Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us. As baseball finally moves into it’s Bubble phase, 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s World Series champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The MLB is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the MLB playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Los Angeles Dodgers, and their chances at securing a ring in 2020.
Expectations: Win. The. Whole. Thing.
For the 5th year or so in a row, anything short of winning the World Series will be seen as a failure for the Dodgers. That would’ve been true regardless of the length of the season, or the number of teams making the playoffs.
What’s Working for Them: Playing Baseball.
What’s working for the Dodgers? Just about everything. This team leads to Majors in Home Runs, ERA, WHIP, Walks Allowed, and is 2nd in Runs Scored, RBI, SLG, and OPS. They’ve won more games than every other team, and they’ve lost fewer games than every other team (which is a distinction that only makes sense in 2020). They have a winning record against every club they’ve faced, they’ve gone 6-5 in 1 run games, and have destroyed opponents in high scoring affairs.
They’ve done all this with last year’s NL MVP Cody Bellinger struggling, and injuries to key players along the way like Walker Buehler and Justin Turner. But Bellinger’s bat is starting to heat up, and the injured players are starting to come back.
What Might Hold Them Back: Intangibles
On paper? Not a lot. But, it’s 2020 so really, anything can happen. Injuries? Maybe. Cheating? We’ve been there before. A first round matchup with the Giants? Honestly, 2020 would be the year for San Fran to start their even year bullshit again.
One thing I’m certain won’t hold them back is missing their families, as the Dodger’s owners have paid for player and coaches family to separately quarantine per MLB guidelines so they can join the players in Texas, which is an amazing thing that not every team will do.
Storyline to Watch
Like most things in baseball, it’s going to come down to pitching. Namely, who fills out the rotation. Kershaw and Buehler are locks, but that 3rd rotation spot isn’t as certain as it has been in seasons past.
Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu are all on different teams now (in fact, Maeda and Ryu will each be Game 1 starter for the Twins and Blue Jays, respectively), and Julio Urias hasn’t been as consistent as many would’ve hoped.
No, it’ll likely come down to one of the two young phenoms, Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin. May has been shutting down right-handed hitters all season, and Tony Gonsolin is sporting one of the lowest ERAs by any pitcher who’s thrown more than 40 innings this year. I imagine Gonsolin is the likely candidate, but in the scenario of a righty heavy lineup, May might be the better play.
Honestly, it’s a good problem for Dave Roberts to have, but both pitchers are young and untested in the Postseason. And as Kershaw can relay to the youngsters, October is a whole different ballgame.
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