Dodgers roundtable: After 111 wins, can they get the 11 most-important ones?

It’s been a paranormal season for the Dodgers, their franchise-record 111 wins incomes them home-field benefit during the postseason, which for them starts Tuesday evening towards the winner of the New York Mets-San Diego Padres wild-card collection. That best-of-three collection, with all video games slated for Citi Field, starts Friday.

Win all their video games at Dodger Stadium and Dave Roberts’ crew might be champions for the 2d time in 3 seasons.

In a roundtable dialogue moderated through Times baseball editor Hans Tesselaar, Times journalists Jack Harris, Jorge Castillo, Mike DiGiovanna and Bill Shaikin talk about the Dodgers’ possibilities as they pursue an 8th name of their historical past.

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Mets-Padres collection. Who do they fit up with higher?

Castillo: The Dodgers wish to play the Padres. San Diego is gifted. Manny Machado and Juan Soto are frightening. The beginning rotation is forged. But the Dodgers ruled their child brothers to the south this season, going 14-5.

Meanwhile, the Mets have an elite one-two pitching punch in Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, and that’s a very powerful in a five-game collection. Granted, neither one would get started a couple of sport in a five-game collection as a result of they’ll get started in the wild-card collection, however they would get started two video games and that implies two tricky demanding situations for the Dodgers.

Don’t omit: The Nationals have been brief on bullpen intensity in 2019, however they rode their peak 3 starters (Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin) and a couple of relievers to a five-game collection win over the Dodgers on their strategy to an not going World Series name. Chris Bassitt is a forged No. 3 for the Mets. Add Edwin Díaz, the superb nearer in the majors this season, and the Mets can briefly shorten video games.

DiGiovanna: The Mets, if truth be told. DeGrom and Scherzer give the Mets a powerful one-two pitching punch, however Padres ace Yu Darvish (5-1, 1.85 ERA in final six begins) and left-hander Blake Snell (2-1, 0.72 ERA in final 4 begins) were dominant of past due, new nearer Josh Hader hasn’t given up an earned run in his final 10 appearances, and if Soto will get sizzling in entrance of MVP candidate Machado, San Diego’s lineup might be higher than New York’s.

Harris: I believe the Padres are the more straightforward opponent for the Dodgers. They didn’t lose a unmarried collection to San Diego this 12 months. They stored the Padres lineup in take a look at — ahead of and after their commerce time limit frenzy. They’d even have more straightforward go back and forth to San Diego in a condensed time table (to not point out a most probably much less adverse street atmosphere).

If the Dodgers are dealing with the Mets in the NLDS, they’ll need to navigate a miles harder rotation and a crew that, regardless of faltering down the stretch to its department race, had sufficient firepower at the plate to win 100 video games.

Shaikin: The Dodgers are more likely to get started 3 left-handers, however the Mets (.246 batting reasonable/.716 OPS) and Padres (.245/.705) are in a similar way mediocre towards left-handers. If Mets outfielder Starling Marte can go back from a damaged finger, that might assist towards left-handers. It’s no longer such a lot a question of which crew the Dodgers face up to whether or not the Mets and Padres play a two- or three-game collection. If the Mets and Padres play 3, that might determine to take aces Scherzer and Darvish out of play for Game 1 towards the Dodgers and would put a No. 4 starter in play. The Padres’ most probably No. 4 starter, Mike Clevinger, used to be scratched from his final get started as a result of sickness, and a get started towards the Dodgers might be his first motion in 10 days.

Manager Dave Roberts celebrates after the Dodgers clinched the NL West title on Sept. 13 in Phoenix.

Manager Dave Roberts celebrates after the Dodgers clinched the National League West name on Sept. 13 in Arizona.

(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

The Dodgers gained the National League West in a runaway this season, in contrast to in 2021 when they battled the Giants to the final day for the department name. Will that assist them this postseason?

Castillo: One factor I’ll all the time have in mind from the playoffs final 12 months used to be flying to Atlanta from San Francisco the morning after the Dodgers beat the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS. I went from the airport directly to Truist Park the place the Dodgers had Justin Turner discuss to the media. Game 1 of the NLCS used to be the subsequent day. I used to be exhausted, and I have in mind considering, “If I’m this tired, then these guys must be running on fumes.”

