Thursday, September 23, 2004

Chill, Dodger Fans

So the Giants have won 14 of their last 17 and the Dodgers have lost 7 of their last 10. The Dodgers pitching staff is in a shambles; the Giants staff is so hot people are frying eggs on it. You know what I think this means?

The Dodgers will clinch the division title on or by October 1st.

I could be wrong (but then, you already knew that). But the Giants and Dodgers are about to go for a swim in an ocean of plexiglass. Has anybody been paying attention to who these teams have been playing? In the Giants last 17 games, they've played nine against the Brewers and D'Backs, who place 29th and 3oth in baseball in runs scored despite playing in parks that favor hitters. Their last five games have been against the Padres and Astros, who are 8th and 6th in the NL in runs scored, respectively. In those five games, they've allowed only 11 runs. Seems like a hot staff, right? Well, it could be that, but it's much more likely that they've simply had their luck come all at once. Have we forgotten who we're dealing with here? After Jason Schmidt, who hasn't been effective since returning from his groin injury, the Giants staff consists of:
Is that the worst staff in baseball? No. Is it good? Heck no. Is it the kind of staff that can be said to be hot? I wouldn't say so. It's full of guys who've feasted on weak competition recently and there's only one guy in the group (outside of Schmidt) who can be expected to be average or better, and that one (Lowry) might reasonably be expected to hit a rough patch. When you factor in that the Giants have a pretty terrible bullpen, this is not a staff to be afraid of.

Now, the Dodgers have been pretty poor lately. But each individual performance tends to look worse because it's surrounded by other poor performances. In the aforementioned span of 10 games, the Dodgers lost a game to St. Louis, 5 games to San Diego, and a game to Colorado. The pitchers that started the games LA lost were St. Louis' ace, Chris Carpenter, Colorado's ace, Joe (3.46 ERA) Kennedy, and San Diego's front four of Peavy, Wells, Lawrence, and Eaton. Peavy has been tremendous this season, Wells and Lawrence have been good to very good, and Eaton has been below average but mostly because he's given up a lot of home runs, something he managed to avoid in his two starts against the Dodgers (he gave up just one). It's a concern any time a team has a substantial offensive drought, but it's pretty fair to argue that this has been largely an issue of competition. In fact, LA had scored 5 or more runs in ten games straight until last Wednesday, and they haven't really been too bad in the last week anyway.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers in that time have had:
Is it likely that Perez and Weaver will continue to "slump?" Well, maybe, since they are about to face a pretty good Giants offense, but not likely to continue relative to their overall performance level, I'd say. If any of Ishii, Alvarez, Lima, Nomo, and Penny contribute good starts from here on out, this is a much better staff than San Francisco's. Jackson is equal to or better than Hennessey, Weaver is equal to or better than Lowry, and Perez is better than Schmidt if the groin remains an issue. And if someone gets to one of the Giants' starters, the game is probably over with their bullpen; not so with the Dodgers.

Sure, anything could happen. J.T. Snow is living proof of that. But the Dodgers have a four-game home series against Colorado as the filling in their Giants sandwich while the Giants have to play three in San Diego. The Dodgers aren't a tremendously better team, but even in their current state they're a better team than the Giants' current state. As pessimistic as I usually am, I hate to shine sunlight on the funeral, but even if the Dodgers enter this weekend's series trailing San Francisco by a half game, I think they'll win the division, and I don't think it will be very close.

Song of the Day: "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)," Bob Dylan

Comments:
Tom,
Glad to see someone is optimistic. Just a small clarification. Jackson didn't start against the Cardinals. He relieved Nomo in that one and got the loss after the Dodgers rallied to tie the game. He gave up the game-winning on a DP by Pujols.
 
Thanks, Bob, My memory soaked up some haze on that one.
 
Hey Tom, isn't (wasn't?) it your b-day soon (recently?) . . . anyhow, seeing as I have NO OTHER WAY of getting in touch with you I thought I'd just say hi and send you birthday wishes through this.

Take care and such,
Alyssa
 
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