This one pains me to write. There are no secrets about which MLB team I wear on my New Era hats. In the interest of fairness, I have made observations about the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are 106-48, which gives them the best record in baseball. They will likely finish with close to 110 wins for the season, one of the best in recent years. Yet even this incredible team has some holes that could see them get an early exit in the 2022 playoffs. Let us see the reasons.
"But the Dodgers have the best ERA in the majors!" Yes, they do. In a short 5 or 7-game series, however, matchups matter more than the 162-game season average. Due to injuries, the Dodgers have 4 left-handed pitchers slated as their starters. Tony Gonsolin is no sure thing to return before the playoffs and Dustin May has looked like a pitcher coming off of major arm surgery. He has been inconsistent. Walker Buehler is out for a long time. They're left with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tyler Anderson, and possibly Andrew Heaney. The rest are parts unknown.
The bullpen is the Dodgers' strong suit, mostly. I am going to just say it: Craig Kimbrel should be left off the postseason roster unless another pitcher goes down with an injury. Evan Phillips should be the closer or the "fireman." There are no guarantees with a postseason bullpen, but the Dodgers do have a good one.
"But the Dodgers have the best offense in the majors!" Yes, that is true as well. If you see a list of the Dodgers' offense on paper, it is indeed intimidating. Some players are drastically underperforming, however.
The first three regulars in the Dodgers' lineup are solid. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman are virtual MVP candidates. Turner needs to prove he can hit in October, but otherwise, these are solid.
Justin Turner has found the fountain of youth, hitting nearly .400 over his last 100 plate appearances. Then the question marks come.
Max Muncy still has an OPS+ under 100, which is below league average. He has come to life a little over the last month, but he has not gotten "hot" this season.
Cody Bellinger has shown recent signs of life (I had heard this before) but overall he is also hitting around the Mendoza line and still has an OPS under .700.
Chris Taylor has plummeted, cratered, fallen off the face of the earth, offensively. Over his last 30 games, he is slashing .178/.270/.267. Taylor has a reputation for being clutch during the playoffs, but he has not exactly earned at-bats beyond being terrific with the glove all over the field.
Joey Gallo is also terrific with the glove, but he has been about average at the plate. He strikes out a lot, but that is okay. In the playoffs, elite pitching could expose him.
Trayce Thompson, who has been a revelation for the Dodgers, has been quietly terrible for the last few weeks. He is slashing .157/.237/.412 over his last 15 games.
All of this could be considered a little bit of cherry-picking but in a short series, these weaknesses can be exploited. This is not to say the Dodgers do not come out mashing every team they play. It's possible. The Dodgers' pitching could be elite during their entire potential championship run. Still, these weaknesses should be noted.
The NLDS begins on October 11th.