Two things can be true:
2. This year's Dodgers team, battle-tested all year, appears to be rounding into form as the summer progresses, unable to rest on their laurels.
Lance Lynn has, uh, helped, too.
You might believe that absorbing slings, arrows, and lowered preseason expectations have gotten these Dodgers ready for the spotlight. You may also think the adjustments have been more tangible than intangible (Lynn's arrival, a healthy Max Muncy, dueling MVP seasons from Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts). Whatever your theory, the fact remains that these Dodgers have managed to distance themselves from a crowded NL West pack with a roster most didn't believe would reach an elite level back in March (and April, and May...).
Count third base coach Dino Ebel among the believers. Over the weekend, Ebel admitted that the varied approaches of the 2023 Dodgers have left them more prepared for a lengthy playoff run than their recent predecessors.
Dodgers coach Dino Ebel believes 2023 team is more ready for playoffs than 2022 Dodgers
Dino Ebel, hear no evil.
Any outcome would be better than the way the Dodgers' much-ballyhooed 2022 season ended, with pundits galore arguing the playoff bracket should be altered to give LA's 111-win outfit one more shot at redemption. That was a serious take, following the team's elimination at the hands of a Padres squad that was knocked out by a more exciting underdog story just one round later.
If last year's exit was worth anything long-term (and, hey, maybe it wasn't, it might be nice to just flush it, too), it seems to have reinvigorated the Dodgers' pursuit of chemistry-crafting veterans while they wait for the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes this offseason. For both budgetary and roster-building reasons, it was time for rookies like James Outman, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas to step up into starring roles. It hasn't worked out across the board, but ... that's why you try an entire wave of kids.
That's also why you import high-character guys (David Peralta), some of whom your most trusted championship-laden veterans can confidently vouch for (Jason Heyward). If Lynn has completed this rotation with total buy-in, the way he seems to have done, then Ebel's belief could be right on the money.
The 2023 Dodgers can win nailbiters. They can win slugfests. They can be dead one minute and thriving the next. There will be a playoff game where they need to get off the mat. There will be a playoff game where they're counted out. Good. What's unfamiliar about that?