As many of you know, every spring I do a series called Playing Pepper where I talk with bloggers of other teams. It’s sort of a season preview from the point of view of those that know the team best.
After the wild card matchup was set, Scott Andes, a long-time participant in Playing Pepper and author of the blog LAdodgerreport asked if I’d be interested in basically playing pepper for the wild card game. I’m always up for answering questions and it doesn’t take much for me to ask them either, so I was all in. You can find my answers to Scott’s questions in this post on his site. Below are the questions I asked him and his responses.
C70: Max Scherzer allowed ten runs in his last two starts even as the team was pushing for the division title. How concerning is that going into this game?
Scott: It is concerning. I think everyone in Dodger land was wondering if he was ok. According to the team and Scherzer himself the problems were mechanical in nature. That could make more sense since the first of those starts came in Coors Field at Denver. If there was ever a place that can mess with a pitcher’s mechanics it’s Coors Field.
Maybe his age is starting to catch up with him, but then again you could potentially say the same thing about Adam Wainwright, who is 3 years older than Scherzer. Hopefully he has those mechanical issues straightened out. Other than those two starts he’s had another dominating year, and me and most Dodger fans are very comfortable with him on the mound.
C70: How much does the offense drop off with the loss of Max Muncy?
Scott: It’s devastating to be honest and it could sink them. Muncy is the heart of the Dodger lineup, leading the club in home runs, walks, on base percentage, slugging, etc. It’s hard to replace that kind of production. Albert Pujols and Matt Beaty help, but there is nobody on the bench with that kind of production. Fortunately the rest of the bats have been red hot lately. You talk about bats finally clicking, the Dodgers have been clicking more than any other club.
C70: Who are the guys out of the pen you expect to see after Scherzer and is there anyone out there that concerns you?
Scott: Nobody concerns me at the moment. Everyone has been pitching really well. Andrew Friedman did a fine job of plugging the holes in the bullpen early in the season. If Scherzer runs into trouble you could see guys like Joe Kelly or Brusdar Graterol, but expect Phil Bickford, Alex Vesia, and their best receiver Blake Treinen first up out of the pen. Of course Kenley Jansen is also available but would still probably close.
C70: If there’s a weakness on this team, what is it?
Scott: There are not many honestly. The bench is a bit weak in right hand power after Pujols, but if there is a weakness, it’s not what you think. If you look closely you’ll notice the Dodgers have almost no starting pitching depth. With the Kershaw injury, they are back to having only 3 healthy starters. Behind Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias they really don’t have anyone else. David Price can give them a few innings, as could Tony Gonsolin, although Gonsolin rarely can pitch beyond 3 innings in any start and was terrible in the postseason. There is nobody else in the entire organization that can start a baseball game. When I say start, I mean a real start, not 3 innings and then a bullpen game.
C70: Is this season a failure if the Dodgers lose this game or does last year’s title help assuage those feelings?
Scott: If they get knocked out in the wild card round? You bet it is, although last year does help considerably. I’ve noticed I’m a lot calmer this year then in last year’s run. It helps having that black cloud lifted, but I still feel we were robbed and many Dodger fans feel similarly. We never had a parade thanks to COVID-19 and we couldn’t even have postseason games at Dodger Stadium last season. The cheaters robbed us from clinching a title at home in 2017, so we feel as if we are due another chance to make things right. The Dodgers want to have a parade and celebrate in Los Angeles and shove the beginning of a Dodgers dynasty right down baseball’s throat. It would be wonderful to repeat.
Saying Scott is passionate about the Dodgers may be an understatement. We’ll see which side comes out on top this evening!