Being open to new and risky ideas has brought the Dodgers to the top of the National League and the brink of two World Series titles, with eyes again on the promised land in 2019.
If you’re going to make the argument that they would have already won the World Series this decade if they didn’t experiment so much, understand that they wouldn’t have reached the World Series if they had experimented any less.
You don’t like some of the results? That comes with the territory. If there weren’t risk involved, it wouldn’t be an experiment. It would be adherence to the status quo, which gets you nowhere.
The Dodgers’ bread and butter and jam and marmalade for the past half-decade has been bold, outside-the-box thinking. It doesn’t always work, but nothing always works.
So save your indignation over Joc Pederson’s tryout at first base. The goal was worthy, and the cost was minimal.
And save your indignation over Dustin May pitching in relief Sunday. The Dodger bullpen is the most uncertain part of this team heading into October, and this is precisely the time to be looking at possible solutions. Keep this in mind:
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw (in some order) will start the first three games of any playoff series.
- So if you’re not willing to use May in relief, you’re limiting him to one appearance in any given postseason series. If you believe in May’s talent, do you really want to sideline him for every other playoff game?
- Giving up a grand slam with an 18 1/2-game lead in the NL West is an infinitesimal price to pay for a learning experience that can pay off in October.
- If you think working out of the bullpen on a short-term basis will ruin May, your opinion of him is too low.
My point is not to say that every move the Dodgers make is beyond reproach. I don’t feel that way, and I don’t expect anyone else to.
My point is that if you are questioning the impulse behind the Dodgers’ overall approach and want them to stop taking chances, want them to stop looking for alternate solutions, want them to stop trying to maximize the value of their roster, … you’re basically asking them to turn their back on what has made them the envy of every other team in the league.
Just because an idea doesn’t work today doesn’t mean it won’t work when it counts.