Upon receiving 34,000 tweets / emails/ googlehonks Bud Selig caved into fan pressure and has decided that the Dodgers will play their full schedule this Monday.
Don Mattingly will let Eugenio Velez manage the team, and Velez has announced that each pitcher will go one inning mainly for the amusement of the scorekeeper having to pick a winning pitcher.
The Dodgers come into this game as one of the hottest teams in the NL with two of the best players in baseball and the hottest hitter in baseball, along with the hottest pitcher in the bullpen.
Let's take a look at this team:
1st Base - Jim Loney has replaced James Loney and the difference is staggering. Combined they have an OPS+ of 110 the highest they have posted since 2007. Hold your horses, Jim Loney's triple stat line since Aug 6th, in 48 games, .373 / .436 / .640. Good gracias that is some cool beans.
2nd Base - Career major league journeyman Jamey Carroll splits time with career minor league journeyman Justin Sellers. Carroll continues to do the one thing he can do, and that is get on base as he posted a .359 OB% leading all qualified NL 2nd baseman in this important stat. Carroll ended up with 510 plate appearances which at the age of 37 was the second most in his career. Maybe not a journey man after all? Justin Sellers meanwhile got a few at bats and showed an excellent glove but not much of a bat. Kind of what you might expect from a future utility infielder.
SS - In Dee Gordon's first foray into the major leagues the game proved to fast for him, in his second attempt he proved to fast for the league, leading the league with 12 steals in the month of Sept. Jose Reyes had a huge Sept to win the NL Batting Average Crown but Dee Gordon was step for step with Reyes posting a wRC of 146 only one point behind Jose Reyes. Dee got to that superlative Sept TSL of .372 / .398 / .451 by leading the NL in hits in Sept with 42. Defensively he is flashy but prone to make some errors, you combine Dee's offense/defense and many Dodger fans will say they have not seen as exciting a player as Dee Gordon since Matt Kemp showed up in 2006.
3rd - Smurf miester Aaron Miles manned this spot for most of Sept as Casey Blake underwent season ending neck surgery. Russ Mitchell was available to play 3rd but Donny wanted his potent bat on the bench for when they would need a game tying home run against an elite closer. Miles ended up with 490 plate appearances, the second most in his nine year career and the most since his rookie season back in 2004. When you watch him you think he did more with those at bats but his hitting line continued to be unimpressive with a TSL of .275 / .314 / .346. The starting 3rd baseman had 83 plate appearances in Sept, yet managed no extra base hits.
C - Big Mama Rod Barajas rocked his way into Dodger fan hearts with 16 home runs, the second most on the team. He did this on the back of a huge August but in Sept he is struggling so expect the Dodgers to use AJ Ellis who loves Sept. For the second Sept in a row little used AJ Ellis sported an OBP over .400. For his career AJ Ellis has a a TSL in Sept of .342 / .444 / .461.
CF - Matt Kemp had a decent year but lets face it, it was no 40/40
LF - Juan Rivera started most of the games in Sept and the waiver claim did the job by driving in 20 runs, just two behind the league leader Matt Kemp. Juan only had an OPS with the Dodgers of .740 but it seemed like so much more. Only 11 home runs for Juan in over 500 ab's in 2011 which has to shock Dodger fans since the way they are clamoring for him to come back you'd think he'd have hit 11 home runs just with the Dodgers.
RF - Jerry Sands took over for Andre Ethier when Andre underwent season ending ego surgery and did not disappoint. Much like Dee Gordon, Sands first experience with major league pitching ended up seeing him dispatched to AAA to work on his swing. He came back and was among the league leaders in right field for the month of Sept providing the Dodgers with a little bit of everything.
Summary - for the month of Sept the Dodgers had Matt Kemp going for the Triple Crown, Jim Loney hitting like Albert Pujols, Jerry Sands hitting like a real outfielder, and Juan Rivera not getting a lot of hits but every time he got one he was driving someone in. A far cry from the rest of the year when Matt Kemp was a one man show other then that great start Andre had to the season.
Pitching, these are the nine guys that Velez has decided will pitch, none of the main starters will be pitching.
Inning One - Dana Eveland spent the season in AAA waiting for a chance and come Sept he got it. Dana made five starts and went 8, 7, 5, 4, 5 2/3 innings. Thank God he didn't continue the trend by only pitching three innings in his last start. He is what he is a soft tossing lefthander who need command to semi succeed. He was the perfect NRI and if those command gains are for real, he might be worth sticking around in 2012. A walk rate of 1.85 will get you in the door.
Inning Two - Nathan Eovaldi got some starts in August, then was sent to the bullpen to save his arm. While starting he showed a big time fastball but little else. He's not ready for prime time yet, time will tell if he's ever ready. Today expect to see at least one 100 MPH heater. The real question is, will it be for a strike?
Inning Three - Josh Lindblom must have taken a fancy to the way Kenley Jansen was pitching because Josh dialed it up in Sept with 14 K's in only 9 innings of work. Flashing a 92 MPH fastball along with his hard slider at 86, Josh was mowing em down and reminded everyone why they liked him so much.
Inning Four - John Ely only got in seven innings this year so he needs the work. When he did pitch he was very effective with the second best xFIP in the bullpen at 2.81 and a K Rate of double digits. Sometimes mirrors are a pitchers best friend not to mention SSS.
Inning Five - Hong-Chih Kuo was either brilliant in Sept or awful, but unlike the rest of the season he had some brilliant moments in Sept. Out of 10 appearances he gave up runs in 3 of them but in the other seven he went seven innings, striking out eight, giving up only two hits. Velez understands that Kuo simply needs to pitch a complete inning and not get pulled after a few missteps, so expect him to get all three outs no matter what happens.
Inning Six - Mike MacDougal ended up pitching in 69 games the most of his 11 season career. His ERA of 2.05 hides the fact his xFIP was 4.02. When you watch MacDougal pitch you'd think his K/Rate would be well above his actual 6.47. He throws a 95.5 fastball in combination with a 86 MPH slider, yet he does not miss bats enough, and he does miss the strike zone to much. In Sept he was the complete WAR (wild ass righty) with a walk rate of 6.14 but that was the norm for Dodger relief pitchers in Sept.
Inning Seven - Scott Elbert had a good run but in Sept he turned back into the WAL we had learned to fear from his previous stints. Overall Elbert was able to keep his control in check with only 14 walks in 33 innings, but in Sept he walked six in six innings. Since he was being used exclusively against LHP that mean he was usually walking the one guy he was supposed to get out. Good news in those 33 innings he only gave up one home run. 92 MPH fastball and 87 MPH slider are his only tricks these days.
Inning Eight - Javy Guerra somehow saved 21 games for the Dodgers, including eight in Sept even though he walked eight in 12 innings in Sept. He did that because he only gave up seven hits in those 12 innings. Was he lucky in Sept? FIP and xFIP say yes with September numbers of 5.53 and 4.41 compared to his actual ERA of 3.00. Javy throws hard, throwing mostly 94MPH fastballs and 88MPH sliders.
Inning Nine - Velez learned something sitting on the bench. Always save the best for last, and nobody is better then Kenley Jansen. His comic book numbers of 96 K's in 53 innings will stagger your mind. His 32 K's in 13 innings in Sept will put you on the floor. Screw Kimbrel, Screw Venters, Screw Robertson, Screw Chapman, the pitcher you want to watch pitch is Kenley Jansen. Bar none.
The game starts at Noon today, so don't be shy about indulging in our game thread as we try to get Matt Kemp his 40 / 40