Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
What a game! No one should predict what will happen during baseball’s postseason since he probably will look like a fool. The Los Angeles Dodgers were down two games to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and were trailing by three runs. The Dodger naysayers thought the NLCS was almost over, but Cody Bellinger, who had a miserable 2021 season, blasted a game-tying homer. Mookie Betts singled in the winning run.
During the NLCS, it has been obvious the Dodger starting rotation is exhausted; therefore, manager Dave Roberts has been relying on the Dodger bullpen. Before this season, Walker Buehler has performed magnificently in the playoffs.
Before this season, Buehler had not hurled more than 182.1 innings during the regular season, but in the 2021 regular season, he threw 207.2 innings. Prior to September, Buehler was a Cy Young Award candidate, but he lost his command and struggled in September.
After having a satisfactory start against the San Francisco Giants on three days’ rest for the first time during his Major-League career, Buehler struggled through 3.2 innings allowing four runs. If the Dodgers did not turn double plays, Buehler would have allowed more runs than he did.
Although the Dodger bullpen must be exhausted, they performed well on Tuesday. While Corey Knebel and Phil Bickford combined to allow a run in the fifth inning, inexperienced Alex Vesia, Justin Bruihl, and Evan Phillips handled the playoff pressure beautifully. Both Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen continued their dominance during the postseason.
The Dodgers have had trouble hitting with runners in scoring position. They have been anxious at the plate, and they aren’t a good curveball-hitting club. While Justin Turner has an excuse for not hitting during the LCS since he is nursing a sore hamstring and a stiff neck, Trea Turner, who earned the National League batting championship, has been disappointing. Trea Turner feels he has not been aggressive enough at the plate, but he has been chasing balls out of the strike zone. During the postseason, Turner has a .200 batting average, and the Dodgers were depending on Trea Turner to compensate for the loss of Max Muncy with a dislocated elbow.
Coming off an injury-riddled season, Bellinger has performed marvelously during the postseason. For the first time during 2021, he looks healthy. In November, he underwent shoulder surgery to keep his shoulder in the joint. Though completed his rehabilitation process during spring training, Bellinger did not have his usual strength until now, which diminished his power and bat control. He has endured fractures in his calf and rib and hamstring issues for the first time in his professional career.
Many so-called Dodger fans wanted the front office to leave Bellinger off the playoff roster because his offensive performance during the regular season was pathetic. However, with Bellinger’s superior defense both in center field and at first base and Muncy’s injury, the Dodgers could not oblige some fans’ wishes.
Every time the Dodgers need a big hit or a walk during the postseason, Bellinger has delivered. Tuesday, in the eighth, after Will Smith and AJ Pollock singled, Bellinger hit the most important three-run homer of the Dodger 2021 season. After Chris Taylor singled and stole second, Betts doubled in Taylor.
The momentum of the LCS has changed. In the 2021 season, the Dodgers were the best home team in the Major Leagues. They need to win Wednesday and Thursday.