Dodgers Escape New York with Series Win Over Mets

Utility man Jedd Gyorko squeezed a ground-ball single to center in the top of the ninth inning Sunday night that made the difference in the outcome of the entire series. The base hit scored Enrique Hernandez from second, securing the 3-2 victory for the Dodgers. More importantly, the series win against a quality opponent gave boss Andrew Friedman and skipper Dave Roberts some crucial data to examine when it comes to determining the club’s upcoming playoff roster.

For the dedicated fans who watched every single inning of the series, they’ll know that each game had a definite playoff flavor. The final two contests were especially gripping, as runs were at an absolute premium.

While Saturday’s 3-0 defeat was particularly disappointing for the Dodgers, the win in the finale seemingly made up for the loss, specifically when considering that both the Braves and Yankees each lost their respective Sunday games.

After a Robinson Cano walk and a J.D. Davis single in the bottom of the second, the Mets got on the board first with two runs when Brandon Nimmo tripled to deep right field.

The Dodgers cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth when Max Muncy scored from second base after a Corey Seager single to left field.

The Mets and their strong pitching held the one-run lead until the Los Angeles half of the eighth.

With nobody out and Muncy at the plate, Gyorko drew a walk and advanced to second on a Justin Wilson balk. In the same AB, a wild pitch by Wilson allowed Gyorko to scamper to third base. Muncy punched out, but Chris Taylor followed with a double to deep center that plated Gyorko, tying the score at two.

In the top of the ninth inning, Gyorko delivered the single that gave the Dodgers the lead to keep.

Surprisingly, Walker Buehler was pulled from the game after just five innings and 71 pitches. Later, several reports indicated that it was Roberts’ intention to get a designed look at several specific arms out of the Los Angeles bullpen.

And those relievers did not disappoint.

Pedro Baez, Dustin May, Kenley Jansen, Adam Kolarek and Kenta Maeda all combined for four full scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

Jansen looked especially good in registering the win, his fifth of the year.

For his effort in the bottom of the ninth, Maeda posted his second save of the season.

Seth Lugo took the loss for New York, one night after registering the win in one full inning of relief.

Mets’ starter Zack Wheeler was very effective over seven frames of work, allowing just one run on six hits and no walks. The 29-year-old righty struck out nine.

Offensively for the Dodgers, both Seager and rookie infielder Gavin Lux had multi-hit games. After a short cold streak, Lux has elevated his average to .275 and surely is drawing considerations for the playoff roster.

After a day off on Monday, the Dodgers head back to Los Angeles for a quick, five-game homestand against the Rays and the Rockies.

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Will Hyun-Jin Ryu Regain All-Star Form in Time for Playoffs?

Despite having one of the most prolific offenses in baseball, the postseason success of the Dodgers this year may ultimately fall on the shoulders of the starting rotation.

Some will argue that the bullpen is the most integral part, but if the starting pitchers can consistently go seven-deep throughout the playoffs, it keeps the relief crew out of the game, thus making the contest much easier to manage and control for skipper Dave Roberts.

On Friday night, ace Clayton Kershaw proved that he still has what it takes to go deep into games. Against one of the most productive offenses in the National League, Kersh nearly went a full seven innings. His final line was 6-1/3 innings pitched with just two earned runs surrendered on four hits and three walks while striking out five. It wasn’t exactly Cy Young material, but the way CK blended his pitch selection and varied his velocity mostly left the Mets stymied.

On Saturday night, Hyun-Jin Ryu gets his opportunity to show the baseball world if he’s up to the same challenge. Specifically, Ryu is looking to reverse a trend that has seen him go from early-season Cy Young favorite to just another lefty with mediocre stuff.

At the halfway mark of the season, Ryu didn’t just earn his way onto his first-ever All-Star squad, he was also selected to make the start. At that point in time, in 17 starts, he had a 10-2 record with a 1.73 ERA with 99 strikeouts over an even 109 innings of work. That’s an average of 6-1/2 effective innings per start—something the Dodgers would be delighted to see from the southpaw in the 2019 playoffs.

Ryu was still productive for a short time after the All-Star break. One of those games came at the dreaded Coors Field, where he held the Rockies scoreless on just three hits and a walk over six full innings of work.

When Ryu went on the injured list at the beginning of August with a sore neck, his ERA was still sitting at a stellar 1.53.

Whether the injury was bonafide or just an attempt by management to provide him some rest, Ryu came back with a vengeance against the Diamondbacks on August 11, throwing seven scoreless innings and scattering just five hits in the Dodgers’ 9-3 victory.

However, it was at that point the wheels began to fall off.

In his four starts after the win against the Snakes, Ryu failed to make it into the sixth inning each time. He was bludgeoned in back-to-back games against the Yankees and Arizona on August 23 and August 29, getting tuned up for a combined 14 runs on 14 hits—three of which were long balls.

Over those four games, Ryu had an 0-3 record with a whopping 9.95 ERA, surrendering 21 earned runs on 31 hits over just 19 innings. During that same time frame, he also issued seven walks, something that is uncharacteristically rare for the lefty.

“To be completely honest, this year has been really good in terms of conditioning and my health,” Ryu said through his interpreter a few weeks ago. “Just by the feel of things, I feel really good.”

