Once again this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves on the brink of elimination.
They needed ninth inning heroics to win the Wild Card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. They took the San Francisco Giants to the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NLDS before securing that series win.
But now, the fight to stay alive is a lot longer, although not unfamiliar. Once again, the Dodgers find themselves down 3-1 in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves.
Last year, the Dodgers somehow rallied to win three games in a row and beat the Braves to advance to the World Series. This year, the situation seems more dire.
The Boys in Blue were not able to capitalize on the Braves needing to use a bullpen game for Game 4, not getting a hit through the first four innings. Meanwhile, usually playoff-steady Julio Urías gave up three solo home runs, and allowing five earned runs in five innings, in a game when they needed length out of their starter.
But the more pressing issue has also been a familiar postseason issue for the Dodgers – a complete lack of offense, especially when it counts. The Dodgers were able to scratch toe runs across the board in the fifth inning, but that was it for them for the rest of the game. Home runs have stopped, stringing hits together is few and far between, and worst of all, hitting with RISP is almost nonexistent.
Injuries have been the biggest issue for the Dodgers. The loss of Clayton Kershaw to give another starter is really showing in the rotation, as both Urías and Max Scherzer have been used in relief rolls to give the bullpen a little break.
But again, the biggest issue has been with the offense. The loss of Max Muncy on the last day of the season is looming large in the Dodgers lineup. And the figurative loss of Trea Turner, MLB batting champion, is the biggest glaring gap. Weak dribblers, hit into double plays, and flare outs are not indicative of the best hitter of the major leagues.
And now, the Dodgers will be without their stalwart third baseman for however long the season last. Justin Turner pulled his hamstring trying to leg out a hit in Wednesday night’s game and is done for the rest of the season.
Turner will be replaced on the roster, possibly by Billy McKinney or Zach McKinstry. Chris Taylor will presumably be tasked with handing the hot corner, and the Dodgers will have to make a few adjustments in the outfield, and possibly first base if they move Cody Bellinger back out to centerfield.
Despite the issues, this team still could pull of the impossible again. The offense, when they’re on, is one of the best. After the bullpen game Thursday, they have two aces in Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer to send to the mound on normal rest. And as Chris Taylor has stated before, they play best with their backs against the wall. Fans just wish they didn’t have the chance to try to prove that true so often.