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The Dodgers Are NL West Champions, But World Series Hinges On One Player

The Dodgers look to October now. Are they ready for a deep playoff run?

The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, 4-0. A win last night officially clinched the division for the Dodgers. It is their ninth NL West title in 10 seasons. The San Francisco Giants, who won the 2021 NL West by a single game, are 68-74 and were never relevant in this year's division chase.

The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks in a familiar fashion. They mashed a few long balls and had Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Kershaw has been on the Dodgers for the entirety of this NL West dominance. His certain Hall of Fame career has been tied to the Dodgers' success and failures, whether fair or not.

Kershaw and The October Dodgers

The Dodgers pitching injuries and woes have been well-documented over the past two seasons. They are without their best postseason weapon—Walker Buehler. Buehler will likely be out for the entirety of the 2023 season, as well. Tony Gonsolin is currently on the injured list, although most are saying he should be back in time for the playoffs. Blake Treinen has not thrown a pitch since late spring. Craig Kimbrel appears to be pitching better, but that is one big if. The fact that the Dodgers have already clinched their division and had one of the most historically dominant seasons is a testament to their depth.

Despite this, they are being tested. There is no way to sugarcoat this. The Dodgers need Clayton Kershaw to be as Kershaw-y as he has ever been. Last season they had to play the playoffs without him. In 2020, other than a back problem in the NLCS, he was at his best.

Despite the injuries, Kershaw has the best FIP (fielding independent pitching) on the Dodgers. His 2.44 ERA is also impressively low. The depth of his slider and the bite on his fastball has been effective when he has been on the mound. He has taken a perfect game into the seventh inning this season and had a few close calls with pitching no-hitters. Kershaw is still as effective as ever, despite his age and wear and tear. If Gonsolin is healthy, Tyler Anderson continues to pitch well, and the ever-steady Julio Urias is ready, Kershaw adds to an impressive playoff rotation. It will come down to, as it always does, a mixture of execution, luck, and clutch.

Kershaw's Legacy

Kershaw is already one of the greatest pitchers to ever take the mound. He's already a World Series champion. He's already a terrific teammate. If you thought I was going to take this paragraph and type out that "Kershaw needs to win this and pitch well to cement his legacy" you are dead wrong. Kershaw's legacy is already cemented. An MVP, a three-time Cy Young, a 5-time ERA title winner, and a 9-time All-Star. Kershaw is a GOAT.

The Dodgers Legacy

The Atlanta Braves of the 1990s often get lumped in with the Buffalo Bills of the same period. The Braves won a World Series championship, but sadly the Bills did not. The Dodgers won the 2020 World Series. Their dominance is written in the books already. Adding another title would certainly be a cherry on top, but the dessert is already there.