As the Dodgers kick off their seventh straight postseason, expectations are high…as is fan anxiety. One reason for this isn’t just the many heartbreaks the Dodger faithful have endured. It’s that so many of these heartbreaks seem to be dished out primarily by one-man shows.
It’s one thing when you just get beaten by a better team. But far, far too often, it feels like the Dodgers are victimized by one player who suddenly explodes for a dominant performance. It’s humbling to acknowledge, but true.
After setting eyes on a Washington Nationals roster laden with former Dodgers and several known “Dodger killers,” the anxiety heightens.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players, whether already postseason villains or not, who have the potential to make October miserable for Los Angeles in 2019.
Even the best teams have that one pitcher who’s got their number, thus making it imperative to avoid him. (See: The 1986 New York Mets and Mike Scott.) Like Robbie Ray two years ago, Patrick Corbin is the ace the team must rewrite the script against.
Corbin, like Ray, shut down the Dodgers often in Arizona. This is no doubt why the Nationals signed him, and he validated it with a shutdown performance against L.A. this season. Let’s not let him get another tonight.
Alright, now time for some pain. Just when you thought he was gone, Matt Adams is back. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years exactly since game 4 of the 2014 NLDS in St. Louis. Clayton Kershaw was cruising, and no lefty had ever hit a home run off his signature curveball. Then the seventh….
Look, just click this link if you want to relive the gory details. I can only post so much in this article without snapping, as I’m saving a clip for the last (and arguably worst).
Unfortunately, Adams isn’t the only National who’s an enemy from years past. Gerardo Parra has been a source of irritation as far back as 2011, when his late-season antics for the playoff-bound Diamondbacks set off some fireworks at Dodger Stadium.
He hasn’t slowed down in 2019, launching a grand slam off Dylan Floro in May. Lastly, he just has the face of a hate-able Dodger Killer. It’s like if you took the visages of Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino and flattened them together with a waffle fryer. Look at it!
Strasburg, Corbin, and Scherzer? I'll get the booze. I'm forgetting someone… pic.twitter.com/jO2q8lOcFw
— AJ Gonzalez? (@AJontheguitar) October 2, 2019
God, kill me already. Just the mention of Springer’s name and my mind cues up a montage of soaring home runs more lengthy than the extended Lord of the Rings movies. At least Reggie Jackson saved most of his five homers in 1977 for game 6…Springer’s fiver 40 years later were more spread out, coming at the exact worst time in each game (save for game 4).
Calling him a villain honestly feels a little off, as he’s actually a very good person. He was even gracious towards the Dodgers in his MVP acceptance speech. (Hear that, Josh Reddick?) That doesn’t mean we want to see him again at the end of this month.
Being a dual Twins-Dodgers fan, this…is kind of awkward for me to write. On the one hand, Gonzalez’s home run off Kenley Jansen in the 2017 World Series painfully flashes in my mind on an almost daily basis (and I didn’t even watch it live!). If there’s one image that defines October nightmares in the Ravine, it’s his perfect swing finding that (then) rare Jansen cutter that didn’t cut.
On the other hand, in case you forgot…Marwin isn’t an Astro anymore. He signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason, and has been a core member of the AL Central Champion Bomba Squad. His consistent hitting and sound defense have been especially important with the frequent injury of Byron Buxton.
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) September 26, 2019
So if we do end up with my dream 1965 rematch, don’t be surprised if Marwin has a chance to gut our hearts again. Except mine, technically…alright, this is getting awkward. Moving on!
My original idea for this article was to rank the top 10 Dodger Postseason Villains of All-Time. In that draft, I had this bozo second only to Reggie Jackson. You don’t need me to remind you why Gurriel is a villain, bringing a wholly unnecessary dose of bigotry to an otherwise great World Series.
The worst part is he backed his bigotry up with huge home runs, the first off Yu Darvish in game 3 (obviously) and then more painfully his game-tying blast off Clayton Kershaw in game 5. The thought of seeing him again this October is stomach-churning; even worse is him celebrating on our field again. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen either way.
Of all the players in the postseason, this is the granddaddy of Dodger Killers. Matt Carpenter is the personification of Cardinal Devil Magic: infuriatingly nondescript in demeanor, but utterly ruthless in terms of playing ability. You need no reminder that this era, which started with Clayton Kershaw cementing his regular season immortality, and also crashing to earth with his humiliations at the hands of the St. Louis salsa-maker.
First was the epic battle in game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, where Carpenter fouled off pitch after pitch from Kershaw in the bottom of the third. Finally, he roped the 11th pitch for a double into the right field corner that started an avalanche of Cardinal runs. An ugly outing for Kershaw, but seemingly an aberration at the time.
Then…2014. This time, the Dodgers had home field advantage in an NLDS rematch. Kershaw, after a season for the ages, was cruising into the seventh inning. Then he started to unravel, loading up the bases for Carpenter, who fouled off a million more pitches. You know what comes next:
Be ready, Dodgers Nation…