The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their NLCS tickets on Monday night with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, completing a 3-0 sweep against their NL West rivals.
Break out the brooms.
— MLB (@MLB) October 10, 2017
Naturally, a sweep will provide many standout performances from the winning team, and more than enough poor performances from the losing one. Still, a select group stood out in this series.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles’ No. 3 hitter, thrived. Paul Goldschmidt, his Arizona counterpart, did not. Of course, the table wasn’t set up for him, either. Yu Darvish, one of the 2017 trade deadline’s prized acquisitions, showed why the Dodgers wanted him. Meanwhile, while Zack Greinke could have been worse for the Diamondbacks, he could have been a lot better.
These were the main winners and losers of Los Angeles’ NLDS sweep over the Diamondbacks.
Winner: Justin Turner
As we know, the Dodgers are a team with a recent history of underperforming in the postseason. With that in mind, Turner made the perfect statement when he stepped into the batter’s box for his first at-bat of the series.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 7, 2017
There’s no question that the Diamondbacks are a talented team. But before they could even get settled into things, they were down 3-0. There’s no telling how much of an impact that can have on any team, especially one filled with players that lack extensive postseason history.
Of course, Turner wasn’t done. He finished the day with five RBI and for the series, hit .462/.533/.693. If Turner is hitting like that, good luck to any potential opponent that Los Angeles will face this October.
Loser: Paul Goldschmidt
In the interest of fairness, we do need to point out that Goldschmidt homered in the first inning of Game 2 to put his team ahead. Unfortunately for Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks, the good moments came too sparingly.
The NL MVP candidate finished the series with a .091/.167/.364 slash line.
Goldschmidt’s NLDS struggles really mirrored his team’s. The long ball production was there. But it’s hard to beat a team like the Dodgers if you can’t get on base and produce runs in different ways.
It’s certainly not all on Goldschmidt. But when a team’s best hitter struggles, it makes things difficult on the rest of his team.
Winner: Austin Barnes
Nobody who watched the Arizona catcher will soon forget the impact that he made on this series.
Barnes got into Game 1 as a pinch hitter, started Games 2 and 3 behind the dish and absolutely took the series over. In addition to catching, he slashed at .500/.566/1.0000 and had a home run with three RBI for the series.
Ratio stats can be blown up over the small sample size of three games. But entering the series, Los Angeles would have taken half of that production from Barnes — or nearly all of its hitters. Small sample size or not, Barnes was a star over these three games.
Loser: Zack Greinke
Admittedly, when we consider some of the other starting pitching performances this postseason, Greinke’s one NLDS start may not seem too bad.
Zack Greinke's final line: 5+ IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 105 pitches/62 strikes. pic.twitter.com/QTbrVWlPok
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) October 10, 2017
But consider a couple things.
One, while it didn’t come in this series, we can’t completely neglect Greinke’s short outing in the National League Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies. Greinke lasted only 3.2 innings and really strained his bullpen. One consequence of Greinke’s poor outing against Colorado was that Robbie Ray had to pitch 2.1 innings in that game. So, rather than starting Game 1 against Los Angeles, Ray was pushed to Game 2. That’s a sizable impact.
Two, Greinke was signed for outings like this. While long postseason outings have gone the way of the dinosaur this postseason, an ace should really be able to put his team on his back. Greinke may not have been completely lit up on Monday, but he fell well short of doing that, as well.
Winner: Yasiel Puig
Puig has certainly had his share of postseason struggles. Those have never gone unnoticed. But if we’re going to be brutally honest when he struggles, we have to be delightfully honest when he thrives.
— AM 570 LA Sports (@AM570LASports) October 7, 2017
Puig finished the series at .455/.538/.727 and drove in four runs. Additionally, while Puig has a well earned reputation as a free swinger, he struck out only once against the Diamondbacks.
When Puig hits that well, he adds depth to a lineup that doesn’t exactly need a lot of help.
Loser: David Peralta
Certainly, the Diamondbacks struggled to drive in runs that didn’t come via the long ball. But to be completely fair to the Arizona offense, the table wasn’t being set that well.
Peralta got only one hit in the series, finishing with a .077 average and .143 OBP. Certainly, a hitter as capable as Goldschmidt has to perform better than he did. But when he’s so often coming to the plate with nobody on (or maybe one runner on first), he’s almost obligated to swing for the fences. That’s not always a big contributor when a star under-produces. But in this case, it absolutely was.
Peralta repeatedly set the table in the National League Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies. Because of that, he was an unquestioned star. But his struggles against the Dodgers stuck out like a sore thumb.
Winner: Yu Darvish
Darvish didn’t have a classically great postseason start in that he only went five innings. But make no mistake, he produced the exact kind of start that Los Angeles was hoping for when he was acquired at the trade deadline.
Darvish surrendered only two hits, allowing only one solo home run. He also struck out seven hitters. That’s the perfect line to have against a team with power. You’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s a given. But if you can get that lineup to chase your pitches, those home runs will come with nobody on base.
The task will only get tougher in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs or Washington Nationals. But if Darvish brings that kind of game for the rest of his postseason starts, he’s not a guy that you should worry about.