On Saturday night, the Dodgers beat themselves. The offense once again was stagnant, scoring only 2 runs while leaving multiple opportunities out on the basepaths, as has been the case often this season. However, officially they lost because the Braves scored one more run than them (that’s how it works, right?) And two of Atlanta’s runs in game 1 came in part because of two stolen bases allowed by the Dodgers.
In the first inning, outfielder Eddie Rosario singled, stole second base, advanced to third base on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch by Corey Knebel. In the ninth inning, Ozzie Albies singled off Blake Treinen, then stole second base and scored on a single to walk it off.
Early in 2021, the stolen base was a big problem for the Dodgers and Dodger pitching. Now, once again, it’s something the staff is working on.
“It’s definitely been a point of emphasis,” catcher Will Smith said on Sunday. “We got exposed early in the year in that part of the game and we’ve done a lot better job. But, yeah, last night they got two on us that ended up scoring and we’ve got to clean that up going forward.”
In the regular season, Will Smith threw out 24 of 72 would-be base stealers (25%). Austin Barnes caught just 10 of 36 (22%). While those numbers are right around league average, they’re still not indicative of the help or lack thereof that pitchers are giving in getting the ball to the plate quicker.
LA manager Dave Roberts talked about the idea of having pitchers get the ball to the plate more rapidly. However, he said that the coaching staff was not willing to preach an idea to pitchers that could take away from their stuff.
“Ideally every reliever, every pitcher, would be 1.3 [seconds] to the plate or less and not compromise stuff or execution. With Blake (Treinen), in particular, some other guys, we just feel that executing a pitch is more important and when our guys have tried to quicken up, execution and stuff has been compromised.”
Here on the biggest stage in baseball, every 90 feet on the basepaths is emphasized. And if the offense isn’t going to get it done, all emphasis on the little things on the defensive side of the ball need to be heightened.