Don Mattingly, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, looks on as the Boys in Blue face the Reds. We learned a lot about the Dodgers as they were swept this past weekend.
The Dodgers were just swept by the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series, and while it may not be much concern to a team with an 11-game lead and a Magic Number of 10, it brings up some questions about where the team goes from here.
Here is a list of some things that stood out during the series with Cincinnati:
- The Dodgers have lost five of their last six games against teams that are playoff contenders. They were 7-2 in the nine games between the series against Boston, where they dropped two of three, and Sunday's series swept versus Cincinnati.
- Pitching kept the games close in those series, but the bats were completely shut down. They scored five runs while hitting .129 against Boston, and seven runs with a .212 batting average in Cincinnati.
- Speed kills. When the Reds brought in Billy Hamilton to pinch run in the 10th inning on Saturday, he immediately took over the game stealing second and scoring on a line drive to right field.
We've seen how many runners A.J. Ellis and Yasiel Puig have thrown out this season, and neither could manage to get a good throw off to catch him.
The value that Hamilton provides in late innings can change the outcome of a single game, which in the playoffs can swing an entire series.
- Speed means nothing without good base running skills, and the Dodgers are always running themselves into outs. Most recently, on Sunday, Hanley Ramirez tried to leg out a triple and was easily caught on the base paths, even though nobody was covering second base if he had decided to go back.
- It's more than a week into September and the Dodgers still do not have a solid idea of who the starting rotation is. Chris Capuano was pulled from his last start before finishing two innings, and Hyun-Jin Ryu was scratched with a sore back. Questions remain, even though Ryu is scheduled to go on Wednesday against Arizona.
- With a questionable starting five, the benefits of the 40-man roster shine through again. With Edinson Volquez and Stephen Fife in the wings, the Dodgers have starters ready to go, even if they may not be exactly reliable pitchers.
- The flexibility is only temporary, though, since playoff rosters shrink back down to 25 players, and at this point it is hard to tell who is going to make the cut to postseason. Some teams only use four starters in the postseason.
- Even with the four-game losing streak, they still have the division pretty much wrapped up and are only two games behind Atlanta for the best record in the National League. The Braves are also on a four-game losing streak, so the Dodgers are not the only playoff team to have stumbled lately.
It is too bad the Dodgers will not face another playoff contenders until October, but hopefully they step it back up against the NL West from here on out.