The sudden and shocking end to the Dodgers season proved that the MLB regular season is no longer relevant. Yes, you have to win to get to October (sorry, Pittsburgh Pirates fans), but how many wins you pile up just doesn't matter anymore.
How Dodgers can Survive and Advance in 2023 season
The 162-game season is still a grueling grind that can be like a war of attrition, but thanks to the watered-down postseason, surviving to October requires more luck than manpower these days.
Last year, the Padres and eventual National League champion Philadelphia Phillies both missed their superstar players for a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, a fairly healthy Dodgers team cruised all season.
Yet, when October arrived, it was the 87-win Phillies and 89-win Padres that tasted champagne, unlike the apparent juggernaut Dodgers. This season, the Dodgers will look significantly different without Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and pitcher Tyler Anderson, all contributors to last year's record-breaking season.
In order to survive until October, the Dodgers will need newcomers Jason Heyward, Miguel Rojas, and JD Martinez to pick up where the departed players left off. Prospects James Outman and Miguel Vargas will be thrust into starting roles as well. If 88 wins is still the magic number, then a collective effort from newcomers and rookies will be part of the equation.
It may be March still, but when it comes to the Dodgers, it's never to early to talk about October. In the last 10 seasons, no team in Major League Baseball has won as many games as the Dodgers in the regular season (931).
Players have come and gone, different managers and different front office personnel have constructed winners at will. Yet, for all of their regular season glory, October has been nothing but misery, resulting in one World Series win that will be questioned at every turn.
Expectations in 2023 should be no different; it's "October or Bust." The players leading the way who form the new "Core Four," Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, and Will Smith, will dictate how far this team will go in the fall. If the Dodgers want to advance and collect the Commissioner's Trophy, then look for those four to lead the way.