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MLB Los Angeles DodgersMLB Playoffs

Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Most Important Players Heading Into Postseason

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Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Most Important Players Heading Into Postseason

Don Mattingly
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading into the playoffs dragging their feet a little bit compared to how they were playing just a few weeks ago. It’s been said numerous times how amazing of a feat their run from worst to first was, but we can’t keep living in the past because the playoffs are in the immediate future. The Dodgers already lost the race for the best record in the National League, so they’re going to have to start the playoffs on the road rather than at home, and if they don’t snap out of it, then they may be out of the playoffs much sooner than they think.

There is a large amount of talent on the Dodgers, but there are also some holes that need to be filled in order to assure themselves of moving further in the playoffs than just the first round. No team can win a World Series without clutch pitching, timely hitting and dominant defense, but not every player does amazing things when needed. However, every team needs at least a few players to step up and get the job done. Sometimes it’s your star player, sometimes it’s your veteran players or even sometimes it’s a player that no one would expect. Either way, someone always steps up and helps a team in a World Series. These are the five players that need to step up the most to help the Dodgers not only get to the World Series, but to win it as well.

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Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment Yasiel Puig was called up, he helped set a fire under every player in the Dodgers' dugout. The Dodgers went from worst to first in no time once Puig started playing everyday. He has had a very solid rookie campaign thus far batting .324 with while hitting 19 home runs and collecting 42 RBIs. If Puig can continue his hot play and maintains the fire he has each and every day, then that will go a long way in helping the Dodgers through the playoffs.

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Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If I could use one word to describe Adrian Gonzalez, it would be consistent. Even when the Dodgers were bottom dwellers in the National League West, Gonzalez continued chugging along and was quietly having a solid season despite what the record said at that point. Fast forward to today and Gonzalez is batting .294 with 21 home runs and 99 RBIs, which is once again a very solid season. More importantly than just stats, Gonzalez is the veteran leadership that the Dodgers need to help propel them through the playoffs.

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Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In games between two solid and closely matched teams, one or two run games are highly likely, especially in the playoffs. That means in the ninth inning of games, teams need the shutdown closer who can and will get the job done. Kenley Jansen is that man for the Dodgers. The past two years, the Dodgers attempted to use Brandon League as a closer and that failed them both times. Each time it was Jansen who grabbed the ball and closed out games for the Dodgers and he was excellent. The hard-throwing righty has 28 saves with 109 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA so far this season, and that spells trouble for any team in the playoffs down by one or two runs to the Dodgers in the ninth inning. Jansen hasn't pitched in a situation quite as hectic as a ninth inning in a playoff game, but given what he has done in the past years when closing, Jansen has high expectations for his postseason play and as long as he meets those expectations, the Dodgers will be in great shape throughout the playoffs.

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Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp. A player who hasn't done much for the Dodgers at all this year due to him bouncing back and forth between the field and the disabled list, but you can't deny that a lineup with Kemp in it will strike fear in the opposing pitchers more so than a lineup without him. Now, if Kemp is actually hitting the ball well, then it's that much better for the Dodgers. Since coming off the DL this month, he is batting .355 with one home run and six RBIs. That's a very small sample size, but if he can continue this surge into and through the playoffs, not only will he continue gaining confidence in himself, but he'll make everyone else in the lineup around him that much better. The only downside to expecting so much from him is that his health could end up being as big of a factor as his bat.

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Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw
The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports

Going out each series and getting that game one win is very important in the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw is that man for the Dodgers. 15-9 with 224 strikeout and a 1.88 ERA says it all. The man is the best pitcher in all of baseball and will likely win the NL Cy Young Award, and has a good chance to win the wide open NL MVP race too. Kershaw hasn't been too amazing in his few postseason appearances, but that doesn't mean he won't go out there this year and dominate like he should. If Kershaw gets the Dodgers off to a good start in each series, then they will be very tough to beat. Kershaw is for real and he can help in proving the Dodgers are for real too.