And they have been. It confirmed in that Braves collection. Vying for the NL West crown till Game 162, taking part in in the wild-card sport, and going 5 video games towards the Giants left the Dodgers fatigued. That’s no longer an excuse. They had a vulnerable bench, they were given too lovely deploying their pitching, and the offense didn’t produce when wanted. But that onerous stretch didn’t assist.

That’s a ways of claiming they favor operating away with the department than final 12 months’s marathon. You may just argue they’ll have some rust for Game 1, however they’ve completed simply high-quality with a couple of days off in previous postseasons.

DiGiovanna: Definitely. Not simplest will they have home-field benefit, they can get started their two superb pitchers — Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw — in Games 1, 2 and 5, if essential, in the first spherical. If the left-handers needed to pitch in a wild-card collection, they’d get one get started apiece in the department collection. Five days off can even give Tony Gonsolin time to construct staying power in a simulated sport and their banged-up gamers (Chris Taylor, Dustin May, Blake Treinen) time beyond regulation to heal.

Harris: It no doubt gained’t harm. Since the get started of spring coaching, Dave Roberts and his gamers have referenced how wiped out they have been through the finish of final season through each the department race and the extra exhausting postseason trail they took as a wild-card crew.

This 12 months, it might be flipped, with the Dodgers no longer simplest attending to line up a rested pitching workforce, but additionally as a result of they may just face a Mets crew that got here up brief in its personal heated department race this 12 months.

Shaikin: Losing the 2021 race to the Giants intended the Dodgers had to make use of Scherzer in a wild-card sport — and that intended Scherzer may just get started simplest as soon as in the NLDS. In 2022, whilst the Dodgers can relaxation their pitchers upfront of the NLDS, Scherzer (or Darvish) would possibly simplest be capable of get started as soon as towards them. The Dodgers’ Game 1 starter may just get started a imaginable Game 5 on common relaxation. Of route, if the Dodgers don’t hit in the NLDS, we’ll say clinching a playoff spot with a month to move and resting for per week after the common season have been hazards, no longer advantages.

Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin pitches against the Rockies on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin pitched towards the Rockies on Monday, his first look in a significant league sport since Aug. 23.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

What will have to fear the Dodgers the maximum? The loss of a longtime nearer? The rotation after Urías and Kershaw? Or the loss of constant offense from the likes of Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger and a few others?

Castillo: The rotation after Urías and Kershaw is an even fear with out Walker (*111*), however the Dodgers will have to be capable of piece in combination innings between Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, and (possibly) Dustin May.

I believe the again finish of the bullpen — no longer simply the nearer — is the maximum urgent query. It’s no longer simply that the Dodgers don’t have a standard nearer after Craig Kimbrel’s demotion; the Red Sox in 2018 and the Dodgers in 2020 each proved a crew can win a World Series with out a longtime nearer assigned the 9th inning for each and every save scenario. The downside is the Dodgers may well be with out Treinen for a minimum of the NLDS — after already dropping Daniel Hudson, a veteran with World Series enjoy, for the season in June.

The Dodgers’ bullpen used to be statistically the superb in the majors this season. It would possibly no longer finally end up being an issue in any respect. But the Dodgers know the postseason and the common season aren’t the identical. Elite pitching beats elite hitting. Treinen, when wholesome, is elite. Kimbrel used to be meant to be.

Not having them of their roles has a domino impact. Instead of Treinen taking part in fireman, Evan Phillips, the crew’s peak reliever this season, may well be the one known as on to flee a bases-loaded jam in the 6th inning. Without Kimbrel last (if he makes the roster in any respect), Brusdar Graterol or Tommy Kahnle or Chris Martin or Alex Vesia may well be held till the 9th inning. The Dodgers may have choices. They would’ve had extra top-tier ones if Treinen and Kimbrel have been appropriate.

