Depth isn’t always necessary, but it sure is a luxury. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a fine example of why.
Los Angeles is 18-14 and in second place in the NL West despite a number of injuries to both the lineup and pitching staff: Rich Hill, Julio Urias, Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe and more.
Now Adrian Gonzalez hits the Disabled List for the first time in his 14-year career. He’ll go on the “slow program” to rest and recover from ailing elbow and back injuries, getting massages and other forms of physical therapy, according to Dave Roberts.
But Gonzalez had been playing with those very ailments for just about the whole season. The Dodgers just came to know that there isn’t any need to do that to one of their most important veterans.
That realization came with the emergence of 21-year-old Cody Bellinger. The rookie was called up in late April to fill in for a couple weeks and it looks like he’s played himself into a full-time gig.
Bellinger is slashing .306/.382/.673 in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup, already having come up with more than one big hit in the late innings. He was named NL Player of the Week on Monday.
But while Bellinger was in the outfield, he has the ability to play first base. Versatility, like depth, isn’t necessary but it sure does help. Roberts moved Bellinger to first base with the return of Joc Pederson and now Gonzalez has time to get right for a World Series run.
It was an old-fashioned pitchers duel last night, Julio Urias taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Ivan Nova hanging behind long enough to give his team a chance to nip a win at the end. John Jaso homered in the eighth to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead but they blew the save. The game is now in the 10th.
The Dodgers put up a dozen on Monday night so, no matter what happens, they will have a chance to win the series; Chad Kuhl will start against Kenta Maeda on Wednesday.
Neither pitcher has been his team’s best; that’s for sure. Kuhl hasn’t lasted more than four innings since April 18; that was four starts ago. He’s got a 1.62 WHIP and might find it difficult footing against this young Los Angeles lineup. I haven’t mentioned Corey Seager. Justin Turner is hitting .366 with a .491 slugging percentage and he’s only hit one home run. It feels like a power surge must be on its way.
Maeda’s ERA was 8.05 after four starts this season. He’s found his footing since then, 12 innings and three earned runs in two starts against the Phillies and Padres. Is that supposed to convince me he’s back to who he was at this time last season, after how he finished 2016 and started this year? Because it doesn’t.
The fact that Gregory Polanco hasn’t homered yet is curious and just a bit concerning, especially with Starling Marte out of the lineup. But Pittsburgh has a few spark plug guys who can manufacture runs with ground balls, line drives and some foot speed. The Pirates won’t hit many balls over the wall but can give Maeda trouble.
Los Angeles is a huge favorite and the total feels awfully low so my angle is the Pirates. You can play the over on the team total or just take Pittsburgh to win. Because the Dodgers could score ten runs by themselves and the Pirates should at least push across three, four, five, I’m keen on the 7.5.
Free Pick: Over 7.5 (+100)
los angeles dodgers • National League • pittsburgh pirates