PHOENIX– In yet another shocking upset for the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have moved on to the NLCS due to a 3-0 sweep. Lance Lynn fell apart in the third inning and the superstars’ bats went ice cold in another disappointing effort.
It seems that year after year there is a certain optimism that things will turn around for this team in October. The fact of the matter is that this team flat out underperformed once again when the calendar flipped to the tenth month of the year.
The Dodgers have won 10 division titles in 11 years and have only one championship to show for it. While they have had enormous amounts of success through the heart of the summer, their fall seasons have been lackluster.
Lance Lynn took the mound and after a few good innings, he completely fell apart in the third, allowing four home runs in a single inning. That is an MLB record for home runs in a single inning in postseason play and that was all the Diamondbacks needed in game three. The bullpen (which had a 2.49 ERA in the playoffs) yet again came in and dominated Arizona after another underwhelming starting pitching performance.
As for the offense, well there wasn’t much of that again either. The Dodgers did amount to seven hits but they were stymied by the Diamondbacks worst statistical starter Brandon Pfaadt and the top of the lineup was downright bad. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman again combined to not get a single hit, while every hitter besides Kiké Hernandez and Will Smith did not contribute much to help the team.
While a rally in the eighth that plated two runs for the Dodgers had them in position to strike in the ninth, an extremely questionable decision to pinch hit Austin Barnes ended that rally in single pitch and the offense didn’t recover.
Here are my three takeaways:
The Superstars Did Not Show Up Again
I have never seen anything quite like it in my years of playing baseball and covering it so closely, but the Dodgers main stars completely fizzled out in October for the second straight year. They had four 100 RBI players in their lineup this year and that same foursome combined for only one RBI which was J.D. Martinez’s solo shot in game two.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman went a combined 1-for-21 in this series with the lone hit being an infield single that had to go to review. It seemed like every big spot, every opportunity to lift the ball into the outfield, the tandem weakly grounded out or struck out. I frankly have no words to describe how it happened or what they could change.
Throughout the entirety of the regular season, these two were MVP candidates and once the calendar flipped to October they completely disappeared for the second straight year. They went 7-for-28 in last year’s playoffs and five of those hits were that of Freddie Freeman. Mookie Betts has gone 2-25 in two years. It is utterly embarrassing and completely unacceptable from players of their status and talent.
Starting Pitching Was the Downfall
I said it in August and I will mention it again: the Dodgers did nothing at the deadline to improve the rotation into elite contender status and it completely showed in the playoffs. The combined ERA of the starting rotation was 25.08 and that was lowered from the 40’s due to Lance Lynn’s four run outing in game three. That’s right, Lynn’s four run outing actually lowered the ERA from where it was, which should exemplify how lackluster the rotation was in this series.
If the Dodgers seriously want to consider themselves a contender and get back to having an elite starting rotation, the front office has to open their wallets and go after big names and veteran names. The young core is there already with Buehler, Pepiot, and Miller, but that alone won’t be enough and there is always risk of injury with this team unfortunately. There has to be an addition that moves the needle in the offseason.
Where Do the Dodgers Go Next?
So, what now? After such an upsetting playoff exit in back-to-back years, this team has to do something. Like I mentioned earlier, the Dodgers have had a decade straight of winning in the regular season but only have a shortened season World Series to show for it.
Do you trade Mookie Betts or Freddie Freeman? No, absolutely not. These two are superstars regardless and you always take their upside over the replacement.
Do you fire Dave Roberts? While there is a lot of pushback on this, I have to say yes. This team needs a change somewhere and you’re not going to trade your superstars and you are not letting go of Andrew Friedman regardless of what you think of his moves for the roster. That leaves Roberts as the odd man out. Sure, he has led this team to multiple 100 win seasons, a lone World Series title and plenty of regular season success.
But this team needs a culture change. They need a new voice and a new aura amongst them. It cannot continue to be a low energy, business-like, “buddy buddy” approach and atmosphere. The Dodgers need a manager that will test them and push them to be better when they aren’t. There is a reason Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy and Torey Luvullo are advancing and Roberts is not.
Most of all, they need someone at the head of the snake that will tell it how it is and be as real as it gets when it comes to performance and standing on the team. Is Dave Roberts a Dodger legend and certainly one of the best managers in Dodger history? Yes, but there needs to be a culture and passion change and only time will tell if the manager will be the root of it.
Until next year, this is Grant Mona and I thank you a ton for the support and appreciation throughout the year. While this is obviously not the outcome any of us expected, I will certainly be around for the future…