Last week, I wrote about how the 2020 Dodgers are talented, but October is scarier than ever. Now, let me balance it out with some good news about this particular postseason that could really play into the Dodgers’ favor.
Category: Postseason (Page 2 of 10)
Flying high with a seven-game winning streak, the 18-7 Dodgers have the best record in major-league baseball and in a 162-game season would be on pace for 116 victories.
Thanks to this year’s shortened, 60-game campaign and the expanded playoff format that will invite eight teams from each league to the postseason, the Dodgers will need to finish with only about 30 victories to clinch an entry into October. It’s quite possible they’ll do that by Labor Day.
For the rest of September, they’ll be playing for an eight consecutive National League West title and a high seeding in the playoffs. Both will be more ceremonial than ever.
It was drowned out by the Howie Kendrick grand slam, by Juan Soto teeing off on the fattest pitch of Clayton Kershaw’s career, by Anthony Rendon taking a golf swing at a Kershaw pitch near his shins.
It was smothered by a National League Division Series Game 5 that tore the Dodgers and their fans apart.
But before NLDS Game 5, there was Game 2. And in Game 2, there was one inning, arguably one pitch, that speaks as much to the Dodgers’ Job-like journey through the Octobers of the past seven seasons as any other.
It feels like 10 years since I last saw a Dodger game.
It feels like we’ve lived through an entire era of baseball in the four months and three days the Dodgers last walked off the field, heads bowed. It feels like we’ve aged a generation.
As I hibernated with other activities, I watched Dodger fans descend in to a deep well of anger and despair. The winter of our discontent barely seems adequate to describe it. Behind center field, offseason construction tore a hole in Dodger Stadium, delivered directly from Metaphors ‘R’ Us.
The bitterness of the Dodgers’ shocking Game 5 loss in the National League Division Series lingered like a slow-acting toxin, blackening the rose petals of fandom.
The unrequited pursuit of big-name talent, Gerrit Cole in particular, generated a sense of Kafkaesque imprisonment, blinding the reality that none of the Dodgers’ top rivals except the Yankees had improved their rosters. Then again, if the Yankees become the team to beat, isn’t that anguish enough?
Then the earth trembled, the ground beneath our feet cracked open and the void opened.
People keep saying that the Cubs’ July 25, 2016 trade of Torres, then a 19-year-old mega-prospect, with three other players to the Yankees for super reliever Aroldis Chapman is an example of what the Dodgers need to start doing in pursuit of an elusive 21st-century World Series title.
Supposedly, Torres is the canary in the Dodgers’ coalmine of caution.
“Their organizational philosophy prevents them from making the kind of the deal the Chicago Cubs did in their championship season in 2016, ending a 108-year drought,” wrote Dylan Hernandez in the Times this weekend, though he’s far from the only one to make such an argument.
Here’s what this theory ignores:
If there’s a World Series Game 7 this year, I’d like it to be at Dodger Stadium.
But I’m much more interested in the Dodgers working on ways to make their team World Series champions without playing a Game 7.
It was weird enough, after the Dodgers won the 1981 title, when they split the World Series Most Valuable Player Award among three players.
It became weirder still when Bob Uecker and MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn included the wrong man, Steve Garvey, in the award presentation. It was Steve Yeager, not Garvey, who had been voted the winner alongside Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero.
Garvey expressed heartfelt gratitude for the award that he wouldn’t get to keep. Yeager, hovering in the background at the outset, eventually got to the microphone, though he is never named as a tri-MVP winner. Guerrero got a big hug from Al Campanis, but no chance to speak at all.
Enjoy the presentation above, in all its awkward glory.
I give the Dodgers about a 45 percent chance to win the 2018 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
In the starkest, most objective terms, that makes me a pessimist. My glass isn’t quite half full. Perhaps, if you’re more cynical about the Dodgers, you think my 45 percent makes me an optimist. It doesn’t really matter. That’s not my point.
So many times this year, the theme of the 2018 Dodgers was how they were not a clutch team. They were sluggish. Underwhelming. They couldn’t get a hit when they needed one. In discrete moments, this was true.
But every single time the Dodgers needed a win — when they needed to get off the mat after a 16-26 start, when they needed to chase down the Arizona Diamondbacks, when they needed to fend off the Colorado Rockies for the division title, when they needed to survive and conquer the nationally beloved Milwaukee Brewers bullpen — every single time they needed a win, really needed a win, they got it.
I don’t know what will happen against the Boston Red Sox. As I predicted in July, the Dodgers are NL champions and World Series underdogs. But at this moment in time, you cannot find a more clutch team than the Los Angeles Dodgers.
By my estimation, here’s the likely 25-man National League Division Series roster for the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers* …
Catchers (2): Austin Barnes, Yasmani Grandal
Infielders (5): Brian Dozier, David Freese, Manny Machado, Max Muncy, Justin Turner
Infielder-outfielders (3): Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor
Outfielders (3): Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig
Starting pitchers (4): Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Relief pitchers (8): Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Kenley Jansen, Ryan Madson, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood
Could be considered: Josh Fields, Dylan Floro (if he hadn’t disappeared over the past week, I’d have him instead of Madson), Zac Rosscup, Julio Urías, Pat Venditte, plus position players Tim Locastro or Chase Utley.
I’m writing about an event that likely won’t come to pass, an event that most Dodger fans hope doesn’t come to pass.
But as their three-game series at San Francisco begins tonight, the Dodgers could soon be facing as many as four consecutive do-or-die games to reach the National League Division Series.
By Jon Weisman
Late on Tuesday evening, it had started to feel real, more real than it had felt in a long, long time.
Three nights earlier, the Dodgers had nearly stolen Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, despite their most disadvantageous pitching matchup and coming off an exhausting National League Division Series. No matter — over the next two ballgames, the Dodgers completely shut down the best team in baseball during the regular season, allowing not a single Cub to score. The offense pushed across six runs in Game 3, the pitching was as rested as it had been in two weeks.
Los Angeles was two games away from the World Series with four to play.
Four nights later, the Dodgers went to bed with their season over, left to ponder how far they had gone, how close they had come and how short they fell.
Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers
By Jon Weisman
Undeniably, emphatically, the Chicago Cubs have made 2016 their year.
And like Al Downing allowing Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, the Dodgers’ ultimate role in 2016 turned out to be as a springboard to history.
Putting the Dodgers on their heels from the second pitch of the game, the Cubs hosted a nine-inning Wrigley Field parade to a mad celebration of their first World Series in 71 years, capturing the National League pennant with a 5-0 victory.
For the third time in the past 28 years, the Dodgers came within two wins in the National League Championship Series of ending their own Fall Classic drought, their fans’ own suffering a pale footnote to the Windy City celebration triggered by the final out.