We have come to the final home stand, and last six games of the Los Angeles Dodgers 2021 regular season. And while not impossible to overtake the division lead, it seems as though the Dodgers will head into the playoffs as the first NL Wild Card seed.
The Dodgers sit two games behind the San Francisco Giants with those six games to go. The Dodgers will face the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers, while the Giants will also finish at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Padres.
Los Angeles will basically have to win all their final games to have a chance to tie or overtake the Giants, and hope that either the Padres or the DBacks will have some fight in them for the remaining vestiges of their respective seasons.
Regardless of where the Dodgers start the postseason however, it still remains that they are in the postseason and will need the team to be firing on all cylinders if they want to repeat their World Championship. Yesterday, Dennis wrote about how the Dodgers are still the odd-on favorite to win the World Series. But that doesn’t happen if the players don’t perform.
The Dodgers are the odds-on favorite because of how many incredible players they have, from Max Scherzer to last year’s NLCS and World Series MVP, Corey Seager. Still, a few names stick out as being a tad bit more important if the Dodgers are going to go all the way.
Clayton Kershaw – Even a causal fan knows about the trials and tribulations of Kershaw in the postseason. His triumphs are often overlooked of favor of dredging up the past instances of when he was left out a little too long because he was carrying the entire team on his back. Or when he was cheated out of another great postseason outing (no, this writer will never be over that).
Kershaw has been seen this season hampered by injury, putting him at the back of the Dodgers starting rotation instead of his usual spot in the top two. Scherzer would most likely start the Wild Card game, and Walk Buehler would start NLDS Game 1, should they win. That puts Julio Urías for Game 2, and Kershaw for the always pivotal Game 3.
Mostly, Kershaw has been good in his return from the injured list. In his last outing he gave up three earned runs in 4.1 innings, but before that he had his slider working and was looking like his former self. That Kershaw will need to make an appearance in the playoffs for the Dodgers to make a good run.
Chris Taylor – the Dodgers main utility man, Taylor had an absolutely hot start to the season. He was good enough to make the All-Star Game. But since then, he has been way down, hitting just .147 over his last 30 games. While the Dodgers have some options off their bench, Taylor is the top one, able to play at almost any position. Gavin Lux may over take him in that top bench guy, if Cody Bellinger can come back healthy from the injured list and find his swing again in time for the playoffs. But Taylor with his ability to be slotted anywhere from middle infielder to all over the outfield is one the Dodgers must have performing at a higher level in the playoffs.
Dave Roberts – Although he inherited a very good squad, Manager Dave Roberts has a chance to go down in Dodgers history as one of the great managers the club has seen. And he can do that by guiding this team to back-to-back championships. Roberts’ clubhouse tactics have kept this team together through losing a huge off-season signing to off the field issues, and losing other key players to multiple injuries.
Still, he will need to continue guiding them and choosing the right players off the bench and out of the bullpen at the right time. And if the offense starts to falter, somehow figure out how to light a fire before it’s too late.
Hopefully, if they don’t win the division, that will be enough motivation for the Dodgers to get things going through the playoffs. Otherwise they 2021 Dodgers will be relegated to another 100+ win team that couldn’t get it done in the playoffs.