It’s been a rather depressing end of summer for Dodgers fans, as the Boys in Blue couldn’t quite get much going through the end of August and the month of September. But today the Northern Hemisphere turns to autumn, and the Dodgers will be celebrating Clinchmas, and hopefully those losing days will fall behind them.
The last month was really hard to watch, especially as other teams, like potential World Series opponents Cleveland Indians, went on an historic winning streak, the opposite of what the Dodgers were doing. What’s so amazing is that even after that horrid month, the Dodgers still have the best record in the National League with a magic number of six over the Washington Nationals, and seven and eight respectively over the Houston Astros and Indians.
While it feels like the Dodgers are backing into the playoffs wounded physically and emotionally, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their chances. Some of these are quite obvious, but they bear repeating, as one could focus on the negatives and forget about what they do have going for them.
After a subpar offensive performances, the offense as a whole is starting to look much better. They are still lacking in consistency, but to me if feels like they are slowly coming back to what they are capable of doing. They have scored 10 runs in their last two games. Batters are finally hitting balls hard, especially Yasmani Grandal and Curtis Granderson, who have recently been mired by slumps. They are hitting home runs again, and making good contact, even if it happens to be right at a defensive player. Many, many balls were hit hard right at defenders this past series, and they are bound to start finding holes soon.
The lineups that have been trotted out will not be the lineups that will be be there for the playoffs. One could maybe criticize Dave Roberts and the front office for the way in which they have constructed the lineups during the past month, for not necessarily giving the Dodgers the best chance of winning. But they were looking to see who performed and who didn’t, trying to determine which players would make the postseason roster. Was it to the detriment of the team overall? Hard to say, although that’s an easy area in which to lay blame.
While the bullpen has seemingly gone to pot, the starting pitching has looked much better. Aside from Clayton Kershaw allowing a grand slam against the Phillies, the starters have pitched much better than when they were allowing multiple runs in the early innings of games. And the Dodgers are heading into the playoffs with six starting pitchers, two of which could be lethal weapons out of the bullpen, an asset other teams would not have.
And last but not least, this team will end the season with 100 or more wins. That’s not anything to sneeze at, regardless of how the regular season ends. They won all of those games for a reason. Yes, it’s cliché, but. Having gone through adversity can help. The playoffs are a grind, full of ups and downs. I’m willing to bet if the Dodgers do win it all, they will mention the losing streak and what they learned from it, and being able to draw on that when it got tough in the playoffs.
As the Dodgers are doing better, but aren’t quite there yet, I believe all it will take is one big win, one comeback, one spark to turn this team around for good. Maybe it will be finally clinching the division, getting that out of the way. Maybe it will be a walkoff win that does it. Most likely, it will be a combination of things. You can’t turn an ocean liner on a dime, and you can’t regain momentum from just one thing. The ship is already turning back in the Dodgers favor, however, and it’s just a matter of time until they fall back into their winning ways.
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