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MLB

Can the LA Dodgers win the World Series despite their pitching problems?

With the Dodgers sporting the best record in baseball, their World Series promises would seem to be on steady footing. But their bullpen…

Update:
With the Dodgers sporting the best record in baseball, their World Series promises would seem to be on steady footing. But their bullpen…
KEVORK DJANSEZIANAFP

The Los Angeles Dodgers swore that they would win the World Series back in April and they have had a strong run through the summer, with very few hiccups at all, at making good on that promise.

With their 106th win on Sunday, the first team in MLB to hit that mark, they tied their own franchise record and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It is tempting to give in and say that the Dodgers are rolling.

But then you look at the bullpen.

These murky waters, where the immovable object of late-season arms meets the unstoppable force of impending do-or-die baseball, are all too familiar to true-blue Dodger fans. This ain’t their first rodeo. They have been here before.

After their steamrolling of the major leagues in 2020, many sports writers, including this one, tipped them to repeat in 2021. As the season wore on, the only question that was seriously posed in opposition to this view, was whether their formidable pitching could stalemate the booming bats of Houston. Not many had the vision to predict the blindsiding of this entire scenario by the Atlanta Braves.

Through the 2022 season, many sports writers said that the Braves run was a blip, an unforeseeable one-off, that the Dodgers destiny had been delayed, but not derailed. I was more circumspect in my position, picking Houston as my early-season favorite, and as the season has worn on, very little across the league has been able to sway my Spring opinion that the Astros will indeed wear the Fall crown. Except for the Dodgers. In the words of Hank Williams, Jr., “I was almost persuaded.”

Personality often gets wrapped up in writing. Gone are the days when writers would offer the facts with no personality. Modern journalism is the opposite way, it is all personality. There are facts and then there are the myriad ways to interpret those facts.

The facts are that the Dodgers are one of the most formidable teams that has ever been fielded in professional baseball, and that the late-season is catching up to their weary arms, removing the bastion that they have leaned on throughout the 2022 season just when they need it most.

Walker Buehler, Blake Treinen, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and even Craig Kembrel are all either out or very questionable as September draws to a close. Of course, they still have one of the hottest offenses in baseball, with a batting order that includes Mookie Betts, Will Smith, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman, they have the power to ride through their pitching problems. The trouble is, that would be a departure from who the Dodgers are. When it comes to the big finale, you dance with the one that brought you.

Don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers winning the World Series would make me happy. I am a Texas Rangers fan through and through, but I still remember Fernando Valenzuela and Tommy Lasorda, and who could forget Kirk Gibson’s walk-off? Of course, I love the romance of the Dodgers winning it all. Who wouldn’t?

But the facts get in the way. And the fact is that just as the Dodgers are starting to show their weariness, the Astros seem to be catching a second, or even third, wind. They split a series with Baltimore, but otherwise have been sterling throughout September. It is as if they are growing into the post season, infuriatingly so, Dodger fans would say.

None of this will matter a jot to the Dodger Nation. These are not Yankee fans. They have no need to win from a position of power. In fact, they seem to relish in the underdog status, happy to say “I told you so” to the entire world. Despite LA’s size, they still have a small-town mentality that enjoys feeling hard done by. Rodney Dangerfield’s cries of “no respect” is every bit as LA as surfing, burritos, and Dodger blue.

So, can the Dodgers win the Series? Sure. They will need to alter their approach from defensive- to offensive-minded as we enter the playoffs, plus have quite a fair wind and favorable tide at their back, but nothing is beyond their reach with the talent that they possess. If I were a betting man, however, I would put my money on the Astros. If they win, you make some money. And if the Dodgers win, you won’t care that you lost it.

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