It’s a happy Monday morning for Dodger fans—so many of us still on a high from the epic Justin Turner walk off home run to put the Dodgers up 2-0 on the Cubs in the NLCS.
It’s five games in, and this postseason has already given us so many moments. Whether it’s the aforementioned walk off heroics, or Yasiel Puig licking his bat, or Puig giving the fans what they want when they chant his name, or the incredible defense shown by Cody Bellinger, or the elite bullpen, this postseason is already one for the ages.
In so many ways, whether the Dodgers go on to win the World Series or not, it really just feels like a different team. It really seems to be more of the total team effort from top to bottom. It’s not Clayton Kershaw and whoever else is going to show up. It’s a different guy every night and you know that someone is always going to come through, even if you don’t know exactly who it’s going to be.
So much is always made of the Dodgers payroll. They were able to go out last off-season and re-sign all of their targets. ALL of them. That just doesn’t happen. And all three were showcased in last night’s game. Rich Hill was on. Turner had all four RBI. And Kenley Jansen shut down the Cubs so that his team could get their chance to win in the bottom of the ninth.
There also seems to be addition by subtraction. There are many rumors swirling around one former catcher of the Dodgers, that maybe had a few issues with some other players, namely Puig. This may be true, because Yasiel seems to feel free to be himself this year, and it shows. Under Turner Ward‘s tutelage, he has excelled and seems to be the 2013 Puig we all were hoping to see again.
But high payroll or not, it doesn’t matter if everyone doesn’t buy into what the end goal is. Big contracts can lead to big egos, but there doesn’t seem to be much of that with these guys. Egos are being set aside everywhere you look, from Adrian Gonzalez not pushing his back injury to play, opening the path for Cody Bellinger start regularly. Chris Taylor was disappointed in not making the team out of spring training, but has since said that that was actually a good thing for him, because it allowed him to go down there and work on his swing and his defense in the outfield. Yasmani Grandal has seen his starting time diminished in favor of Austin Barnes, but there’s nary a peep out of him about it. Kenta Maeda wanted to be a starter in the postseason, but instead went to the bullpen where he has been lights out.
It shows when the players do interviews. Last night, Kenley was wearing a #VoteJT shirt, and Justin was wearing a No. 66 shirt straight from Puig’s locker. Barnes did an interview last week in a shirt promoting Grandal’s charity foundation.
This team knows what needs to be done, and is patiently going about doing it. Prior to last night’s game, the Dodgers were seeing an average of 20.8 pitches per inning. Yasiel alone had three walks last night. Grinding out at bats, just trying to get on base and let the next man come up and do his part.
5-0 in your first five playoff games is nothing to sneeze at, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to reach the World Series, let alone win it. But patience and will to win will get you every where. If the upcoming games are anything like the last five, it’s going to be a heck of a ride.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)