In the Dodger’s clubhouse, next to Justin Turner’s locker is a whiteboard that people observed after last night’s game. It simply says “10 Wins!” That’s the simplest way to write down the understood goal of winning the World Series. It takes 11 wins in the postseason. After last night, there are 10 to go. No more, no less. It’s that simple… Simple… but not easy! The thing is: these guys, at least most of them were in a position to win the World Series last year, only to have their hearts broken in the end. That taste remained in their mouths and they carried it around like a hangover all season. It seems to me that they sobered up right before the Giants series.
Who was on the NLDS roster last year?
That’s it from last year. Almost 50% of the Dodger’s playoff roster were not on it last year. That is a huge turnover! Alexander, Floro, Kemp, Madson, Freese, Machado and Dozier were acquired via trade. Ryu was left off the roster last year… only to start Game 1 this year. Talk about from the outhouse to the penthouse! Then, there are the two rookies: Buehler and Ferguson and the minor league miracle: Max Muncy. Finally, Joc Pederson was left off the NLDS last year. That seems like a lot of roster turnover to me, but in many ways it is a testament to FAZ and how they are always seeing value and are unafraid of change.
The Baker’s Dozen left from 2017 are now the leaders, along with Chase Utley who is in the dugout with his brothers. Team chemistry may or may not be overrated, but the chemistry of this team is off the charts. Matt Kemp used to be the moody prima donna… now he’s one of the clubhouse leaders. Yasmani Grandal, Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill. Those six players set the tone for the rest of the team and are the collective “voice” of this lockerroom. Of course, Kike, Mad Max and the Wild Horse are always good for some sound bites, but this is one teriffic lockerroom! I think that they all have each other’s backs.
This team is built for the post-season and it’s not how you start – it’s how you end, are things I have been saying all year. In many respects the season was ugly, although it did have it’s moments. The players struggled throughout the season. This new statistic-driven brand of baseball is still being sorted out. It’s evolving… The Dodgers struggled with it, so did the Cubs… and it ultimately killed them, along with the failed acquisitions of Chatwood, Darvish and Morrow… most of whom were boat anchors on the roster. I think you will see the pendelum swing back a little from some of the extremes of playing for the long ball… but I digress.
Last night, the Dodgers scored 6 runs on only 5 hits, 3 of which were homers. They also took 8 walks and stole 3 bases, while Grandal gunned down the only attempted thief! What should not be lost in all of this is that the Dodger pitchers did not walk a batter while striking out 11. It should also not be lost that Hyun-jin Ryu pitched like an Ace. Now, if Clayton and Striker can do that, the series is over. These guys reek with determination. When you have been so close to the mountaintop or goal, only to have it snatched away, you realize how difficult it is and how sweet it is. Thse guys can smell it – just 10 more wins to go!
- It’s hard for me not to envision Kike Hernandez as the starting 2B next year!
- It won’t be lost on most GM’s how much less productive Manny Machado is outside of Camden Yards.
- Realize this: Clayton Kershaw WILL opt out, unless he can agree on a new deal before that.
- Caleb Ferguson has “bullpen” written all over him.