Clayton Kershaw– It sounds obvious, but it still needs to be said. We’ve been in this position before with Kershaw, the man who has been an all-time great in the regular season has struggled in the playoffs. Kershaw is still the best pitcher in the game but the postseason is a different beast. We saw it with Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber who is probably the front-runner to win the AL Cy Young have two terrible starts in the ALDS against the Yankees. Kershaw’s postseason problems always seem to start after 5+ innings. This indicates that it’s not his stuff in the postseason that is the problem I believe its more so the pressure he puts on himself to be great. The good news this year is that the Dodgers are not relying on Kershaw as much. For the first time in Kershaw’s postseason career, it looks like the Dodgers will actually go to a 4th starter in Alex Wood than pitch Kershaw on three days rest. However, Kershaw is still the Dodgers catalyst and need him to be great to beat the Cubs. As the game one starter Kershaw must set the tone for the Dodgers going forward. Kershaw had two starts in the NLCS against the Cubs last year. He was great in his first start in game two pitching seven scoreless innings getting the win and then struggled in the series-clinching game 6 allowing four runs in 5 innings. Its Kershaw’s job the hold the Dodgers rotation down and show the Cubs this is a much better team than last year.
Yu Darvish– This is why the Dodgers got Yu Darvish for, for times like this. As the possible number three starter in the series Darvish is going to play a huge role in who wins and advances to the World Series. Number three starters are critical players in seven-game series because they are lined up to start a game seven if a series goes that far. Hopefully the Dodgers finish off the Cubs before seven games but if it does go that far Darvish could be the likely starter. When Darvish is on his game he could be as unhittable as anybody in baseball. The Dodgers traded for Darvish believing he was the missing piece in the rotation to finally put them over the top and bring them to the World Series. Darvish was great in his series-clinching start against the Diamondbacks outdueling Zack Greinke going 5 innings allowing only one run and striking out 7. Darvish must step up and show why the Dodgers acquired him in this series.
Corey Seager– When Seager is playing well the rest of the Dodgers lineup seems to play so much better. As the number two hitter in the lineup, Seager is the man that can get things going for Justin Turner and Corey Bellinger batting behind him. Seager was decent in the NLDS against the Diamondbacks hitting .273 with .921 ops, but the Dodgers are going to need him to be even better this round. Seager battled an elbow injury the second half of the season and he probably still isn’t 100%, but he is always capable of producing at a high level. Seager is as consistent as they come and the effect he has on the Dodgers lineup is monumental. When Seager got relegated to pinch-hitting duties because of injury in late August, the Dodgers lineup struggled mightily. We need Seager to get on base and be a run producer in the lineup if we plan on winning this series.
**Editors Note Seager is off the NLCS roster**
More from Dodgers Way
- Kevin Kiermaier being ‘top target’ to replace Cody Bellinger is bad sign for Dodgers
- Are the Dodgers really prepared to hand Shohei Ohtani a blank check?
- Dodgers fans shouldn’t dismiss interest in Dansby Swanson for this reason
- Giants laughably sign pitcher that Dodgers absolutely own
- Dave Roberts’ quote about Padres in NLDS should motivate Dodgers
Yasiel Puig– Puig has been able to rejuvenate his career this season. After being sent down to AAA last year it looked like Puig’s Dodger career was all but finished, but he came back with a vengeance this year. Puig hit a career-high 28 home runs and has turned himself into one of the most dangerous players in the Dodgers lineup. Puig was exceptional in the NLDS hitting .455 with 1.266 ops and driving in 4 runs. With that being said the Dodgers need Puig to keep doing what he is doing and not revert to the Puig of old. Dave Roberts has put more faith in Puig by moving him up in the Dodgers lineup and giving him a more prominent role. But Puig has always shown to get overly emotional in big moments, and this year we are hoping the stage is not too bright for him. From all indications of how he has played this year, it looks like Puig has finally matured enough to play good baseball consistently. When Puig is playing well, he adds depth to the Dodgers lineup. It makes a lineup much scarier when you see a player with 28 home runs batting 6th or 7th. The Dodgers don’t need to be great but just need to continue to do what he is doing. He needs to be that player towards the bottom third in the Dodgers lineup that strikes fear in the Cubs pitching staff.