The Dodger management promised Dodger fans that things would be different this season in 2014. They promised that our boys in blue would make up for their six game NLCS defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals last year. But all we were given was just another soul crushing playoff loss.
For a while it seemed like things could possibly be different. The Dodgers clinched the NL West division championship on September 24, by holding off a late season charge by the Giants (Who are now playing those same Cardinals in the NLCS this year), and finished with 94 wins during the regular season. Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw had a season for the ages, and Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Kemp were leading a potent offense. But Stacie and I were able to see beneath their scorching September and realize the sad truth about the 2014 Dodgers. They were nothing but paper Tigers.
Sad trombone-Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
John Stolnis of numberFire.com wrote a terrific article taking a statistical look at why the Dodgers, and the Nationals, (a club run by another inexperienced manager) failed so miserably this October. He takes several valid breakdowns at the Dodger’s inconsistent offense, pitching problems, and poor managerial decisions.
Stacie called it correctly before the playoffs began. The Dodgers just didn’t have something this year. They didn’t have that magic that they had from last year. That ability to rally and come from behind in games. It’s not something that can be quantified via numbers. Another reason to explain the club’s early playoff exit. That and a really bad bullpen.
One thing I disagree with is calling the playoffs a “crapshoot”. The playoffs are not a “crapshoot” as a lot of people love to point out. The Cardinals are a very well run organization from top to bottom, and clubs like the Orioles and Giants have seasoned competent managers who know how to push the right buttons.
Managerial decisions, well run organizations, and a strong bullpen are what get you through the playoffs from season to season. It was no surprise to me that we are forced to watch another nauseating Giants/Cardinals NLCS for the thousandth time.
Momentum is also important. Sometimes momentum can swing from game to game, inning to inning, or at-bat to at-bat in the playoffs. When the Dodgers blew game 1, which they seemed to have in the bag at the time, it let all the air out of their tires. It killed their momentum, and shifted it back into the Cardinal’s favor. The playoffs are all about getting the momentum.
Oh and a little magic doesn’t hurt either. Just ask the Kansas City Royals.