Next up in the playoff preview series is the team that clinched a spot before anyone else... The Los Angeles Dodgers. It came as a shock to no one that the Dodgers managed to get back into the playoffs. The NL West division title is the franchise's seventh consecutive title, and the team is looking to get back to the World Series for the third consecutive season.
It was an incredible season for the star studded team. There was never a doubt that this Dodgers team was on a mission to get back to where they finished last season, but this time with a better outcome. One player that showed more than most that he wanted to win more than anyone was potential NL MVP Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger was a man possessed this season, smashing his career highs in nearly every single offensive category. He sits 3rd in home runs (46), 5th in runs scored (118), 4th in slugging percentage (.623), 3rd in OPS (1.025), and 1st in WAR (8.5). His .302/.404/.628 slashes absolutely demolished his previous highs in all three categories (.267/.352/.581). Without question Cody Bellinger was the best player on the team all year long. While Bellinger might've been the best player on the field night in and night out, it was the buy-in from the entire group that really makes this team special. Not many teams in history can boast the versatility this team has. With a super utility guy like Kike Hernandez, and at least five other players who can play a minimum of three positions, this lineup could look very different on a night to night basis and not lose any firepower. If this lineup were on any other team but the Dodgers, they would easily be my favourite team to watch.
Finally, the lineup situation is really cool and innovative, but they wouldn't be where they are today if it weren't for their incredible starting rotation. Their bullpen might not be anything special, but it hasn't had to be.
They have one former Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw pitching like he's almost back to his glory days. A young stud in Walker Beuhler who very well looks like he could win himself a Cy Young at some point in his career. And to round out their top three, Hyun-Jin Ryu who has put his name into this years Cy Young conversation, sitting 1st in ERA (2.41) and 3rd in WHIP (1.01). It'll be tough for any team to win three games of a series when the rotation starts with those three.
Given the Dodgers ability to move players around, the lineup changes on a night to night basis, but it should look something like this
1. Joc Pederson
2. Max Muncy
3. Cody Bellinger
4. Justin Turner
5. Cory Seager
6. Aj Pollock
7. Gavin Lux
8. Will Smith
Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez, David Freese, Russell Martin/Austin Barnes
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu
3. Walker Beuhler
4. Rich Hill
Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias
What do they have to do to win?
Plain and simple... learn how to win the big game.
For this team, they have been in the playoffs for so long, but never manage to put it together when it matters most. It seems like some of their players are beginning to get over their postseason woes (talking to you Kersh), but they need to get the whole roster firing on all cylinders for the entire month and a bit if they want to bring home the trophy.