The Dodgers have been quiet. Not too quiet, just quiet. They haven’t signed a big name free agent. They haven’t traded for the face of a franchise. They haven’t done much, but did they really need to?
All offseason, we have heard rumors upon rumors about the top two free agent starters; Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. One of those starters, Arrieta, is still unsigned with spring training now officially underway. The other, Darvish, is headed to Arrieta’s former team, the Chicago Cubs.
Lately, the Dodgers have been known for three things—being the best team in the National League in 2017, introducing the two most recent NL Rookies of the Year to Major League Baseball, and refusing to trade their top prospects. Their commitment to keeping the top prospects in a Dodgers uniform has already proved to be a good strategy. Had they held on to the common theme of “win now” several years back, Cody Bellinger and/or Corey Seager probably wouldn’t be wearing Blue right now.
Picture this—it’s Saturday, October 4th, 2014. The Dodgers are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals 2-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th, in the second game of the National League Division Series. Matt Kemp, one of the most well-known Dodgers of this century, is walking to the plate. J.P. Howell is in the dugout, well aware of the two runs he’s given up, simultaneously reducing the Dodgers lead to 0. On a 2-1 count, three pitches into Pat Neshek’s appearance in the game, Kemp launches a monster home run to deep left field, right next to the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Theoretically, no. The Dodgers, the same team who almost won the World Series, are in fantastic shape. Looking solely at the Los Angeles roster, they don’t need to make any more additions. They have a great bullpen, a strong rotation, and a lineup capable of mass-producing runs. If this were last season, the Dodgers would have already won the West.
The Dodgers are masters of the unexpected. They win when many have begun to lose faith, and they cultivate talent that few knew they had. At the start of the 2017 season, we were unaware as to what kind of reliever Brandon Morrow would become, but come October, he was pitching in high-leverage situations during nearly every postseason game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees are historic. The Dodgers and the Yankees, who once played 15 miles from each other, have become the class of their respective leagues. Nearly 63 years after the Dodgers beat the Bronx Bombers in the 1955 World Series, the teams are embarking on different paths.
The Dodgers need more starting pitching, it’s as simple as that. Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Rich Hill fit in perfectly with the Dodgers, but if Los Angeles intends to contend in 2018, they need another starter.
Every team wants to win the World Series. Every team wants to hoist the trophy in front of their home crowd and embrace the triumph that accompanies victory. The Dodgers wanted to be that team in 2017 more than anything, but they weren’t, and there’s nothing any of us can do about that now.
World Series hangovers are real. They are the downside, really the only one, of playing baseball into November. 20 teams out there ended the season a month prior, and yes, those other 10 teams wouldn’t trade the postseason for a month of extra rest, but the effects of October are noticeable. No more noticeable than they are for the two teams that made it all the way to the end. Los Angeles didn’t win, but they played seven games in the World Series. Regardless of the result, that’s enough to incite exhaustion.