Remember when everyone (myself included) lampooned the Los Angeles Dodgers for swinging a mammoth trade at the end of last year to land Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and their combined $75 million in salary for 2013 alone?
What if I told you Beckett would be a bust, Crawford would have a below average year and Gonzalez would only hit 22 home runs? On top of that, what if you knew at the start of 2013 that Matt Kemp would miss 89 games? You’d probably think the Dodgers would be lucky to get to .500, right?
Well, on June 21, the boys in blue had a 30-42 record and appeared to be rivaling the Los Angeles Angels as the biggest disappointment in town. However, those days are gone, and everyone was wrong about this team. As it turns out, the Dodgers have been one of the most dominant teams in baseball since then despite an injury-fueled 9-15 finish to the season.
We could talk about magnificent emergence of Yasiel Puig, the solid hitting throughout the Dodgers lineup, Magic Johnson‘s charisma and ownership or any number of subplots that have defined this unreal turnaround — but let’s be honest, the most staggering thing about the Dodgers’ play has been their pitching, and it’s not even close.
When thinking about who will win the 2013 World Series, you first have to remember that starting rotations get cut down from five to four men, and that fourth man is lucky if he gets to start more than two games for the entire playoffs.
So who are the Dodgers’ top three pitchers? How about the scariest pitcher on the planet/alien/shoo-in repeat NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA), former Angels bust Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) and Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA)? Is anyone going to be able to score runs on these guys? It’s hard to see how.
The Atlanta Braves boast a solid trio of their own: Kris Medlen (15-12, 3.11 ERA), Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA) and Julio Teheran (14-8, 3.20 ERA). They have acquitted themselves very well in 2013, but they are simply no match for the absurd trio that the Dodgers will be sending to the hill.
If the Dodgers are to win the NLDS, they must press their advantage in pitching. Throw three great games, and all three pitchers may get a nice long rest until their second-round opponents qualify for the NLCS. If that happens, look out.