We all knew this could happen. Those of us that follow this team day in and day out knew that the bullpen implosion could happen on the grandest of scales and on the grandest of stages.
In the first three games of the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals the Dodgers bullpen has spit the bit down the home-stretch. They have thrown their jockey. They have pulled up lame and now they need their own Spectacular Bid to come to the rescue.
Clayton Kershaw has the Dodgers season and his own personal legacy on the line this afternoon. In short, it’s time for him to perform. A lot of players can shine from April-thru-September, not everyone can shine in October. Kershaw has yet to show his post-season mettle. He can’t afford to wait much longer.
The theories as to why Kershaw is struggling against the St. Louis Cardinals in October are many. Some of them make sense and some are completely outlandish. I will say this, the Cardinals are EXTREMELY confident against Kershaw out of the stretch. Whether his ball flattens out, hangs or is not as sharp will never be divulged by Cardinal hitters. Neither will they divulge how they are relaying pitch and location to the hitters, but those of us that have been around the game, know simple the transmission of this information can be. After St. Louis’ Game 3 win the platitudes about Kershaw were rolling like an old school projector. “Best in the game, real tough, got our hands full.” Blah blah blah…….
The Cardinals are secretly thrilled they get to face Kershaw again. They know that if they get him out of the stretch, they will know what’s coming and they not only feel, but they BELIEVE they will rough him up. Belief is powerful. When you believe you are going to do something, its pretty tough to stop. The Cardinals are a franchise that is known to be experts at picking pitches from pitchers out of the stretch and relaying this information to hitters. I have it good authority that it is happening again. The shame is not that the Cardinals are engaging in this espionage, the shame is that the Dodgers seem ambivalent to the fact that it is happening !!!!
Yes, you heard me right. The Dodgers know this is happening and are not doing anything about it. How does this happen ? How do you not change pitch sequence, indicators ? To me it is unfathomable to think the Dodgers don’t know this is happening. The Cardinals are 7-for-21 with runners at second base. Six of those hits have come in the decisive 7th innings of Games 1 and 3. I see a trend here, why don’t the Dodgers ?
Last night Don Mattingly said Kershaw would be good for 90 pitches, well, he better be able to throw a few more considering how well the Cardinals work counts and grind out at-bats. In Kershaw’s last three starts against the Cardinals in the post-season he is 0-3 with an earned run average near 8. For Kershaw’s own personal legacy he needs this game like no other. He is in danger of becoming that player where you go, “he is great, BUT.” You don’t want to be that guy. That guy is always saddled with baggage and Kershaw doesn’t want to lug that around for another off-season.
For Kershaw he needs to somehow solve Matt Carpenter. Three games, three home runs, all on fast balls out over the plate. The pitch selection to the sizzling hot Carpenter is stunning. It’s as if the stubbornness of the Dodgers brain-trust refuses to believe how hot Carpenter is, and he is proving to be a one man wrecking crew against the Boys in Blue. The Cardinals have hit an amazing six home runs in three games against Dodgers pitching, four of those home runs have been hit by left-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers.
The Dodgers season is on the line today. Clayton Kershaw has the ball. Normally this would bring a sense of confidence and calm, instead I have no idea what to expect and that scares the hell out of me.