Normally, this is around the time Dodgers fans start to wonder if this will be the Dodgers’ year. As most of us know this is the fourth straight season the Dodgers are in the playoffs. Around the city, there is a noticeable lack of buzz. Expectations seem low especially after losing 5 of 6 to end the season.
The Dodgers were beset by injuries like no other team this season. The Dodgers aren’t supposed to be in this position, similar to how the Hershiser-led 1988 edition of the team wasn’t supposed to win the franchise’s sixth championship.
Remember Vin Scully’s famous call when Kirk Gibson blasted the most dramatic home run in baseball history in the opening game of the World Series that year? “In the year of the improbable …”
What would be more improbable than the Dodgers winning the World Series this season? They have a rookie manager in Dave Roberts. Clayton Kershaw remains at less than full strength. The club can’t seem to hit any lefty that throws at them.
The Dodgers don’t look like a World Series team. But Hershiser’s Dodgers didn’t, either. I remember the Mighty Mets owned the Dodgers during the regular season that season in 88. The Dodgers took out the Mets in 7. They also had to contend with the “Bash Brothers” on the Oakland A’s in the World Series.
The Dodgers were 14-2 when Kershaw started and 29-35 in other games prior to him going down. So when Kershaw went down so did everyone’s hopes for the season. But then a funny thing happened. The team got really hot and the Giants bullpen imploded.
Justin Turner, Yasmani Grandal, and Howie Kendricks bats awakened and led to an offensive surge. With contributions from rookie starters Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart and Jose De Leon, the Dodgers surged past the Giants. In the process, they gained an identity of being a gritty bunch.
I still can’t believe the Dodgers didn’t fight for home field in the NLDS or to try and knock the Giants out of the postseason all together. I still haven’t heard an explanation why they just laid down like dogs. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite them.
But I guess onward we go as the Dodgers will open in Washington on friday. The way the Dodgers will prove successful in this postseason is to be the same gritty bunch they were when Kershaw went down. This year’s team to me has more grit then the previous Dodgers teams the past three seasons.
They will need solid pitching from the starters and the bullpen. They have to continue to be good defensively. The major issue for will be hitting with runners in scoring position.
I feel they need to use the element of surprise. Put things in motion and don’t just be a station to station team. Nobody believed in the 88 Dodgers. I feel this team has that same grit to surprise this postseason and hopefully bring home a winner.