There isn’t any denying the addition-by-subtraction element of the Dodgers’ second-half enchancment in controlling the working recreation.
Groups ran at will on the Dodgers for 3 months, racking up 101 stolen bases in 114 makes an attempt within the first 81 video games, with 20 of these thefts in 21 makes an attempt coming with Noah Syndergaard, who’s notoriously terrible at holding runners, on the mound.
Syndergaard began his twelfth and remaining recreation for the Dodgers on June 7 — he went on the injured checklist and finally was traded to Cleveland on July 26 — and the Dodgers yielded solely 41 stolen bases in 57 makes an attempt over their remaining 81 video games.
“To not level one particular person out, however Noah wasn’t nice at holding runners on, so quite a lot of that injury was taken on by him,” Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned. “That was a part of it … however collectively, as a gaggle, we simply received higher.”
Syndergaard wasn’t the one pitcher who struggled to include the run recreation. When the Diamondbacks stole 5 bases in an 11-6 win April 9, finishing a season-opening stretch wherein they gained 5 of eight towards the Dodgers, they got here off starter Michael Grove and reliever Caleb Ferguson.
The Diamondbacks ranked second within the majors with 166 stolen bases in 192 makes an attempt and an 86% success charge this season, with leadoff man Corbin Carroll swiping 54 in 59 makes an attempt.
Arizona’s pace on the basepaths — and the Dodgers’ capacity to sluggish the Diamondbacks — will play an enormous position within the Nationwide League Division Sequence, which begins Saturday evening in Chavez Ravine.
“That’s part of who they’re,” Roberts mentioned. “A very powerful step is holding guys off base, getting that first hitter of the inning out. Outdoors of that, you need to differ your seems to be, perceive what they’re going to do to attempt to create run-scoring alternatives and handle it one of the best you possibly can.”
Arizona, which had 5 gamers steal at the very least 10 bases, was effectively geared up to benefit from baseball’s greater bases and a brand new rule limiting pitchers to 2 “disengagements” with the rubber per plate look with out penalty.
The ten stolen bases the Diamondbacks racked up towards the Dodgers in these first eight video games served as a wake-up name for the eventual NL West champions, who admittedly had been somewhat flat-footed popping out of the gate.
“There was discuss in spring coaching in regards to the new guidelines, however as soon as the season began, I simply didn’t admire how aggressive some groups had been going to be,” Roberts mentioned. “So we needed to actually rise up to hurry on how we differ seems to be, pace up our occasions to house plate and get higher at our pickoff performs.”
Arizona common supervisor Mike Hazen mentioned it was not his intent to place collectively a staff stuffed with speedy, athletic gamers comparable to Carroll, a 2019 first-round choose, outfielder Jake McCarthy, a 2018 first-round choose, and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, a 2016 signing out of the Dominican Republic, who might benefit from the brand new guidelines.
“The vast majority of gamers who match the mould that you simply’re speaking about got here up via our system — we drafted them 4 or 5 years in the past,” Hazen mentioned Friday. “So making an attempt to make it look like now that was prescient, that we knew rule modifications had been coming 4, 5 years down the road …
“We ended up drafting quite a lot of high-speed, athletic guys who got here up via our system, and it coalesced with the rule modifications. Because the rule modifications got here out, we felt like we had a chance to make a soar from the place we had been final yr and switch into a unique sort of offense than we had earlier than. And we’ve had quite a lot of success with it.”
For the Dodgers to win the sequence, they’ll have to include Carroll, the rookie leadoff man who hit .285 with an .868 on-base-plus-slugging share, 25 homers, 30 doubles, 10 triples, 76 RBIs and 116 runs and went 4 for seven with a homer, two walks and two RBIs in Arizona’s wild-card sweep of Milwaukee.
“Pace, as they are saying, doesn’t hunch, and he can run,” Roberts mentioned. “He can get that infield knock. He can homer. He’s an thrilling participant. Hangs in there versus left-handers, hits righties. So what does it do? It simply creates some rigidity if he will get on base. He’s additionally a man who can slug you, so that you’ve nonetheless received to make good pitches.
“I take pleasure in watching him extra from my lounge than the opposite dugout. When he’s on base doubtlessly to steal a base, it simply creates extra rigidity. To maintain him off the bases might be one in every of our prime priorities.”
The opposite approach to sluggish a working recreation is to construct early leads and proceed to tack on just like the Dodgers did of their 5 August wins over the Diamondbacks, after they yielded solely two stolen bases whereas outscoring Arizona 30-9.
“What’s that outdated saying — a superb protection is an efficient offense?” Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes mentioned. “We all know who they’re. We all know what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna attempt to put strain on you and run the bases, and we’re simply gonna go on the market and play baseball.”