The Dodger have been in the playoffs for 8 straight years accompanied by back-to-back World Series appearances with nothing to show for it. Whether it be from, lack of production from players, mismanagement, running into better teams, or even cheating, it hasn’t stopped the restless waiting of fans for the team’s first title since 1988.
While the new format for this year’s playoffs creates a longer road back to the World Series for the Dodgers, they are the best-equipped team to get the job done. Teams such as the Yankees, Rays, Padres, Cubs, etc. are talented in their own right but they don’t have a team as deep as Los Angeles does.
The Starting Nine
It’s no secret that reigning MVP Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Joc Pederson have struggled mightily this year. Each one hasn’t been able to find a lasting groove at all, but that hasn’t slowed down the offense. The Dodgers have been able to overcome those weaknesses in the lineup with guys like 2020 MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Corey Seager as well as Will Smith, AJ Pollock, and Justin Turner. Each night it’s a different player stepping up and delivering for the team.
— MLB (@MLB) September 25, 2020
Even though Bellinger and Muncy have been struggling at the plate, they have still provided the team with firepower as both are tied for 4th on the team with 12 home runs. As a whole, the offense ranks first in the Majors in home runs (118), 2nd in RBIs (327), and 2nd in OPS (.821). It’s difficult to envision any other team, possibly beside the Yankees, who can still produce such numbers with two of their top players almost nonexistent at times.
The Starting Five & Co.
The rotation has most likely been the weakest link for the Dodgers this year in terms of stability. Clayton Kershaw started the season on the IL which opened the door for rookie Dustin May who has impressed this season. Fellow rookie Tony Gonsolin took a bit longer to make an impact after contracting COVID-19 before the season. While Walker Buehler hasn’t been himself this year, we’ve seen glimpses of the old Clayton Kershaw who finished the year with a 2.16 ERA.
Dustin May loves striking out Manny Machado with this filthy 2-seamer
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 11, 2020
The bullpen which has usually been the weakest link in recent years has held its own. Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen have impressed after joining the Dodgers this offseason and Adam Kolarek who was essentially a lefty specialist has been the team’s best reliever. While many fans still get nervous with the presence of Kenley Jansen, he’s been fairly productive despite his decline.
The Dodgers’ lineup does opposing pitchers no favors, and neither does the bench. An ugly start by Austin Barnes had fans wanting him gone, but a quick turnaround has revealed his value on the team. Edwin Ríos provides power off of the bench and can easily slide into the DH spot if necessary. Kíke has had his downs this season but the super-utility player crushes left-handed pitching which should be needed this fall. Joc Pederson and Gavin Lux have been disappointing thus far, but each has enough talent to make a difference.
Fun game between two good teams going on in LA!
Edwin Rios just tied things up for the Dodgers in the bottom of the 8th! pic.twitter.com/7oQnmRrnT1
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) September 24, 2020
The Dodgers only lost one series this year and were not shut out a single game. Between their high powered offense and a pitching staff that ranked first in the Majors with a 3.02 ERA, teams will have their hands full in the playoffs. An extra round that the Dodgers will have to navigate through certainly complicates things. However, if anyone is prepared to make such a run and win it all, it’s the Boys in Blue.