Dodgers: 3 red-hot LAD players who will make or break NL West chase

Adam Weinrib
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 18: Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 18, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 18: Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 18, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

1. Mookie Betts

Speaking of delivering at an elite level!

Mookie Betts, having an injury-plagued “disappointing” year, is currently walking around shedding flames after racking up 4.6 WAR. Good player!

In the second half, while battling injury concerns, Markus Lynn Betts has hit .330 with a .412 OBP and 1.019 OPS in 28 starts, and in his most recent 11-start stretch, he’s triple-slashed .356/.423/.556. In case you wrote off his contributions and balked at the aging curve in the first half (shame on you, weirdos), he’s looked like an MVP over the season’s final months — and just in time, too, considering the Dodgers are in an historic dogfight.

It goes without saying, but when the lights are brightest, stars need to be stars. The one differentiator, as the Giants have remained steadfastly in front all year long, has been the relative youth and vibrancy of the Dodgers’ star power when compared to what San Francisco is working with.

SF’s braintrust — and all the credit in the world to them — have mined the depths and squeezed as much juice as possible out of unheralded names, rotation bounce-backs, and aging stars like Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Betts doesn’t need the fountain of youth, and has channeled his age advantage over the course of a dominant few weeks.

What the Giants have done certainly goes beyond luck at this point, but the Dodgers’ roster features more in-their-prime stars, and those stars theoretically have the edge during an 11-game head-to-head. Plenty of this final surge will fall on Betts’ shoulders, which have proven able to carry the burden so far.

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