Let me start off by saying that this postseason will not be a repeat of last October for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are far stronger than they were in 2016, and that is as clear as it’s ever been. They’re 89-35 — far and away the best record in baseball. Dodger fans know better than anyone that 2016 ended in defeat. Clayton Kershaw had made almost every start on short rest. The Los Angeles offense, as good as it was, could not keep up with the stellar offense of the Chicago Cubs — the offense that went on to win the 2016 World Series.
But this October will feel different.
The 2017 postseason picture is starting to take form as talk of magic numbers is beginning. If the season were to end today, the Nationals would play the Cubs, and the Dodgers would play the wild card winner. Who that will be is anybody’s guess, but they won’t be in the same situation as last season, in which they opened the NLDS in Washington. Given the season they’ve been having, I have no doubt that the Dodgers will again make it to the NLCS. This season, though, they’ll only have to face the Nationals or the Cubs, not both. They beat the Nationals last fall in the fifth game of the NLDS, and they lost to the Cubs in Game six of the NLCS. The Cubs were remarkable last season, yet the Dodgers were still able to threaten them. The Dodgers wouldn’t have pushed the series to Game 6 if they didn’t have playoff power, but they do, and they’re even better this year.
I’ve made my predictions for the postseason, and they do indeed end with the Dodgers winning the World Series, but in order to get there I have them beating the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and the Cubs in the NLCS, but I could be wrong. The Nationals could beat the Cubs and win their first post season series. Either way, the Dodgers are fully capable of handling both teams in a seven game series.
Like I said, this year is different. The Dodgers’ pitching is stronger, their defense is better, and their starting lineup is deeper. The Nationals and the Cubs have their strengths, too, though. The Nats have NL Cy Young front-runner Max Scherzer, and the Cubs have an MVP-caliber third baseman in Kris Bryant. The Nationals and the Cubs are really good, but the Dodgers are great. The Dodgers have everything needed to win the World Series. They are a championship team. That’s not to say that the Cubs aren’t a championship team, they proved that they are last year, but the Dodgers are undeniably playing great baseball.
So how can the Dodgers beat the Nationals and the Cubs?
They can do it by being the complete team they’ve proven they are.
All teams have flaws. All teams have bad innings and give up runs — that’s unavoidable. But if you asked me right now what the Dodgers’ weaknesses are, I couldn’t give you an answer. Of the 35 games they’ve lost, not one of them was because something was wrong. They’ve lost 35 games because it’s impossible to win them all. They’ve lost games not because they didn’t play well, but because sometimes the other team just plays better.
So, if the Dodgers are to win the NL Pennant it won’t be because they got lucky, or because they have the best pitcher on the planet. It will be because they have a championship worthy team. A complete team. And they’re showing it right now.
(Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahManinger)