Don Mattingly has been saying the same thing all season long, "I am going to put out the lineup that gives us the best chance to win." Lately it would be hard to believe that the Dodgers lineup with Nick Buss in left field, Drew Butera at first base or even Edinson Volquez on the mound would be their best possible lineup.
The thing is, maybe this is the best the Dodgers have to offer. Sure, for one game it may sound ridiculous to say this is the best chance they have to win, but it keeps away the nagging injuries of a 162-game season that have plagued the Dodgers this season.
It would appear the Dodgers are falling apart as they head to the finish line with 11 losses in their last 17 games. But with the division wrapped and up ongoing injury concerns, their lack of urgency to finish the season strong is understandable.
"Caution" has been the key word the past week. Which matters more, playing your best players everyday to try for home-field advantage, or putting whoever can hold a bat out there, while the star players heal?
At this point does it really matter how many wins they finish with? Is it going to matter that Stephen Fife got rocked for four runs in 2.1 innings on Wednesday, since Clayton Kershaw, the MLB leader for innings pitched, got three days of extra rest?
Having a healthy Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, along with a rested and and effective Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw sounds like a bigger advantage than playing an extra game at home.
They currently sit 3.5 games behind Atlanta for best overall, which would give them home-field advantage in both the divisional and league championship series, and two games behind St Louis for second-best record, which would give them home field in the divisional series.
So when Don Mattingly says this is the roster he feels gives the Dodgers the best chance to win, maybe he really means it. The 162-game MLB season is a marathon, and they are finished with it, but now is the time to get ready for the playoff sprint.