Feb 12, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig during team workouts at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Dodgers Play It Safe In Australia?

The Dodgers will be leaving for Australia in just a little under a month now. The club has an abbreviated exhibition schedule because of it. We’ve already discussed the true importance and or meaning of the exhibition season and spring training. Now let’s discuss how the Dodgers should play this little two game series down under. What should the club’s strategy be moving forward?

Kershaw and Mattingly-Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

We already know that Clayton Kershaw will start the first cactus league game next week, and will likely start the first Australia game. We’ve heard rumblings that Zack Greinke doesn’t like to travel, (who does nowadays?), and Yasiel Puig is so ripped he looks like he’s chiseled out of stone.

Both the Dodgers and Dbacks will be allowed to take five extra players with them and three of them I believe will be active up until the day of the first game. It’s a little bit of roster machinations because of the strange scheduling and excessive travel time.

But now we’ve been hearing rumblings that the Dodgers may not start Kershaw in the Australia series because they don’t want to overwork him with the shortened spring schedule and jet lag that is bound to happen to all of the guys.

Which makes me wonder, what’s the right call here? Should the Dodgers save Kershaw for when they return to the states? Or do they start him anyways. Kershaw is a warrior and I’m pretty  sure he can handle it. But erring on the side of caution is always a good decision.

Still , there is no reason to punt these two games away. Remember these two games count in the standings, and they’re against a division rival. So should the Dodgers start Greinke or Ryu instead?

With the scheduling and all of the off-days the Dodgers have on the books, they can plan their rotation any way they want too. If they do decide to rest Kershaw, which I don’t think they will, they’ll still have Greinke, and Ryu able to start both games, and have plenty of time off afterwards shuffle the rotation for the opening series in San Diego on March 30.

The same type of questions can be asked of the position players as well. Who do you play? Obviously we know Matt Kemp won’t sniff the field for who knows how long, but what about the rest of the guys? Should they be cautious with Puig and his shoulder? Will Tim Federowicz catch one of the games to give A.J. Ellis a rest? Should the regulars be pulled after six or seven innings? What about the bullpen? Many questions arise.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

I am very excited for the series in Australia, but I have to be honest, I have some trepidations about the jet lag and extra travel on the boys. It’s going to be an interesting two-game series.

Manager Don Mattingly has a fine line to walk in order to balance playing to win the two games in Australia and not burning everyone out before the club returns home. Needless to say, there will be plenty of opportunities for us to analyze, and second guess the skipper. What else could be more fun than that?

What do you think the Dodgers should do? Should they go for the knockout blow against the Snakes in the land down under? Or should they play it safe and give everyone rest? As long as I don’t have to watch Chone Figgins play second base, or Paul Maholm starting one of the two games, I won’t complain.

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Tags: Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers Zack Greinke

  • Luke775

    I start Ryu and Haren, Keep Kersh and Grienke at home to let them keep working on getting ready for the real season. Those two are the bread and butter, why put them at risk? Bring along all the boys who have something to prove and let them prove it. There is going to be a lot of competition on this team for playing time and this is a great opportunity and stage to let them compete. Go easy on CC to start, he needs to ease into the season. Let Puig be Puig, no worries there. Ethier, Gonzo, Gordon, Uribe, Guerrero should all be fine and can play most of both games. I bring three catchers and let Ellis and Fed-Ex each start one game, and give Butera some time in each game in the last few innings. I put Kemp on the 10 day DL and bring Pederson along and give him a chance to show his stuff to the millions of fans who will be watching. I bring Beckett if he’s ready and Malholm as insurance plus 8 relievers and give them all an inning if that is feasible/possible. Odds are pretty good you win em both or split em…either way I think getting through this thing without any injuries, food poisoning, travel bugs, or other problems that will hurt you down the road is the most important thing, after that you have to still be in partial spring training mode because your guys have had a short pre-season and will no doubt be tired from the trip. Does anyone think the Snakes play it any different?

    • LasordasLair

      Yeah I’m not sure how the Snakes would play it. So Luke, you would not start Kersh and Greinke? So you would start Ryu, and Haren? Not saying that’s a bad idea, I do agree that making sure everyone is healthy is the most important thing. Although I do want the club to win those two games, they do still count. Weird as the schedules. Both clubs are being allowed to bring five extra players with them. We’ll see if they need to use them or not.

      • Quasimodo

        This is MLB diplomacy. The Aussies not only getting ‘real’ games, they get the 1st two. So I don’t believe there’ll be anything being sold to the Aussies other than the best of what we have. Its already been announced Kershaw WILL open the season and it would be extremely poor PR to a whole country who would feel they didn’t get there money’s worth. We want those fans down under in Dodgers fanbase.

        • LasordasLair

          You are right Quasi, this is MLB diplomacy. The Aussie’s may never get a chance to see a talent like Kershaw ever.

  • Luke775

    Pure risk benefit analysis. How much extra probability of winning both games is gained vs. how much additional probability of losing many more games due to injury or unpreparedness is incurred by putting your true gamers at risk. One little scrum cost Grienke something like 5 or 6 weeks last year. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to go. Why push it this early in the season. To me, the guy is temperamental in his own way, and I would listen to what he is telling you. The potential benefit of bringing some of those guys along is seriously outweighed by the potential risk to the first part of the season.

  • Stacie Wheeler

    I think they should definitely start Kershaw in game 1. Not only do these games count, but it’s important to showcase the Dodgers on this global stage. If Greinke is grumpy, then start Ryu in game 2. Ryu is already an international sensation and so he would be perfect to pitch in Sydney. One game for A.J., one game for FedEx. It would be very nice to come back home and already be up 2-0 on the season and on the Dbacks.