is setting things up for a sale. He believes that time is now. Interesting thought. 7 straight years of sellout crowds, playoffs and a huge tv contract. But obviously this group can’t close the deal on the field. Time for a change?

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    1. What’s that? Team for sale?
      Call Steve Ballmer quick!
      MSG is suing him to prevent him from building the Clippers’ new home in Inglewood. He buys the Dodgers and puts his new basketball arena on the Ravine property. He’s got the money to do it all and still have lots left to pay any tax that would be assessed by blowing through the limit.
      Man, I can’t believe how insightful I am. I should charge for this stuff.

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  8. To place the blame entirely at the feet of Kershaw is disingenuous. The best regular season SP of his generation did his job in the 7th by K’ing Eaton on 3 pitches. What should have followed was a pat on the back from Roberts and a your night is done moment. Sending him back out there to face 2 of the top sticks in all of baseball was a colossal mistake by Roberts. The top of 8th was suited for Maeda & I would have been ok with him talking care of Rendon & then letting Kolarek have Soto (he K’ed him in games 1&3). At that point, you have May to face Kendrick and Zimmerman if need be before handing it over to Jansen in the 9th. However, it was not to be and despite averaging 98 wins over his 4 yr tenure, Roberts has to wear this one. Some can see that as harsh and unforgiving but he made an absolute mess of the 8th and it cost his team. When he needed to be at his best he somehow found a way to morph into Grady Little. Bottom line, how can he be brought back? Changes have to be made and if the managerial pool was slim I’d be apprehensive, but the list is plentiful– Maddon, Scioscia, Showalter, Girardi etc.

    It was noted earlier that Friedmans deal is up. Does he have blame in this? He surely does but the system he has built thus far has worked remarkably well & his hiring of Billy Gasparino to run the scouting department in ’14 was pure genius. His ’16 draft might be one of the best ever when all is said and done. At the end of the day when I’m done crying in my beer and at this point I’m getting close, changes must come. Time will tell…….

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    1. Well said Friddo.

      The system works well for summer ball. We needed “keep the line moving” skills and we just don’t have them anymore.

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    2. Friedman was not hired until 2015. Logan White was running the farm system in 2014. Don’t give AF so much credit, that system was built by White and some of his draft picks are still an integral part of the team.

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  9. I’m trying not to get caught up in all the finger pointing, but I also want to thank Andy, and Dennis for taking their own time to put this site out for us. I hope this early exit, from the playoffs, doesn’t spoil your enthusiasm to keep writing these articles for us to read. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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