Dodgers Walk-Off Wild Card Win Sets Up NLDS Showdown with San Francisco Giants

With one swing of Chris Taylor’s bat, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 106 win season was saved.

In a stressful game that took all nine innings to determine the winner, in a glorious walk-off fashion, the Dodgers advanced to the NLDS to face their division rival San Francisco Giants.

It was a usual Dodgers playoff game in that the bats didn’t ever really get going. There were some great defensive plays robbing the Dodgers of hits, but mostly the hits were bloops and runners got on base via the walk. The best chance at a big scoring opportunity was thwarted when Trea Turner ground into a bases loaded, inning ending double play.

There also was some shaky defense that led to the Cardinals only run of the game, when an error and then a wild pitch allowed Tommy Edman to score in the top of the first. And starting pitcher Max Scherzer was not his normal dominant self on the mound.

But, the Dodgers prevailed. While not having great command, Scherzer ended up allowing only that one run in the first. And when the game looked like it could get out of hand in the fifth, Manager Dave Roberts made the right move, taking out Scherzer and bringing in Joe Kelly, who stranded the two runners on base. The rest of the bullpen was dominate, and handled 4.2 innings of scoreless relief.

One player not to be overlooked in the walk-off win is Cody Bellinger. While his recent struggles at the plate are well documented, it was his walk that lead to St Louis Manager Mike Shildt’s changing his pitcher to face Chris Taylor. Bellinger also had another walk and a single in the game, and a stolen base in that ninth inning. It’s not the huge offensive fire power we’re used to seeing from Cody, but good at bats will start to manifest themselves into better at bats, and Wednesday night he helped the team.

It must be noted that Roberts pulled all the right strings to get the win. He used Luke Raley early in the game as a pinch hitter, saving Chris Taylor to be able to deliver his heroics in the ninth. And while many were wondering if it was a good thing to remove Scherzer from the game that early, it worked and preserved the tie. Roberts trusted in his bullpen and they showed up for him and the team.

If that first game was any indication what the rest of the playoffs will be like for the Dodgers and their fans, there will be a lot of stressful innings for the remainder of October. But that’s all a baseball fan can really ask for, a chance to keep moving on in the playoffs.

The starters for the first two NLDS games in San Francisco have been announced. In game 1, it will be Logan Webb and Walker Buehler. Game 2 will see Kevin Gausman and Julio Urías. Friday’s game will be at 6:37 PST, and Saturday’s game will start at 6:07PST.

8 thoughts on “Dodgers Walk-Off Wild Card Win Sets Up NLDS Showdown with San Francisco Giants

  1. I have been very hard on Bellinger. I am very happy for him today. Bellinger stopped trying to hit the ball into orbit and had a hit and some key walks. Bellinger’s stolen base in the 9th changed Taylor’s at-bat. Taylor said after the game at first he was trying to hit it out. But once Bellinger stole second he was simply attempting to make contact.
    Speed in close playoff games can be the difference-maker. The Dodgers have Turner, Betts, and Bellinger that can steal along with Lux and Pollock. Roberts made the right moves this playoff game.
    Hats off to the entire Dodger Bullpen.
    I like the first two pitching matchups I think they are in the Dodger’s favor. Go Blue.

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  2. I was really happy to see someone like CT3 as the hero last night. Was hoping it might be Beaty but I’ll settle for Taylor

    Maybe this will be the turning point for Bellinger. Many big thumpers are slow, are lousy fielders and their only contribution is to smack the ball out of the ballpark. Cody has so many more skills and can contribute in so many different ways that it’s time he looked himself in the mirror and realized he’s wasting his talent. Defense, base running and the ability to beat out infield hits can win ballgames also. I hope he learned something last night. After all, even though CT3 hit the homer, Belli scored the winning run.

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    1. Yes very glad for Taylor, hopefully, the Dodgers will re-sign him
      If Bellinger has begun to listen to the coaches rather than have that swing from the heels mindset he can be a force in these playoffs. Speed doesn’t go into a slump and it can change the dynamics of a game like it did last night.
      Wow, Not much drama in the AL playoffs.

