Tool just wrapped up their second US tour in as many years this weekend, including a stop at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The band seemed tighter than ever, opening with four tracks from 2001’s Lateralus: “The Grudge”, “Parabol”/“Parabola” and “Schism” before dialing it all the way back to the title track off their 1992 debut EP, “Opiate”.In the day and age of plug-and-play electronic DJs and where the grassroots decentralization of the music business has seemed to gain the upper hand on upending industry big wigs, vocalist Maynard James Keenan is a larger-than-life musician maintaining the myth of the mysterious rockstar persona. In what appears to be a revitalized creative interest in engaging fans as Tool, Keenan, drummer Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and bassist Justin Chancellor showed San Jose they are feeling good. As he has all tour, Keenan was donned in full-out protective S.W.A.T. gear with small rainbow emblems on the knee-pads and chest, a controller for his microphone as a utility belt, (which could have been turned up a few notches), and black sunglasses all under a protective helmet. The rest of the band, while maintaining their stationary quadrant of the stage, stood before the beaming appreciation of fans while the lead singer avoided the spotlight, literally shrouded in mystery, smoke, and under first-class protection. During the Grammy-winning “Anemia,” as well as throughout the majority of the show, Keenan reserved the left-rear of the stage for himself to ninja kick, karate chop, stretch, and dance however he wanted to.Part of Tool’s approach to the show takes the element of surprise away, as their setlist remains mostly the same from show to show. Though the band hasn’t released music in eleven years, their 2006 release 10,000 Days affirmed their critical and commercial appeal worldwide. So when Tool debuted “Descending” at the beginning of the tour, it made for another exciting reason to catch the band live.They played “Descending” on Wednesday night, which segued into “Jambi,” then into the lone pull from 2000’s Salival, “Third Eye” before ending the set with a monstrous rendition of “Forty-Six & 2.”Sound difficulties, marked largely by the rushed techs in the background and during intermission, gave a muddy feeling to the usually crisp sound of the SAP Center but took a backseat to the experience as a whole.Detailed visual imagery, either specifically created music videos (commercially released or not) combined with an intricate laser show that spanned over tens of strategically placed mirrors around the stage and arena created a truly multi-level experience between sound, sight, and meaning.After set-break, a countdown of 12 minutes appeared in the six-sided star logo that hung over center stage, and when it hit zero, the lights went dark. Carey treated the crowd to an intense and thunderous drum solo, building anticipation for the moment of truth. Tool has been changing their setlist by one song all tour, with Wednesday night’s choices boiled down to either “Vicarious” or “The Pot.” San Jose was given “The Pot.” The trio of songs “Sweat”, “(-) Ions” and “Stinkfist” closed the show just before 11PM sharp.Much like on his tour with A Perfect Circle, Keenan and company did not return to the stage for an encore. In place of additional music, the venue unleashed confetti cannons at the end of the show.Enjoy the full gallery below, by Josh Huver of Must Have Media.Setlist: Tool | SAP Center | San Jose, California | 6/21/17I: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, AEnema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2II: Drum Solo, The Pot, Sweat, (-) Ions, StinkfistTool | SAP Center | San Jose, California | 6/21/17 | Photos by Josh Huver Photo: Joshua Huver Load remaining images
Here’s how I see things now:HittersLocks (11): Will Smith, Russell Martin, David Freese, Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor, Kiké HernandezOn the bubble (3 players for 2 spots): Matt Beaty, Gavin Lux, Edwin RiosNot happening (3): Jedd Gyorko, Kristopher Negron, Austin Barnes Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Friday, Sept. 27 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.The Dodgers have clinched the number-1 seed on the National League side of the playoff bracket. They won’t know their first-round opponent until next Tuesday’s wild card game is complete.Dave Roberts has said the final roster spots depend on the Dodgers’ first-round opponent. I tend to believe him. The Nationals, for example, are a largely capable group of hitters against left-handed pitchers. The Cardinals are not. For a relief pitcher on the bubble – right-hander Dylan Floro or left-hander Caleb Ferguson, for example – the opponent could dictate whether or not he watches from the Dodgers’ bullpen or from Camelback Ranch.With that in mind, I wanted to take another look at the Dodgers’ projected 25-man NLDS roster. Is anyone actually auditioning for something this weekend in San Francisco? PitchersLocks (9): Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Kenta Maeda, Joe Kelly, Julio UríasOn the bubble: (6 players for 3 spots): Ross Stripling, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Adam Kolarek, Caleb Ferguson, Casey Sadler, Dylan FloroNot happening (2): Josh Sborz, Yimi GarciaFirst, some injury-related caveats.1. Hill has one more start (Sunday against the Giants) to prove his knee can handle 2 or 3 innings on a mound. I’m only calling Hill a “lock” on the premise that his knee holds up. If it doesn’t, I imagine the Dodgers would plug Urías into his spot. Maybe Gonsolin or Stripling. The ability to pitch 2-3 innings seems to be the main qualifier for whomever starts Game 4. It’ll be a bullpen game regardless of who pitches and when.2. We can only take Kelly and Roberts at their word when they say Kelly is going to be ready for the postseason. If you buy that, then