After reaching the 2013 NLCS, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered this season under expectations of at minimum, accomplishing the same feat.
The Dodgers currently hold the best record in the National League and are a heavy favorite to reach the World Series. Clayton Kershaw was a guest on ESPN’s The Herd With Colin Cowherd and said the Dodgers learned defeat last season and anything short of a World Series ring this year would be a failure.
Manager Don Mattingly agreed with Kershaw’s belief, though added a caveat, according to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
You have to say that as a player and I have to say that as a manager,” Mattingly said. “If him and [Zack] Greinke and [Hyun-Jin] Ryu go down, I think, ‘World Series or bust,’ seems kind of silly, right? There are factors in there, but for me I think you have to look at it like that’s what you’re trying to accomplish, and I think that’s a realistic possibility.”
Despite suffering numerous injuries to key contributors, the Dodgers have played well enough to reach 16 games above .500. Entering Tuesday, the Dodgers held a 1.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL and led the NL West by 5.0 games.
The trio of Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu is a combined 39-15 and all but Greinke have spent time on the disabled list.
Along with injuries, Mattingly has also been tasked with juggling a crowded outfield for a second consecutive season. Whereas injuries in 2013 made it somewhat of an easier balancing act, the Dodgers outfielders have generally remained healthy this season.
Matt Kemp went through a period where he was benched and removed from center field and now anchors right field with Yasiel Puig taking over in center. The Dodgers haven’t duplicated the 42-8 run that propelled them to the top of the standings, but they have shown a better ability to avoid extended losing streaks.
Dodgers Foam Parties Will Continue