Clayton Kershaw. Everybody knows that name. It’s a name that is often followed by these words: “The Best Pitcher on the Planet.” I agree with that statement, and not just because I’m a fan of the Dodgers. I agree with it because it just makes sense. People often say that Kershaw has the potential to be the best pitcher baseball has ever seen, all he needs to do is win a World Series. The Dodgers have as good of a chance at a championship this year than they ever have before.
I can see it now, Kershaw starting Game 1, and going seven strong, then handing the ball to Brandon Morrow, and then to Kenley Jansen. It’s a plan of attack that gives me chills. Jansen is the best closer in the National League, if not the entirety of Major League Baseball. The combination of Kershaw and Jansen in a game is about as close to unhittable as a pitching duo can be. Kershaw and Jansen are going to help the Dodgers in unimaginable ways, but they can’t do it alone. Championships are won by teams, and the Dodgers will need to play that way.
So who else will play a role in this historic narrative?
Morrow is a reliable choice. He has been the best possible setup man for Kenley Jansen. I trust him in a high-leverage situations, and that’s extremely important in October, because like the regular season, high-leverage situations can turn catastrophic in seconds. I’ve also come to trust recent addition Tony Cingrani in the kind of situations that are bound to appear in October. If you ask me, Morrow and Cingrani are locks for the postseason roster. With them could be Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda or Alex Wood—they’ve been a great starters, but how lucky are we to move one or two of the best starting pitchers this season to the bullpen? It only makes the Dodgers ‘pen that much better, and in the postseason, better is necessary.
With the Dodgers extremely close to clinching the NL West for the fifth straight season, talks of the potential postseason rosters are pretty much unavoidable. In terms of October pitching for the Dodgers, it looks like the starting rotation will be Kershaw, Darvish, Hill, and either Ryu, Maeda or Wood. Jansen will be there, as will Morrow and hopefully Cingrani, but I’m a writer, not a manager. I don’t know what the Dodgers and the management crew have up their sleeves, but if this season has been any indication of what the postseason could look like, I’m not worried.
Last October, Kershaw threw the first pitch of the postseason to Washington center fielder Trea Turner. He led the Dodgers to a series win over the Nationals in the NLDS, and all signs are pointing to him being on the mound in October once more. Nobody knows how this postseason will unfold for the Dodgers, but one thing is true—it’s going to take everybody to win. Kershaw and Jansen can, and will help, but they can’t do it alone.
Thankfully, this team has plenty of guys who are more than ready to play under the fierce lights of October.
(Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahManinger)