Dodgers: Even With Stacked Chips, Still Gotta Play To Win
From watching the Dodgers, you know that there are so many factors to determining the victor of a playoff series in baseball. Nowadays there all these advanced stats, home-field advantage, the phenomenon known as momentum, all kinds of stuff measurable or not. So much attention is focused on these types of things, that the obvious is often left out of the equation.
Tables are turned. The 2016 Dodgers know this scenario all too well. The Chicago Cubs are coming off a 2017 NLDS series that went all five games with the Washington Nationals. They also won the first game on the road and stole home-field advantage, but clinched the series in the nation’s capital.
It was a battle that saw the pitching staffs get taxed and used in do-or-die situations. No rest for the Cubs after the deciding game with the need to travel the following day across the country for the first game of the NLCS.
All lined up. The Dodgers swept the Arizona Diamondbacks three games to none on Monday to advance to the next round of the 2017 MLB Playoffs. It was a series where the bullpen needed to lock it down after two shaky outings by starters.
Grinding out solid at-bats every game made the offense click as a whole, the Dodgers imposed their will on the division foe who had their number all season. The luxury of sweeping while watching the Cubs and Nationals duke it out has allowed numerous days of rest for the Dodgers in the comfort of their own homes. What better set-up to have right?
Still the defending World Champs. The Cubs returned pretty much every key piece of their team from the 2016 roster except for the closer, but they traded for a stud stopper in the offseason.
The team that denied the Dodgers of a World Series berth in 2016 even added a strong arm to the pitching staff days before the trade deadline this summer.
Following a championship hangover that found them second in their division at the All-Star break, the Cubs proceeded to shake off the rust and win six more games than the Dodgers the rest of the way.
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Ease Kershaw’s pain. Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw has battled a balky back the last two seasons. Needing to miss significant time for each stint hasn’t hurt the team so much as one would think, because of savvy managing.
The squad has done a great job of stepping up without their stud, but one has to wonder how long the best pitcher on the planet will be at his best. Could his back be hurting because he has carried the entire team his whole career in the playoffs? Is this the year the team collectively carries Kershaw over the proverbial hump to a title?
Ships aren’t won in the regular season. The Dodgers put together one of the more memorable regular seasons in recent memory. They mostly rode highs, but damn there was a nasty low towards the end.
Streakiness treated the team both good and bad. But, they still ended up with the best record in the bigs, which has allowed for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Regular season success doesn’t always translate to postseason success. The roster composition has been vital.
They’ve built it, here they come. The 2017 regular season was a dress rehearsal for Dodger skipper Dave Roberts, as he has emerged with his two best plays for the 2017 playoffs.
Doc knows what he is doing. He has taken all the talent his front office has given him and has played chess all along. The team is a collection of talent and experience, youth and grit, all assembled with one goal in mind: win it all. As it was all season long, the Dodgers are still the best team in the playoffs, and best equipped for the big stage.
Nothing left to do, but to go the distance. One cannot count out the experience the Cubs have gained from their magical run last year. The revenge factor is fully in play for the Boys in Blue.
Dodgers and Cubs are evenly matched in talent. When it is all said and done, the game still has to be played. Let the chips fall where they may. Two great teams are going to battle.
Forget all the stats, history, etc…but, when the Dodgers take the field, they will take the next step to getting back to where they have been missed since 1988, the World Series.