Dodgers' season unceremoniously ended as their $527 million superstars go missing

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three / Elsa/GettyImages

Well, that happened fast.

Just over one week after the team celebrated its 100th win for the fourth consecutive 162-game season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were sitting in the Chase Field dugout with stoic looks on their faces as the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrated their NLDS sweep.

This marks the second year in a row that the Dodgers have lost in the NLDS to a division rival that they beat up on in the regular season. It is the team's sixth-consecutive postseason loss. Since 2019, the Dodgers have won just one playoff series that wasn't hosted in a neutral site with limited (or no) fans in attendance. It is the first time the team has been swept in a playoff series since 2006.

In simplistic terms, it was an utter embarrassment.

There were several factors to blame. Bad starting pitching that instantly put the team behind from the jump; an uninspired offense that looked like it completely abandoned its regular-season philosophy; a coach that could have pulled his third starter before he allowed his third or fourth home run in one singular inning.

But at the end of the day, most of the blame shouldn't be put on the starters (Bobby Miller and Lance Lynn didn't put the team in inescapable holes, after all). And it definitely should not be placed on Dave Roberts. The core of the blame for this utter embarrassment was the poor offensive showing, which was led by Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman did not show up for the Dodgers in the playoffs.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman were the best 1-2 bunch in baseball this season. The two future Hall of Famers are going to finish second and third in MVP voting in the National League, respectively. This was a Dodgers offense that scored 906 runs in the regular season — the second most in MLB.

In three NLDS games, the Dodgers scored six runs and none of them had anything to do with Betts or Freeman. Betts went 0-11, reaching base just one time via a walk. Maybe it should have been expected, as his MVP magic rubbed off late in September as he and the Dodgers started sleepwalking to the playoffs (again).

This continues a cold postseason streak for Betts, who has been borderline unplayable in the lineup since the 2021 NLCS. Betts is now six for this last 48 in the postseason (.125 batting average). He has no home runs, two RBIs and eight strikeouts in that span.

Freeman wasn't any better. He had the only hit for the $527 million duo, which was an infield single in Game 2 that might've been ruled an error if it wasn't a home scorer at Dodgers Stadium. The two hitters went a combined 1-21. Those two are the engine that drove this Dodgers offense all season. What should fans expect when that engine blows up?

The one singular moment that fans should remember from this series isn't the four home runs that Lynn allowed in one inning, or the horrible James Outman strikeout with the bases loaded in Game 2, or even the disastrous start by Clayton Kershaw in Game 1.

It should be the top of the eighth inning in Game 3 of the series. After the bottom half of the order rallied for two runs in the seventh, Betts and Freeman had a chance to flip the script. At the very least, they could have kept the season alive and lived to fight another day. Kolten Wong worked a walk to start the eighth inning, setting the table perfectly for Betts and Freeman. As they say, you can never walk a lead-off batter in the postseason. That is unless you have Betts and Freeman due up in the order.

Both stars struck out. Betts swung at a ball at his neck with a 2-1 count and then chased a breaking ball below the zone for the punch out. Freeman struck out on four pitches, whiffing at a slider below the zone and then a fastball out of the zone. He was thrown one borderline strike in the at-bat.

This memory will be burned in Dodgers fans' minds while the joy that was the 2020 World Series will continue to grow more and more distant. After yet another playoff disappointment, with this one being the most embarrassing yet, it is worth questioning just how legitimate that 2020 World Series really was.