By: Jake Carrera | Writer
For the second time in a row, the MLB World Series Champion was crowned at Dodger Stadium, and for the second time in a row, it wasn’t the Dodgers.
After the devastating Game 7 World Series loss to the Astros in 2017, the Dodgers hoped to flip the script on the Boston Red Sox however, the outcome was the same. In a not-so-close best of seven series, Boston tore through the lowly Dodgers bullpen and pitching staff, only facing real competition at the plate from veteran Rich Hill and rookie phenom Walker Buehler.
As for Boston, they secured their franchises’ 9th championship last Sunday and their 4th in the past 15 years ever since the 83 year “curse of the Bambino” was broken. I would spend the rest of this article describing the harrowing journey the Red Sox faced in taking down the “big bad Dodgers” however the road Boston took to postseason glory was anything but harrowing. Instead, let’s take a closer look at where the Dodgers went wrong, and what they have to do to prevent themselves from being back in the same position again next year because as of right now, it is very likely the boys in blue will be.
In game one, both teams turned to their respective aces. It was Clayton Kershaw vs. Chris Sale, lefty v.s. lefty, super star v.s. super star, and neither of them made it past the fifth inning. Kershaw got rung up for four runs early, two of which coming in just the bottom of the first. Sale was met with opposition as well, leading to his eventual demise, however the pure power and vigor in the Boston lineup quickly put the Dodgers to bed eventually routing them for a 4-8 loss.
In Game 2, two more lefties squared off Hyun Jin Ryu met with postseason-weary David Price where the outcome was quite similar. With a 2-4 final score, the game was indeed much closer, however Boston’s lineup still made light work of the Dodgers’ rotation and bullpen. After a 2-2 tie into the fifth inning Ryu and company decided it was time to give up the farm so naturally Ryu loaded the bases leaving the task to Ryan Madson of the ever-so-talented bullpen to give up the two run RBI by J.D. Martinez. Despite being down 2-0 going home to LA, the Dodgers did anything but hang their head. That kind of start had been bounced back from before, so it was up to home field advantage and a young right-hander from Kentucky to do the rest: enter Walker Buehler.
Game 3 at Dodger stadium was anything but normal. After the 7 hour and 20 minute contest the Dodgers walked off victorious with a Max Muncy homerun in the bottom of the 18th inning. The night however was started off with a beautiful seven inning, two hit masterpiece by the 24-year-old Buehler. This secured the 1-0 lead for the Dodgers going into the 8th inning where Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts passed the ball to all-star closer Kenley Jansen to finish things off in the 8th and 9th. Despite the firepower on the mound, Jackie Bradley Jr. still decided to rock Jansen for a solo shot which would inevitably send the game to extras. Things got heated in the 13th when Boston added on a run but Los Angeles answered right back in the latter half of the inning. Finally, Muncy took his place in World Series history in the 18th with his walk off, yet the true turning point in the series and nail in the coffin for LA was soon to come and it came in Game 4.
Rich Hill took the ball in Game 4 and dazzled into the 7th inning. Without allowing a run, Hill told manager Dave Roberts to keep an eye on him to keep him from staying in the game too long and ruining his own masterpiece. With that being said, Roberts was sure to keep an eye on him – and take him out of the game in the middle of the 7th after Hill walked a batter then struck out the next – the outcome catastrophic. The four run lead was apparently too comfortable for Manager Dave Roberts, so taking out Rich Hill to replace him with a bullpen who has let him down all series proved to be the last managerial error he would be able to get away with. Dodger nation and the baseball world became furious; why take out a pitcher when he is doing well in the seventh inning, only to replace him with an unreliable pitching staff? From this point on, it was obvious the tides of this series would not turn. It was up to Kershaw in a potentially redeeming Game 5 to try and save the series.
Game 5 went back to Kershaw and it was up to him to save the day for the Dodgers. Kershaw has been notoriously inconsistent in the postseason his whole career but for a pitcher so highly regarded as one of the “best to ever live” you would hope he can pull it together for one game right? After all it was the World Series and it was an elimination game. Through 7 innings pitched, Kershaw gave up four hits and THREE home runs, which lead to the eventual 5-1 victory for Boston. The Red Sox were undoubtedly a phenomenal team, so we shouldn’t be too hard on Kershaw here, yet when it is an elimination game at home in the WORLD SERIES? A certain level of performance must be met, right? Steve Pearce, the eventual World Series MVP, proved most harmful to Kershaw and the Dodgers as he was responsible for two of the three homeruns recorded for the Sox.
Now it is a matter of what’s next for a Dodgers team who has been through now not one but two World Series losses in a row.
Going into the offseason, the Dodgers need to address the following issues in order to be a better team next year. One, Clayton Kershaw is able to opt out of his contract which would put him on the market for the first time in years. Kershaw has a big decision to make but the obvious is as clear as day – the mission in LA has not been completed and if he leaves now, he may damage his legacy. As for Manager Dave Roberts, he must address some key managerial mistakes that cost his team runs in the World Series. Of course, a new bullpen is one thing, but the way in which “Robots” used that bullpen was atrocious.
As for the front office, they need to make a decision right now. Do they want to win the World Series next year or do they want to lose it again for the third year in a row? This Dodgers team is extremely powerful and talented and within the National League they dominate, no one can touch them. This is a fact that will not change for the time being, however the AL keeps getting stronger. Any AL postseason team, besides the A’s or the Indians, would have easily beaten the Dodgers in the World Series if they advanced, and that is just the pure cruel facts of the matter. If the Dodgers want a chance next year to break their now 30 year title drought, they must invest in the bullpen and starting pitching. Hill isn’t getting any younger and it is obvious Kershaw is no longer in his prime. In my humble opinion I believe it is time for Kershaw to pass on the torch and for the organization to build as a whole around a new potential ace: Walker Buehler. This organization needs help and they need it fast. We will be able to tell pretty soon whether or not the Dodgers will pursue a title come 2019 with the Kershaw decision and winter meetings coming up. Until then, we can only wait.
A World Series Championship is due to come to LA soon and I firmly believe that. However, the window of opportunity the Dodgers have to make that happen is narrowing. It would be a shame to let this great Dodgers generation go to waste without a title and I believe Magic Johnson and company know that, so don’t worry LA, a title will be coming your way.
A city of champions cannot and will not go any longer without a banner being flown at Chavez Ravine.