Last night, October 9, 2019, the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves in a game that started off with promise but ended in disaster. After taking an early 3-0 lead in the first two innings, of game five of the National League Division Series match-up against the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers felt poised to advance to the next round. Starting pitcher Walker Buehler held off the Nats for the first five innings, until allowing his first run of the game in the sixth.
After giving Washington a glimmer of hope, Los Angeles switched to pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the seventh, who allowed the two runs to tie the game and go into extra innings. You know what happens next, Joe Kelly replaces Kershaw on the mound and, boom, grand slam in the tenth inning. Game over. There goes the season.
So now that baseball has officially ended in Los Angeles, the question now presented is, where does the team go from here. Obviously from a hitting perspective, there’s plenty of upside. Cody Bellinger is coming off a potential NL MVP season. Bellinger lead the team in batting average, .305, home runs, 47, and RBIs, 115. It should also be noted that Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner had productive seasons as well offensively.
However, defense wins championships. In the case of baseball, pitching matters most. The pitching has been called into question several times throughout the regular season and most certainly in this latest postseason run. Buehler was the best starter for the boys in blue this year. It’s obvious that Kershaw is no longer an ace. To have that expectation for him is quite ridiculous. Relief pitching has been rocky all season long.
Sure, Kenley Jansen led the bullpen with 33 saves on the season, but there’s other holes that need to be filled. The Dodgers front-office, led by President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, will really need to look at available pitchers this winter heading into free agency. It should be noted that Los Angeles has six potential pitching free agents coming off the roster (Jansen has a player option).
If the Dodgers don’t want to fall entirely out of the hunt for another division title heading into 2020, this winter is going to be crucial. In a 162-game season, they can hold their own. But against tighter competition in a five or seven game series chasing the pennant or the world series trophy, major improvements need to take place.