For the first time since 1988, The Los Angeles Dodgers will host a World Series game at Dodger Stadium.
The Los Angeles Dodgers outplayed the Chicago Cubs in every aspect of the series, winning handily in five games to win their first National League pennant in 29 years. After dominating the regular season and Division Series, the Dodgers played their most complete five-game stretch of the season. Furthermore, they drove away all doubt stemming from a September slump and missing Corey Seager for the entire series.
The Chicago Cubs leave the 2017 season in bitter disappointment, with many questions surrounding their ball club.
Los Angeles Dodgers Win National League Pennant with Complete Performance
Dodgers Utilize Depth to Perfection
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the deepest baseball teams in recent postseason memory. They used that depth to post the best record in baseball in the regular season and drive them to seven wins in eight games to claim the National League pennant.
The unsung heroes were showcased at the plate the entire series. Andre Ethier smacked a home run in Game 3 off Kyle Hendricks to tie the game, just after Kyle Schwarber ignited the Wrigley crowd with his own blast just an inning prior. Kike Hernandez stamped his name in the series in Game 5, smacking three home runs and seven RBI. Then there’s Chris Taylor, the co-MVP of the series, who furthered the point on his resurgence in 2017 with a huge series. Taylor smacked two home runs and basically everything else he put wood on in five games.
Those performances don’t even factor the greatness of Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig in this series. The Dodgers also played without Corey Seager, a loss that could deteriorate any postseason roster.
The relievers performed just as great. In seventeen innings, the complete Dodger bullpen allowed no runs on just four hits with a 20/1 K/BB ratio. The Cubs didn’t score a run after the sixth inning.
Every player on the Los Angeles roster contributed toward the pennant. The Dodgers have looked like a championship team throughout 2017, and now, they’ve proven even more the entire team can accomplish in October.
Dave Roberts Uses Simple Approach to Win Pennant
Dave Roberts has taken a simple approach to managing the 2017 postseason. He’s managing it the same way he managed the regular season. He’s never tried to outthink himself or the sitution. He understands this great team he’s in control over and makes decisions that let them decide the results.
Sure it was a questionable decision to allow Yu Darvish to hit for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning of Game 3. In fact, Darvish’s odds of being useful with his bat are practically zero. Plus, the Dodger bullpen has been un-hittable all season. They should be trusted to get twelve outs with a two-run lead.
With that said, Los Angeles was up 3-1, and Roberts wanted Darvish to pitch the bottom of the inning. Darvish has dominated hitters his last five starts. Why would Roberts decide to end his night after five innings, with the lead, because of a bases-loaded situation? He wouldn’t make that decision in the regular season. So Darvish stepped into the box. Worst case scenario? The Dodgers head to the bottom of the sixth with a two-run lead and a proven ace on the mound.
That decision resulted in Carl Edwards Jr. incredulously walking Darvish on four straight pitches. A run scores, two more would follow, and Los Angeles went into the bottom half with a five-run lead. And Yu Darvish on the mound.
Dave Roberts didn’t try to force a pennant in the dugout. He let his decisions play out on the field. The Dodgers are playing in the World Series because of it.
What’s Next for the Chicago Cubs
As of this moment, the Chicago Cubs are still the defending champions of baseball and they have made three consecutive LCS appearances. Yet, this team has problems that need to be fixed.
The starting rotation turned sour for the Cubs this season. Only three starters pitched over 140 innings in the regular season, with John Lackey being one of the worst pitchers in baseball. The only starters guaranteed for 2018 are Jon Lester and Jose Quintana. They’ll have to add some quality starters who can eat innings, but first Chicago has to come to terms with an offer for former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.
The outfield situation is an absolute mess. Chicago will need to build a plan for their current seven outfielders on the roster. They’re stuck with Jason Heyward’s contract, although there isn’t a better right fielder defensively that you could have. In center field, the Cubs could stick with the platoon of Albert Almora and John Jay. Their situation stems from what to do in left field. Chicago has the veteran Ben Zobrist through 2020 along with budding young players Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ. They will have to make a decision on these three outfielders. Possibly, the best scenario is sending Schwarber to an American League team where he can be a designated hitter or play first base.
Then there’s the bullpen. On paper, the relievers seem capable of being successful, but Joe Maddon seemingly doesn’t trust the unit in the postseason. Maddon left Justin Wilson—one of the top American League relief arms when Chicago acquired him from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline—off the NLCS roster, so who knows what the Cubs will do with him. In fact, besides Wade Davis and Carl Edwards Jr., it’s anyone’s guess who will man the Cubs bullpen come 2018.
This is a great young team, and they will compete for years to come. Yet, nothing is complete about this roster, and Chicago will need to make some moves to fill the gaps.
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