The Los Angeles Dodgers have won just four games combined in their last three National League Championship appearances, but this could be the squad that changes that trend. LA added Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers at the deadline and combined with Clayton Kershaw delivers as good of a one-two punch as any team remaining. Can they pull off the four wins needed to return to the World Series for the first time since 1988?
Here are three things the Los Angeles Dodgers need to do in order to advance past the Chicago Cubs
Don’t pitch Kershaw in relief to try and close the series early
Thanks to a quick sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kershaw saw 6.1 innings of work in his NLDS start and then was able to call it a series.
I’m not a fan of pitchers going on short rest to close a series early. The Dodgers are big fans of using Clayton Kershaw in the playoffs on short rest. If Los Angeles wants to be the National League representative in the World Series, it would greatly benefit from handling business and not needing Kershaw to come out on short rest. The offense is strong, but a fully rested Kershaw late in the series combined with that lineup feels almost unstoppable.
— Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) October 10, 2017
It’s not that he couldn’t either, for the record. He’s the best pitcher on the planet. It would just put the Dodgers at a disadvantage in the World Series by giving Kershaw that much work. You have a bullpen. Use it, and keep your stud for when you absolutely need him.
Yu Darvish and Rich Hill must contribute
Clayton Kershaw can do just about anything, but unfortunately for Dodgers fans he can’t start every game. As stated above, Darvish is a great follow up to Kershaw, and Rich Hill is a strong arm as well. A good way to ensure that Kershaw isn’t overused is making sure Darvish and Hill do their jobs.
In October, it’s important to be at the top of your game. If the Dodgers staff can handle things the first time around, this figures to be a short series.
In the NLDS, Darvish picked up seven K’s across five innings of work. Hill went four innings allowing three hits, two runs and walking three.
Yu Darvish’s Slider to Paul Goldschmidt was downright FILTHY. pic.twitter.com/nd3fwwL2fh
— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) October 10, 2017
Don’t bottom out
The Dodgers managed to win 104 regular season games while also losing 16 out of 17 games at one point during the season.
This kind of goes without saying, but you want the version of the Dodgers that won 104 games, not the version that lost 16 of 17. Cody Bellinger could stand to pick it up, who K’d six times during the NLDS and managed just three hits on fourteen at bats.
They are a heavy favorite. Just do what got you there and you can expect to continue.