When you want something bad enough, NOTHING will get in your way. You’ll persevere through the hard times, find a way to triumph when the odds are stacked against you, and use every little trick up your sleeve to gain an advantage. The old saying goes; get knocked down nine times, get up 10.
The 2016 Dodgers team has been through the wringer; we’ve set the record for DL trips, our three-time Cy Young award winning pitcher of the millennium hurt his back and missed 60 days of baseball, and the boys in blue were a whopping eight games behind the first place San Francisco Giants at the all-star break; nobody thought we had a chance to make the playoffs, let alone win the National League West.
Yet, here we are; waiting for game three of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are tough and they’ve had their share of injuries, especially of late, but I feel confident that the Dodgers will prevail. Dodger rumors are that our starting pitching is deeper, we have more talent at every position and our bullpen will close the door on them, effectively making the games six innings long.
In the other divisional series, you have the 103 game winning Cubs, who predictably ran through most of MLB with a roster that would make most MLB The Show players jealous. They’re up 2-0 on the San Francisco Giants, of the ‘we only win on even year’ clan. But if you’ve watched any baseball in the last 5 years, you’re all too familiar with these guys and their penchant for winning in October.
This is why I say BRING ON THE GIANTS.
Yes, I’m jumping the gun. This should get published Sunday morning before Monday’s game three versus the Nationals, a worthy foe. Doesn’t matter. They’re decimated by injuries. They’re outmatched at almost every position. The Dodgers are deeper, we have better starting pitching and our relievers are the best in baseball. Let me make this clear:
BRING. ON. THE. GIANTS.
I don’t care about the even year voodoo. Madison Bumgarner does not scare me one bit. If the stars align and we face the Giants in the NLCS, the entire world will watch and Dodgers Nation will have front row seats.
The Chicago Cubs are hosting the Giants, anyone with a twitter account (or Colin Cowherd) has already given that series to the Giants. Crazy as that sounds, I have to agree; the Giants are hot, their starting pitching is as good as, if not better than the Cubs and the Chicagoans are led by 900 guys who are under 23 years old. None of them have done a thing in postseason play; I’ll let you google it, but I’m guessing outside of Jon Lester, nobody else has any World Series experience. They have all the talent in the world and I expect them to be around for a while, but my gut tells me San Francisco wins that series in six.
The Dodgers and the Giants play for the right to go to the world series? DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT? To be the best, you have to beat the best, and there is NOTHING I want more than an opportunity to send San Francisco home ourselves.
From the latest Dodgers news, we’ll have home-field advantage. Our starting pitching can match theirs and our bullpen is light years ahead of that atrocity by the bay. I wrote a breakdown of Dodgers position players vs. Giants position players in the middle of July:
I’ll summarize: we have a deeper pool of players, both starting and coming off the bench, and we can move several pieces around to fit any situation. For example, I saw a lot of people asking why Austin Barnes made the postseason roster as the third catcher; well, a few thoughts:
- A third catcher is huge; this means we can use the backup as a pinch hitter and still have someone on the bench who can catch if needed.
- Barnes can also play second, third and even in the outfield, if needed. The prototypical ‘utility’ fielder.
- He’s a rabbit on the base paths and speed kills, especially in the playoffs
Every Giant fan in the world likes to point out that they’ve won every even year since 2010 and let’s be honest, that’s impressive. World Series victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Down the stretch, when we clinched at home versus the Rockies, that last 3 game series up in San Fran became somewhat of an afterthought; it would be nice to beat them and keep them out. Instead we capitalized on the opportunity to get a feel for how guys like Rob Segedin and Brandon McCarthy were doing and if they deserved a spot in the first round. We got swept and what do you know… those even year clods beat up the shell of a Mets team and advanced to the NLDS. Whoopee.
This Dodgers team is different; we have three guys who have won the world series and two are key contributors, in Chase Utley and Joe Blanton. We can mash home runs, scatter base hits and sacrifice a run or two in and don’t get me started talking about how much better our bullpen is. The thing is, this is October baseball and that stuff may or may not matter.
What does matter is this; in early July, the Dodgers learned that they were going to be without their rock, Clayton Kershaw, for an extended period due to back problems. They were eight games behind the Giants and had every reason in the world to ease off the gas pedal…take it easy. What they did was quite the opposite; the Dodgers went on to play .700 baseball WITHOUT Clayton Kershaw, finding ways to win when their starter would go three innings and give up five earned runs and in the process, grew up. Sure, Corey Seager is a lock for NL Rookie of the Year and outside of east coast bias, is a legitimate MVP candidate. Say Kershaw starts two or three more games…his strikeout to walk ratio of 172 strikeouts to 11 walks, his 1.69 ERA, his .725 WHIP… a lock for a fourth consecutive Cy Young award.
This team learned to win games as a team. Every man on this roster contributed, right down to a rookie catcher like Austin Barnes, a rookie reliever like Grant Dayton or a rookie starter like Julio Urias. Bottom line: this team learned how to win and a fresh Clayton Kershaw who doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting, a lineup that can be juggled to face any adversity and the experience of enduring the season they just had and finishing on top is why I not only feel like the Dodgers are world series bound, but we’ll roll right over those even year clowns from up north.