It's official. The Dodgers bringing Kiké Hernández back midseason was not enough to recapture their 2017-2020 postseason mojo. Noted.
Coming off a 111-win season that ended in four games against the Padres in the NLDS, the Dodgers vowed that this year would be different. They claimed they'd perfected a finely-hewn mix of superstars and glue guys. Dino Ebel spoke about how much more ready this version of the Dodgers was, as compared to last year's vintage, for a playoff tussle. They weren't perfect, but goddammit if they weren't ready to scratch and claw.
Then, Clayton Kershaw gave up six runs in the first inning of Game 1 and things went inarguably worse than last year from there.
The 2023 Dodgers rolled downhill with the velocity of a rocket-powered boulder the literal second the curtain rose on the National League playoffs. And while there were plenty of calculable reasons for their struggles -- Mookie Betts/Freddie Freeman went 1-for-21, they were three or four starters short -- intangibles likely played a role, too.
Following LA's playoff deflation, there was too thick an air of, "The Dodgers do this every year" for our taste. No. The Dodgers do not do this every year. The Dodgers have gotten immeasurably worse since allowing a fleet of their most proven postseason performers to depart, then replacing them with Jason Heyward and Kolten Wong.
5 former Dodgers who were missed during 2023 playoff disaster
Ok, but seriously: How was Justin Turner not on this team?
Instead of keeping the Dodgers together in 2023 as they threatened to spiral after 2022's clattering thud, Andrew Friedman allowed Turner to head to Boston, where he specialized at driving in runners from third with less than two outs. He was nearly automatic before his troublesome foot caught up with him down the stretch, knocking in 96 runs and embodying the bounce-back ethos Boston intended to be team-wide this past season.
Friendly reminder: Turner was injured mid-series in the 2021 NLCS against the Braves, and watching him scream and hobble to the clubhouse couldn't have helped team morale during their title defense.
Yes, he did hit .154 in the Dodgers' NLDS loss last fall, and hey, sometimes you have to make tough decisions and move on from valued veterans to upgrade a roster. That's why it made sense that Friedman said goodbye to Justin and Trea Turner in order to welcome ... wait, David Peralta and Miguel Vargas? Are we sure that's right? Max Muncy at third, a Gavin Lux promotion ... yeah, Captain Hindsight says moving on from Turner for a bunch of unproven commodities wasn't a great idea. Captain In-The-Moment agrees.