The Los Angeles Dodgers’ dream season ended up being a nightmare, with the team losing in the National League Division Series in four games to the San Diego Padres. 111 wins in the regular season, as well as a run differential of +334 (not seen since before the integration of baseball) ultimately meant nothing in October.
Just like there are numbers to explain the Dodgers’ regular season success, there are surely more that explain why the Dodgers are done for the year. Right? … Right?!
The Dodgers hit four home runs in the series. That’s a serious power shortage for a team that was third in the league with 212. All four home runs were with the bases empty and came in the first two games, but the Dodgers could not hit a single home run after the third inning of Game 2.
22 innings without hitting a home run is a recipe for disaster, especially if you’re leaving men on base in crucial situations. It’s likely that if the Dodgers had hit a home run or two with men on base, they would have swept the series instead of losing it.
Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, and Tyler Anderson went five innings each in this series. That’s kind of what you want out of your starters. None left the game while losing, but ultimately this may have put too much stress on the bullpen.
Game 4 was probably the most egregious example. Anderson had gone five innings and had only thrown 86 pitches, and yet Dave Roberts decided to ask his bullpen to get 12 outs. It didn’t work, and it blew up in the Dodgers’ face. At some point, you have to let your starters go and let the bullpen rest.
It’s the hitting, stupid!
Mookie Betts: .143/.278/.214/.492 1 RBI
Cody Bellinger: .143/.143/.143/.286 0 RBI
Justin Turner: .154/.313/.154/.466 0 RBI
Will Smith: .188/.176/.313/.489 2 RBI
Nobody hit. Not with men on base. Not with the bases empty. The Dodgers big guns could not come through when it meant the most. Credit the Padres’ pitching but, frankly, the Dodgers’ approach was terrible. When a shot to the outfield could have wielded a run, the Dodgers popped up in the infield, and when the Dodgers needed a ground ball to the right, it was a double play ball to the left. When a strikeout was the worst possible outcome, they were flailing at air.
I don’t know why the team struggled with their bats, but it’s been an all too common occurrence in October for the Dodgers.
It could be Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrián González, or Corey Seager. The leaves fall in autumn, and if you give a Dodgers All-Star a bat, they don’t know how to wield it.
Does Dave Roberts make terrible decisions? Sure. But when it comes down to it … “It’s the hitting, stupid!”