5 Keys to a Successful Postseason

dodgers
(Los Angeles Times photo)

Seven straight National League West titles and two NL pennants. Those credentials alone are enough to show how much the Dodgers have dominated the senior circuit over the last seven seasons.

However, the club has not secured a World Championship since the 1988 season—a time when some adult fans of the team weren’t even alive. What’s more, many followers of the Dodgers feel that these NL accolades are insignificant until the squad finally hoists a championship trophy.

Pundits have gone as far to say that this 2019 version of the Dodgers has a better chance to win it all more than any of its predecessors. Gone are numerous clubhouse cancers who may have been holding the organization back. Present are strategically placed veterans of the game whose presence shines on the youngsters. As a whole, the determination level of the club is seemingly as high as it’s been in recent seasons.

Many folks who know baseball well will tell you that a perfect storm of sorts needs to exist in order to win a World Championship. Personally, I believe that might be overstating things a bit, but it’s obvious that a team needs to be peaking with all of the rights heavily outweighing the wrongs.

Of course, if the offense is firing on all cylinders, and the pitching staff is in shutdown mode for the whole month of October, there will be little to stop the Dodgers from bringing home their first championship in 31 years. Regardless, I made a list of five specific players/issues which could be the keys for a successful 2019 postseason.

The Catchers—While the catching crew of the Dodgers certainly had its share of ups and downs this year offensively, the playoffs could be a chance for the backstops to leave all doubts in the dust. Absent from the picture is Austin Barnes, who was demoted to Triple-A in the middle of the season after battling to stay above the Mendoza line for the entire first half. Subsequently, Will Smith burst onto the scene and slugged his way into the good graces of the fan base. However, the 24-year-old Kentucky native has since plateaued at a .253/.337/.571 slash line. While veteran Russell Martin has indeed contributed to the team greatly, many wonder how much is left in his offensive tank after hitting just .220 during the regular season.

There are not many worries behind the plate defensively, but if Smith and Martin are able to find their respective grooves with the bat, it could go a long way in making the overall team offense click.

Clayton Kershaw—Speaking of accolades, there’s little that 31-year-old Clayton Kershaw has yet to accomplish in terms of individual awards. Eight All-Star appearances, three Cy Young Awards, a league MVP and one Gold Glove may be enough to have already cemented him a spot in Cooperstown. Still, there will always be a monkey on Kersh’s back until he’s able to consistently deliver throughout an entire postseason. Over his career, he has a 9-10 record with a 4.32 ERA over 24 starts and 30 overall appearances in the playoffs. Needless to say, an effective 2019 postseason from the veteran will be crucial in capturing a championship.

Cody Bellinger—Indeed, chances are still good that Cody Bellinger will bring home the 2019 NL MVP award, but there’s no question that the 24-year-old superstar has regressed during the second half of the season, at least when it comes to OBP. Through June 1, he slashed .379/.465/.743 but hit just .261/.371/..563 thereafter. Put simply, if he’s able to produce close to the way he did during the first three months of the season, he has the ability to carry most of the club on his own shoulders.

Kenley Jansen—Some pundits feel that the Dodgers will go as far as closer Kenley Jansen takes them. I’m not so sure I agree with that statement, though, mainly because the leash on Kenley’s right arm could conceivably be a tight one. His 3.71 ERA this season was by far the worst of his career and his 1.063 WHIP was his worst since 2014. There’s no concrete answer as to who would assume the closer role should Kenley falter, but one thing’s for sure—if there’s a perfect time for Jansen to regain his confidence, his stellar command and the wicked movement on his cutter, the time is definitely now.

Overall Health—While there have been a few minor injury scares in recent games—A.J. Pollock, shin; Corey Seager, hamstring; and Max Muncy, tight quad—the overall health prognosis looks pretty good for the Dodgers heading into the NLDS. Nevertheless, concerns still lurk over the ailments surrounding Justin Turner and Joe Kelly, despite both of them reportedly being ready to go full throttle come Thursday. A clean bill of health for most of the team through October may be of paramount importance for the club’s ultimate success in the postseason.

 

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33 thoughts on “5 Keys to a Successful Postseason

  1. Can our offense hit elite pitching and can our starters contain elite hitters. Can the bullpen hold its own and will we defend like we’re capable of. Only time will tell. We’ll need Turner, Freese and Pollock healthy and productive and not rusty. Seager and Belly to be the stars they are. One month of great baseball Big Blue!!!!!!!!

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  2. It doesn’t just happen to Kenley. It’s been a tough year for closers! Looks like we’ll,have to beat Corbin on Thursday. Time for Turner, Pollock and Freese to step,up!

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  3. Time to step up and see what this team is made of. No more excuses and over analyzing. Play the game to win!!! And do what they are all paid to!!!

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      1. Yup, the only question is whether Kike will be hitting leadoff or cleanup.
        Any way we can get Rendon before Thursday?

