10 Things to Know About the Los Angeles Dodgers Heading Into NLDS 201I
10 Things About the Los Angeles Dodgers
They are now the National League West champions, and they are primed and ready for a battle with the Atlanta Braves. The first game in the series pits Kris Medlen, who is coming off an up and down season, but has been masterful this past month, against Dodgers' ace and possible Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. The lineups are set and the rosters are finalized.
The big news for the Dodgers coming into this, is that they will be without former MVP candidate Matt Kemp for the entire playoffs. He missed close to 89 games throughout the season with various injuries, this one being an ankle injury. This won't hurt them astronomically, but if the Dodgers don't make it where most expect them to, then expect it to come up.
Don Mattingly has his team thinking that this could be their year; they could be the most confident team still left in the playoffs. They were scorching hot in the second half, and, at one point, they were 9.5 games out of first place, and won the division by 11 games. That is more than a 20 game swing.
How will this team produce in the playoffs? They have plenty of players who have been here before. They have a coach who knows the importance of being here, and won't underestimate his competition. Here are 10 things to watch for when the Dodgers take on the Braves in the NLDS.
Adrian Gonzalez Hit .323 With RISP This Season
Adrian Gonzalez is one of those rare plays that gets better when everything is on the line. In a word, he is clutch. Even beyond that, he has 11 home runs that came with players on base, over 11 with nobody on. When it turns into runners in scoring position and two outs, his average goes all the way up to .356. He is going to relish in the situation. The playoffs are going to be where Gonzalez becomes a star once again.
They Have The No. 2 Pitching Staff In The Majors
It is no doubt that his team wins its games with pitching. Their staff is stacked with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw (I'll get back to them later) at the top. Beyond them, they have Hyun-Jin Ryu who came in and was very good from the start. They have Ricky Nolasco who came in around the trade deadline. They can go up against any pitching staff and be confident in who they have. That will be tested in this series, as the Braves are the only team that had a better ERA than they did.
Went 22 Games Over .500 After All-Star Break
This was touched on briefly in the opening, but it is something that needs to be addressed more. The team was at .500 when they left for the All-Star break. After that, they have been nearly unbeatable. They can outscore opponents and out pitch teams when they need to. Their run shows that in baseball, it isn't over until it is over.
Carl Crawford Is Finally Healthy
Carl Crawford came out this week to say that he is 100 percent healthy. Among other things, lately Crawford had been dealing with back injuries. If he could be half of what he was in 2010, then he will be a very big part of this series. It has been three years since the world has seen a healthy Crawford, and it should be interesting to see how he plays when he actually feels good at the plate.
Kenley Jansen Has A 10.80 ERA Against The Braves
In four games against the Braves, Kenley Jansen has a 10.80 ERA. He has two losses and a missed save opportunity. In 3.1 innings pitched, he has given up two homeruns. It was, by far, the worst he did against any opponent. Against all 30 teams, he has allowed a .177 batting average. Against the Braves, he has allowed a .357 batting average. Keep an eye on this throughout the season.
Top 5 In Batting Average In The Second Half
Not that this should surprise anyone, because of how stacked their lineup looks like on paper, but it is hard to figure any NL teams hitting like that. With all the cavernous parks in the league, pitching seems to be a premium. The only other NL team in the top seven was the Colorado Rockies, and that has to do with the fact they play at Coors Field.
Yasiel Puig Hit .214 In September
It seems to be an underwhelming story for national media, but Yasiel Puig is in a major slump. He went from the most popular superstar in the game the first two months, to just another decent hitter. He has had some bad press for his attitude, but none for his play. Is the media circus starting to get to him? Has the excitement from being called up worn off? Have pitchers figured him out? Many things could be said, but only time will tell if he could turn it around for the playoffs.
Andre Ethier Is Barely Going To Play
Andre Ethier can run the bases and bat, but that is about it. The only reason the Dodgers kept him on their roster is because he can pitch hit. Right now, the Dodgers are going to have to start Skip Schumaker in the outfield. That adds another hole into the lineup, next to Mark Ellis. Who knows when he will be able to play as a starter, but Ethier will most likely not start in this series.
Greinke 1.85, Kershaw 1.59 ERA In Second Half
The ERA for the two aces on the Dodgers in the second half is just absurd. An ERA of 1.85 and 1.59 for your top two pitchers may not be touched again. It seemed like every time they were on the mound, the only time they would lose is when the Dodgers got shut out. It puts an insane amount of pressure on the other team. It is nice to see that Greinke is over his early season jitters that he seemed to have when he first put on Dodger blue.
Dodgers Are 2-5 Against The Braves
To be honest, this stat is skewed, because the Dodgers have not played the Braves since June 9, when they were 27-36 at the end of that game. Unfortunately, that is all you have for a head-to-head matchup. Jansen was responsible for some of the losses, and a deep pitching rotation for the Braves helped with the others. It could be a whole different ball game with this new Dodgers team. One thing is for sure, this is going to be a fun series to watch.