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Dodgers: Is ‘Next Year’ This Year?

October 6th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Some of us remember 1988 like it was yesterday.

OK, not yesterday as much as it was like last week. Last month. Last century. Some of it is getting downright hazy. Gibson’s home run, sure, and Orel Hershiser’s two starts … and who else played on that team? Steve Sax, maybe?

Also, some significant fraction of Los Angeles Dodgers fans have no memory of the club’s five-game World Series victory over the Oakland Athletics in ’88 … because it happened 29 years ago and they were not yet alive to enjoy it.

Here we go again. The Dodgers in the playoffs for the ninth time since 2004 and in the previous eight they not only did not win the World Series, they also did not play in it.

Fans are forgiven for not blocking out early November for a victory parade through downtown Los Angeles. They have lots of hope but not a lot of faith in their team, even the 2017 edition that won an Los Angeles Dodgers’ record 104 games. Because they also remember that 1-16 stretch of awful in August and September.

There are other issues, as well.

–The Dodgers pretty much need Clayton Kershaw to be baseball’s best pitcher, or something very near to that, but he lugs that career postseason 4-7 record and 4.55 ERA, into the National League Division Series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, beginning tonight in Dodger Stadium. What the Dodgers really, really cloud use from Kershaw in Game 1 is seven scoreless, but he has been shaky since missing August with a back injury — an ERA of 3.48 in six starts with five homers allowed in 33.2 innings.

–Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood follow Kershaw in the best-of-five series, and each has had some rough stretches, mostly in the past month. Darvish, the well-regarded right-hander obtained in trade with Texas, has been rocky and inspires little confidence against a heavy-hitting Arizona club.

–Shortstop Corey Seager probably is the Dodgers best position player, but he is not completely healthy (throwing arm), and his absence tended to track closely with Dodgers issues down the stretch. He needs to be healthy and doing his thing in the 2-hole.

–Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, both of whom were in Triple-A when the season started, have been huge and need to forget that a little something called “reversion to the mean” could be lying in wait for them.

–Yasiel Puig has become a very useful player, a year after the Dodgers tried to trade him. But do you really depend on him? Didn’t think so.

–In Kenley we trust. Reliever Jansen is as close to a sure thing as death and taxes. But any other guy coming out of the Dodgers ‘pen … we’re not  nearly so sure about.

–And, this: The Dodgers had winning records against every team they played this year except for Colorado, against whom they were 9-10, and the Diamondbacks, who seemed almost to own them, running up a 11-8 record against the blue team.

The Dodgers will throw left-handers in three of the first four games of this series, and the Diamondbacks are death to lefties.

Again, Dodgers fans are hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Their team went 104-58, but it has to beat an Arizona team that has owned them, then either the defending champion Chicago Cubs or Bryce Harper’s Washington Nationals, and then probably the hottest team in ball, the 102-win Cleveland Indians, or the 101-game-winning Houston Astros.

Arguably one of the most imposing set of opponents in recent playoffs history.

Fans may want to think “it’s the Dodgers’ turn”, but remember, this club’s motto for much of its existence was: “Wait till next year!”

And we’ve already been waiting 28 years.




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