A whole generation of baseball fans have not seen the Dodgers win a World Series title. They returned to the biggest stage in baseball and lost in five games against the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers came out flat and acted as if they didn’t even want to win the commissioner’s trophy. Some can say they weren’t able to execute on both sides of the ball, while other blame manager Dave Roberts for making key managerial mistakes during the series.
After a historically bad start to the regular season, many fans thought the Dodgers were out of playoff contention entirely in May. Key acquistions of infielders Manny Machado and Brian Dozier proved to propel the Dodgers to gain the momentum needed to get into the playoffs.
The mix of seasoned veterans like Chase Utley and newer talents like Cody Bellinger were enough to overcome a 10 game deficit and win the National League West Division for the sixth year in a row after a 162 game season and a one game playoff.
The World Series brought a glimpse of the early season Dodgers. They couldn’t give pitchers enough run support, maintain leads, and pitching — especially the bullpen — wasn’t as lights out as they needed to be in the biggest series of the year.
Game 1 was a match-up of two of the greatest pitchers in modern baseball, Chris Sale and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. After Kershaw’s injuries to his back and throwing shoulder early in the season, Roberts still had faith in his ace to start the series strong.
The battery of Kershaw and his not-so-usual catcher Austin Barnes behind the plate gave Boston an early series lead.
Kershaw’s two World Series starts may be his last starts as a Dodger. In a press conference after Game 5, he explained he had three days to explore the idea of opting out of his contract. He has held a key spot in the Dodgers’ rotation since 2008.
If he decides to opt out of his contract and becomes a free agent, it will be sad to see Kershaw go, however young stud Walker Buehler seems to be bred for championships. He seems to be willing to rise to the challenge and take over in Kershaw’s position.
Buehler and veteran Rich Hill gave up one run through their combined 13.1 innings on the mound. Buehler dominated the marathon 18 inning game. In his World Series debut, Buehler went seven shutout innings. His performance is overseen after the rollercoaster of the game.
Bullpen woes were a constant theme throughout this series. Closer Kenley Jansen posted a 4.50 ERA throughout the World Series. He had two blown saves out of his three games he appeared in, including allowing crucial home runs to Jackie Bradley Jr. and World Series MVP Steve Pearce. The Dodger relievers gave up 14 of 28 runs throughout the series.
The Red Sox pitching staff had the boys in blue on their toes in the box. David Price started two games for the Sox and had a 13.2 inning dominance over the core of the Dodger lineup. He posted a 1.98 ERA over the series. Red Sox relievers Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree combined for 9.1 innings of pitching with a 0.00 ERA over the five games.
Infielder Max Muncy provided the Dodgers with one of its rare clutch hits in the series, a walk-off home run to cap off an eighteen inning affair. The Dodgers blasted a record 235 homeruns during the regular season and 19 in the postseason — 6 coming in the World Series.
To give credit where it is due, the Dodgers pulled off a massive comeback late in the regular season and managed to make it to the World Series two years in a row. It is because of hot pitching and hitting that had just simmered down when it counted.
With Roberts’ managerial contract ending after this season, it is up in the air whether he can return to the main stage with the boys in blue. After questionable moves in the lineup and bullpen, Dodger fans are calling for a change and ending Roberts’ tenure.
As a fan, it is sad to see the Dodgers fail two years in a row, but hey, third time’s a charm, right? We may see this talented team back next year. I wouldn’t count them out.