Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

With Micro-Season, Dodgers Fans Need Only Wait 2 Months for Inevitable Choke

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw after last season’s Game 5 debacle, another one of his horrid postseason performances.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw after last season’s Game 5 debacle, another one of his horrid postseason performances.
Photo: (Getty Images)

We know what the paper says.

Los Angeles Dodgers fans have read it for years now. Yes, the Dodgers are loaded and should win the World Series.

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In 2020, however, don’t believe the hype. And most certainly, don’t believe in the Dodgers.

For sure, the Dodgers are basking in their mega deal with Mookie Betts. The star outfielder on Wednesday agreed to a 12-year, $365 million extension. They have a cornerstone piece for their franchise for years to come.

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They have other young and talented stars in Cody Bellinger and righthander Walker Buehler as well in the kitty.

Add to that the fact that the Dodgers have won the NL West crown seven years in a row.

For sure, they own the joint.

There’s just one problem. The Dodgers can’t win when it matters. They have piled up playoff failures like they have division titles.

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Sadly, you can’t even call them the Atlanta Braves, who won 11 division titles in a row. As terrible as the Braves were in the postseason, at least they won one World Series.

The Dodgers are more like MLB’s Buffalo Bills, who lost four Super Bowls in a row.

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The Dodgers lost two World Series in a row in 2017 and 2018. Last season, the Dodgers — who won a franchise-record 106 games — spared their fans a dubious hat trick and bowed out in the NLDS to the Washington Nationals.

Worse, the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since Moby Dick was a guppy. For you laymen, that would be 1988 — a long time ago. A ridiculously long time for such a legendary franchise with nothing but money, fans and sunshine.

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Winning should be a part of the Dodgers’ vocabulary. It’s not.

But here we are again. The Dodgers are locked and loaded for this Corona-shortened, fast-and-furious 60 regular-season games in 67 days.

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But there are still three nagging things that make it hard to believe in the Dodgers.

The Ace

Their ace just hasn’t been an ace when it has mattered most. Clayton Kershaw has been the best pitcher of this generation, but only during the regular season.

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In October, Kershaw falls like the leaves on trees.

Last season, it was painful to watch. The Dodgers had a 3-1 lead over the Nationals in the eighth inning of the fifth and deciding game at home, only to see Kershaw — pitching in relief — give up back-to-back solo homers on consecutive pitches.

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The only other time the lefty had done that in his career? Yes, in the 2017 postseason against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers just can’t trust Kershaw. That’s the biggest reason why they’ve been unable to win a title.

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Despite all his accomplishments -— which include three NL Cy Youngs — Kershaw has been stinky in the playoffs, with a 9-11 record and a chubby 4.33 ERA.

Worse are Kershaw’s numbers when his team is facing elimination. With a minimum of 20 innings pitched, Kershaw has a 5.77 ERA. Only knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was worse in MLB history.

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The Bullpen

Closer Kenley Jansen was once almost automatic. But he had a terrible 2019 out of the pen. He finished with his highest-career ERA at 3.71, his highest WHIP at 1.06 and had his fewest saves in a season (33) since 2013.

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Jansen has also had health issues with an irregular heartbeat. At 32, can the Dodgers still trust him?

The Manager

Like Kershaw, Dave Roberts hasn’t exactly done his best work in prime time, either. For sure, he has made some pitching moves that have left fans scratching their heads. In that Game 5 series loss to the Nats last season, some called Roberts’ performance “malpractice at worst.”

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For many, nothing was more ill-timed than when he brought Kershaw in the game to pitch in relief, especially given his postseason history.

Then he left Kershaw in for too long.

The bottom line remains that on paper, the Dodgers, with that potent offense, look golden. There’s just no reason to believe it will transfer over in the second season, under the bright lights.

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In the 50s, for losing in the World Series often despite a lot of talented players, the Dodgers were called Dem Bums by the fans in Brooklyn. If, or should we say when, they lose in the postseason this year, that name will fit again.

Parker’s World Series Prediction 2020: Yankees over the Dodgers in six games. NYY wins its first World Series since 2009.

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