After their thrilling game five victory to close down Chavez Ravine, the Los Angeles Dodgers are one win from the World Series. Still, that win must take place for this post not to become quickly obsolete. Should it happen (when, right?), a series Most Valuable Player will be named for the 2018 NLCS.
Uniquely, no one player stands out as of yet to garner this honor. Uniquely, the Dodgers have almost prevailed through this round of the playoffs without one single player leading the charge. Although this may be true – several players have put themselves in position to take the hardware – with a dark-horse possibility remaining.
Let’s take a look at a few candidates.
Ryu will get the ball in game six in Milwaukee on Friday night. Now, it’s important to remember that Ryu did not get the win or pitch in dominating fashion in game two. However, like a first-time candidate on a regular season MVP ballot; the pitcher who can close out a series in dominating fashion seems to garner extra attention.
Ryu went 4.2 innings in game two with four strikeouts and no walks. He allowed two earned runs in a game that the Dodgers slipped away with on Justin Turner’s big home run. Ryu will need to be dazzling to take this award on Friday night.
Machado could lose some favor because he has played this series mired in much controversy. There was the incident with his lack of hustle early in the series, and his face-off with Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar. Those things will be fresh on most minds – but Machado has had a nice series offensively in a quiet manner. He leads Dodger regulars with a .316 average and .935 OPS through the first five games. He’s doubled, homered, and scored a team high four runs to go along with two walks. Machado scored the winning run in the thrilling game four marathon.
Personally, I believe a decent game six in Milwaukee could win Machado this award fairly easily. Without question, winning an NLCS MVP would be a nice credential to the resumé if Machado is planning to enter the free agency market in a few weeks.
The sentimental favorite in many Dodgers’ fans minds has a decent shot at winning the series MVP if he can close out the series with a big moment. Turner helped swing the series in game two with his home run off Jeremy Jeffress. A multi-hit game would make his stats culpable enough that he should be in consideration. His reputation in October will have the media and others looking towards him to have any type of moment that could be considered a ‘close-out’ moment. He’s played a phenomenal infield defensively all series, with too many slick plays to even reference a single one.
Ah, yes. Everyone loves the guy who emerges out of nowhere to steal the show. Any number of players: Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen, Austin Barnes, Chris Taylor or even Pedro Baez could theoretically take this with a huge finish in the last game or two of this series.
One could make the argument that the ‘field’ in this race is stronger than the lead candidates referenced above them. That’s what will make this small storyline interesting if the Dodgers can handle their business and close out the NLCS in advancing to their second straight World Series appearance.
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