It wasn’t the fairytale ending for the magical 2017 Dodgers, but this team was victorious in some ways that are just as or maybe more important than a Championship. To begin with, the Dodgers should not be ashamed of losing such a bizarre World Series. Instead, everyone should focus on how this team changed the culture of Dodgers baseball.
Obviously, losing a World Series is not fun for the Dodgers. Dropping it in Game 7 makes it even more bitter. Losing the World Series for the 13th time in 19 total appearances, and failing to win it for the first time in 29 years is a pill that can’t be swallowed. There’s no excuse for losing, but when you taking a closer look at how unusual this series was, it makes it a little easier to cope.
For starters, (no pun intended) the Dodgers won both games in which Dallas Keuchel started, and one of the two Justin Verlander started. To take three out of four games started by the opposing team’s top pitchers is an accomplishment in itself and should end up in a World Series ring.
However, it didn’t, and that’s because the Astros did the same thing against the Dodgers. They split the two games which Clayton Kershaw started, and won both games Yu Darvish started. And since technically Rich Hill was the number two starter in the playoffs, they also split his two games. Out of the eight starting pitchers this series, the bottom four in ERA are who many would call the “top two” for each team, with Justin Verlander the only one below 4.00.
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Another anomaly of this World Series was the fact that there was were two extra-inning games, one of which ended 13-12, with both teams leading by four runs at some point in the game. The other extra-inning game was perhaps the most pivotal.
The infamous decision by Dave Roberts to pull Rich Hill after only four innings set off a chain reaction that the Dodgers could not recover from. By pulling Hill early, the bullpen was stretched for not only Game 2 but the entire series. No one should blame Roberts for this decision, however, because it is what he’s done the entire postseason. In fact, this series in general saw starting pitchers pulled before they faced the opposing lineup for the third time.
Roberts’ fault was that he overused Brandon Morrow and brought Kenley Jansen in too early twice throughout the series. It’s understandable that the goal is to keep the game close, but you can’t win a seven-game series relying on two pitchers.
He also made a mistake in Game 7 when he didn’t have an arm ready after the first inning. Yes, you should ride your starter as long as possible, but in a Game 7, the plan is to empty the tank anyway. What difference does it make if Darvish goes one inning as opposed to two? Ultimately, it would not matter because the Dodgers offense went out quietly.
Speaking of the offense, this was probably the most bizarre factor of the World Series. For the Dodgers, their left-handed hitters (except Joc Pederson) struggled even to foul off pitches. What makes this strange is that they struggled off of the Astros’ right-handed pitchers.
On the other side, this is where the Dodgers could’ve won the series. The Astros only won because their right-handed hitters hit the Dodgers right-handed pitchers very well. Springer, Gonzalez, Correa, and Gurriel all hit over .300 against righties but all of their hitters hit under .300 against lefties. This hurt the Dodgers the most because the bullpen’s advantage was its ability to match up against hitters. Dave Roberts based his decisions on the common understanding of righty vs. righty and lefty vs. lefty. If this advantage held, the outcome of the series would’ve been very different.
Although the phrase associated with the Dodgers this year was “World Series or bust,” this season was not a bust. It hurts that such a fantastic team didn’t end up hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy, but having such an amazing team was a victory in itself. This team has changed the dynamics of the Dodger fanbase culture. No longer can we be associated with the stereotype that Dodger fans don’t really care about baseball and are the last to arrive and first to leave. We are loud, we are passionate, and we will be here next year