October 16th, 2009
“Why did Torre stick with Kershaw so long?”
“What happened to Sherrill?”
“Why didn’t Torre have Pierre bunt?”
Ahhh. . .the wonderful world of postseason second-guessing. In retrospect, all of these critiques of Mr. Torre appear justified, but this series is a microcosm of his management style as a Dodger. He trusts his players to do what they do best – with the exception of his starting pitching (usually), but more on that later – and perform as opportunities arise.
All year I’ve been haranguing Torre for his overuse of the Bullpen. Perhaps fairly this time, he is being criticized for NOT going to the bullpen soon enough; keeping in form, I disagree, and I think that he made the proper decision in sticking with Kershaw. By anointing the 21-year old wunderkind his Ace for this series, he made a firm decision that Clayton will be The Guy.
Perhaps calling Kershaw an Ace is premature, perhaps he should have started Wolf, perhaps he should have brought in Sherrill/Kuo sooner to face Howard, perhaps he should have pulled Kershaw after the walk to Hamels . .but in this league, your Best Guy needs to give you as many innings as possible. And Kershaw IS the best guy; Torre needed to show that confidence to the kid as well as his teammates. It didn’t work out this time, but come Game Five, the Dodgers will be that much better off.
I don’t like that defeat, I don’t like the pain of postseason failure, but Torre earned his stripes long ago. Remember, the Phillies still need three more wins, and Pedro isn’t exactly the Pedro of yore; nor are Blanton/Happ superior to Kuroda & Wolf.
Much like last series (Cardinals), the Bullpen is going to be the deciding factor; this, ingeniously, is where Torre shines – Padilla, Kuroda & Wolf need to get through five/six innings, and let Kuo/Sherrill*/Troncoso/Cannibal Broxton do as they’ve been doing all year; trotting out there and closing the door on rallies; protecting leads; winning ballgames.
*And as for Sherrill last night, he was disappointing for sure – but that’s only the second instance that he’s allowed even a RUN as a Dodger. . .so yes, the timing was horrible, but it was due.