The Dodgers had their best record ever in 2019, but the NLDS exit demonstrated just how unprepared the front office was for postseason baseball.
This year’s Dodgers, perhaps more than any from the past three seasons, did not have some of the most important components that the 2017 and 2018 teams had, even though they ultimately came up short too.
They did not have a firm grasp on which players would be playing thanks to rookies taking over in the infield and in the outfield. Matt Beaty and Gavin Lux both played well enough late in the year to earn playing time, but at the same time Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor both are more experienced in the playoffs and both have had success in the playoffs. Will Smith also struggled in his time, and Russell Martin could not take over for him outside of his exceptional Game Three.
The same sorts of problems came up on the mound. Kenley Jansen barely pitched, most likely due to a combination of his late-season drama and his past stamina problems late in the season. This led to a late-inning vacuum that Kenta Maeda’s beautiful outings could not completely fill, which led to Joe Kelly’s pitching for more than just three outs.
More importantly, this team had some clear deficiencies in areas where most playoff teams have strengths. In this article, I’ll go through the needs that really shined through after the rough early-October exit: a splits-free righty bat, a stretch reliever, and a reliable closer. Some of these options could maybe have been handled in-house, but for a variety of reasons that did not happen, which I’ll address as well.