Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020
On a beautiful Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their eighth consecutive divisional title. They beat the Oakland Athletics 7-to-2. It was Tommy Lasorda’s 93rd birthday.
From the beginning of February, particularly after obtaining Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox, baseball thought the Dodgers were the best team. Through spring training and summer camp, the Dodgers dominated their opponents, even when they were another squad.
It is difficult to get excited about another divisional title. Having a season with only 37% of a typical regular season bought its new challenges. Every team must approach the 2020 season differently from any other season in baseball.
The Dodgers answered every challenge. They have the best record in the Major Leagues by two games, and they lead the National League by five games.
During this atypical season, the Dodgers lost one series. They lead the National League in home runs, and Tuesday Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, and AJ Pollock blasted home runs. From 2019, the Dodgers improved their production with runners on base and two outs. They have decreased their strikeouts. Using their speed more than in 2019, the Dodgers can manufacture runs.
The Dodger pitching staff has the lowest ERA in the Major Leagues even though left-handed David Price opted out and Walker Buehler with a blister missed over twenty games. After missing his ninth Opening Day start because of a minor back injury, Clayton Kershaw has returned to his dominating self like he was 2014 when he earned the Cy Young and MVP awards. The emergence of Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin has saved the rotation. Julio Urìas has pitched well in his last two starts.
Despite losing left-handed Caleb Ferguson, who underwent successful Tommy John surgery Tuesday, the Dodger bullpen was the best in the Major Leagues. Joe Kelly (shoulder inflammation) and Pedro Báez (groin injury) missed a significant amount of time. Brusdar Graterol, Jake McGee, Adam Koralek, Dylan Floro, and Victor González anchored the bullpen. Although Kenley Jansen struggled in a few outings, he has been a wonderful closer.
Justin Turner is the only regular Dodger who has been on the IL. His hamstring problems have plagued throughout his career. Tuesday, Turner was a late scratch because of a cramp in his hamstring, and Tuesday was supposed to start at third base for the first time since coming off the IL. If Turner cannot play defense during the postseason, either Edwin Rìos or Max Muncy can play third base. Turner should be able to contribute to the offense.
No one knows what will happen to the Dodgers during the postseason. However, sixty games during the regular season should help the Dodgers perform better than they did in 2019. The addition of Betts will make the Dodgers harder to beat.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020