Ask Dodgers slugger Freddie Freeman if he’s worried about facing the San Diego Padres in the NLDS after they finally gelled at Citi Field, in more ways than one. No, seriously, ask him. Then ask again.
Imbued with the confidence of a reigning World Champion, Freeman knows how the postseason tournament usually goes. He knows the best team doesn’t always win. He knows the “best team” on Aug. 1 may limp into October, while the “best team” on Sept. 29 may be someone you never expected.
He also knows the 2022 Dodgers have been hot from open to close, from curtain up to curtain call. There’s something special in Hollywood, and with all due respect to the Padres and their deadline dealings, Freeman has every right to feel confident, no matter the opponent.
This year’s Dodgers model won 111 regular-season games and joined the first-ever class of beneficiaries of the first-round bye, sitting through a best-of-three at Citi Field and recharging ahead of a prove-it postseason.
If you hooked Freeman up to truth serum, he’d probably say the Dodgers were actually thankful that the Padres were able to knock off the 101-win Mets and their “fearsome” pitching staff. Hot is hot, but the Dodgers still have every right to believe they’re better, as Freeman articulated Monday evening.
Dodgers star Freddie Freeman and his team have been hot for seven months. Who cares about the Padres?
While this might be the Padres’ peak, there’s still no reason to doubt the Dodgers’ pedigree or preparation.
After all, the Padres entered every series with the Dodgers this year breathing similar fire, and came up short repeatedly. In all, the Padres went 5-14 against their LA foes, but the series most applicable to this particular instance came at Dodger Stadium just after the trade deadline. The Pads had reloaded and then some, securing Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury … and still got three-game swept, falling 8-1, 8-3, and 4-0.
If the Dodgers can withstand that en route to a history-making regular season, they can certainly outlast Mike Clevinger, slated for Game 1 after the previous series went the distance.
Freeman is typically soft-spoken, and likely won’t provide anymore bulletin board material. But when you’re hot, you know you’re hot. These games could easily go down to the wire, but when that moment of truth approaches, only one team knows what crossing the finish line looks like.