The Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Washington Nationals in game one of the NLDS Friday, Oct. 7. And after all the ups and downs the team had during the season, it’s nothing short of amazing that they are where they are.
Halfway through the season the Dodgers looked dead in the water. With players dropping left and right, the Dodgers scrambled to replace them on the roster. If we were to list all the injuries the Dodgers suffered throughout the season, you’d probably get bored reading it halfway through. So to save you time, we’ll just tell you that the Dodgers tied the MLB record for the most players on the disabled list.
There were a lot of decisions made before and during the season that weren’t popular with many of the fans. However, Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Dodgers office proved why they’re getting paid the big bucks and the rest of us aren’t.
Here are the biggest moments of the 2016 season that led to the Dodgers winning the NL West and why they’re in a position to contend for a championship.
December 8th, 2015 – Zack Greinke signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks
Last season, Zack Greinke went 19-3 with just a 1.66 ERA. He also finished second in the voting for the National Cy Young Award.
The baseball world expect the Dodgers to do everything they could to lock up Greinke. But then the Arizona Diamondbacks happened. Arizona pulled the rug out from under the Dodgers and gave Greinke a six-year $206.5 million deal.
Greinke responded with a 13-7 record and an ERA of 4.37. The Diamondbacks’ offseason spending resulted in a 69-93 record, good for fourth in the NL West. The Dodgers even had their fun with Grienke during a Sept. 5 meeting with the D-Backs.
December 31st, 2015 – Dodgers Sign Scott Kazmir
After losing Greinke, the Dodgers needed to find someone to replace him. They started with left-handed, Scott Kazmir.
They gave Kazmir a three-year deal but with an opt-out clause at the end of the 2016 season.
This season, he compiled a 10-6 record with an ERA of 4.56. Kazmir also spent time on the disabled list this season.
January 8th, 2016 – Dodgers sign Kenta Maeda
In January the Dodgers took a chance on the risky Kenta Maeda. They gave him an eight-year deal despite worries about his right elbow.
With Kazmir and Maeada signed along with their young batch of pitchers, the Dodgers felt they had done enough to replace Greinke.
They would get their wish from the rookie starter. Maeda went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA. He even went yard in his first major league start against the San Diego Padres.
May 27th, 2016 – Julio Urias’s first start
Speaking of young pitchers, the Dodgers started the youngest since 2005. And the youth of Julio Urias showed in his first game.
Julio Urias didn’t even last three innings as he gave up three runs with five hits and four walks. He didn’t get his first win until June 28th, when he faced the Milwaukee Brewers.
Despite his early struggles, Urias finished the regular season with a 5-2 record, and earned his spot on the Dodgers’ postseason roster.
June 16th, 2016 – Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal get into an altercation
To add a little drama to the season, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal decided to get into an argument in the dugout after Grandal almost made huge base-running mistake.
With Joc Pederson on third and Grandal on first, Turner hit a fly ball deep enough to left field to score Pederson. However, Grandal tagged up as well and was nearly tagged out before Pederson crossed home plate.
Apparently Turner had some words for Grandal, and they had to be separated by teammates. The story has a happy ending though, as the two players were apparently able to make up after the incident.
Turner, similarly: "stuff happens, it happens, you move on from it." pic.twitter.com/NjnC6w81Jl
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) June 17, 2016
June 30th, 2016 – Clayton Kershaw goes on the disabled list
This is the day that the Dodgers’ biggest nightmare happened. Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back.
The nightmare only got worst as Kershaw was then transferred to the 60-day DL list just a few days later. This is when it looked the darkest for the Dodgers.
July 12th, 2016 – The point when the Dodgers came back alive
This isn’t an exact date of when the Dodgers started to gain ground on the San Francisco Giants, but it’s a good place to start.
Going into the all star game, the Dodgers were four games back behind the Giants. After the break is when the Dodgers put on their hard hats and started to make their slow climb to the top.
July 19th, 2016 – Hyun-Jin Ryu goes on the DL
The injury woes continue for the Dodgers. Despite only making one start for the team this season, the Dodgers were looking forward to his return.
After another lost pitcher, the Dodgers were forced to find another fix for the injury
August 1st, 2016 – The Dodgers trade for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick
Some relief has finally arrived. The Dodgers sent some pitching prospects over the Oakland Athletics in exchange pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick.
Unfortunately the relief was short-lived as Hill was shipped onto the DL almost immediately after joining the team.
It made sense to acquire Hill, but why Reddick? It all came together the next day.
August 2nd, 2016 – Yasiel Puig demoted to triple-A
After failing to trade Yasiel Puig at the deadline, the Dodgers sent him down to the minors. The coaches were getting fed up with the outfielder’s behavior and tried one last attempt to straighten him out.
Puig’s future with the team looked uncertain at this time, and no one was really sure if this would finally be the wake up call he needed.
August 17th, 2016 – Dodgers earn first place in the NL West
After a slow and long climb, the Dodgers finally caught the sliding Giants. Whether it was the Giants struggling or the Dodgers excelling is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the ailing Dodgers were able to overcome all the obstacles they had faced so far.
August 24th, 2016 – Rich Hill makes his Los Angeles debut
Ah, finally the cavalry is here. Rich Hill made his first start for the Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants.
Hill threw six scoreless innings and got the win. It was a great thing to see for Dodger fans.
August 25th, 2016 – A.J. Ellis is traded
In a stunning move, the Dodgers swapped catchers with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers traded the longest tenured Dodgers, as well as a fan favorite, A.J. Ellis for Carlos Ruiz.
It’s not hard to see why the Dodgers made the trade, but it was still hard on both the fans and the players.
Ellis described Kershaw as "shocked" by the trade. The two men wept together, he said.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) August 25, 2016
September 2nd, 2016 – Yasiel Puig returns
After spending the month of August conquering the minors, the Dodgers decided to call up Puig.
The elephant in the room was the fact that the Dodgers proved they didn’t want him anymore, but Puig still went out and played his game.
In his first game against the San Diego Padres he went 2-4 with two singles, but the Dodgers lost the game 4-2.
Sepetember 3rd, 2016 – Dodgers call up Jose De Leon
In a move that a few people would call a long time coming, the Dodgers finally called up right-hander Jose De Leon.
After a plethora of injuries at pitcher, many were scratching their heads wondering what took so long to make this move.
De Leon was an accomplished pitcher in the minors, and the Dodgers decided to start the young pitcher the next day against the Padres. He rewarded the team for their decision as he got the win.
September 9th, 2016 – The return of Kershaw
After not pitching in a meaningful game for over two months, Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound against the Miami Marlins.
If we’re being honest, he didn’t have a great game as he gave up two runs and five hits in a game that the Dodgers would eventually lose 4-1.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, Kershaw’s return did wonders to the team’s morale and overall attitude.
September 19th, 2016 – Puig and Madison Bumgarner get into it
Don’t you just love rivalries?
After Madison Bumgarner fielded a groundball and threw Puig out at first pace, the two players had some words for each other.
This led to the benches clearing for both teams. It’s always great to get fired up right before the playoffs after a long season.
It also gave us the quote “Don’t look at me” and that led to a lot of entertainment on the internet.
September 25, 2016 – Charlie Culberson = Walk Off Hero
On the last day of Vin Scully weekend, the Dodgers had the chance to take the National League West division from the San Francisco Giants with a win over the Colorado Rockies.
So who was the hero for the Dodgers? None other than former Rocky and Giant player Charlie Culberson! His home run in the bottom of the 10th inning sealed the deal for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are looking to build on the roller coaster that has been the 2016 season in hopes of capturing a World Series crown.