After storming back to win the NL West title and reaching the NLCS in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered 2014 as World Series favorites. Clayton Kershaw called it ‘World Series or bust’ season, and didn’t back off his comments when given the opportunity.
The Dodgers ultimately fell short and technically took a step back as they were eliminated in Game 4 of the NLDS. Despite not reaching their goal, manager Don Mattingly said he’s proud of his team, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished this year. You always hear the talk of the payroll and stuff. To me, this is part of a building process for us. This was a different season from last year. Even looking at the playoffs, I don’t think we made an error in the series. They got the key hit, made the key pitch. We didn’t get the key hit or make the key pitch. We got beat. We didn’t beat ourselves. The year before, we were throwing the ball all over. This year, we got beat.”
Following their final loss of the season, Matt Kemp also credited the St. Louis Cardinals for delivering in key moments, which ultimately propelled them to a series win. Kemp’s season got off to a slow start and it included a strenuous stretch when he was benched and moved out of center field.
After a move to left field didn’t pan out, Kemp was placed in right and emerged as a major threat for the Dodgers in the middle of the lineup. Other positives included Adrian Gonzalez, who finished with the MLB lead in RBIs and Clayton Kershaw, who finished with the lead in several pitching statistics.
As for Mattingly, he’s faced scrutiny since the Dodgers were eliminated but it may not influence him for 2015. Mattingly met with president and CEO Stan Kasten Thursday, and said after their meeting he assumes he’ll return as manager next season.