Most of the pundits around the league chalk up his recent performances to poor command. That would explain the high number of walks and his propensity to leave so many balls hanging across the heart of the plate.

With 13 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, that probably means three more starts for Ryu, including Saturday’s middle game in New York. His final start will conceivably be a quick tune-up of just a few innings as a precursor to the NLDS.

That doesn’t give him much time to straighten things out.

For the sake of the Dodgers on their quest to capture their first World Championship in more than 30 years, hopefully he does.

 

Implications of Max Muncy’s Return to Active Roster

Several hours before the beginning of the series against the Mets in New York on Friday, the Dodgers added Max Muncy to their active roster, increasing the number of active players to 35.

The 29-year-old Muncy was sidelined with a right wrist fracture since August 29, missing a total of 14 games. Without the lefty slugger, the Los Angeles offense has been sporadic, to say the least.

Prior to the injury, Muncy appeared in 129 games for the Dodgers, hitting .253/.375/.575 with 19 doubles, 33 homers and 87 RBI. In two seasons with Los Angeles, he has tallied 68 homers and 168 RBI while slashing .258/.382/.552.

For the 2019 season, the left-handed hitting Muncy has featured a bit of a reverse split at the plate, although most of his power has come against opposing right-handers. Still, his productivity against opposing lefties and righties alike has made him an everyday lineup option for skipper Dave Roberts.

Against right-handed pitching this year, Muncy has slashed .248/.380/.520 with 22 homers. Against lefty pitching he has hit .264/.361/.535 with 11 long balls. His OPS against righties is .901 and is .896 against left-handers.

Over his career—parts of four different big league seasons—Muncy has hit .241/.366/.499 with 54 home runs against righty pitching. When facing opposing southpaws, he has slashed .258/.360/.524 with 19 homers.

Muncy’s return could conceivably have an effect on playing time for several players who may be on the bubble when it comes to receiving a postseason roster spot. Since being activated, rookies Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty have both been seeing regular playing time and may see their appearances decrease with Muncy’s return, at least while the Dodgers are battling the Braves for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

So far this year, Muncy has appeared in 67 games at second base, 55 games at first base and 29 games at third base.

Lux has made nine starts at the keystone, hitting  .241 (7-for-29) with two homers, a double and two RBI.

For the entirety of his 2019 campaign, Beaty has slashed .288/.377/.500 with 19 doubles, nine long balls and 46 RBI over 226 AB. In the field, Beaty has proven his versatility by making 33 appearances in left field, 32 at first base, three at third base, two appearances in right field and two as designated hitter.

If there’s one downfall to Beaty’s game, it his weakness against lefty pitching. For the year against southpaws, Beaty has gone just 4-for-32 with a double and three RBI.

Another indirect result of Muncy’s absence was the call-up of Edwin Rios before the opener against the Orioles on Tuesday. The main reason Rios was added, though, was to provide extra cover at third base due to Justin Turner‘s ailing ankle.

Still, without Muncy and outfielder Alex Verdugo‘s bats being available, the move to add another lefty hitter made sense.

Verdugo suffered a setback when was on a rehab assignment with short-season Ogden after landing on the injured list Aug. 6 with an oblique strain. With just 14 games left on the regular season schedule, Verdugo’s chances of being included on the postseason roster are extremely slim.

“I think each day that we don’t get him moving closer to playing, makes it more bleak,” Roberts said on Tuesday about Verdugo. “But we’re still hopeful. So I think the door’s still open but obviously each day that passes gets a little bit tougher.”

 

Dodgers Injury Notes: Hill, Muncy, Turner, Verdugo & More

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The Dodgers have clinched their division, and now are just working on preparing for the postseason. The most important thing they can do now, is get and stay healthy.

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Dodgers Defeat Orioles in Series Opener, Secure 7th Straight NL West Title

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While fans knew it would happen eventually, the Dodgers made a seventh consecutive division crown a reality on Thursday evening after defeating the Orioles 7-3 in Baltimore.

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Dodgers Land in Baltimore for Interleague Matchup Against Orioles

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On their final East Coast road trip of the 2019 regular season, the Dodgers will begin a three-game set against the orioles on Tuesday in Baltimore.

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Should Gavin Lux Make the Postseason Roster?

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Even though the Dodgers went 4-2 on their home stand, and scored 16 runs in one of the games against the Colorado Rockies, their late season drudgery continues. The starting pitching is tired, and the bats don’t seem to have much pep at the moment.

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Dodgers Salvage Final Game of Weekend Series Against Giants

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After dropping the first two contests of the weekend in disappointing fashion, the Dodgers rebounded in the finale on Sunday to handle the Giants in convincing fashion, 5-0.

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Exactly How Good Is the Dodgers’ Starting Rotation?

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Perhaps the more relative question is exactly how good has the Dodgers‘ rotation been lately?

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Dodgers Look to Clinch Division at Home Against Giants

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The Dodgers‘ seventh straight NL West division Clinchmas is so close, they can smell it. Their magic number sits at four, so they need a little help from the Cincinnati Reds if they want to clinch at home. The Arizona Diamondbacks are visiting Cincinnati, so all Dodger fans will be Reds fans this weekend hoping the Boys in Blue can celebrate at Chavez Ravine.

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