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    1. Could not happen Keith. They won the most games in the league and that quality’s them to play the wild card team. Look, DC has never beaten the Dodgers in the playoffs. And the other thing is, everyone says can they beat elite hitters and pitchers. Guys, this is a damn good team. They won 106 games for a reason. They are grinders and they never believe they are out of any game. They beat DC 4 of 7, they beat Atlanta 4 of 7, they were 3-4 against St Louis, but won the last 3 games against them in LA. They are a great home team and they have home field in the NL playoffs. Neither Scherzer or Strasburg will likely start the series because they pitched tonight. And Keith, did you watch that game? They were LUCKY. The Brewers beat themselves, not the other way around. The eighth inning was started with a hit batter, a shattered bat blooper that barely cleared the infield, a walk and a single to right that turned into a error that allowed DC to score 3 runs and go ahead. It is not like they knocked the cover off of the ball. They were losing almost the entire game. Now, Corbin has a 5-9 record against the Dodgers in his career. He also has a losing record at Dodger Stadium. That covers 21 games. This year he has given up 24 homers, so he is prone to do that. Bellinger and Muncy hit lefty’s pretty well. Turner will be back in the lineup. As we all know, the playoffs are a crap shoot. Both teams are hot going into the series, so anything can happen. It is not going to be easy, but then again it never is. Series with the Braves last year went 4, then the Brewers who had home field, took them to 7 games and they had to win on the road. But DC’s overall pitching is 8th in the NL and the Dodgers are 1st. They can hit and score runs, but so can the Dodgers. It will be a good series and pressure is a good thing. It will keep them sharp if they advance. I thought they were going to lose to the Brewers last year and they pulled it out. Give the team some credit. They are a tough bunch.

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      1. I get the sarcasm. But on paper, the Dodgers are a much better team. We will just have to wait and see how the baseball gods want it to play out.

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  4. I’m not much into violence so I wouldn’t shoot him in the leg, but I love the idea of an alligator filled trench around the Potomac. Where in the world did you get that idea Dennis? Do you have any sources inside the White House that feed you information on baseball and national security?

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    1. Hey Dennis, did you pull your comment? My comment above was in response to something Dennis posted that doesn’t seem to be there any longer. Or maybe I’m just totally losing it.

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      1. You haven’t totally lost it Jefe. Just some naturally occurring forfeiture around the margins. Happens with the passing of decades.

        We’re supposed to win this thing, and I believe we will, but as Bear keeps reminding us anything can happen in a short series. The Nats have superior starting pitching, but so do we. The stats say our bullpen is better than theirs is but I would not be surprised to see them grind ours. Personally I think at this point in the season these two teams are very near equal.

        Not much surprises me anymore. I mean, look around. It feels like the earth is spinning faster every day and we are all about to be thrown off of it. The NLDS? Yeah, whatever. Let those games begin.

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      1. Bias is what makes the world go ’round but since your comment is gone, feel free to delete mine since they don’t make any sense without yours. By the way, I’m not sure I would feel that way about bias if I didn’t have a good idea which way yours runs. 🙂

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      2. I must have missed it. Who was Dennis going to shoot? Does Dennis even own a gun?

        Tribal bias is certainly prevalent. Not sure it makes the world go round but it’s always been here. We sure are able to see it easier now than ever before. I think maybe it’s gotten more violent because all people have just lost their minds. I blame it on specific absorption rates of EMF radiation poisoning.

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  5. Corbin has been lights out against the Dodgers the last 2 years. Got to get games one and two at Dodger stadium. Gonna be tough back in DC with Scherzer and Strasbourg going in games 3 and 4. I think Kersh is going in game one. We need some offense against some elite starting pitching. Who’s gonna step up?

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    1. I will Rich. Corbin schmorbin. He don’t scare me. I’ve got my 32” 31 oz Flame Tempered Reggie Jackson S2 Louisville Slugger at the ready and I’m prepared to take some of that Corbin cheese and send it back up middle. Of course, I’ll need a designated runner should I actually make it to first base.

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    2. Rich, he is 5-9 against them in his career and has a losing record at Dodger Stadium, and as any one should know, what you have done in the past goes right out the window in the post season. Scoop, I have my 33 ounce Louisville Slugger Manny Ramirez model ready.

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      1. I also have a 34” Pro Stock Model C271 I picked up at Vero in 2001. It’s too long and heavy for me to get around on a 95 mph fastball. Choke up maybe. I could hit Martin with it. Not Corbin. Short, quick to the ball, back through the box. All in my head of course.

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      2. I feel I need to defend our best reliever here Scoop. What makes you think you could hit Martin? No one else can. Kenley, Floro, Fergy, etc. OK, but not Martin.

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      3. The reason no one else has hit him yet is the change of pace he offers. There is no pitch too slow for me and I just don’t offer outside my strike zone. Put in THIS box (in the Majors it’s about the size of a box of Cheerios) I can make contact with it. My eyesight ain’t what it usta was (20/20 left, 20/10 right) but I think I might could still recognize spin. Don’t know cuz I hung ‘em up at 56 (15 years ago. Damm, I’m old) and if I can’t I’m toast, but I still take 25 cuts a day right and left handed. Give me a week to get that number up to 100 from both sides and I think I could make contact on Martin… maybe with an illegal -5 DeMarini (They have a -8 now! I’ll use it). He’s only thrown 4 innings. Only thrown 45 pitches. He’s obviously around the strike zone. Look for one over the plate and turn on it. Easy peasy smack the Mar-cheesy.

        Convincing?

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  6. Got to think he’s gonna be nervous game one inning one. Got to be patient and wait for mistakes in that first inning! Jump on them early and don’t give them any hope!

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    1. Good strategy. Don’t chase. Make him work. If lays a cookie over the middle be ready to punish it. I’m thinking we likely score more in second half of the game against these guys.

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