The Dodgers had a weird season. Maybe that’s true of all teams that play 162 baseball games in just over six months, but this year seemed especially weird. They were in first place for 152 of those 162 games, which seems like a dominant year, but it didn't feel that way. Los Angeles didn’t pull away from the Giants until mid-August, and the Giants never really seemed any good to begin with. Nevertheless, the Dodgers finished the season 92-70, good for the fourth-best record in the NL. Here’s why they’ll win the World Series.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
Clayton Kershaw will redeem himself
There shouldn't be much doubt as to who's the best pitcher on the planet. Yet, when the three-time Cy Young award winner has pitched in the postseason, he's performed as if he were actually the 148-year-old zombie Cy Young rather than Clayton Kershaw, best pitcher on the planet. In his last three starts (all against the Cardinals) Kershaw has allowed 18 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. All three were losses. He will surely reverse that trend this postseason and take his team to the promised land.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
After Kershaw, there's Zack Greinke
After Kershaw redeems himself with every start, teams will have to face ERA leader Greinke, who's arguably been the best pitcher on the team this year. He finished the season with a 1.66 ERA, the lowest since Greg Maddux's 1.63 in 1995. At one point in the season, Greinke threw 45 2/3 scoreless innings, which is the fourth-longest streak in the expansion era. To make matters worse for hitters, he's been a very good postseason pitcher as well, with a 2.14 ERA in his past four starts.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
No matter how you slice it, good, consistent production goes a long way. The Dodgers have that in Adrian Gonzalez. The 12-year veteran has been on the last three Dodgers postseason teams. More than that, he's played in 157, 159, and 156 games the last three seasons, providing the consistent production he's become known for over his career. And it's no different when the postseason comes. In 18 playoff games, Gonzo has hit .294 with four homers, 10 RBI, and 10 runs. The guy is a rock.
APJae C. Hong
Shut 'em down
The Dodgers are tied for an MLB-best 21 team shutouts. Three of the have been complete games from Kershaw, and the rest have been team efforts. There have been questions about the bullpen, but the Dodgers' team ERA is fifth-best in all of baseball. Add in lockdown closer Kenley Jansen, and a strong team-pitching effort goes a long way come playoff time.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
World Series experience
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were turning double plays for the Phillies during that team's five-year run as one of the best in baseball from 2008-11. That stretch included two World Series appearances and one win. Regardless of the role they play on the field, their leadership value in the clubhouse in incalculable. Knowing what it takes to get the job done is important, and there aren't many tandems with better experience.