Angels @ Dodgers September 26, 2020: Pursuing the 2003 Tigers I guess?

There’s absolutely nothing left to play for in these final two games of the season. The NL West is clinched, “homefield” through the World Series is taken care of and the Dodgers already lost a series.

And thanks to last night’s victory, the Angels are also left with nothing to play for as the Dodgers handed the Astros a playoff berth (though it seems likely it was inevitable).

They clinched this incredibly specific record as well, though it also doesn’t really mean much for this season.

Sitting at 41-17, the Dodgers are two games back of the win total for the 2003 Tigers, who finished 43-119 as four of their top six batters by PA finished with a wRC+ of 92 or lower and their top nine pitchers by IP holding an ERA of 4.67 or worse.

So I suppose that’s the focus now?

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Leading all Dodgers pitchers in WAR at 1.5 through his 40 2/3 IP this season, Tony Gonsolin enters his final appearance of the regular season still looking to absolutely lock down a playoff start.

At least that’s what continues to be written, which seems odd given that by at least a few metrics he’s been the best starter the Dodgers have had this season. Gonsolin’s ERA is 1.77, fourth on the team behind three relievers, and his FIP is 2.44, again behind two relievers with about half the innings.

Thanks to his last outing, striking out 10 in 5 innings against the Rockies at Coors Field, Gonsolin’s K% is now up to 26.3%. That’s 29th in the league among the 109 pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, and lands just ahead of old friend Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Gonsolin’s now at 10 Ks in 20 PAs and a 50% Whiff rate with the slider to right-handed batters and 5 Ks on 14 PAs and a 43.3 Whiff rate on the splitter, helping his Whiff% against righties to sit at 31.2%. It’s a bit lower against lefties, sitting at 27.8, but it hasn’t mattered much with Gonsolin’s XSLG and XWOBA for righties (.399 and .289) and lefties (.394 and .296) looking similar.

The one slightly interesting thing to me is the difference in exit velocity between the two sides. Lefties are down at 84.8 overall, including 79.6 against the splitter and 88.6 against his four-seam fastball, while righties are 91.9 overall, and 93.6 against the splitter and 91.5 against his four-seamer.

Lastly, Gonsolin enters this final start with an 11.8 wFB, 4.03 wFB/C, 3.2 wSL and 3.22 wSL/C. That’s 3rd, 1st, 25th and 7th respectively among pitchers with his inning total, as Gonsolin’s fastball is pretty clearly among the best in the league, if not simply the best outright this year.

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6:10 p.m. Los Angeles
3B Fletcher RF Betts
RF Walsh (L) DH Seager (L)
1B Pujols 3B Turner
DH Ohtani (L) 2B Muncy (L)
C Stassi 1B Bellinger (L)
LF Ward C Smith
CF Adell LF Pederson (L)
2B Jones SS Taylor
SS Soto CF Pollock
P Teheran (R) P Gonsolin (R)

Now eliminated from playoff contention, the Angels made a change to tonight’s starting pitcher (and released their lineup an hour and 35 minutes before first pitch).

A cut on Dylan Bundy‘s finger is the cause, with Teheran and his 9.49/8.68 ERA/FIP taking over. During his first meeting with the Dodgers this season, Teheran allowed four runs (including homers to Keibert Ruiz and Max Muncy) in 3 1/3 IP.

It also does not include Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon, so congratulations to the Angels for moving into tank mode while they still had some time.

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This is an arbitrary start and end point, but here’s a look at how the Dodgers’ have hit over the past two weeks as the postseason is just about to begin.

PAAVGOBPSLGOPSwRC+WAR
Taylor47.333.404.8101.2142150.8
Bellinger54.341.463.5681.0311830.7
Turner31.429.484.7141.1982230.5
Seager54.333.389.604.9931640.5
Rios31.300.323.7671.0891840.4
Betts56.264.304.434.7381000.3
Smith42.308.357.513.8701370.3
Barnes16.182.438.182.6191110.1
Hernandez23.227.261.455.715910.0
Muncy49.190.306.357.663870.0
Pollock43.175.209.550.759920.0
Pederson18.176.222.235.45828-0.1
Lux25.167.200.292.49232-0.2

Chris Taylor is at 1.6 WAR for the season, with half of that coming in his past 47 PAs. Cody Bellinger is in a similar spot, with 1.1 WAR for the season and more than half coming in his last 54 PAs.

Edwin Rios‘ 0.4 WAR is also a considerable amount of the 0.5 WAR he’s at, with four homers and two doubles in his last 27 PAs.

I thought about doing the same thing for the team’s relievers just for how entertaining it would be, but Kenley’s ERA/FIP/xFIP came out to 7.20/0.98/2.52 and I didn’t want to go back down that road again.

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In the news of the day, the numbers above have Taylor in line to be a regular in the postseason lineup.

Following up on what was mentioned yesterday, Dave Roberts expanded a bit on the potential for having three catchers in the playoffs.

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First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. if you still feel the need to watch this game.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.