I always knew, looking at Manny's bodybuilder's physique, that he was on the juice. Can't believe it took y'all so long to realize it.
Here's my look at L.A.'s game two starter and prediction. You can check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on their hitters and bullpen.
On the Mound
Randy Wolf: Last season saw Wolf start 30 games for the first time since 2003. In the interim, the lefty bounced through 4 franchises and had an assortment of elbow issues that culminated in 2005 Tommy John surgery, the legacy of overuse at the hands of Terry Francona way back when.
This season, he's building on his big comeback, pitching better than he has in a half-dozen years. He's striking out 7.61 per 9 and walking just 2.95, ratios that evoke a bygone era when people used to use the names "Randy Wolf" and "Cy Young" in the same sentence.
He doesn't throw hard--his fastball sits at 88 mph. He has a big slow curveball, change, and slider. He's a flyball pitcher, which works fine when you have his strikeout numbers and walk rates. Replacing Manny with Juan Pierre will at least help his BABIP.
Season record: 16-9
The Dodgers are nowhere near the same team without Manny Ramirez as they are with him. Last year, before Manny arrived, they were scoring 4.17 runs per game, fourth worst in the NL ahead of only the Pads, Giants, and Scats. After, they jumped to 4.63 runs per game, a huge impact for one player. Now, he's replaced in the line-up by Juan Pierre, a difference of 100 points of wOBA in almost every projection system. That's a massive, massive drop-off.
Given that the Dodgers are getting lousy production from James Loney, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Russell Martin, they can ill-afford to lose another bat. And it's fair to assume that without Manny's protection that guys like Orlando Hudson and Matt Kemp may suffer as well.
Add in all the distractions (and Ron Villone!), and all of a sudden this becomes a very winnable game for the Scats. I say Zimmermann hand-cuffs the Manny-less Dodgers and the Nationals win 4-2, adding fuel to the media firestorm around the Dodgers.