While Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers’ pitching staff deserve a lot of credit for the team’s incredible turnaround, Hanley Ramirez has been the team’s best hitter when healthy this season, batting .348 with 13 home runs and a 1.025 OPS through 63 games. And the Dodgers are prepared to reward him.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers owner Mark Walter said last night that he is “absolutely” interesting in talking to Ramirez this winter about a contract extension. The 29-year-old is under contract for $14 million next season, after which he can become a free agent.
“I think a guy like Hanley Ramirez, he’s a special, special player,” Walter said. “If you know where we could find five more, we’ll take them all. I don’t think there are five more.”
For his part, Ramirez said he’s “definitely” interested in talking about an extension with the Dodgers and wants to “to stay here forever.”
Clayton Kershaw is also set to become a free agent following the 2014 season, but if there’s any team who could be willing to afford to keep both players, it’s the Dodgers. The deep-pocketed club already has $122 million committed to seven players (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, and Hyun-Jin Ryu) for 2017.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and two walks total.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.