As MLB's postseason play began Tuesday night, staff writers Jason Clampitt and Joshua Gingrich debate whether or not the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the last team standing come October.
Los Angeles Dodgers will win the 2019 World Series
Joshua Gingrich | The Breeze
The Dodgers will win the World Series primarily because of their offense.
They’re in the top-10 of MLB in several offensive categories, including runs, home runs and slugging percentage. Los Angeles’ hitters also have one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league. In the “year of the home run,” the Dodgers have had 11 players who’ve hit at least 10 long balls this season.
Of these 11 players, the ringleader is MVP candidate Cody Bellinger. After an inconsistent sophomore season in 2018, Bellinger bounced back big time and is near the top of the league in several offensive categories. He’s hitting over .300 with nearly 50 homers and has surpassed the century mark in runs and runs batted in.
But it’s not just Bellinger who’s having a tremendous offensive season. Max Muncy and Joc Pederson have also hit 30 homers, and Justin Turner is having another stellar season, hitting .297 with 27 home runs.
Los Angeles has also been clutch this year during big games. The Dodgers have won in their last at-bat 12 times this year, including four straight times in late June and early July. This much offensive talent and ability to come through at crucial moments will make Los Angeles difficult to put away in the postseason.
The Dodgers have a great pitching staff, too. They have the lowest ERA in MLB, along with the seventh-most strikeouts and fewest walks in the entire league. Pitcher Hyun-Jin-Ryu has been a Cy Young candidate all season, and despite some recent struggles, he’s still had a great season. Walker Buehler has also been superb for Los Angeles this year, boasting a 3.26 ERA and over 200 strikeouts, and closer Kenley Jansen is in the top five in saves.
Of course, the Dodgers’ rotation can’t be talked about without mentioning Clayton Kershaw. Even though he’s not the same pitcher he was five years ago when he won the MVP award, he’s still a solid pitcher and Los Angeles’ ace. The trio of Kershaw, Ryu and Buehler can go up against any other team’s trio.
Los Angeles also has indispensable experience that’ll help it win the title. The Dodgers have won the NL West for seven straight seasons and have made it to the World Series the last two years, losing to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox last year, but don’t expect a duplicate result in 2019.
The combination of clutch play, deep offense, star pitching and valuable familiarity with the postseason is why the Los Angeles Dodgers will raise the World Series trophy later this month.
Contact Joshua Gingrich at email@example.com. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.
Los Angeles Dodgers won't win the World Series
Jason Clampitt | The Breeze
For the third straight year, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series. However, history will repeat itself, and the Dodgers’ season will end with disappointment in another attempt at a championship.
Los Angeles’ dominant season has been led by Cody Bellinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu — both favorites to win the NL MVP and Cy Young awards, respectively. Their successes have helped the Dodgers win their seventh straight NL West championship by a commanding 21-game margin over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Despite their achievements in the regular season, winning the World Series — let alone making it out of the National League — is less than guaranteed. One of the reasons LA hasn’t gotten over the hump and claimed the trophy is because of the performance of star pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In his postseason career, he has a 9-10 record and 4.32 ERA, as well as losses in both of his starts in last year’s World Series, where he gave up nine runs on 14 hits. In the fall classic, Kershaw supports a 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA.
Kershaw isn’t the only Dodgers player who hasn’t lived up to postseason expectations. Since coming into the league, Bellinger has produced a .172 batting average in October, and after two years of lackluster performances, the pressure is high for the presumable MVP.
Los Angeles’ roster is loaded with young talent and has a budget that exceeds the luxury tax, yet this year may be the best last chance it has to bring a championship to the City of Angels. The Dodgers will play the Washington Nationals in the NLDS on Thursday in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers finished the season 11-9 against the NL playoff teams. Their best record came against the Atlanta Braves, winning the season series 4-2; their worst record was against the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Cardinals winning four of the seven games.
While Los Angeles finished the regular season 104-56 — the second-best record in all of baseball — it’s capable of falling at any point during the playoffs. In recent years, the Cardinals have had the Dodgers’ number in the postseason — knocking them out in 2013 and 2014 — with St. Louis hitting Kershaw well during October. The Dodgers would be the better team if they played the Cardinals in the NLCS, but history hasn’t been on LA’s side.
The rest of the playoff teams in the NL could match up well against Los Angeles. Atlanta also has two of the best young players in baseball — center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies — and a more than capable pitching staff to go toe-to-toe against LA’s rotation.
Washington is the only team in the NL that can match up well against LA’s three-headed monster on the mound. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin would be more than enough to give the Nats a chance of knocking off the Dodgers.
Even if Los Angeles gets out of the NL, the team will be the underdog against the Houston Astros. Since beating the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, the Astros added ace Zack Greinke to create a dynamic top three in its pitching rotation.
With Houston’s healthy lineup led by MVP candidate Alex Bergman, the Astros have enough power to hit well against any Dodgers’ starter. Regardless of who represents the NL in the fall classic, they’ll fall to the Astros.
The 2019 season will end as it has for Los Angeles in recent years: watching another team celebrating knocking them out of the postseason. With Kershaw getting older, the championship window could slam shut for the Dodgers after this season for good.
Contact Jason Clampitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.