The Los Angeles Dodgers, Dem Bums, travel back to New York City, from whence they came, specifically to Queens (Flushing, NY), to play the New York Mets for a weekend series: Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, 2016. The Dodgers will send *Julio Urias, Kenta Maeda, and Clayton Kershaw to the mound, in that order, to face the Mets. The Mets will counter with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Bartolo Colon, in that order, to face the Dodgers.
*Dodgers starting pitcher, lefty Alex Wood, who was supposed to start Friday night, has been striking out a lot of batters lately, but was bumped because of left-arm triceps soreness. He will pitch Monday at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. The move is as much about spreading good pitching over two series against two of the best clubs in the National League as it is about giving Julio Urias his shot in a prime time spot.
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Before we delve into the in-game matchups and lessons learned from past series, let us look at some brief interesting factual history about this series.
The Dodgers and Mets will be playing at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, which was modeled after the Dodgers former home at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York, and built on the same site where former Dodgers Owner Walter O’Malley wanted to build a new Brooklyn Dodgers Stadium. You can read about that here and here. Maybe you already knew that. However, did you also know that according to Mets.com, the Dodgers, Mets, and Giants also having something in common? Please read on for more:
“The Mets’ colors are Dodger blue and Giant orange, symbolic of the return of National League baseball to New York after the Dodgers and Giants moved to California. Blue and Orange are also the official colors of New York State.”
For some fans, the above fact may bring new life to the meaning of love and hate.
You can read more about the history of the Dodger Franchise ballparks, from Capitoline Skating Lake and Base-Ball Ground in Brooklyn in 1862, to Ebbets Field in Flatbush, to Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, here.
Speaking of history, and not to bring up bad memories, but the Dodgers lost to the Mets in the National League Division Series (“NLDS”) back in October 2015. The Dodgers lost the series three games to two. However, in May 2016, in a four game series at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers and Mets split the series two games apiece. Now, we have a three game series in New York that will determine who takes the regular season series for the year.
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With that in mind, what do the Dodgers need to learn from their early playoff exit against the Mets in 2015 and the series split from 2016 to win in New York this weekend? Here are a few points to consider:
- The Dodgers Starting Pitching Must be Stellar
Obvious you may say, but baseball is simple and complex that way. Kershaw won both game fours of the NLDS and the 2016 regular season series by striking out a bunch of batters and doing what he does best—not allowing runs to score. Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda need to be at their best in this series for the Dodgers to keep away from a struggling bullpen and with an offense that has been light. According to Eric Stephen, with True Blue LA, outside of a trio of young guys in Trayce Thompson, Corey Seager, and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers have been struggling offensively. It will be fun to watch the young core of the Dodgers offense mentioned above face the young core of Mets starting pitching, specifically Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. The Dodgers may be extra motivated to score some runs Friday night to support the talented-young lefty Julio Urias as he makes his Major League debut.
- The Dodgers Defense Must be On Point
Errors lose games, plain and simple. Great defense wins games, as the saying goes. You can read more about that here, here, here, and here. With the Mets sending Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to the mound, yes this Noah Syndergaard, the Dodgers cannot afford to give up runners, extra bases, and runs.
We also need to run the base paths correctly to advance runners—especially when the next hit ball is a pop fly to the outfield and one could have been on third base for the sacrifice fly. However, #PuigNotLate on this swing with his 17th inning single and the #DodgersWinAnyway.
- Avoid the Strikeout, the Offense Still Matters
Strikeouts are the quickest way to do nothing to help your team win. When you put the ball in play, you force the other team to make mistakes. One thing is certain, however, there is bound to be a truckload of strikeouts for this series as all six starting pitchers getting the call, and the bullpens, are near the top of the league in pitching strikeouts, see here (hint: the Dodgers are no. 2). For the Mets, facing Julio Urias likely means more strikeouts. Slight advantage to the Dodgers as they perform better when in the batters box and do not strikeout as much as the Mets hitters, see here and here.
With the Dodgers hovering around the five hundred mark, but still in second place in the National League West, they head into New York with a chance to make a statement. Meanwhile, the Mets are fighting neck and neck for first place with the Washington Nationals in the National League East. Maybe we will play witness this weekend to an anticipated playoff rematch between the Mets and the Dodgers in the Fall. Besides, a little practice never hurt anyone. Well, maybe, for someone named Allen Iverson.
As it goes, anytime you can send Clayton Kershaw to the mound, yes this Clayton Kershaw, you have a chance to win. Emphasis on “chance” as proven here and here. When Vin Scully confuses you with Sandy Koufax, we are all in good left-hands. The 19 year-old lefty making his Major League debut, Julio Urias, e.g., #Uriasmania, only adds to the drama for this series.
What is even more exciting? The prospect of four left-handers in the rotation, coming soon. Imagine this: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, who struck out twelve (12) batters Wednesday night (May 25) against the Cincinnati Reds, Hyun-Jin Ryu, recovery from shoulder surgery, threw four scoreless innings the same day in a rehab start, and young-stud prospect Julio Urias, with Kenta Maeda as the only righty, stellar in his own right.
Exciting times, indeed.
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