In end-of-the-season news, Josh Beckett announced his retirement after the game. He did better for the team than most of us anticipated he would, I think: 6-6 with a 2.88 ERA and a no-hitter before going down for the year with a torn labrum in his hip.
The Dodgers have a passel of free agents led by Hanley Ramirez. The team has until five days after the World Series to extend what’s called a Qualifying Offer of $15.3M (a number set by the Basic Agreement as the average of the 125 highest contracts by average annual value). That ensures that the Dodgers would get a compensating draft pick if Ramirez rejects the offer and goes elsewhere. On the other hand, he could accept it. If so, he and the Dodgers would be committed to one another for next year.
Other free agents: Chad Billingsley (team option of $14M or a $3M buyout — after two surgeries the Dodgers may elect to buy him out); Paul Maholm, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright. Dan Haren has earned a $10M player option but even after Tuesday’s game said he remained undecided whether to play or retire. Brian Wilson has a $10M option he’s expected to accept.
There’s enough blame for the Dodgers’ failure to advance to go around, but here’s what sticks with me: the offense was 8 for 41 with runners in scoring position in four games. Three of those four games were decided by one run, and the fourth was decided by two. Had the offense just gotten two, three or four more timely hits the result might have been exactly the opposite of what it was.
Dodgers at Cardinals, 2:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1
This is it for the Dodgers. They must win today. If not, they’ll go home, lick their wounds and hunt for reliable middle relief in the offseason. Recognizing that, they’re sending Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in either league, out to do battle with Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74 ERA), who’ll be making his first appearance of the postseason. Kershaw has to get past his uncharacteristic failure in Game One. Assuming he does, he still has to rely on the Dodgers’ offense, which has been anything but scintillating. In Game Three they were a dreadful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They desperately need Gonzales (.167 for the series), Gordon (.154), Uribe (.077) and Puig (.250) to get untracked, and they need them today.
Nationals at Giants, 6:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1
The Nationals must also win today or take the winter off early. In hopes of doing so they hand the ball to Gio Gonzales, who got on a roll in September, going 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA and righting what had been a forgettable season. His opponent will be Ryan Vogelsong, who did just the opposite in the last month, going 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA.
The Nationals too have a hitting problem. Third-baseman Anthony Rendon is 7-for-15 (.467) this postseason. The rest of the Nats’ starting position players have combined to go 13-for-96 (.135).