The Los Angeles Dodgers had a historic regular season, winning 111 games and cruising to their ninth NL West division title in the last 10 years.
In Dodgerland though, success is measured by World Series‘ and unfortunately this team will not get to accomplish that as a historic season came crashing down in five days when they were defeated by the San Diego Padres in four games in the NLDS.
There’s no way to look at this Dodgers season as anything other than one of the biggest disappointments in MLB history. The Dodgers were 22 games better than the Padres in the regular season and were 14-5 against them head-to-head, not losing a single series. Until they lost the one that mattered the most.
Even though a few days have passed since the epic Game 4 collapse in which the Dodgers blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning to lose the series, the feeling inside is still very weird.
How could a team that was THAT good in the regular season for six months be THAT bad in the playoffs once again?
Us Dodger fans are left with more questions than answers, but I do have a couple of thoughts on how we should be feeling right now.
Don’t blame the playoff format
I’ve seen a lot of this, mostly from media members and some fans (not from any of the players), but please do not blame the new playoff format for the Dodgers’ loss.
Now, I’m not over here saying the playoff format is perfect. Some changes I would make are to seed the teams by record (not giving advantages to division-winning teams with inferior records), re-seeding after each round (gives more of an advantage to the top team) and then switch the Division Series’ from five to seven games.
None of these are major changes and likely would have led to the same result for the Dodgers this season, however.
The number of days off is not what led to the Dodgers losing. They came out firing in Game 1 and had their pitching lineup up how they wanted it. On the other hand, the Padres had to go through Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets in a grueling three-game Wild Card Series and as a result, they sent their worst starter to the mound in Game 1 against the Dodgers.
The truth of the matter is that the Dodgers just didn’t show up. They went 2-for-26 with runners in scoring position to close out the series. The Padres weren’t much better, but they came through when they needed to.
That’s baseball for you though. Any MLB team is capable of beating another, as evidenced by the Dodgers getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the season.
In October, you either show up and play how you’re capable of, or you lose and go home early. I don’t think there’s a format MLB can come up with that will change that.
Future is still bright
This is way earlier than I expected to be looking ahead to next season, but even though the Dodgers’ loss to the Padres was one of the worst ever, the future still remains bright for this organization.
Andrew Friedman has proven time and time again that he can put championship-level rosters together and I expect that to again be the case this winter. The cool part is that the Dodgers have a ton of financial flexibility and one of the best farm systems in baseball to make that happen.
With that being said, I would expect some significant changes this offseason for the Dodgers.
Some of their key free agents include Clayton Kershaw, Trea Turner, Joey Gallo, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Justin Turner (if his team option is declined), Tommy Kahnle, David Price and a bunch more. Cody Bellinger is heading into his final year of arbitration but is a candidate to be non-tendered given his poor play the last couple of years.
That means that the Dodgers will have a ton of money to spend though with some of it likely going to retain some of these guys. The free agent market has some star power (Aaron Judge) and the trade market might as well (Shohei Ohtani).
Expect the Dodgers to be linked to just about every big-name player this winter, or they could also split up some of their available money and add a bunch of quality players instead of one superstar.
Either way, the Dodgers are still positioned to be successful for years to come. This season didn’t go as we all had hoped, but all we can ask for is a crack at the tournament every October and that’s what this organization has and will continue to give us.