Sports: Dodgers Enter Playoffs Once Again As Title Favorites. Will They Escape Demons Of Worlds Series’ Past?

by Diego Santizo, Sports Editor

The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the season with a 43-17 record, the best record in the majors, and will take on a Milwaukee Brewers team that never spent a single day over .500 all season in the first round of the 2020 MLB playoffs. It begs the question – can they finally win it all? 

Dodgers fans always have high expectations for their team when the season starts, but since 2016, they have considered their season World Series-or-Bust, and this year surely isn’t any different. 

The Dodgers ended their 2016 season losing the National League Championship Series 2-4 against the New York Mets. Then, they ended 2017 in heartbreaking fashion losing to the Houston Astros in 7 games in the World Series. After that, 2018 ended with a World Series lost against the Boston Red Sox in 5 games. In 2019, the heartbreak continued, as they lost the Divisional Round 2-3 against the eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals. 

The Dodgers are a team built to win now and for years to come. They boast a strong farm system and some of the best young talent in the majors, while also having Mookie Betts under contract for the next 12 years. 

It is notable to point out they may not have a lot of familiar faces on the team next year as Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Pedro Báez and Kiké Hernández are among the players hitting free agency this winter. Even more notably, players such as Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Corey Seager are scheduled to hit free agency after next season. Is time running out for this group to win? 

Despite the speculation and talk, the Dodgers dominated the 2020 season and only lost one series all year! 

After winning their eighth consecutive division title and posting the highest winning percentage of any MLB team since 1906, the Los Angeles Dodgers (43-17, .711) earned the National League’s top seed and the right to host the No. 8 seeded Milwaukee Brewers in the wild card round.

Meanwhile, the Brewers (29-31, .483) are one of two clubs in this year’s postseason with a losing record. The Brewers and Dodgers last playoff meeting came in the 2018 NLCS, which the Dodgers won in seven games.

It is still 2020 and it has been proven time and time again that this year literally anything can happen, so counting out the Milwaukee Brewers wouldn’t be a wise decision, especially after the Nationals shockingly demoralized the Dodgers in the playoffs last season. 

This series features the winners of the last two National League MVP’s in the Brewers’ Christian Yelich (2018) and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (2019). However, this may not be the Yeli vs Belli battle one may expect, as both players got off to terribly slow starts and never really found their MVP form. The postseason gives them a much-needed opportunity to start fresh when it matters most. 

The Brewers suffered a major blow when their best starter, Corbin Burnes (4-1, 2.11 ERA) strained an oblique muscle in his final regular season start. Swingman Brent Suter, who made only four starts in 2020, will get the call in Game 1. Brandon Woodruff will take the mound in Game 2, who is coming off his best outing of the season (8 shutout innings, 10 strikeouts), which took place last Saturday.  

The best hope for the Brewers to pull off the upset would be to keep the games close until the late innings. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had a 3.33 ERA and career-high 1.15 WHIP. Setup men Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Pedro Baez also had ERAs over 3.00, which may be partially inflated but still an area where the Brewers can attack. 

Brewers closer Josh Hader can be almost untouchable at times, as he didn’t allow a hit until Sept. 5. However, he did have a couple poor outings down the stretch. Rookie Devin Williams is one to look out for as he only allowed one earned run in 27 innings (0.33 ERA) and struck out 53 (an incredible 17.7 K/9 rate). 

With Hader and Williams at the top of their game, it creates one of the best one-two relief punch combos in the majors, leaving the Dodgers with no choice but to produce runs early.

Schedule

Wednesday, Game 1: Brewers (Brent Suter, 2-0, 3.13 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 1-0, 3.44 ERA), 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Thursday, Game 2: Brewers (Brandon Woodruff, 3-5, 3.05 ERA) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 6-2, 2.16 ERA), 10 p.m .ET (ESPN)

Friday, Game 3 (if necessary): Brewers at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

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