Should The Dodgers Play It Safe In Australia?
By Scott Andes
The Dodgers will be leaving for Australia in just a little under a month now. The club has an abbreviated exhibition schedule because of it. We’ve already discussed the true importance and or meaning of the exhibition season and spring training. Now let’s discuss how the Dodgers should play this little two game series down under. What should the club’s strategy be moving forward?
Kershaw and Mattingly-Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
We already know that Clayton Kershaw will start the first cactus league game next week, and will likely start the first Australia game. We’ve heard rumblings that Zack Greinke doesn’t like to travel, (who does nowadays?), and Yasiel Puig is so ripped he looks like he’s chiseled out of stone.
Both the Dodgers and Dbacks will be allowed to take five extra players with them and three of them I believe will be active up until the day of the first game. It’s a little bit of roster machinations because of the strange scheduling and excessive travel time.
But now we’ve been hearing rumblings that the Dodgers may not start Kershaw in the Australia series because they don’t want to overwork him with the shortened spring schedule and jet lag that is bound to happen to all of the guys.
Which makes me wonder, what’s the right call here? Should the Dodgers save Kershaw for when they return to the states? Or do they start him anyways. Kershaw is a warrior and I’m pretty sure he can handle it. But erring on the side of caution is always a good decision.
Still , there is no reason to punt these two games away. Remember these two games count in the standings, and they’re against a division rival. So should the Dodgers start Greinke or Ryu instead?
With the scheduling and all of the off-days the Dodgers have on the books, they can plan their rotation any way they want too. If they do decide to rest Kershaw, which I don’t think they will, they’ll still have Greinke, and Ryu able to start both games, and have plenty of time off afterwards shuffle the rotation for the opening series in San Diego on March 30.
The same type of questions can be asked of the position players as well. Who do you play? Obviously we know Matt Kemp won’t sniff the field for who knows how long, but what about the rest of the guys? Should they be cautious with Puig and his shoulder? Will Tim Federowicz catch one of the games to give A.J. Ellis a rest? Should the regulars be pulled after six or seven innings? What about the bullpen? Many questions arise.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
I am very excited for the series in Australia, but I have to be honest, I have some trepidations about the jet lag and extra travel on the boys. It’s going to be an interesting two-game series.
Manager Don Mattingly has a fine line to walk in order to balance playing to win the two games in Australia and not burning everyone out before the club returns home. Needless to say, there will be plenty of opportunities for us to analyze, and second guess the skipper. What else could be more fun than that?
What do you think the Dodgers should do? Should they go for the knockout blow against the Snakes in the land down under? Or should they play it safe and give everyone rest? As long as I don’t have to watch Chone Figgins play second base, or Paul Maholm starting one of the two games, I won’t complain.