The Los Angeles Dodgers opened up the 2022 Major League Baseball postseason on Tuesday night, hosting the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
The Padres beat the New York Mets in the Wild Card Series, which was a welcomed sight for the Dodgers as they have owned their division rivals in recent years. The Dodgers did not lose a single series to the Padres in 2022, going 14-5 overall.
Game 1 played out as expected with the Dodgers jumping out to an early 5-0 lead and then holding on for a 5-3 victory at Dodger Stadium. Many thought that having nearly a week off would lead to rust for L.A. but that is not how things went. Here are some takeaways from the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory:
Trea Turner is Dodgers’ X-factor
Trea Turner is an exceptional player, arguably top 10 in all of baseball over the last few years.
Unfortunately though, his regular season success hasn’t always translated to the postseason with 2021 being a prime example when he slashed just .216/.245/.255 with two extra-base hits in 12 playoff games for the Dodgers.
Turner didn’t help ease Dodgers’ fans’ nerves going into October when he closed out this year’s regular season with a .589 OPS in the final 13 games.
However, it took all of three pitches for Turner to ease those nerves in the postseason as he launched a first-inning home run off Mike Clevinger that was 110.8 MPH, the second hardest-hit homer of his career.
Turner wasn’t done there though as he doubled in his next at-bat and then later nearly missed another home run on a ball that was caught in front of the left-center field wall.
Getting off to such a good start this postseason had to have been a great feeling for Turner given his past postseason struggles. With his talent, one could argue that he is the team’s X-factor this October as if he is producing at this level, the Dodgers will be nearly impossible to beat.
Of course it’s only one game, but gaining that confidence early on can have a ripple effect on the rest of the postseason. Plus, Turner is set to be a free agent this offseason so he has some extra motivation to perform well this October.
Dodgers bullpen is better than ever
Dodgers ace Julio Urias took the ball in Game 1 and was exceptional through four innings. He faltered in the fifth, however, allowing three runs, which led to Dave Roberts going to his bullpen early.
That was not a problem though as Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol and Chris Martin combined to toss four scoreless innings to close out the victory.
As I’ve talked about before when discussing the pecking order, this Dodgers bullpen is the best we’ve seen in a long time and perhaps ever.
A good way to measure just how good this bullpen is can be by looking at who DIDN’T make the playoff roster. Included in that group is Craig Kimbrel (one of the best closers ever), Caleb Ferguson (1.82 ERA in 34.2 regular season innings) and David Price (2.45 ERA in 40.1 regular season innings).
On most other teams, all of those guys would be pitching in high leverage. But on the Dodgers, they can’t even crack the roster because of how many other quality arms they have.
All of the Dodgers’ best arms came through for them in Game 1, and the guys that didn’t pitch include Blake Treinen, Yency Almonte, Tommy Kahnle, Dustin May and Andrew Heaney, a completely different stable of high-leverage arms in their own right.
The Dodgers’ bullpen and how Dave Roberts has managed them has been the team’s Achilles heel in recent years, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case this year.
Freeman, Betts, J. Turner contributed nothing
This was a small takeaway, but three of the Dodgers’ best players and typical October performers in Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Justin Turner combined to go 0-for-10 with two walks. And the Dodgers still won the game quite easily.
That has to be a scary sight if you’re the Padres.
Rest of series
- Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 5:37 p.m. PT on FS1
- Game 3: Friday, Oct. 14 at 5:37 p.m. PT on FS1
- Game 4 (if necessary): Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6:37 p.m. PT on FS1
- Game 5 (if necessary): Sunday, Oct. 16 at 6:07 p.m. PT on FS1