Los Angeles, Calif. The Dodgers limp back to the West coast after a 7 game road trip to the East coast, having played 4 games in Miami and three hard-fought games with the Mets. Two of their three losses in those seven games came at the hands of the two best pitchers in the NL, if not the entire major leagues.
They faced Miami’s Sandy Alcántara, Azua, Dominican Republic, who pitched a complete game 2-1 win with 10 strikeouts last Saturday. Then they faced the Mets Jacob deGrom who went 7 innings in a 2-1 gem for a Mets win on Wednesday. Then just to add some more pain, they had to face the best closer in baseball, Edwin Díaz, Naguabo, Puerto Rico, who’s last pitch measured 103 mph to end Thursday’s game with a strikeout of Gavin Lux.
This was a test run of sorts for a team with the best record in baseball this year. They will be in the playoffs where they will face top quality pitchers almost every day. It has always been said that good pitching will beat good hitting every time. The past week the Dodger starters were very good. The problem was that three times the other team’s starters were better.
Clayton Kershaw went 5 innings Thursday, leaving with a 2-1 lead that was lost by the Dodger bullpen. It has been the only part of this club that has been, at times, unreliable this year. In these close games that’s a problem. Most playoff games are close. Getting the picture here? The Dodgers can be beaten in a short series if you have enough top of the line starters and a good bullpen. Not an easy task because the Dodgers have a very good pitching staff. But it could be done.
This is where it becomes interesting and also quite unpredictable. Teams are built first to win early and build a lead that will propel them into the post season. But the post season is a completely different turkey sandwich! The Yankees have become one team that falls into this category where they can win their division and fall short in the post season. The Dodgers have dominated the National League West for years yet have only won one World Series.
The Dodgers are deep so injuries have not been a big problem for them this year. But come playoff time all of that changes. My guess is that the Dodgers will still be the team to beat this year at the end. Just watch out for sleepers though. Like the Braves and Padres in the NL and Cleveland, Minnesota and Seattle in the AL.
For now the Dodgers, Mets and the their fans have gotten a good taste of what to expect in the next month.
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