Consider this for a brief moment, the Los Angeles Dodgers have placed 26 players on the disabled list this season and currently have 14 players out of commission. Yet, here we are, one game back of the San Francisco Giants. One game. Add 26 separate DL stints and despite that, we sit one game out of first place.
More than an entire active roster of players have been hurt this season, many of whom were expected to be major contributors, and we are on the doorstep of being back in first. That doesn’t quite make sense. That doesn’t quite make sense for one single, solitary second.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 8, 2016
If there was ever a season where fans could complain about a lack of success due to the sheer volume of injuries, this was it. If there was ever a year where we could just blame bad luck and say it just wasn’t meant to be, this was the year. But, instead of rolling over and giving in to the crippling number of unhealthy players, the team never broke. Bent, yes. But, it has yet to full on splinter.
That in and of itself should be celebrated and much credit should be given to the players who have managed to keep their health all season as well as Dave Roberts for managing a severely handicapped team. Bending and not breaking has seemingly been the unspoken mantra of the team all season. But, in all honesty, how sustainable is this model for the stretch run? As the intensity of the season ratchets up, how much bending can the team take before snapping? That right there is the million dollar question, as we’ll only know for sure after it’s too late.
Can We Possibly Keep This Up?
It is difficult to sustain some level of consistent success over the course of the season let alone maintaining that level of play without ever having a full compliment of players. As a result, watching the Dodgers play this season has rarely been pretty. There’s been some issues in the starting rotation, some shady-ness in the bullpen here and there and the lineup hasn’t exactly been what you would call consistent. One day the team might explode for double digit runs and the next they look like they couldn’t beat a group of little leaguers. But, to the surprise of literally everyone in the league, since losing Clayton Kershaw the rotation hasn’t been exposed in a way that many expected it would.
In fact, it has been quite good actually. But, there has rarely been individual moments of inspiration or brilliance, rather a strong collective effort with the support of the bullpen to bolster their troubles. You’re not going to see any stat-lines like Kersh would put up on the regular, but you’re gonna see a lot of tough 5 or 6 inning outings that aren’t pretty but are effective. Which is all you can really ask for from a rotation, sans Kershaw, that is largely comprised of injury-prone journeymen and rookies. It is not breath taking like watching #22 pitch, but it’s worked and it’s put the team in the position that it’s currently in, being right behind the Giants. This type of play doesn’t project too well for the playoffs, should we even make it there, but for the dog days, it is just what the club has needed.
But, as it is every season, the playoffs are the ultimate goal and if the season were to end today, while not division winners, the Dodgers would still be hosting the wild card game. However, the playoffs do not begin today and we have to persevere for another two months before we can briefly exhale before dealing with all the fun of October baseball. But getting there is anything but a done deal. Yes we are just a game behind the Giants, with nine games remaining against them, six of which come at the Dodger Stadium, but I would be lying if I said I was overly optimistic of our chances if we don’t get at least a little healthier.
Should the numbers of players on the DL decrease to a more reasonable amount, then I would do a 180 and be rather surprised if we weren’t in our 4th straight playoffs. But, that is entirely unknown and with our luck this season, assuming we’ll magically get healthier in time for the playoffs is a risky proposition. I really really hope we do, I just have this overwhelming feeling that it would be shortsighted and foolish to get too hopeful for our playoff prospects, should we keep this many players on the DL.
So, What If We Don’t?
Let’s say the worst case scenario happens and the team simply can’t stay afloat with so many key components being hurt and they burn out and don’t make the playoffs. I know, I’m sorry, I don’t like talking about this kind of stuff either, but sometimes you have to talk about not fun things. SO, let’s say the team does have to face this terrible fate and misses the playoffs, what then? What would the lasting memory of this season be? Would it be considered a disappointment because we did miss out on the playoffs or would fans appreciate the effort despite all the roadblocks? Would calls for the heads of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi become louder? Hopefully we don’t have to worry about all of these things, but it is a very real possibility. If the amount of injuries sustained becomes so insurmountable that it would be illogical to think that the playoffs are a reasonable goal, what happens to this season?
No one knows, and there is no way that anyone could know until whatever happens happens. It seems that there are two very distinct possibilities for the rest of the season:
A: We keep plodding along and keeping pace with the Giants while not succumbing to the injuries and hold the fort down until reinforcements arrive and pull away in September.
B: The reinforcements never arrive/more players go down and we just can’t keep it up while the Giants hit their stride and we eventually get caught by the Marlins and Cardinals in the wild card race.
Obviously every Dodgers fan who’s right in the head would rather see option A pan out but realistically, option B seems just as likely to happen. All that is certain is that it’s going to be an interesting next month before we really get a clear picture of what the situation is in September. It’s going to have drastically negative effects on my health, but I’ve already come to grips with this and I can say with complete confidence that I am very excited.
Obligatory Yasiel Puig Update
As we all know by this point, Yasiel Puig was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City and that’s where he figures to stay at least until the rosters expand in September. I wrote about this earlier this week because I was very emotional and very not ok with the treatment Puig was receiving in the wake of this news.
Basically, I love Yasiel Puig and appreciate everything he did for this city the past few seasons and you should too. If you don’t, I don’t think we can be friends, and honestly, who wouldn’t want to be friends with me? I’m great.
So, start showing just a little appreciation for The Wild Horse, please and thank you.
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