Dodgers look primed to capture World Series

A season that started with heartache ends in another division crown.

There is nothing like October baseball. Fall is in the air; the trees undergo a colorful change, and the frigid temperatures start to emerge. This time of year gives baseball fans goosebumps as they guess who the next Mr. October will be. With the intensity rising, the anticipation of what is to come heightens.

After 162 games and nearly six months of regular season baseball, things are about to heat up. This has been a remarkable season, filled with shocks, upsets, and disappointments.

We saw the juggernaut Yankees are seemingly going to miss postseason baseball where they have been a staple for over twenty years. The storied Cardinals are set to have their worst record since 1995. The Mets have already accepted their fate, despite their lofty preseason expectations, and have begun preparing for 2024. Even the Red Sox, who made big acquisitions in the offseason, are fighting for their playoff lives and may miss playing in October.

With all that said, one team has been a constant of October: the “Boys in Blue.” The Dodgers are on track to make the postseason for a franchise-record 11 straight seasons. The Dodgers have been the epitome of consistency and excellence over the past decade and they show no signs of slowing down.

The Dodgers currently hold the fourth-best record in the Major Leagues and second-best in the NL, a stark contrast after baseball pundits labeled this a “transition year.” The year started when they lost All-Star Trea Turner to the Phillies, former MVP Cody Bellinger to the Cubs and the second-longest tenured Dodger, Justin Turner, to the Red Sox.

Two time All-Star and ace pitcher Walker Buehler started the season on the IL after requiring a second Tommy John surgery. Although Buehler was expected to return late this year, recent reports indicate he will not pitch again in 2023.

Perhaps the Dodgers biggest loss was shortstop Gavin Lux. The Dodgers lost their prized 25-year-old shortstop of the future after an injury in spring training.

Not to mention they came into the season coming off a disappointing loss to their rival, the Padres in the NLDS — the same Padres that looked to be gunning for the mantle as baseball’s next dynasty.

Regardless, the Dodgers have continued to dominate the league, led by MVP-frontrunners Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

It hasn’t just been the stars who have gotten the job done.

Veteran free agent acquisitions David Peralta, J.D. Martinez and Jason Heyward have played key roles in the Dodgers success. Rookie phenom James Outman has broken out in a huge way following the departure of Bellinger. Catcher Will Smith continues to be a consistent presence in the lineup and looks to be the starting backstop for a long time in L.A. Max Muncy’s 33 home runs are second on the Dodgers while his 98 RBIs are good for sixth in the circuit.

The Dodgers may not have the star power on the mound, but rookies Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepoit have been outstanding out of the ‘pen. Likewise, 26-year-old Evan Phillips and 25-year-old Brusdar Graterol have given the Dodgers more than they could have dreamed, with ERAs of 2.18 and 1.38 respectively. Not too bad for a “young and inexperienced” pitching staff.

With Kershaw entering his 16th year wearing a Dodgers uniform, expectations remained steady for what to expect from the three-time Cy Young award winner. Coming off three straight injury riddled seasons heading into 2022, Kershaw’s body was sooner or later going to give out.

He defied the odds again in 2022 though, making his ninth All-Star Game in his already Hall of Fame career. In 2023 Kershaw was hurt, limited to only 117 innings, which can only be described as expected for a 35-year-old who has logged as many innings that he has. When on the hill however, his dominance has been exemplified by his 2.61 ERA, earning him his 10th All-Star nod.

Following the collapse in the NLDS in 2022, cries to fire Dodger manager Dave Roberts erupted. With two years left on a three-year deal, Roberts, in his eighth year as the Dodger skipper, had everything to prove in ‘23.

“I’m not gonna guarantee it this year, I’m not going to do that,” Roberts said to the media during Dodgers FanFest.

A delightfully candid Roberts knew the team’s limits coming into 2023 and halted on declaring this team World Series capable —a far cry from last year when Roberts was perhaps overly confident. “We are winning the World Series in 2022. I know where you’re going with that,” Roberts had said in an interview with USA Today. “We will win the World Series this year. Put it on record.”

This year may go down as Roberts’ finest in L.A., which includes a year that saw them winning a World Series, and three straight 100-win seasons (excluding the COVID shortened season), including 111 last year.

This well-oiled machine that is the L.A. Dodgers has been firing on all cylinders. After a rocky start to the season, they have never looked back. The Dodgers have staved off threats from NL West opponents San Diego, Arizona and San Francisco to still hold the crown in the NL West.

As postseason baseball is just around the corner, the Dodgers postseason woes once again will be heard by critics. Their only World Series in the 21st century came in a shortened 2020 season which succeeded numerous postseason falters. Regardless, it’s a new Fall, and that means the Dodgers need to have a short memory if they have a chance.

With the conclusion of the regular season less than one month away, it’s time to shift focus to October, and with that the chase for baseball’s most coveted prize.

Echoes of Vin Scully rain in my ears, “It’s time for Dodger baseball” as L.A. chases number eight.