Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
Since the San Diego Padres beat the San Francisco Giants for two straight games, the Los Angeles Dodgers are 1 game out of first place in the National League Western Division with eighteen games remaining.
The difference from playing 60 to 162 has been evident for the Dodgers throughout the 2021 season. When they clinched their ninth consecutive playoff berth, it was an accomplishment. They want to win their ninth straight divisional title, but they must catch the charmed Giants. It will be difficult for the Dodgers since they do not play against the Giants again in the 2021 regular season.
The 2021 season has been hard for the Dodgers since they have suffered many injuries and had Trevor Bauer suspended for alleged sexual misconduct during his off hours. In early May, Dustin May, who had a brilliant beginning of the season, must have Tommy John surgery and would miss the remainder of the season. Tony Gonsolin attempted to take May’s spot but developed shoulder inflammation. He missed from the last of June and then returned early September. After having a good 2021 season, Clayton Kershaw injured his forearm and missed 2½ months to rehabilitate the injury. Monday he returned to the starting rotation and pitched well.
The trade for Max Scherzer saved the Dodger season. He has performed brilliantly as a Dodger having an ERA of 0.88. Every time Scherzer takes the mound, the Dodgers know they have an excellent chance of winning. He is the leading candidate for his fourth National League Cy Young Award, and his new teammates of Walker Buehler and Julio Urìas are competing for the award.
Although the Dodgers had many bullpen games, they won most of them. The Dodger bullpen has had been in constant flux since the relievers had been either injured or tired. No matter which group of relievers the Dodgers used, the bullpen has performed with excellence. Alex Vesia has emerged as the left-handed stopper. Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen, and Kenley Jansen have been anchors of the Dodger bullpen.
Early in the 2021 season, the Dodgers toiled defensively; the Dodgers committed at least one error a game allowing an unearned run. However, when Corey Seager returned from the IL with his broken hand and Trea Turner joined the Dodgers, their defense improved and has prevented many runs from scoring.
The Dodger offense has been inconsistent since Seager has missed over fifty games. Right now, AJ Pollock, who has been the most consistent hitter, is on the IL with a strained hamstring. Before August, Chris Taylor was the best Dodger hitter, but since then, he has increased his strikeouts. Now, he is nursing a stiff neck.
The speed of Trea Turner and a healthy Mookie Betts has helped to make the Dodger offense more consistent. Since the All-Star break, Will Smith has performed remarkably. Practically, every time Smith has come to at-bat with runners on base, he has delivered. After a miserable August, Cody Bellinger’s offensive has improved. For the last week, Gavin Lux has hit over .400 batting average.
Hopefully, the Dodgers will continue winning while the Giants lose. They do not want to play the Wild Card game, particularly when they are on pace to win 103 games. While it is undesirable, the Dodgers should win the one-game ticket enabling them to earn the opportunity to defend their world championship.