Ok, so we’ve gone over why the Dodgers need to give Justin Turner all the monies, why Yasiel Puig is the Dodgers’ ex they won’t leave alone, and why, as fans, we root for laundry.
Today, we’re going to combine two of my favorite worlds and explain why fantasy football helps me deal with Dodgers playoff baseball.
First, for those don’t play fantasy football, a quick primer:
Fantasy football is a game where you pick players based on the stats they produce at position X. Each team has a QB, a couple of running backs, 2 or 3 wide receivers, and you set your line-up weekly, based on how you feel each player will perform. You want players who put up a ton of points, and you base who you play on how you think they’ll do in a given week.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing a soft New Orleans defense? Start that guy. Receiver Antonio Brown at home vs. Cleveland? START THAT DUDE.
As October looms on the horizon, the Dodgers are blessed with the quality problems that come with having so much depth that you have to make difficult decisions, and I’m going to apply my fantasy expertise to help the front office choose who gets to play October baseball.
Let’s start with starters…
That Kershaw guy? He’s a combination of Aaron Rodgers and Antonio Brown, mixed with Adrian Peterson and a little Rob Gronkowski. He’s not only coming, but he’s our clear cut game 1 starter.
Next up would be King Kenta. Mr. Consistency. Team leader with 15 wins, and, as of now, our most reliable right handed starter. Kinda like Drew Brees; you may not know what the rest of the team is gonna do, but you can count on him to do his job, and produce results at that position.
I trust our front office, so my wishes of having Julio Urias as our #3 starter are now shelved. I don’t mind him in the bullpen, but I do see him as a quality starter, and at #3 he would flourish. That being said, he has an innings count and since he’s still so young (barely 20), I trust that what we’re doing is ensuring that we’ll see Julio starting for the Dodgers for decades to come, so I’m ok with him coming out of the pen rather than starting.
This is where Rich Hill fits in perfectly. Mr. Almost Perfect Game. He has nasty stuff, he’s relatively fresh since his 9yr blister just went away, and tossed back to back shut-outs before finally showing that he’s human in Arizona, where anyone with a bat can hit 30 hr’s a year. I imagine Rich is a little like the running back Chris Johnson, now with Arizona. A little older, and he’s been on a few different squads, but he just goes out and get’s it done, no questions asked.
The fourth starter in playoff baseball is a tough spot to be in; the way the playoffs are exploited on TV, the games are stretched out to the point where a team only really needs 3 starters, given their #1 can go on 3-4 days rest. That said, Jose DeLeon could fit well into that #4 role. Why Jose? Well, he’s not broken Brett Anderson, broken Brandon McCarthy, not shaky Scott Kazmir. He’s young and his arm has a ton of juice in it. Think Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seahawks. Guy has all the physical tools, and the mental acumen to accentuate them.
As a rabid fan who’s watched a fair amount of games this year, I am certain that starters going 3 innings and giving up 5 earned runs is not going to fly in the postseason. So, I encourage the front office to take advantage of their fruitful scouting, and pen Jose in as the #4 starter come playoff time. Yes, this means leaving off Anderson, McCarthy and Kazmir.
The bullpen has done nothing short of carry the 2016 Dodgers. Kenley Jansen is our closer, and Joey Blanton has dazzled as the 8th inning hold guy, and I see nothing to change that. Outside of those two, names like Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez, Josh Fields, Jesse Chavez, and Josh Ravin come to mind. Adam Liberatore needs to show me something in the next few weeks to cement his place on the October roster, as he hasn’t looked quite as filthy as he once did a few months ago, when he had a 3 thousand inning scoreless streak. JP Howell is on the fence; a lefty coming out of the pen is invaluable, and JP has shown some ability to get outs, but he does pitch to contact at times, and that does sometimes get him in trouble. All in all, we are blessed with a very deep, very talented bullpen. They’re the backbone of the team, just as the defense is for the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos were. Very deep. Very young. Very fast. Scary.
Position players is where this gets sticky, but again, there is not enough credit to give to the front office for the depth we have.
Joc is our center fielder, but Yasiel and Kiké can play center too. Andre Ethier is back, and Josh Reddick is finally hitting the ball. Lefty splits aside, we have depth galore in the outfield, and even if we have to face 900 lefties in a row, Doc and the front office has done enough shuffling of the order that we’ll find production everywhere, from the leadoff spot to #8.
Infield is pretty cut and dry; Gonzo is our anchor at first, JT is our anchor at third, and Chase plays a mean 2nd base. Corey Seager doesn’t even come out of the game against lefties, so that part of the roster is easy to predict. Howie can back up Chase, Kiké can back up Corey and JT can back up Gonzo if needed. Depth meets versatility. Just like the NFC champion Panthers; there’s not one aspect of that team that overwhelms you; top to bottom, they’re relentless. Deep everywhere, and playmakers at every position. A very tough team to play.
As a former backstop, I cannot tell you how great of a job Yasmani does framing pitches. Words don’t do it justice; he is simply the best behind the plate, and what he does is nothing short of art. That framing will come in handy in the playoffs too; an extra strike here and there will lead to an extra out, more counts in the pitcher’s favor means the batter is now pressing a little to not make an out. I can go on and on; Grandal is a catching Jedi. He can also hit the ball out of the yard on a consistent basis, being 2nd on the team with 25 dingers as of writing. Kind of like Phillip Rivers; an elder statesman on his team, but he can still put the kids to share with his arm, or in Yasmani’s case, his bat.
The front office has put a lot of work and resources into building a team that has gone from 8 games out of first, to 4 games in front of 2nd place Giants, and pulling away. Depth at virtually every spot, and quality depth at that, should make choosing who makes the playoff roster like picking your weekly fantasy football lineup.