Manny Machado

USA Today

Welcome To Los Angeles, Manny

The NLDS is over.

October 09, 2018 - 2:01 pm

When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Manny Machado, it felt like the classic case of the rich getting richer. Take a team that was already good and now you add another all-star? That’s not fair. At that point, anyone who complained about the deal didn’t care about the fact that the Dodgers were banged up and needed both his bat and his glove.

But they sure as hell were celebrating when Manny wasn’t exactly Manny for the first few months of his time in LA. He went from absolutely raking in Baltimore to dropping his batting average by 42 points and his O.P.S. by more than 100 points. 

And he was continuing to struggle in the NLDS. He was 1 for 12 with seven strikeouts going into yesterday’s game. The fact that the Dodgers are where they are without getting what they expected from Machado tells you about their depth. But if they’re going to go where they want to go, he needs to step up.

And he did yesterday. He showed up in an absolutely huge way. Starting with his first at-bat, in the first inning with Max Muncy on base.

Bam! That’s how you start it off. And if you’re a Dodger fan, you’re starting to think, maybe that’s the kind of hit that could break him out. Maybe that is what will bring back the old Manny. Because there’s no way that he forgot how to hit. It’s just a matter of getting back in the groove. And maybe that at-bat in the first was the one that did it.

Well, there’s only one way to find out. Here’s Machado coming to the plate in the seventh inning with two men on.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Manny. And not a moment too soon. Turned a 3-2 Dodger lead into a 6-2 Dodger lead. Nice knowing you, ATL. Thanks for coming.   

That was the old Manny. That was the Manny who just turns on stuff and when he turns on stuff, he sends it very far. That was 109 on the gun on the way out and it felt even faster than that. 

Truth is, he had four lasers in the game, each one 104 miles per hour or better. The four hardest hit balls of the game were off Machado’s bat.

And he was quick to remind everyone: "I’ve been locked in all series. The results haven't shown, but you try to stick with the same approach and not try to change anything. I think you put yourself in bad situations when you try to change, and today I was just able to make hard contact and not miss two balls that were a big key to our win today."

Respect. That’s the mark of a professional. It would be easy to grip. To panic. To shake things up and try to do something different, but from the sounds of it, he trusted the process and the process paid off with huge results when they mattered most. 

And set off this high-pitched celebration in the clubhouse.

Hate to quote myself—but I’m pretty damn sure I sat right here behind this very mic last Thursday and said the NLDS wasn’t coming back to Los Angeles. And that the Dodgers were too much for the Braves and that Doc Roberts set the whole thing up perfectly and pushed all the right buttons with his rotation. Pretty damn sure I said all that and pretty damn sure all it was correct.

Because the NLDS is over. And even though Atlanta got a game at home—this thing was never close or in question

That’s a crew that knows what it’s doing when it comes to champagne celebrations. And they got after it in a big way last night. But notice what Dave Roberts said before the party, and it’s the same thing that every player was saying after the game, eight more wins. 

And if Machado is finally hitting like this and the bullpen is picking them up the way it did last night, and guys like David Freese are chipping in, those eight more wins feel more and more realistic.