As the Dodgers announced their NLCS roster this morning, there were two major surprises among the pitchers left off the roster.
The first was Paco Rodriguez, who has been one of LA’s most consistent relievers all season — especially as a left-handed specialist. In reality, however, this move shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise considering how terrible Rodriguez has been for the past month.
In my prediction piece, I highlighted Rodriguez as a guy who might find himself on the outside looking in this round and that prediction turned out to be right.
This time of year is about finding guys you trust in big spots, not rewarding guys for having been there all season for you. Since September 3, Paco has allowed six runs and 20 baserunners in just 6.1 innings pitched.
That simply isn’t getting it done this time of year.
His replacement is Carlos Marmol, who on just about every level is the polar opposite of Rodriguez.
While Rodriguez has been here all season, had been remarkably consistent and reliable, Marmol is a newcomer known to be a major wild card. Once a great closer, Marmol struggled mightily in Chicago the past two seasons before being shipped out to LA.
Since coming to the Dodgers, however, Marmol has been excellent.
Since August 2, Marmol has allowed just two earned runs in 18.2 innings over 19 appearances. Also on his resume is closing experience, which isn’t something he’ll be doing anytime soon, but it’s nice to know he’s handled the pressure of big spots.
Lets also not forget about Rodriguez: he’s in just his second season as a professional and has worked an incredible number of games this season — probably more than he has at any level of baseball.
The second major move made by Don Mattingly was swapping Chris Capuano out for Edinson Volquez.
While I saw the Paco move as a realistic possibility, Capuano’s exit wasn’t even on my radar.
Remember, this is the guy who proved he was a capable long reliever — giving the Dodgers three innings of no-hit ball and earning a win in the last round!
Another thing working in Capuano’s favor was the fact that he’s a lefty who would be facing a large number of left-handed batters in the St. Louis lineup. The Cardinals hit just .167 in 42 appearances against lefties in the NLDS and in the regular season, they hit .238, which ranked 27th in baseball.
For whatever reason, however, Mattingly ignored both of those facts and went with Volquez.
Since joining the Dodgers, Volquez appeared in six games — starting five of them — and amassed an ERA of 4.17.
It would be one thing if Volquez showed an ability to work effectively from the bullpen — something Capuano has already displayed this post-season — but he came from the bullpen just once and worked one scoreless inning.
Some are speculating that maybe Volquez will make a start in this series and perhaps Mattingly feels better about Volquez as a starter than Capuano, but if that were the case I’m not sure why both Ryu and Nolasco were retained if one isn’t going to make a start.
With just these two changes it means the Dodgers are sticking with five outfielders despite the rumored improvement in Andre Ethier and also that Dee Gordon will keep his spot on the roster as a pinch runner.
Whether these moves ever make a difference in a game this series remains to be seen, but at least it gives us something to talk about while we wait for 5:37 to come.