The Dodgers’ season is over, and one can only hope manager Don Mattingly learned a couple of lessons tonight.
The Giants won 4-3 in L.A. on Tuesday night to end the Dodgers’ playoff hopes and clinch the second wild card for the Cardinals. St. Louis could have clinched with a win earlier in the evening, but the Cardinals to the Reds 3-1.
The Dodgers were down 2-1 in the fifth tonight when Mattingly opted to intentionally walk Angel Pagan with a man on second, setting up a double play with one out. Marco Scutaro immediately followed with a two-run double, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead. The Giants could have kept adding on from there, but after Pablo Sandoval singled, Matt Guerrier came in and managed to strike out MVP candidate Buster Posey.
The Dodgers were able to bounce back in the seventh. A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer to pull the team within 4-3. Mark Ellis then doubled, only to get thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple with one out. Shane Victorino immediately followed with a triple, yet he was stranded on base when Matt Kemp struck out to end the frame.
Mattingly can’t be blamed for that one. His big decision in the ninth didn’t work out, though. After Andre Ethier singled to start the inning, Mattingly sent up A.J. Ellis to bunt. The catcher fell behind 0-2 trying to get the bunt down and then swung and missed on a slider well outside the strike zone. Once that happened, Mattingly decided to insert Dee Gordon as a pinch-runner and Bobby Abreu as a pinch-hitter. Abreu flew out to left, and though Gordon was able to steal second base with two out, Mark Ellis had his looping liner to center caught to end it.
Barry Zito got his 15th win tonight. The Giants have won each of his last 11 starts, with Zito going 7-0 during the span. He appears likely to be the team’s No. 4 starter in the postseason over Ryan Vogelsong.
Chris Capuano took the loss for the Dodgers. He gave up solo homers to Buster Posey and Joaquin Arias in his three innings of work.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.