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  3. Brewer and Braves rosters posted for NLDS. Not many surprises. And isn’t it cool that both franchises that Henry Aaron played for are playing each other in the NLDS and the other series is between two of the best rivals in all of sports. In the AL games, the best teams won. Sox have some boppers, and some good pitchers, but Astro’s do not strike out much and do the little things. Former Dodger farm hand, Alvarez, launched one too. And the toothpick out managed the Hall of Famer. Does Dusty get into the hall as a manager? He has taken 5 different teams to the playoffs. Nobody has ever done that. Giants, Cubs, Astro’s, Red’s and Nationals. He has only won one pennant, 2002 with the Giants, but his teams have won their division 8 times. Almost 2000 wins as a manager. He has over 400 more than Lasorda. I do not think the Dodgers will resign Taylor and my reason is simple. He is going to get paid a lot of money and he is also going to get a 4-5 year deal with someone. He will get close to 50 million. He is younger than Zobrist was when he signed his deal and is if not more versatile. But the Dodgers are not going to spend 50 mil on a utility player. Not when there will be cheaper options not only on their own roster, but as free agents. They have more pressing issues than Taylor. Namely do they resign Jansen and Kelly? What about Seager? Scherzer will most definitely be a target. If Seager leaves, do they try and extend Trea Turner to be his replacement? What is the new CBA going to entail and what rule changes, including the universal DH will be implemented. Then there is the Kershaw question, do they resign him or not? He has been battling injuries for a lot of years now and has not been a 30 million dollar a year ace. Who is going to play 3rd base if Turner is the primary DH. I think Pujols, despite loving his time with the team is not resigned. If there were a DH it would be an easier decision, but my thinking is that Tio Albert, if he really wants to play, signs a one year deal with the Cardinals to finish his career with his buddies, Molina and Wainwright. A lot of questions to be asked and answered.

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    1. Houston and Tampa are both very very good teams. If they play each other in the next round (a likely outcome), that should make for a very good series and the winner will have an excellent chance of going all the way.

      CT3 – I think your estimate of somewhere in the 4/50 range is pretty accurate. I don’t necessarily agree that someone will pay him more than AF will. His bWAR this year was 2.7. The general value for 1 WAR these days is considered to be around 8 mil. That would mean he was worth over 20 mil this year. So to give him 4 years at an average salary of around 12.5 million doesn’t seem like an overpay. Taylor has been pretty consistently good since he got here so this year was not an outlier. Who on the roster or the farm system would you rather have filling that utility role? A normal utility player might get around 250 at bats per year and plays a couple or three different positions. CT3 gets 500 at bats per year and plays 5 positions (6 if you want to count right field). I’m assuming that he enjoys L.A. and his teammates and would like to stay. The only way I see him leaving is if someone gives him about the same money, says that he will be their starting (insert position here) and that appeals to him more than what he’s been doing here. Just a guess, of course, but I don’t think he leaves.

      Kenley – I think this might turn into one of the more interesting off-season stories. With the development of his other pitches, he has become a real force again. I think AF will definitely try to keep him now that he’s become effective again, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone outbids us. Then it will be up to Kenley if he follows the money or stays here. I have no clue what the outcome will be on that one.

      Kelly – 12 mil team option/4 mil buyout so he would cost us 8 mil next year. I think he’s back.

      AF will have to save money somewhere, so the first decision will be what happens to Bauer, and who ultimately makes that decision? The courts, MLB, the Dodgers, Bauer? All of the above. I assume he won’t be here but I think the chance of that is more than zero. If he’s here that leaves one less rotation spot to fill. If he’s not and they don’t have to pay him next year that frees 40 mil. The worst outcome financially would be that he isn’t here but they have to pay him (buy him out or release him and then the courts say they can’t do that).

      Scherzer – I’m sure they would like to have him return, but maybe Doc’s taking him out of that last game pissed him off so much that he’d prefer to go somewhere else. On the other hand, maybe this group of guys plus a chance to win every year makes this his preferred destination. I think the odds that he’s back are 50/50 at best. There will be teams like the Giants who will have lots of money to spend. There will be teams who got close this year and need pitching (Phillies, Braves, Mets, Yanks) who might be willing to pay more. And, of course, Mr. Preller is always out there.

