Kershaw, the Bullpen, and the Offense Does Not Show Up for Game 4

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020

The Los Angeles Dodgers are down 3-1 in the NLCS because the Atlanta Braves kicked the Dodger butt in their 10-to-2.

Again in the postseason, Clayton Kershaw imploded. Before the game, Fox analyst Alex Rodriguez explained that Kershaw pitches to the inside of the strike zone and seldom used the outside of the strike zone. I witnessed Kershaw used the inner half of the strike zone and never established the outer half of the strike zone. The Braves are too smart hitters to not notice Kershaw always pitches on the inside half of the strike zone.

For the first five innings, Kershaw was fine, allowing a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna. Then, in the sixth, a ground ball that had eyes began a six-run inning. When the Braves ignite a rally, they are nearly impossible to stop. Brusdar Graterol and Victor González have had a fantastic season, but they are rookies. Since manager Dave Roberts had used Blake Treinen and Pedro Báez on two consecutive days, even before the game, the Dodgers proclaimed these veteran pitchers were unavailable. In the postseason, relievers must use three days in a row, particularly in 2020 when the NLCS does not have any off day.

It is easy to blame Roberts for this NLCS debacle, but it is not Roberts’ fault. Joe Kelly has struggled this season with his control, which had been Kelly’s Achilles’ heel during his career. The Dodgers signed Kelly as an elite reliever to compete in the postseason. When Roberts does not trust him, it is bad. Honestly, if I were the Dodger manager, I would not trust him either since Kelly has been unable to find the strike zone regularly and has fallen in love with his curveball and changeup. Being a flame-thrower was what brought Kelly to the Major Leagues in 2012, and Kelly still has at minimum a 96-miles-per-hour fastball. If he used it more in 2020 than he did, he might be the stopper that President Andrew Friedman envisioned when he signed Kelly to a three-year $25 million contract.

Roberts does not hit, field, or pitch. It is questionable if he is allowed to position the players or picks who pitches. I like statistics, but sometimes in baseball, a manager must rely on his instincts. Many times, during Thursday’s game, both the infielders and outfielders were in the wrong place, leaving huge gaps. These gaps gave the Braves too many doubles.

Where’s Mookie Betts? During the 2020 season, Betts was the Dodger offensive catalyst, but during the NLCS, he has a .143 batting average with no home runs. This is the time of the year when the Dodgers rely on Betts to produce. They gave Betts a $365 12-year contract. Although the Dodgers are predominately left-handed lineup, Betts, Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernandez, and AJ Pollock are supposed to hit left-handed pitching. During the NLCS, they have not.

The Dodgers have a daunting task in front of them. They must win three straight games to go to the World Series. They must hit better, be at where the ball is hit, pitch much better, limiting the Braves’ rallies, and show emotion. They need to shake the Braves’ confidence in their abilities. Many times, this season, the Dodgers have won three games in a row, but they never have faced such a complete team as the Braves are.

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