Dodgers 0 Cubs 5: Elimination
The Dodgers saw their season end in game six against the Cubs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been eliminated by the Chicago Cubs. That sentence shouldn’t be all that surprising considering how great the Cubs have been all season, but they sure took a painful route to get there. After taking a 2-1 series lead, they played three straight sloppy games and the offense couldn’t do much, leading to the end of the season.
Clayton Kershaw got off to an ominous start, as Dexter Fowler led off the game with a sawed-off bloop ground-rule double. Kris Bryant followed that up by poking a single to drive in a run and make it 1-0 after just two Cub batters.
Things got worst from Kershaw after that, as Anthony Rizzo hit a routine fly ball to left. Andrew Toles took his eye off the ball and dropped it to put runners on second and third. Kershaw got three outs after that to end the inning, but one of those outs came in the form of a sac fly to make it 2-0.
Kershaw’s first inning was surely unlucky, but after that he was flat bad. He struggled all game to put hitters away, which is possibly the thing Kershaw does best. His slider wasn’t sliding, his curveball was bouncing at 55 feet, and it was just ugly.
The Cubs added runs in the second, fourth and fifth off Kershaw. In the second, another leadoff double came around to score on a Fowler single. In the fourth, Willson Contreras crushed a pitch out to left. Anthony Rizzo followed suit with a homer in the fifth.
Kershaw was pinch hit for in the sixth inning, wrapping up his night and his season. He finished with five innings pitched and seven hits allowed. The Cubs scored five runs off him, but one of them was unearned. He only struck out four and didn’t walk a batter, but he was off.
It started as an unlucky outing, then it just turned into an awful outing. Maybe he was shook? Maybe he was hurting? Either way, the Dodgers needed Kershaw to shove, and he didn’t. It’ll be another long offseason of choking narratives, but he’s still the best pitcher in baseball. Just didn’t have it tonight.
In his last four NLCS starts, Clayton Kershaw has pitched 22 innings. He's received 1 total run of support. One.
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) October 23, 2016
Kershaw’s struggles didn’t really matter, as the offense was just shut down by Kyle Hendricks. Andrew Toles hit Kendrick’s first pitch to right for a single. Corey Seager hit Kendrick’s second pitch of the night at Javier Baez for a double play.
Josh Reddick reached on a Baez error in the second, but was picked off with two outs. Reddick was the Dodgers next baserunner, as he knocked a one-out single in the eighth. That ended Hendrick’s fantastic night, as he went 7.1 innings and allowed two hits and no walks. The Dodgers’ offense was bad tonight and has been awful for the last three games. While it’s easy to blame their approach and luck, sometimes a pitcher just dominates. That’s what Hendricks did tonight.
For what it’s worth, Reddick was erased on a double play. This was poor luck, as Howie Kendrick came off the bench and hit an Aroldis Chapman fastball hard. Of course, it went right to Baez at second, who fielded it on a shorthop and started the double play.
For you non-math majors out there, a team needs to make 27 outs in order to finish a game (with the exception of being the home team leading in the ninth inning). This means the minimum number of batters a road team can send to the plate is 27. Guess how many Dodgers came to the plate? (spoiler alert: it was 27).
Kenley Jansen was called on in the sixth and threw three perfect innings. Relief pitching is usually volatile and varies year-to-year. Some guys can have a bad year and come back to dominate the next. Jansen is just so good. It’s usually dumb to spend a lot of money on relief pitching. But please, Dodgers. Bring Jansen back.
Jansen will be a free agent and will have no shortage of suitors. Chapman will also be a free agent, and he’s definitely on the same tier as him. He’d be a great bullpen arm, but he’s also a horrible human being. So please, just give Jansen all the money.
Good old Andy McCullough summed up this series in fewer than 140 words.
The Cubs are a better team than the Dodgers. The Dodgers also underperformed in this series. It happens.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) October 23, 2016
I’ve said multiple times this season that talent wins out over a 162-game season and that the playoffs are often random. The Dodgers had the Cubs on the ropes, and then the Cubs remembered how much talent they had. The Dodgers also decided to play along and roll over for three of their worst games of the season.
This season ends in disappointment, as every season does for 29 teams. Their horrible three-game stretch here shouldn’t take away from an incredible season, and next season will surely be just as wild and emotion filled. It’s been fun.