As February draws to a close and the Los Angeles Dodgers inch closer to meaningful games in 2021, fans of the team are in a beautiful sweet spot.
Neither the team and fans were not able to justifiably celebrate the World Series win in 2020 to0gether at Chavez Ravine, but that only put a slight damper on the celebrations. Fans all over rejoiced with family and friends, either in person or on social media. The relief and joy was still palpable even if it was not celebrated in Dodger Stadium.
The win had been a long time coming after seven divisional wins and all sorts of heartbreaking losses—from the mundane to the whole championship being stolen from them, and everything in between.
But in 2020, the Dodgers finally did it. Clayton Kershaw finally got his ring. It may have been an irregular season, but it was more difficult in the long (or short) run, dealing with no fans, Covid protocols, not seeing family for months on end, and everything else involved in such a crazy year.
Regardless, the Dodgers were the best team in baseball, and they would have been whether the season was 60 or 162 games in the season. And, the best part is, the Dodgers are poised to do it all over again.
Much has been made about the San Diego Padres and their upgrades over the offseason. No doubt the team to the south is ready to give the Dodgers a run for their money.
But the Dodgers were the best team last year, and undoubtedly with the additions they made, they are still the best team.
The starting rotation has seven proven starters. Seven. If and when injuries hit the pitching staff, they have capable guys just waiting in the wings to step up and take their turn. Not just capable, but battle tested. All of those seven guys have pitched in the playoffs, and six of them have pitched in the World Series. There are three former Cy Young winners on the staff.
The bullpen is also stacked. The squad the shut down the Rays last year has now added Corey Knebel, who by all accounts this spring training is looking so good, manager Dave Roberts already has him pegged for high leverage situations. Blake Treinen is back, rejoining Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez. Brandon Morrow is also back, aiming to regain his 2017 form. And Kenley Jansen, who as of now is slotted to maintain his closer roles, has looked so good so far Roberts has gone as far as calling him “exceptional.” The newly vamped Padres pitching staff isn’t going to come anywhere close to the Dodgers’ depth.
We have even discussed the offense. Two former MVPs. The reigning World Series MVP. Six former All-Stars. And while the Dodgers lost two uber utility men, they have a guy in Zach McKinstry all ready to step up and tackle that role.
Unlike many teams, the Dodgers don’t just have these guys for this season to hope for the best. They’ve had most of the core group for years, and even though some contracts will be up soon, either they plan to re-sign as many as possible, or have talent coming up through the minors to replace them. Or, in the worst case scenario, to trade some talent for what’s needed, or the capital to sign key free agents.
The Dodgers had excellent title runs from 1959 thru 1966, 1977 thru 1981, and 2017 through the present, and 2013 through now in terms of playoff appearances. But this really could be the best the team has ever been. Fans have talked about last year’s team being the best ever, and they went out and improved it.
This is the first offseason in a long time that the weight of not having yet won the World Championship is not hanging over the team like the sword of Damocles. The Dodgers won the last World Series and are odds on favorites to win it again this season. It is indeed a golden time to be a Dodgers fan.