      Seager – Corey doesn’t give out much information about himself or his feelings so we don’t really know how much he’d love to play for the Yankees (lots of people are mentioning Correa going to NY now). His home is in the Carolinas but we don’t know how important it would be for him to play near his family (or at least closer). The one semi-advantage here is that Boras is his agent so he probably won’t sign quickly. This will give AF time to see where else he has to spend money and where he’s lost guys he would have preferred to keep. Semien will come a lot cheaper than Corey because of a 3.5 year age difference. Maybe AF decides to let Seager go and try to sign Semien for second base with Trea moving to short. Lux could play all over the place and be a left handed version of CT3 (GL9). Or maybe they decide that second base is Gavin’s from the get go next year and don’t go after any infielder free agents. Or maybe they sign a 3rd baseman and move JT to DH next year. I don’t expect Rios to be an every day third baseman, at least not next year. He’ll be coming back from a shoulder injury and we all know how that turns out, at least for the first year back.

      Kershaw – if he plays next year it will be for a lot less money or a very heavily incentive laden contract. This second go round with the elbow is definitely a red flag. I think it’s LA or retirement but I’m guessing he’s back.

      Boy, that extra cup of coffee this morning really stimulated my typing fingers. Sorry about that, didn’t mean to ramble on so much. I’ll make up for it by not commenting again until Spring Training.

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      1. Not rambling to me. I like Taylor and cannot think of anyone right off hand in the system who could replace him. But my thinking is that they just are not going to spend that kind of money on a utility guy no matter how good he is. They do have some options. Neuse has played all over the field at AAA. They might look at another free agent. Who knows which direction they will take. As for Scherzer, he wants to win, and the euphoria after the game probably wiped out any animosity he might have had in the moment. And especially since Kelly got out of that jam. Kersh and Seager are a little harder to track. I am pretty sure of one thing, if they do not win the Series, Kersh is not going to want to go out like this. A one year deal with a second year option might appeal to the team and Kersh.

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      2. Not rambling very cogent thoughts…Utility player has a less “talented” than a starting position player stigma. Taylor is a Starter! He just so happens to be so talented he can start at every position. I think the Dodgers do not let him get away and sign him, he had over 500 at-bats. That is a starting player.
        As you say we do not know what Seager is thinking. I believe he will sign with an East Coast club possibly the Yankees Corey’s wife has alluded to wanting to be closer to home in North Carolina and Boras his agent will get the last drop of blood from some team.
        I do not know about Jansen. He is a prideful player and being booed bothered him. With his new pitch mix I would sign him.
        Kelly, I would sign also. Scherzer’s signing all depends on the Bauer situation. Many baseball pundits say Bauer will never play in the MLB again others in the minority say he will. I do not know it is up to the MLB, the Players Union, and possibly the courts to decide only then is it up to the Dodgers. I would sign Scherzer if at all possible.
        Kershaw, has a lot of red flags with injuries to his back and now his forearm. I think, like you if they sign him it is to a very heavily weighted incentive deal.
        Dodgers have some very talented young players like Jackson, Pepiot, Miller, Beeter etc that will vie for roster spots.
        Injuries! when does Rios come back and how is his shoulder? Nelson, May, when do they return? Kahnle was a big signing is he back in 2022? I think young Vargas is like Verdugo he makes contact and is very athletic I wonder if he makes it to the MLB in 2022?
        Will there be a season in 2022? I am hoping for the DH in both leagues and a very revised playoff schedule. Something with Division leaders getting a bye or rank teams by wins. Why play 162 if you do not get anything for winning?
        Go Dodgers and I root for any team playing the Asteriks.

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  4. Not quite sure what the league can do with playoffs short of a balanced schedule or even a balanced schedule of each league. Probably not going to happen. But it seems very unfair that teams like Toronto or Yankees are out and Milwaukee, Chicago or Atlanta are playing. I’m not even sure la or Frisco would make the ps if they were in the American league especially the American east division. Would la win 90 games in the American league east? Unliky. But we’ll never know without a balanced schedule.

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