Yasiel Puig, left, Juan Uribe and Hanley Ramirez celebrate in the dugout… (Tom Mihalek / Associated…)
The Dodgers had won 10 straight and 42 of their previous 50 games before losing 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss whether the Dodgers should be concerned that they might be peaking too early. Join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
You can’t blame the Dodgers for wishing that the playoffs were starting now. But believe it or not, they can be stronger by the time October arrives. They have six weeks to get Matt Kemp’s health and dinged-up confidence straightened out.
Manager Don Mattingly can’t totally take a division title for granted at this point, as the Diamondbacks just won five of six against the Pirates and Orioles. But if the Dodgers can clinch a title early he will be able to rest Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and set up his rotation for the playoffs.
No, they aren’t peaking too soon. They are setting themselves up just right for a long playoff run. They’ll be as tough to beat in October as they have been in July and August.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
The Dodgers have a commanding lead in the NL West with less than 40 games left, but they should not be that concerned about peaking too early. Here’s why: Pitching, pitching and pitching. Specifically Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. I didn’t even put Ricky Nolasco in there and he’s gone 5-2 in his last 10 games with a 3.60 ERA.
On offense, they’ve been able to overcome the loss of at least one of their star outfielders for stretches during the season. Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp have had disappointing seasons because of injuries, but Andre Ethier has filled in nicely. And you never know what rookie Yasiel Puig is going to do next.
I wouldn’t worry too much if I were a Dodgers fan. With that starting rotation, Los Angeles can put an end to any losing streak quickly. And once the Dodgers reach the playoffs, the Big Three could take them deep into the postseason.
[Updated at 12:15 p.m.:
Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel
Yes, there is such a thing as peaking too soon in major league baseball. The 2011 Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves taught us all that.
But should the Dodgers, losers of just eight games in the last 49 days, be concerned about falling into the same trap?
Conditions are slightly different for Los Angeles this season. There appears to be a cohesion in the clubhouse at Chavez Ravine that didn’t exist in Boston. There also is a deeper collection of young and veteran talent in Dodgertown compared to what existed in the land of the Chop two years ago.
It also helps that the Dodgers this season play in one of the worst divisions in the majors. Barring a catastrophic collapse, at this point in the season, it doesn’t appear they will be caught by the rest of the NL West.
The playoffs are coming to L.A. Believe it.]
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