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Celebrating their fourth straight West Division title. Photo courtesy of ctvnews.ca

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS – 2016 BY THE NUMBERS (as the playoffs approach):

Final Regular Season Record:  91-71, National League Western Division Champions, four games ahead of the San Francisco Giants.

Top Hitters:

Corey Seager, SS – .308 average, 26 HR, 72 RBI

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B – .285 average, 18 HR, 90 RBI

Justin Turner, 3B – .275 average, 27 HR, 90 RBI

Chase Utley, 2B – .252 average, 14 HR, 52 RBI

Joc Pederson, CF – .246 average, 25 HR, 68 RBI

Top Pitchers:

Clayton Kershaw: 12-4, 1.69 ERA, 172 SO (with only 11 walks!)

Kenta Maeda: 16-11, 3.48 ERA, 179 SO

Kenley Jansen (closer): 3-2, 1.83 ERA, 104 SO (with only 11 walks!), 47 saves

(SO = Strikeouts)

 

Only appropriate: Vin Scully calling the home run by Charlie Culberton that gave the Dodgers their 4th straight division crown. Courtesy of YouTube

 

National League Division Series Opponent:

Washington Nationals, National League Eastern Division Champions

RECORD: 95-67, finishing eight games ahead of the New York Mets

NLDS Schedule (Best of five):

GAME 1: Friday, October 7th at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., 2:30 pm

GAME 2: Saturday, October 8th at Nationals Park, 1:00 p.m.

GAME 3: Monday, October 10th at Dodger Stadium, time TBA

GAME 4 (if necessary): Tuesday, October 11th at Dodger Stadium, time TBA

GAME 5 (if necessary): Thursday, October 13th at Nationals Park, time TBA

TV: Games 1 and 2 on FS1, Game 3 on FS1 or MLB Network

 

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The great Vin Scully acknowledging the relative handful of the roughly billion fans who have loved him and his broadcasts over the past 67 years. Photo courtesy of calisportsnews.com

 

A Few Thoughts:

The fact that these Dodgers won the West despite having a pitching staff seemingly operating on shoestring and gum, what with all their injuries,

Not to mention having to use the disabled list a record number of times,

Is a significant accomplishment.

I must admit…

These blue-clad ball players from just north of downtown Los Angeles proved me wrong, as because I didn’t see much in their pitching staff outside of Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen I had the Dodgers finishing third behind the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Which shows how much I know as those D-Backs barely stayed out of last place!

The turning point in the season was, surprisingly enough, when Kershaw went down with a back problem that kept him off the mound for two months.

More or less everybody had written the Dodgers off, me included as my thought pattern (and I’m sure everyone else’s) was how could they win without their best pitcher when their staff was full of maybes and we-will-sees to start with.

To say that the team came through BIG time, particularly their hitters as illustrated by:

1. Andrew Toles’ (a rookie who started this season in the low minors and was working at a supermarket last year) grand slam in Denver against the Rockies with the Dodgers one out away from losing,

2. Corey Seager’s game-tying homer at Dodger Stadium against those same Rockies, in precisely the same situation, and…

3. Charlie Culbertson’s division-clinching home run in that same game in extra innings,

Would be an understatement.

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Friday’s starter for Game 1 of the NLDS in the nation’s capitol (Clayton Kershaw for those who don’t know). Photo courtesy of fansided.com

 

As For Predictions:

I would love to say that these Dodgers are a team of destiny and will breeze to their first World Series in 28 years, I really would.

It would be the perfect going away present for the greatest sportscaster of all time, Vin Scully.

However, while I’m not definitely predicting an early exit from this postseason, many things have to go right for the Dodgers to enter that Promised Land.

Especially their pitching, as every starter not named Kershaw has to come through.

Plus – provided they beat these Nationals as they have won five of the six regular season games against them – the Dodgers have to get past either the Giants, the New York Mets (who play in a winner-take-all Wild Card game tonight), or a team that blew everybody away with 103 wins and is everyone’s favorite to break a curse that has lasted for 108 years (71 years if you count the last time they appeared in a World Series)…

The Chicago Cubs.

BOTTOM LINE:  Do I think the Dodgers have a chance at the pennant?

MY ANSWER: Yes, but it will be a difficult road.

#WIN4VIN

 

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The Shot Heard ‘Round SoCal: Charlie Culbertson’s division-clinching home run on October 25th. PS: It was his first home run of the season! Photo courtesy of lasportshub.com

 

 

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