Dodgers: Carried by Other Guys, Stars Need to Step Up

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Joc Pederson
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Joc Pederson /

If you are a Dodgers or Astros fan and still have any emotional endurance after Game 5, you are crazier than this World Series. The trophy will be hoisted in Los Angeles, with Houston one game away. To this point though, they’ve been playing a Dodgers team that’s very different from the one that started the postseason.

Although it looks like the Astros and Dodgers are two heavyweights throwing all they have at each other, in reality, it’s a full-strength Astros team against a Dodgers team that’s severely under-performing. Houston’s star hitters and pitchers, except for Dallas Keuchel and Ken Giles, are performing like their usual selves. On the other hand, the Dodgers have been riding on minimal contributions from crucial producers, and some peripheral players are making big plays.

Offensively, Joc Pederson headlines the group of hitters who have been playing exceptionally well. He was left off the roster for the division series following a demotion to the minors to close out the season. Since he made the roster in the NLCS, he’s put together some of the best at-bats and key hits. Despite things looking bleak for the Dodgers, his contributions should not go unnoticed.

Logan Forsythe is the next guy who has finally stepped up. Almost everyone had a feeling his bat would come alive in October, and it has. He’s knocked in some crucial runs to keep them in the games. Also, he’s been hitting right-handed pitching much better which is proving key since Chase Utley has yet to collect a hit this postseason.

Then there’s Kike Hernandez. We all remember him for his historic Game 5 in the NLCS against the Cubs, but he’s continued his success into the World Series. He’s delivered in the clutch in multiple situations, showing he can go the other way when it counts. Having his bat is essential given his defensive versatility.

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Pitching-wise, Tony Cingrani, Tony Watson, Kenta Maeda, and even Ross Stripling deserve a shout out. Cingrani especially, because twice in this series he’s come in, after the Astros put up big numbers with nobody out, and gotten out of the inning. Except for Watson’s throwing error and Maeda surrendering the three-run home run to Jose Altuve, these two have done their jobs excellently. Stripling was pulled after throwing four consecutive balls in Game 2 but has bounced back since. And let’s also not forget Alex Wood, who the Dodgers couldn’t have asked more from.

While it’s great to have contributions from your non-star players, they can only take you so far. If the Dodgers are going to push this to a Game 7, the stars need to step up. Cody Bellinger despite starting off miserably is starting to pick it up. Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, and Chris Taylor are still trying to find the same swing that helped them bulldoze over the Diamondbacks and Cubs.

Seager hit a clutch double, Puig hit his two-run home run, Taylor tied it, and Turner squared some balls up in Game 5 which are all good signs. But, they need to consistently put the barrel on the ball for A.J. Hinch to lose complete confidence in his arms. Right now, the fear of pitching to the opposition belongs to the Dodgers. To force Game 7 that needs to turn the other way around.

Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish just didn’t have their stuff in Game 3 and 5. Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen are gassed. It’s hard to ask your star pitchers to step up when they’ve carried you the entire way. But it’s impossible to ask them to push beyond their limits when the rest of the team doesn’t pick them up, or when the manager doesn’t trust anyone else.

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Game 5 was heartbreaking, but it also showed A.J. Hinch that the Dodgers aren’t going away easily. The Dodgers will be glad to come back home where a pop up to short isn’t a home run to left. The temperatures will be cooler, and it will feel like Dodger Stadium again.