Kelly’s next appearance is not a test of his health, but a tuneup. If it is a test – of what, neither will say – and Kelly does not pass, then another short-inning reliever would need to take his place.3. Seager’s latest hamstring injury is a good omen for Lux’s chances of making the final cut. Turner’s back injury might help Beaty. If some roster “insurance” for Seager or Turner is unwarranted, both Lux and Beaty probably make it anyway.As for where the few remaining “position battles” stand …BenchThe first time I ran this exercise, I nearly penciled in Beaty and Lux as locks. (Lux as locks. Heh.) I almost did it again, in spite of how they’ve hit lately. Beaty is 1 for his last 20. Lux is 1 for his last 16. If Scott Elbert and Brian Dozier can get postseason roster spots, these guys can too, though I wonder if Edwin Rios’ surprise September call-up (3 for 9, two HRs) has changed the internal conversations at all. All three are left-handed hitters with pop. Rios’ lack of positional versatility might off-set his value as a pinch hitter, so even a 470-foot home run into San Francisco Bay might not get Rios in at this point.BullpenThere are a lot of wrinkles here. Some if-then scenarios. Let’s start with the big “if.”Roberts asked Kolarek and Kenta Maeda to pitch the ninth inning of a 1-0 win Thursday because Jansen wasn’t allowed to pitch three days in a row. For those of you who just tuned in, you might think the manager is open to using that ninth-inning committee in similar situations in October. Dave Roberts says he’s open to a lot of things, but ninth-inning committees aren’t one.Before Wednesday, Jansen had not converted save opportunities on consecutive days since May. While closing the Dodgers’ first two wins over the Padres, Jansen looked downright normal. If back-to-back scoreless innings against the Padres counts as “earning the closer’s job,” then maybe Jansen is not the question mark I envisioned three weeks ago. But that’s a big “if.” It’s the big “if.” Right now, with three games remaining, Jansen, Maeda and Kolarek all look like necessary ninth-inning options. That means they’re all in.In his seven relief appearances since Sept. 7, May has used his two-seam fastball to neuter right-handed hitters, and his four-seamer to neuter lefties. The two pitches regularly clock in at 95-99 mph. His low-90s cutter has been an effective if unconventional “off-speed pitch” in short situations. For the Dodgers, this was the best-case scenario.May has adjusted to his new role. Kolarek has been dominating his, for the most part. If Kelly is healthy – also a best-case scenario for the Dodgers – that leaves one bullpen job for Gonsolin, Stripling, Ferguson, Sadler and Floro. Woof.I think we can safely peg Sadler and Floro as the longshots here. They’re essentially right-handed specialists, Floro more so than Sadler. Floro is the bigger liability against left-handers, while Sadler’s 2.23 ERA looks a bit deceiving. They’re both behind Maeda, Baez and Kelly in the bullpen pecking order. Those three all offer the added bonus of postseason experience, the ability to pitch multiple innings, and a better chance of retiring the occasional lefty. I think Sadler and Floro are out.Ferguson has emerged as an unusually versatile relief pitcher. Since Aug. 1, the left-hander is almost evenly dominant against lefties and righties. I could make the case for him to take Kolarek’s role, but Roberts seems content with what he’s gotten from his designated LOOGY. If the Dodgers weren’t planning to throw their entire bullpen at Game 4, Ferguson would have an even better case than Floro or Sadler to be the final pick.As things stand, however, I imagine Roberts and Andrew Friedman will want to guard against the danger of a bullpen game that runs too long. Asking three or more pitchers to tag-team six or seven innings isn’t monumental. If Game 4 is tied after nine innings, however, managing workloads becomes a bit dicey – for that game and for the remainder of the series. Stripling and Gonsolin have pitched up to five innings as recently as August. Ferguson hasn’t completed three innings in a game all year. That’s why I think Ferguson draws the short straw here – only because Hill couldn’t stay healthy enough in September to start 5+ innings in the NLDS.The two remaining options are both attractive. Despite a shaky first inning Wednesday, Stripling has been reliable overall this month. Gonsolin has limited his September opponents to a miniscule .504 OPS, but seven walks in 11 innings might not cut it. Throw in Stripling’s experience and I give him a slight edge for the final roster spot over Gonsolin.Whether the Dodgers draw the Cardinals, Brewers or Nationals in the first round could determine who gets the final bullpen spot. So could the health of Hill and Kelly. Gonsolin has had two poor innings all month: one last Wednesday against the Rays, and another Sept. 7 against the Giants. Maybe one good outing by Gonsolin and one bad outing by Stripling this weekend shifts the balance.There’s a broader takeaway here, too. Back on Aug. 1, fans were up in arms when the Dodgers failed to consummate a trade for Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez. Friedman chose to build a new bullpen out of his existing parts instead. At a distance, that might have sounded like a hope and a prayer. Yet since Aug. 1, the Dodgers’ bullpen has been one of the best in baseball just about any way you slice it. Their internal options for October are bountiful, and Vazquez is in jail. What a difference two months makes.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.More readingBelli or Yeli? – FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards declared the National League MVP race “too close to call.”Who’s your padre – Clayton Kershaw’s final regular season start offered a compelling audition for Game Whatever.Pescascarian diet – Walker Buehler says he won’t eat anything that swims.