Well, the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers had a hell of a season. Unforgettable in so many different ways. 106 wasn’t quite good enough to win the NL West this year however, and so the Dodgers are now preparing themselves for a Wild Card game to decide if they’re moving on in the postseason.
The Dodgers finished the year strong, sweeping both the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers at home. They hopefully have found their offense, having scored eight or more runs in each of their last five games.
Last Thursday, I wrote about the three people that would need to step up for the Dodgers to go deep into the playoffs. With Muncy and Kershaw now both out, I’d like to make an addendum to that column.
I had Kershaw as the starting pitcher that would most need to be on his A game. But as we have no idea when or if he will be pitching again, the responsibility will most likely fall on the shoulder of Tony Gonsolin, and more of the bullpen. Gonsolin did not have much success last year in the postseason, when he pitched in both the NLCS and World Series. In 9.1 innings pitched, he had an 8.68 ERA.
Since his return from the injured list earlier the year, Gonsolin has been pitching decently. Not terrible for a fifth starter, but not as well as one would hope heading into the playoffs. He allowed three earned runs in his last outing, going 4.1 innings against the Padres. In his outing previous to that, he went 5.0 innings allowing three runs, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Another issue is that he’s not stretched out yet to go long into games, but, as the now the Dodgers’ fourth starter the bullpen will need to be ready to carry more of the bulk of his outing. But, he could also be used as a long relief man. However the Dodgers see him being used, he will have do better than he did in last year’s playoffs to help the team.
The bigger loss however is that of Max Muncy. The first baseman had his arm ripped back by runner Jace Peterson, and he immediately dropped to the ground in pain. As of this writing there is no additional news on the elbow, just that the Dodgers believe he will be out at least through the NLDS, and possibly the whole postseason.
This unfortunate event leaves the Dodgers with two possibilities for his replacement, who will most likely platoon in regards to the handedness of the opposing pitcher.
Albert Pujols will be the starter against lefties, with Matt Beaty likely taking on the roll against righties. While Pujols does not have the numbers he once had, no doubt he will relish being in the playoffs for possibly the last time in his career. Beaty has not seen much action in 2021 for the Dodgers. But if his last few at bats have been any indication, he is ready to show what he can do in the postseason. The utility player is 4-for-8 with two home runs and a 1.250 slugging percentage in his last two games, and a .375 batting average over his last seven games.
Cody Bellinger also might see some time at first base, if they playoffs are extended beyond Wednesday. But his defense is more needed in centerfield. Bellinger also has looked like perhaps he is starting to finally make some strides at the bat. It would be the perfect time for the tall lefty to finally find his groove.
The Dodgers still have the best odds to win the whole thing, with Vegas giving them 4-1 odds. The team has to get through the formidable St Louis Cardinals first, however. The Red Birds have won 12 of their last 15 games, and the two teams split a four game series at the beginning of September.