Other than the New York Yankees, no other professional baseball franchise has been in the post-season more than the Dodgers. Whether in Brooklyn or in Los Angeles the Bums have made October their rite of passage. What the Dodgers have not done is always flourish in the month of October like their New York brethren.
Despite winning the National League West for the third straight time the Dodgers recent inability to solve the St. Louis Cardinals has been their albatross. For the sanity of themselves and their voracious fan base, this is something that needs to be rectified.
Entering this 2015 post-season the Dodgers have numerous question marks. I believe they have more SIGNIFICANT holes than they have that past few seasons. With that said, this might also be their best chance in recent memory to win the pennant. Odd, I know, but let me spell it out.
First lets start with the strengths. The strengths are always more fun to talk about for Dodgers fans. The Dodgers have pop. They can hit the long ball. Up and down the line-up the Dodgers can put runs on the board with one swing of the bat. For much of the season they led the National League in round trippers. The Dodgers also have the best one-two punch in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the post-season. Kershaw in the three-time Cy Young award winner who will finish in the top-5 once again, while Greinke could garner his second Cy Young award with an amazing 2015 campaign registering a 1.66 ERA. The Dodgers also have great depth. Despite injuries that would have crippled most teams, the Boys in Blue have built a bench that allows them to withstand injuries to key players and not lose a ton in production .
The concerns with this team begins and ends with their porous bullpen. As much as the front office tries to sell the fan base on this group, they have been colossal disappointment. The group is much too streaky for my tastes. Great start, bad middle, solid late-July to early August only to see them stumble again late. For a franchise to have the deepest pockets in all of sport and not make a run at Andrew Miller and some of the other serviceable arms on the market was fool-hardy as I made so abundantly clear ad nauseam. The pen is what it is……a mind-numbing group that will have me grab my Pope Francis blessed rosary beads every time they enter the game.
My second biggest concern regarding this ball-club is their inability to manufacture runs. So many in the lunatic fringe of this fan base do not believe in the hit-and-run, the bunt, the productive out. Many fail to see its the easiest and most productive way to victory. Productive outs lead to runs which lead to wins. I would much rather have Joc Pederson lay a bunt down the third base line with a runner at second and no one out then swing from his britches and swing and miss once again. A bunt allows the runner to get to third which means a ground ball, fly ball, wild pitch, passed ball, balk or even a hit would net a run. But, never mind me, just keep expecting Joc to hit the ball 450 feet. The Dodgers were one of the worst teams in the National League at the fine art of manufacturing runs despite have the best on-base percentage in the National League. This statistical imbalance makes no sense and shows how disconnected this offense can be.
My third concern, and this one breaks my heart. It’s Clayton Kershaw. I know, saying this is sac-religious but the numbers don’t lie. In his last four post-season appearances he is 0-4 with a 7.15 ERA. I love the guy, I really do. But, the great ones perform in October. As great as Greg Maddux was, in my mind all I can remember is him continually scuffling with those mid-90’s Braves teams in October. Kershaw is so much better than his numbers indicate. I won’t even get into his Cardinal-failings. It’s well documented that the Cardinals have pounced on every one of his mistakes over the past two post-seasons. I would love for the Dodgers and Kershaw to get another shot at the Red Birds. He NEEDS success against them as much for him as for the organization. Kershaw’s post-season yips is a huge blip on his resume. Lunatic fringe members will try to argue it’s anomaly, it’s not. Kershaw pitches like the King of All in the regular season but turns into the court jester in the post-season. It’s the one dangling participle that he needs to fix. Admittedly I am not confident of Kershaw in October. I have seen too many meltdowns, too many inexplicable craters in performance to have that MadBum-esque feeling that he is going to overcome.
So there you have it. The post-season is here. this is a very exciting time. The one saving grace as I type this is that the Giants and Yankees are both done for the year. Out of the original New York three, only the Dodgers remain. This team could very well win the pennant and hoist their 7th World Series trophy. But it wouldn’t surprise me if their season is done by next Monday either. So it is with the Dodgers, so unpredictable, so entertaining and never boring.