Ethier all but guaranteed spot on Dodgers postseason roster

With nine games still left to play in the 2017 regular season, there is no way that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and field manager Dave Roberts (and his coaching staff) have set their postseason roster yet. I mean, why on earth would they when, at this very moment, they have only guaranteed themselves a Wild Card berth.

Oh sure, there is every reason to believe that over the next 10 days (nine games) the Dodgers will pick up the one win that they need to win their fifth consecutive National League West title. But as of this very moment, there is only one postseason game that is absolutely positively 100 percent guaranteed for the boys in blue … for now.

Realistically and barring a meltdown of biblical proportions, the Dodgers are going to win the NL West and will probably do so within the next day or two at Dodger Stadium, having just completed a less-than-stellar 10-game road trip (which felt like a month) through San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia respectively. And even though it was a struggle, somehow the Dodgers managed to split the road trip at 5-5.

Although clenching the division as early as possible is always a good thing, doing so at home in front of their own fans makes it so much sweeter. And to do so against the Hated Ones this weekend would be the cherry on top. That being said and as history has repeatedly shown us, don’t expect the Giants to just roll over and die. Believe me, they would love nothing more than to leave Dodger Stadium on Sunday evening with the Dodgers still needing one to clinch, unless, of course, the Arizona Diamondbacks lose one of their next three games against the Miami Marlins at Chase Field, in which case it doesn’t matter what happens at Dodger Stadium this weekend.

But putting all of this (inevitable) clinching stuff aside for a moment, there is one Dodger player who, in all likelihood, all but guaranteed himself one of those precious 25-man postseason roster spots – 35-year-old veteran Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, the man affectionately known to Dodger fans as ‘Captain Clutch.’

After missing nearly the entire 2016 regular season for a fractured right tibia (shin bone) suffered during a spring training game on March 22, 2016, Ethier returned in time for the 2016 postseason, during which he appeared in five games and was 2-for-6 at the plate. His first hit was a pinch-hit single off of Washington Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen in Game-4 of the NLDS. His second hit, however, was a pinch-hit home run off of Chicago Cubs left-hander (yes, left-hander) Jon Lester in Game-1 of the NLCS. The Cubs, of course, defeated the Dodgers four games to two in the series en route to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Although no one knew it at the time, Ethier would miss nearly the entire 2016 season after fouling a ball off of his right shin during a March 22, 2016 spring training game. (Video capture courtesy of MLB.com)

But no sooner had Ethier finally completely recovered from his 2016 leg injury when he suffered a lumbar disk herniation during a (wait for it…) spring training game against the Angels on March 30, 2017. That injury kept the veteran outfielder on the shelf until he was finally activated from the 60-day DL on September 1, 2017, when rosters expanded. And while it was a given that Ethier would return in a pinch-hitter / back-up role, it was thought that he might, just might end up making the Dodgers postseason roster as a potential left-handed bat off the bench or back-up outfielder.

Lo and behold, on Thursday afternoon and in only his 25th at-bat since his September 1 return, Ethier slugged a seventh-inning, game-tying, pinch-hit, solo home run off of Phillies right-hander Ricardo Pinto at Citizens Bank Park in what would end up being a much-needed 5-4 Dodgers win over the NL East last place Phillies.

Andre Ether, the Dodgers longest-tenured player, slugged his second pinch-hit home run in only 16 games since his September 1 return after spending most of the past two seasons on the disabled list. It’s probably safe to say that by doing so, he all but guaranteed himself a spot on the Dodgers 25-man postseason roster.
(Video capture courtesy of SportsNet LA)

“Honestly? Just seeing it and hitting it. That’s really what I try to do,” Ethier told SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo after the game, when asked what adjustments he’s made since his return. “When I’m going good, when I’m in the swing of the season, when I’m playing every day, that’s how I feel like my approach is. Just picking out a pitch, hitting it, being on-time whether it’s a fastball, whether it’s off-speed pitch … a little tougher when you haven’t seen a lot of pitches when you’re not getting consistent at-bats, but when I get a chance to start, going up there and having that same approach, and just battling.

“Sometimes those at-bats keep rolling up on you – your game kind of speeds up and you’re just trying to hang on and get going,” Ethier added. “But we kind of sit here … there’s no excuses at this point of the year, everyone’s got to contribute, do what you can during that game. When you have these pinch-hits you get a little more time in the cage to kind of slow everything down, and that was the case today. I’m just waiting [for] my opportunities – I know we’ve got a lot of guys here on this team that are available to play and pitch and hit – and when your name’s called, step up and figure out a way to get it done.”

As the veteran outfielder himself noted, there are a lot of guys in the Dodgers clubhouse and dugout that Friedman, Zaidi and Roberts must eventually whittle down to a 25-man playoff roster before the NLDS begins on October 6.

…barring a meltdown of biblical proportions, that is.

 

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4 Responses to “Ethier all but guaranteed spot on Dodgers postseason roster”

  1. oldbrooklynfan says:

    It seems as though the Dodgers won enough games from April to August that they didn’t need to win anymore in September.
    You didn’t say how you are so sure that Ethier will be on the postseason roster.

    • Respect the Rivalry says:

      I’m sure Ron will answer for hisownself but if I may throw in my two dollars worth (inflation, y’know):
      Because there’s nobody I’d rather see at the plate with the game, or World Series, on the line than Capt. Clutch. I don’t know who tagged that name on him (my guess is Vinny) but he earned it and will continue to earn it.
      I’m more baffled about why they aren’t giving him a shot at the everyday LF job.

      • Ron Cervenka says:

        Spot on, RTR! Just when I think that Ethier has lost his magic, he pulls yet another rabbit out of his hat.

        What is also amazing is that throughout his entire 12-year MLB career – all with the Dodgers – Ethier has always maintained an even keel with the media. He never shies away from an interview after a game – good or bad – and always comes across as sincere.

        While there may be some who think that Dre is no longer a valuable asset to the team (or are too clueless to recognize it), Ethier has proven his doubters wrong time and time again. There are few on the Dodgers bench who I would rather see at the plate when the game is on the line than ‘Captain Clutch.’

        • CruzinBlue says:

          Hear, hear!! “Captain Clutch” rides again!

          Honestly, I don’t know why Dre isn’t starting in left field more often, especially since Granderson has been mired in a horrible slump. Although he too has hit a couple homeruns the last few games, i’d much rather see Andre Ethier getting his opportunity on a daily basis.

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