The Dodgers finished September with a 12-15 record, a far cry from the 23-6 month they put up in August. But with a lineup that constantly juggled injury concerns, playoff tune-ups and postseason tryouts it is hard to judge the team for a subpar finish.
The Dodgers clinched the NL West on Sept. 19, giving little meaning to the last nine games of the regular season. But even before they secured their postseason position, there was no sense of urgency.
It's as if starting the final month with an 11.5-game lead over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks left the team with some confidence or something.
Many games throughout the month felt like scrimmages, as if they were playing just because they had to, while awaiting the inevitable clinch.
They sat star players like Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford with minor injuries, and gave time off to players like Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe, all of whom have played consistently for months now.
When the team was lucky enough to get a starting lineup with the star players, they were often removed after two at bats to give the backups a chance to fight for a bench spot on the playoff roster.
Although -- ignoring their subpar record -- that does not mean that we should ignore some bigger trends that the Dodgers bring with them into the playoffs.
A.J. Ellis enters the playoffs as the Dodgers starting catcher, but he has struggled mightily with the bat since the start of August with a .189/.262/.333 line. Although he did have three home runs and hit .304/.346/.783 in his last seven games, including the NL West-clinching, game-winning home run against Arizona.
Yasiel Puig watched his batting average drop from .351 to .319 in September as he went 18-84. Despite the 32 point drop in his batting average, Puig's on-base percentage only dropped 18 points because of his 10 walks to 22 strikeouts.
It was a rough month for Puig, but a lot can be attributed to his .214 average on balls in play. An extremely low number that can partially be blamed on just plain bad luck.
Another concern comes out of the bullpen, where the Dodgers watched Paco Rodriguez lose some of his form last month. Rodriguez gave up three home runs after only allowing two all season, and lost his command with six walks to seven strikeouts, his worst ratio for a month this year.
Many believe fatigue to be the root cause of Rodriguez's decline, and if that is the case, the Dodgers may be wary of him in the playoffs after depending on him in 76 games this season. He was charged with two losses in September.
No, the Dodgers' 12-15 record in September should not cause concern.