Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
Although it is déjà vu, the Dodgers do not have the weapons to come from three-to-one game deficit to the Atlanta Braves. Yes, they overcame the same deficit in 2020, but they were not decimated by injuries, nor did they have an exhausted pitching staff.
I am usually optimistic about the Dodgers, but I must be realistic. Wednesday, the Dodgers lost Justin Turner for the remainder of the postseason since he suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain. While he did not have a good offensive postseason, the Dodgers cannot have any other player to contribute to the Dodger offense.
When Max Muncy dislocated his elbow on the last day of the season, the Dodgers would have a challenging time scoring runs during the postseason. After winning the National League batting championship, Trea Turner has hit .186 during the postseason. The Dodgers needed him to perform offensively to help to compensate for the loss of Muncy.
The Dodger offense has demonstrated they have an inability to hit breaking balls, and the Braves have exploited this weakness. Trying to add offense, manager Dave Roberts has put Gavin Lux in center field, but Lux has no hits during the LCS. His inexperience playing center field has cost the Dodgers runs. If Muncy could play, undoubtedly, Bellinger would be roaming center field. Bellinger’s superior defense would have prevented runs from scoring and eased the stress on the weary Dodger pitching staff.
While Roberts will deny it, Julio Urìas appeared exhausted during his Wednesday five-inning start. He allowed three home runs and showed his frustration on the mound. His fastball had diminished velocity, and his slurve did not have its usual break. His changeup allowed him to survive five innings.
Before the 2021 season, Urías had not pitched more than 79.2 innings, and this year he has hurled 185.2 innings, discounting the postseason. No doubt, the 25-year-old lefthander is battling a “dead arm” period, perhaps for the first time in his Major-League career.
While starting pitching had been the Dodger strength during the regular season, the Dodgers have suffered injuries to their starting rotation. In May, the Dodgers lost Dustin May underwent Tommy John surgery and was lost for the year. In July, Clayton Kershaw injured his forearm. Although he tried to come back in September, he injured his forearm on last Friday of the regular season, and he cannot participate in the postseason. Tony Gonsolin, despite pitching two innings on Wednesday and allowed four runs, has never been right as he battled shoulder inflammation.
The elephant in the Dodger clubhouse is the absence of Trevor Bauer. Bauer was the biggest acquisition the Dodgers made in the offseason, and President Andrew Friedman believed he had strengthened the Dodger starting rotation adequately. For the first three months of the regular season, Bauer routinely gave the Dodgers quality starts. However, in July, Bauer had legal problems that forced the Major Leagues to suspend Bauer for the rest of the season. While in August Friedman acquired Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers could desperately use Bauer now.
In order to win Thursday, the Dodgers must have many rallies, and their exhausted bullpen must perform magnificently. Roberts plans to start Albert Pujols at first base and move Bellinger back to center field to improve the defense.