DiGiovanna: The loss of a longtime nearer. Phillips and Vesia were nice in setup roles, veteran Martin used to be a pleasant trade-deadline addition, and Graterol throws 100 mph, however there may be little or no that can get ready them for the pressure of retaining a one-run, ninth-inning lead — particularly in a adverse stadium — in a playoff sport.

Harris: I believe the rotation poses the greatest pitfalls. Urías and Kershaw are a forged 1-2 punch. Even with no set nearer, the Dodgers bullpen has a number of faithful intensity. The factor that would commute up the pitching workforce is brief outings from their Game 3 and four begins (most probably Anderson and Gonsolin).

If they aren’t getting period from the ones guys, it will tire out the remainder of the workforce, drive lesser pitchers into higher-leverage roles and create cascading dilemmas the deeper into the postseason they get (very similar to final 12 months, when it looked like the crew ran out of pitching through the finish).

Shaikin: The time table. The lockout-compressed postseason time table removes the standard off day between Games 3 and four of the NLDS and Games 5 and six of the NLCS. In concept, that are supposed to imply a crew wishes another starter than standard, and a deeper bullpen so the superb relievers don’t pitch, say, 4 days in a row. The Dodgers can mix’n’match, and the entrance place of job will believe unconventional tactics to deploy pitchers, however analytical voodoo isn’t a most well-liked change for (*111*) and May.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is hugged by a coach after winning the NLCS against the Dodgers on Oct. 23, 2021.

Last season, Freddie Freeman helped the Braves get rid of the Dodgers on the strategy to a World Series name. This season, he hopes to assist L.A. to a 2d championship in 3 seasons.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

What crew is the greatest danger to the Dodgers and why?

Castillo: The Atlanta Braves as a result of they would possibly simply be the superb crew in the National League. Yes, the Dodgers set a franchise list in wins. Yes, they gained the maximum video games through a National League crew since the 1906 Cubs gained 116. Yes, they compiled the superb run differential since the 1939 Yankees.

But the Braves, the protecting World Series champions, were simply as just right over the final 4 months. Let’s take a look at the groups’ information ahead of and because June 1:

Braves on June 1: 24-27 (-10 run differential)

Braves since June 1: 77-34, (+190)

Dodgers on June 1: 33-17 (+112)

Dodgers since June 1: 78-34 (+222)

The Dodgers’ run differential is awesome through an important margin, however the information are nearly an identical. They’re each nice groups. And every would relatively no longer face the different in the NLCS for the 3rd directly 12 months.

DiGiovanna: The Braves can slug with the Dodgers, their lineup boasting 8 gamers who’ve hit 15 homers or extra; they have a awesome bullpen, with two closers (Kenley Jansen, Raisel Iglesias) and 3 efficient left-handers (A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee, Tyler Matzek), and a rotation led through Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton that can pitch with the Dodgers.

Harris: A month in the past, I might have mentioned the Mets. But now, it’s the Braves.

Atlanta crushes lefties, no longer nice for a Dodgers crew with 3 southpaw starters. They have a deep pitching workforce, particularly in the bullpen the place they can try to exploit matchups towards the backside part of the Dodgers lineup. They even have the most threatening offense of some other NL crew, one that would put on down Dodgers pitching over the process a seven-game collection.

The Mets have a really perfect rotation, however gained’t be capable of reset it between the wild-card collection and NLDS. The Cardinals additionally hit lefties, however aren’t just about as enforcing on the mound. The Phillies have been the 6th seed for a reason why, with a shaky bullpen main their checklist of flaws. And the Padres, neatly, they didn’t beat the Dodgers as soon as in a sequence this 12 months — even after their flashy trade-deadline offers.

Shaikin: The Braves. In 2021, the Braves gained 88 video games, overcoming an eight-game deficit in June and rolling into October. In 2022, the Braves gained 101 video games, overcoming a 10½-game deficit in June and rolling into October. The Braves led the NL in domestic runs in the ultimate month, and for the season too. They don’t have Freddie Freeman and the injured Ozzie Albies, however they do have rookie stars Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider. They have Matt Olson, who changed Freeman in the beginning base and hit 34 domestic runs to Freeman’s 21. And, whilst the Dodgers mix’n’match the palms in the again finish in their bullpen amid the Craig Kimbrel implosion, the Braves may just deploy Iglesias — bought in a wage sell off from the Angels — in the 8th inning and outdated good friend and NL save chief Jansen in the 9th.

