Coming into the NLDS it seemed like all we heard was how the D’Backs were the Dodgers’ kryptonite. Experts chimed:
“The Diamondbacks won the season series 11-8!”
“The Dodgers peaked at the wrong time.”
“Kershaw chokes and Robbie Ray can’t be stopped.”
Yeah, not so much. The Dodgers just swept Arizona and only trailed in 3 out of 27 innings. Here’s the lessons we learned:
The Dodgers are good. Like, really, really good. Not only did they win the series, they didn’t even seem worried at any point. Los Angeles is a baseball machine. Their lineup is composed of a few superstars like Kershaw, Seager, Jansen, Bellinger and Turner (whose OPS in October is over 1.000). But the majority of their lineup is composed of interchangeable parts that can be configured to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses. They even have the X-factor Yasiel Puig looking more locked-in than ever before. The Dodgers don’t just win, they systematically dismantle their opponents. Regardless of whom the Dodgers face in the NLCS, they should be the favorites.
The Diamondbacks aren’t good enough to beat the Dodgers right now, and they likely won’t be next year either. Los Angeles is younger, richer and just flat out better than Arizona. Better farm system? Dodgers. Better spending power? Dodgers. Better record? Dodgers.
Does this sound familiar? It’s remarkably similar to the Yankees and the Red Sox around the turn of the century. The Dodgers are playing the role of the Yankees with the giant payroll, the young stars and the new manager players would run through a wall for. The D’Backs as the Red Sox are the second fiddle in the division doomed to battle for the Wild Card for a chance to face Goliath in the playoffs.
Don’t worry Arizona, there is hope. After all, the Red Sox did eventually get over the hump in 2004. Goldschmidt, Pollock, Lamb and possibly J.D. Martinez comprise a formidible offensive core. Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray are an all-star 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Archie Bradley looking like a potential lockdown closer. And last, but not least, Torey Lovullo is the manager you’ve been looking for. The Dodgers may be a juggernaut, but aything can happen in the playoffs.
The one game Wild Card playoff does matter. The Colorado Rockies can definitely vouch for that. Beyond the obvious, the Wild Card game does take its toll. Greinke and Ray both had to pitch in the one-game playoff which made Taijuan Walker the Game 1 starter. Justin Turner promptly welcomed him to the playoffs with this three-run bomb. The Diamondbacks were gassed and it showed. If your starter doesn’t go 7 innings and you have to burn another starter, it could come back to bite you.
The Diamondbacks are a good team with a good manager. They should be commended for a remarkable turnaround season with a bright outlook going forward. But my biggest takeaway from the NLDS: The Dodgers should be the favorite going forward.