Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
The Diamondbacks may not be the best example for this lesson, but the Rangers' victory was largely due to their stellar pitching staff, led by Nathan Eovaldi. The Rangers actually had a similar pitching situation to the Dodgers: Jacob deGrom, the true ace of the staff was forced to miss the majority of the season due to an injury, like how the Dodgers were without Walker Buehler throughout 2023. However, the Dodgers and Rangers went in drastically different directions at the trade deadline.
The Rangers went extremely aggressive, trading prospects to acquire Jordan Montgomery and Scherzer to bolster the front end of their pitching staff. While Scherzer had his fair share of struggles with the Rangers (both in terms of injuries and performance), the Rangers brought him in as essential front-end help behind Eovaldi. Scherzer has lots of playoff experience, and while Montgomery had barely pitched in the postseason before 2023, he had pitched in many high-stress situations with the Yankees and Cardinals.
The Rangers have deGrom, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien signed for many years, and could have easily chosen to mail it in for the rest of the season, banking on next season being just as promising, but their aggression paid off in a massive way. While Scherzer's injuries prevented him from pitching in the Wild Card and Division Series (and then he struggled in two appearances in the ALCS), Montgomery tossed seven shutout innings against the Rays in the Wild Card round, and then pitched 14 innings in three appearances (two starts) against the Astros in the ALCS, surrendering just two earned runs. Even when Montgomery wasn't sharp, he provided much-needed length as a starter, covering up the biggest weakness of the Rangers' roster: the bullpen.