The Dodgers have had the biggest common season of their historical past. They are simplest the 5th crew to ever succeed in 111 wins. How disappointing would it not be if they have been to fall in need of profitable the World Series?

Castillo: Very. If they fall brief, they’ll have gained only one championship over 10 consecutive playoff journeys. That macro lens depicts a failure. The Dodgers have spent more cash on gamers than some other franchise over that decade. They will have to have a couple of name in 10 tries.

The Dodgers are the superb crew in Major League Baseball. There’s a six-month pattern dimension to end up it. But the postseason is a special beast that the Dodgers have had bother taming.

Results counsel the match has been a relative crapshoot since the MLB first expanded the area to 8 groups in 1994. The randomness simplest grew when two extra groups have been added in 2012.

Mathematically, it’s going to be harder for a crew to live to tell the tale the postseason this 12 months than ever (no longer together with 2020 when 16 groups made the playoffs) as a result of some other two groups have been added. The Dodgers — and the different peak two groups in every league — will obtain byes to the NLDS, however extra members equals extra variables.

Here’s the math: The Dodgers have a fifteen.1% likelihood of profitable the World Series this season, in line with FanGraphs. A 12 months in the past, they had a 16.6% likelihood although they didn’t win the NL West and needed to play in the wild-card sport. Probability suggests it is tougher to win a championship — having two 100-win NL groups in the Braves and the Mets in the method may be an element. And, in the finish, it gained’t subject. Not profitable the World Series can be an enormous sadness that might stain some other in a different way pristine season.

DiGiovanna: Extremely disappointing however no longer unexpected. The 111 wins is a mirrored image in their deep lineup and huge organizational pitching intensity, however it’s going to be tricky to win a name with out their ace ((*111*)) and a longtime playoff nearer and with 3 in their superb pitchers (Treinen, May, Gonsolin) reduced through accidents.

Harris: It would no longer simplest be vastly disappointing for the crew, but additionally most probably reignite the narrative that the Dodgers can’t end in October. Yes, they gained the 2020 name. But the concept of profitable just one World Series out of 10 consecutive postseason appearances — and none with any in their 4 100-win groups — would really feel like a ignored alternative to cement what would in a different way be one in every of baseball’s all-time nice dynasties.

Shaikin: Two years in the past, the Dodgers didn’t wish to gain Mookie Betts to win the NL West. They were given him to win the World Series, and they did. The Dodgers didn’t wish to signal Freddie Freeman to win the National League West this 12 months, however they were given him to win the World Series. It’s no longer all on Freeman, after all, and the Dodgers will have to be applauded for going all-in. The Angels would were thrilled to win a wild card. The Dodgers are right here to win the World Series.

Julio Urías and Austin Barnes embrace after the final out of Game 6 of the 2020 World Series.

Pitcher Julio Urías and catcher Austin Barnes embody after the Dodgers clinched the 2020 World Series championship towards the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington, Texas.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Complete this sentence: The Dodgers will end the postseason …

Castillo: … with their 2d World Series name in 3 seasons, beating the Houston Astros.

DiGiovanna: … similar to they did final October, with a six-game loss to the Braves in the NL Championship Series.

Harris: … struggling some other World Series heartbreak. I do assume the Dodgers win the pennant, buoyed through their lineup and buttressed with simply sufficient pitching. But, as referenced above, I believe they may just emerge from a doubtlessly long NLCS towards the Braves (and even the Cardinals, for that subject) worn down on the mound and not able to comprise a deadly lineup similar to the Astros or New York Yankees.

If the Dodgers breeze thru the NL (which may be very a lot imaginable), then it’s most certainly a special tale. But if they succeed in the Fall Classic with a top-heavy lineup and patchwork pitching workforce, they would possibly in any case face one impediment too tall to transparent.

Shaikin: … assembly the Braves in the NLCS, for the 3rd consecutive 12 months. For the 2d consecutive 12 months, the Braves win.

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