Dodgers Have Work to do After Embarrassing Series Split with Rebuilding Giants
Editor's note: Given the news about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Marlins organization Sunday and the postponement of both the Baltimore Orioles series at Miami and the New York Yankees at Philadelphia series (both of which were scheduled to begin Monday), let's acknowledge that the health of all affected is rightly top-of-mind throughout the baseball industry, and certainly at Inside the Dodgers. For the moment, however, we're going to continue to post Dodgers-related material while we wait to see how Major League Baseball responds, and about how news develops. Admittedly, we're uncomfortable about it.
The Dodgers won the first two games of the 2020 season by a combined score of 17-2, vanquishing a Giants club that looked to all the world like the 1962 Mets, and all was right in their world. They were sure to go 45-15, 50-10 or even 55-5, win the National West by 20 games and then we’d just see about October. As of Friday night, Los Angeles had to be thinking about a series sweep, and a three-out-of-four series win at the very least.
Uh, no. Instead, the Dodgers displayed a weekend’s worth of carelessness not seen in these parts since, well, some random time last year when the result was a two-game losing streak. These things happen.
I’m not concerned about the baserunning boners -- and there were several -- because L.A. runs the bases aggressively, will continue to with success and because if there is one thing Dave Roberts knows, it's baserunning. You'd be excused at the moment for wondering whether that's the only thing he knows.
Lineups. Roberts’ lineups have been weird for years and they’re weird already in 2020. Max Muncy leading off one day, Mookie Betts in the one-spot the next and Muncy again the following day? Lame. Muncy in the leadoff spot ever? Double lame.
Austin Barnes starting two of the first three games over Will Smith and already penciled in behind the plate Tuesday at Houston? C’mon. Do I really need to elaborate?
A grand total of one at bat for Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios combined? Another head scratcher. The serial use of batters known to struggle against same side pitchers batting for themselves down a run or two late when there's no use saving your pinch hitters to bat for the pitcher because pitchers no longer bat in the National League?! Hello?!
This is monumentally simple stuff, people. Unforced errors; harmless perhaps in a 162-game season, aren't in a 60-game sprint. Waste not want not, right? And I don’t know about you, but after 32 championship-free years in L.A., I expect highest-level competence from the Opening Day bell to the final out following 11 postseason wins, or whatever the hell it is now (thanks, Rob Manfred).
We’ve yet to touch on the Dodgers’ defense, and since it’s unpleasant, I’d really rather not. But the carelessness on routine-play throws to first base by Justin Turner and Corey Seager -- the former resulting in a silly error; the latter saved with a nice digout by Muncy -- is unacceptable. More so for Turner, because it was a problem for him last year. You’re not going to hurt the first basemen. Fire the damn ball over there.
Seager also booted the first pitch of the season for an error, you may remember. Or not, because we still haven’t seen it. ESPN was late coming back from commercial and just kept on going like nothing had happened. Something had happened. The season had finally begun and we missed it.
Julio Urias forgetting to cover first base and catch the baseball? Easy. It's called PFP, for pitchers fielding practice. Drill baby drill.
I don’t know what Roberts was doing with his three weeks of Summer Camp, but I can think of two things he wasn’t doing. One, he wasn’t standing in front of a mirror practicing his mask-wearing skills (or worse yet, he was and there is a motor skills issue we don’t know about). And two, he certainly wasn’t preparing his charges to play four games of championship-style baseball from the get-go.
Look, I don’t care if you had only three weeks to prepare the team to play baseball. Just prepare the team to play baseball!
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.