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The Dodgers Quiet Trade Deadline Not As Bleak As It Seems

So you “lost the trade deadline?”

Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts meeting at Dodger Stadium.

With the past two years of trade deadlines ending in the likes of Yu Darvish and Manny Machado, fans were expecting some other big name to don the Dodger Blue today. Well, that deadline came and went with nothing but sounds of flittering moth wings and the occasional cricket chirp from the Dodgers front office telephones. Those chirps came in the form of lesser known names Tyler White, Kristopher Negrón, Jedd Gyorko, and Adam Kolarek.

Meanwhile, potential post-season opponents, the Braves, Nationals, and Astros all upgraded more significantly. Disappointing? Absolutely. However, things are not as bleak as they seem.

Philosophy

The key, at least in part, to the Dodgers success since Dave Roberts took the helm has been playing the game one day at a time. The approach is the same whether they win or lose, record a save or blow a save, strikeout or walk off. They mourn the loss or celebrate the victory on the day, but either way they show up to prepare the next day. Seems simple enough to say it, but these players believe it. Roberts has clearly indoctrinated the philosophy in every player’s mind as can be heard in every player interview and seen in their confidence from game to game.

Luxury of a Large Lead

The Dodgers may not have made a splash, or even a ripple, at the trade deadline, but playing with this philosophy has rewarded them a 16-game lead in the NL West. With 51 games to go, they can play .500 baseball the rest of the way and still win 97+ games this season. In case you are wondering, they won the division with 92 wins last season.

The point is, this team has the luxury to experiment and work through kinks to improve their lineup and bullpen. We’ve seen some of that already in the form of Joc Pederson at 1st base, Tony Gonsolin in a starter and a 4-inning relief appearance, and next we’ll be seeing top pitching prospect Dustin May make his MLB debut on tonight.

With the Dodgers unable to add significant value to their bullpen they should focus on what they can do from within. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin can very well be key elements of the Dodgers bullpen and they have a full 2 months to get dialed in.  Fans can continue to expect these types of “experiments” as management assesses and tests their depth in new ways which, frankly, is a luxury most teams don’t have.

Preparing for the Post Season

While many fans and teams alike are fretting over the Astros adding Greinke to their already stacked starting rotation, the Dodgers rotation is pretty loaded too.  The likely starting rotation for the Dodgers in the post season will likely consist of Ryu, Kershaw, Buehler.  The fourth spot will likely be filled by Kenta Maeda or Julio Urias. Rich Hill may be an option, but with his unknown time table for return, his arm may not be built up enough to start yet. Regardless, that’s a strong starting rotation and the bullpen will also get a boost by whichever 2 don’t end up filling that fourth spot.

In terms of how to score runs on any of those Astros pitchers, the Dodgers offense must continue to do what they’ve done best this season, be selective. They must not get over-eager, they have to make the pitchers throw strikes and do not expand the zone for them. Take the walks, work the count, get those pitchers tired. Not necessarily to knock them out early, let’s face it their bullpen is strong too, but each inning push them 20+ pitches in hopes to force a mistake over the plate.

Additionally, run manufacturing will be more important against this Astros pitching juggernaut. With their firepower, the Dodgers need to rattle them and add pressure as quickly as possible. Bunting against the shift, stealing bases, safety squeeze, and sacrificing runners into scoring position will be crucial. Fortunately, the Dodgers are 5th in the MLB in productive out percentage (29.4%) and 2nd in sacrifice hit percentage (86.7%).  Perhaps even more impressively, is their 4th lowest percentage for grounding into double plays at just 7.9%.

Final Thoughts

It can’t be overlooked that this Dodgers team is not only good, but as proved by holding down 1st place since the 20th game of the season, they’ve been consistently good.

Yes, they’ve had an Achilles’ heel of a bullpen, but despite that, they’ve still been very good.  The bottom line is, things are not as bad as they seem. The Astros, clearly afraid of the way this Dodgers club is performing, are trying to buy their way to the World Series. The Dodgers, whom nobody wants to reasonably trade with, have two months to fix and experiment with their bullpen and fine tune some in-game strategies. Winners don’t worry about what others are doing and the Dodgers are only worried about tonight’s game.

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

4 Comments

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  1. Unfortunately best regular season team doesn’t translate into postseason success. Red Sox’s last year are an exception. Look at the Mariners that set the all time wins record didn’t even make it to the series. To call Kershaw a solid postseason choice is false he has yet to prove he is clutch. Kenley strikes fear into the baseball by how hard it is about to get hit. Joe Kelly has never been good just ask the Cardinals. I want the drought to end and I hope it does. We are the Braves of the 90’s only difference they one it once. Can we before Seager, Belly, Walker, Verdugo, Smith and many others that are being underpaid start asking for those huge contracts. Our time is now. May the force be with the Dodgers pun intended.

  2. Great take. I will say however that the pressure on the Dodgers to win it all will be monumental. Do not underestimate how extreme the pressure will be, unlike anything they have ever experienced. Not to mention, as each round proceeds, the fans long-suffering will become more nervous and more nervous and more anxious with each at-bat. That also could very well carry over to the field. If they do win it, being only the first team since the Yankees of the twenties to do it, it will be one of the great accomplishments in the history of the game. But the pressure will be incomprehensible.

  3. “The Astros, clearly afraid of the way this Dodgers club is performing” wow that is quite the assumption. I’m a Dodger fan, but I don’t think the Astros are afraid of any other team or how they are performing. They are arguably the best team in baseball and now have arguably the best 1-2-3 in the rotation in baseball. It wasn’t a desperation move it was a smart calculating move not only for this year but for the next two years. They hung on to their top 2 prospects, got two plus seasons of Grienke, and now have insurance at the top of the rotation if Cole bolts after the season.

    It also took the perfect storm to land Grienke. First they needed to not be this 15 team no trade list. Second, they needed to be able to absorb the 20 mil or so he is do each year for the next two years. Third they needed the prospects that the Diamondbacks wanted. Lastly they needed the Diamondbacks to agree to a deal that did not include the Astros top two guys.

    This was probably the toughest deadline in a long time for any contending team. Factors include no August 1st waiver trade fallback options, very few sellers, very few impact players available, and the sky high asking prices. The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees all didn’t get any impact players. That isn’t a coincident, that shows you what a tough market it was.

  4. I think the Dodgers will be fine for postseason. They have the time to get healthy and be set up perfectly for the playoffs. Getting over the WS hump may prove more difficult, but the third time will be the charm.

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