The challenge for the Dodgers after winning the NL West is staying sharp and focused as there’s two weeks until the NLDS starts.
However, there is still much at stake as they could finish the season with the second best record in the NL, but as it stands now, they’d start the playoffs on the road. Last night, Don Mattingly put out a reserve-based lineup and it made sense given the celebrations the day before.
Speaking to Kevin Baxter of the LA Times, Mattingly discussed his strategy going forward:
I want to get these guys as healthy as they can [be] and keep them sharp. And if they can play and it’s no risk and that’s the best thing, we’re going to play, Mattingly said. “But not at the risk of when medical says, ‘Hey, Hanley’s a little tight.’ Well, I’m not going to go ‘I’m going to use him anyway.’ We’re going to be more safe than sorry later.
Hanley Ramirez is battling an irritated nerve in his back, while Andre Ethier seems to be taking the most time with a severely sprained ankle. Even the glue of the team, Adrian Gonzalez, is dealing with a minor quad injury, but most of the regulars are back in the lineup tonight.
The danger in not starting the regulars is that they won’t be sharp nor have the same timing as they did earlier in the season. With such a big lead a couple weeks ago, Mattingly started resting players, which led to the Dodgers losing nine of 12 games and worrying many about their postseason prospects.
Hopefully Ethier will get back before the end of the season as the Dodgers look to be the healthiest they’ve been since the start of spring training.
In case you missed it, find out what John McCain had to say about the Dodgers pool party.