The Final 10 Games: Dodgers Look to Regain Momentum in Chicago
The Dodgers were up four games ahead of the Giants going into the Colorado series. They left Denver two games ahead after losing two of three at the nightmare that is Coors Field. With ten regular season games remaining and a Magic Number of 9, the Dodgers need to shift the momentum back in their favor in order to defend their N.L. West crown. Everything was honky dory when Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke were beating the Giants in San Francisco, but the wheels fell off in Colorado behind Roberto Hernandez, Dan Haren and Carlos Frias. Three of the last five games the Dodgers have played have ended with the winning team scoring runs in the double digits. Coors Field is always the usual suspect, but the two losses to the Rockies had more to do with the Dodgers’ shaky pitching depth.
Zack Greinke (15-8, 2.64) vs. Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3, 3.34)
Van Slyke LF
Carlos Frias, who had pitched well for the Dodgers before Wednesday’s disaster, couldn’t get his changeup to work in the 16-2 loss. We
I felt the same way, Scott.
Sep 17, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Scott Van Slyke (33) on the bench during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Dodgers 16-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
should remember that the Dodgers essentially put out a triple-A battery against the Rockies on hump day with Tim Federowicz behind the plate. Frias, as terrible as he was during that fateful 2/3 of an inning, hopefully can pick himself back up and not let the drubbing get to him too much. It’s not his fault that the Dodgers are in this sticky situation at this point late in the season when they have to use Frias. Get well soon, Ryu.
Clinching. Everyone is clinching. The annoying Angels. The Nationals. Heck, even Baltimore wrapped up their division. It looks as though the N.L. West is going to go down to the wire, and I don’t want to end this long journey looking back and scrutinizing previous games. The time is now for the Dodgers to win a majority of these final games and lock up the division. Wrangling around with last-place teams shouldn’t even be an option right now. Even though the Rockies and Cubs aren’t very good, the Dodgers can’t take these last series for granted. The two teams still have some good young players. How about that Justin Morneau?
The bullpen is taxed after the backend of the rotation failed. Kevin Correia is just plain awful, and Jamey Wright, Brandon League, and Chris Perez don’t exactly inspire confidence. Zack Greinke will be starting for the Dodgers on Thursday at Wrigley Field, and I for one need a Greinke start to wash away the thoughts of Frias and Correia from my mind.
Greinke is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA over his last five starts, and it looks like his elbow issues have not hindered him at all. Zack was on attack in San Francisco in his last outing. He pitched six shutout innings, and he hit a glorious two-run homerun (that may just end up on my Top 10 Dodger Homeruns of 2014 list to be published at the conclusion of the season). Greinke is 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA against the Cubs in 6 career starts, yet he is 0-2 a 14.00 ERA at Wrigley Field in 2 starts. Greinke has not faced the Cubs this season. Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena are both hitting .421 versus Greinke. Castro has 5 hits including 2 doubles against Zack in 19 plate appearances, and Valbuena has 7 hits against him including 3 doubles in 19 at bats.
The Cubs will counter with rookie left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada. The Japanese hurler is 4-1 at home with a 3.05 ERA in 7 starts at Wrigley. The Dodgers faced Wada back on August 2nd at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won 5-2, and Wada pitched 5 2/3 innings while allowing 2 runs on 6 hits. Matt Kemp hit a homerun in the game. Hanley Ramirez also had 2 hits against the southpaw in the same game.
Prediction: Matt Kemp hits another Bison Blast over the ivy covered fence.
Call to the Pen
Hanley Ramirez, still nursing a sore right elbow, will hopefully be available for the Chicago series. With the season winding down fast, another Hanley injury is not great timing. Then again, Hanley injures a different body part every other week. I love Hanley, but his revolving wheel of injuries is extremely frustrating. While Hanley has still been decent this season, he has not been able to stay healthy for a long enough span to get back into that Hanley hot zone.
The good news is that the Dodgers don’t have to play at Coors Field until 2015, but the bad news is that they lost two games in the standings after the series loss to the Rockies. My biggest fear is a late-season collapse. Even a Wild Card spot would be a disappointment, and I surely cannot handle the stress of a one-game Wild Card game. The Dodgers know what is at stake, and I expect more bubbles and less blowout double digit losses.
Trust in Greinke.