Mistakes? Mistakes?! The 106-win 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t make any mistakes, buddy! They were bested by a once-in-a-lifetime campaign orchestrated by the San Francisco Giants.
Yes, partially. But the Dodgers’ holes became evident when the postseason rolled around and it was clear some offseason misses contributed to that. After all, you’re not playing for 106 wins! It’s all about the World Series title. And though going back-to-back is extremely difficult, the Dodgers fell short yet again in October.
Injuries, unforeseen regressions and off-the-field issues played a role, but almost every team deals with those occurrences on a yearly basis. It’s all about preparing yourself so you can weather the storm when they actually do happen. And that’s where the Dodgers made their biggest miscalculation.
Some might say the Atlanta Braves were a team of destiny, but a more capable Dodgers roster likely would’ve dispatched them with relative ease. Though the National League has weakened a bit as the lockout has mostly featured subtractions, the Dodgers aren’t exactly in a great spot having lost Corey Seager and Max Scherzer while also facing uncertain futures with Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen.
The post-lockout frenzy is going to be one for the ages and we have no doubt the Dodgers are prepared. However, they’re going to have to avoid these three miscues from last offseason or 2022 might feature an even earlier playoff exit.
2021 mistakes Dodgers need to avoid for next season.
3. Take the Bullpen More Seriously
If we’re to properly analyze the Dodgers’ 2021 bullpen, the prevailing sentiment would be that they got a bit lucky. Kenley Jansen experienced a 180 bounce back in his age-33 season. Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia emerged out of nowhere. Jimmy Nelson and Corey Knebel held their own when they were available. They got a nice year out of Joe Kelly, but he either won’t be here in 2022 or will be on the mend from a shoulder injury.
Now, with Knebel gone too and Jansen not expected to return (if we are to believe reports), the Dodgers need to take the bullpen more seriously than ever. Each year it just feels like the front office is putting bandages on gushing wounds and the ‘pen is continuously shaky outside of a few stable arms.
If they had added one more reliable lefty or hadn’t banked on Tommy Kahnle making an expedited return from Tommy John surgery, maybe the unit wouldn’t have been terribly exhausted after the starting rotation took hit after hit as the season progressed. Just imagine if Bickford, Vesia, Mitch White and the combo of Nelson and Knebel hadn’t been as good as they were? Then we’re talking unmitigated disaster.
So far the Dodgers added Daniel Hudson this offseason, expect Kahnle back at full strength, and liked what they saw out of Justin Bruihl and Evan Phillips. Those four will be tasked with supplementing the losses of Kelly, Knebel, Nelson (who had season-ending elbow surgery in August) and potentially Jansen. Is that enough?
No, it’s not. Going to need another signing and maybe a few trades here to avoid playing musical chairs in late September.