Saturday, July 15, 2017

Can The Dodgers Win It All This Year?

            It was almost 30 years ago that Kirk Gibson hit this iconic home run against the Oakland Athletics in game one of the 1988 World Series. Ironically enough, this was the last time the Dodgers made (and won) the World Series. It seems that no matter how close the Dodgers get, they can't seem to break through.
            Take last postseason, for example. The Dodgers were up two games to one on the Chicago Cubs before Chicago broke the "Curse of the Billy Goat", won the next three games, and made the World Series.  The Dodgers seem to falter when it matters most and that can be partially attributed to Clayton Kershaw's postseason woes. The former MVP has a career postseason ERA of 4.55 and has a WHIP of 1.16, not Kershaw-like at all. Kershaw has been especially atrocious in his four NLCS appearances; his ERA balloons to 5.58, while his K/9 falls from 10.7 (his career postseason total) to 7.9 in the NLCS. He also has a WHIP of 1.27 and a BB/9 rate of 3.5 (his postseason rate in his career's 2.7). In other words, Kershaw has been unbearable to watch in the postseason.
            This year seems a little bit different compared to past seasons. The Dodgers, who are 62-29 as of today, hold the league's best record with Houston hot on their trails. They've won 10 of their last 11 and show no signs of stopping. The Dodgers are fourth in baseball in runs scored with 469 and have a team OPS of .790. Led by wunderkind Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers have gotten lineup production from unheralded names such as Chris Taylor (.292 BA, .372 OBP) and Justin Turner (.370 BA, 87 hits, .466 OBP). The Dodgers are 2nd in MLB in run differential (+165) as well, only behind those same Astros (+167).
            It hasn't just been the bats that have been a big part of the Dodgers' success. Kershaw has gotten some help from other rotation arms, starting with Alex Wood (10-0, 1.56 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 101 SO). Brandon McCarthy has also been a nice arm for the rotation (6-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.17 WHIP). But one of the best performances this year has come from the closer, Kenley Jensen. Jensen, who had been rumored to be a target of teams of the Cubs and Giants last offseason, has an ERA of 0.93 along with a WHIP of 0.54 and 22 saves in 37 appearances.
           If the Dodgers are to make (and win) the World Series, they'll need one more arm to put them over the top. Sonny Gray seems like a good fit for the Dodgers, especially with the Dodgers' farm system being quite healthy with talent. There's a good chance they'll face the Astros in the World Series, so it'll be the best lineup in baseball against Kershaw and company. That should make for some great October baseball.

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