“I’m on the edge of glory and I’m hangin’ on a moment of truth
Out on the edge of glory and I’m hangin’ on a moment with you
I’m on the edge of glory
And I’m hangin’ on a moment with you
I’m on the edge with you”
The long wait is over. After watching the Dodgers get swept by San Francisco, then watching the Giants beat the Mets to win the Wild Card, and watching other very close games, my nerves are on edge. As much as I try to keep it out of my head, the past three seasons’ heartbreaks come creeping into my mind. But this is still better than sitting on the sidelines and the Dodgers not having any chance at winning. So let’s focus on the positives, and why this Dodgers team will win against the Washington Nationals.
Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and he’s healthy, and he’s rested. A simple twitter search of him inevitably brings up articles and hot takes about how he is “average” in the postseason, he’s only a regular season pitcher, will he show up in the postseason? Never mind the postseason he had last year, including the seven innings with one run against the New York Mets in NLDS game 4. But Kershaw has had to do a lot more in previous seasons, perhaps trying too hard, and that shouldn’t be the case this year.
“In the past, I’ve definitely felt that pressure more. But this year’s been a little bit different for me, just as far as having to watch on the sidelines for two months, understanding how good our team is. … I can definitely be a part of this and definitely help and definitely be a factor in winning. But I don’t have to be the factor. We have so many guys that can do so many different things, that it’s not all on me,” Kershaw said at his media day Thursday.
He also went on to say that this is “the most complete team” he has played on. “Maybe the most belief, as well, that we are complete — which is almost as important.”
Kershaw will face Max Scherzer in Game 1, a very formidable opponent. Max finishes the year having led the NL in strikeouts, innings, WHIP, wins, and he was eighth in ERA. His final stat line for the regular season — 2.96 ERA, 34 GS, 228.1 IP, 56 BB, 284 K, 0.97 WHIP, .199 opponents’ average. Thankfully for the Dodgers, he is not a left-handed pitcher.
The Dodgers should only face one left-handed starter, Gio Gonzalez. Nationals manager Dusty Baker has said that there will be at least three left-handed relief pitchers in the bullpen. But another thing working in the Dodgers favor — Kershaw would probably go on short rest in Game 4, depending on where the series stands at that point.
The feel-good story of the season undoubtedly is Andrew Toles. Toles was released by Tampa Bay last season, and started for the Dodgers this year in Single-A farm ball. Now, after quickly ascending through the minors, Andrew will be starting in left field in the NLDS. Toles will be starting ahead of Howie Kendrick, who most likely will start against the lefty Gonzalez. Andrew is batting .326/.382/.511 against right-handed pitching this season.
The Dodgers have the right mix of very good starting pitching, rookies and veterans. The have the best bullpen in the National League. Kershaw is not feeling the pressure to do it all himself, and he is confident in the rest of his team. They have a bunch of key bats to come off the bench in Yasiel Puig, Howie Kendrick, and Andre Ethier. They have a team full of players capable of making the play or having the hit that wins it all, not just one or two hot players. They’ve been through rough exits in each of the last three seasons, and are hungry to make it further than the NLDS. If you haven’t read Justin Turner’s piece in the Player’s Tribune, I highly suggest you do so. It gives some insight into the clubhouse and where the team is focused. I am definitly nervous, but I am confident in this team and am looking forward to watching them take this NLDS.