Dodgers shocked by D-backs in NLDS sweep

October 12th, 2023

PHOENIX -- After racking up 100 wins in the regular season, the Dodgers came into this postseason with plenty of confidence. They were ready to wash away the anger that stuck with them all winter after losing in the 2022 National League Division Series to the Padres

The Dodgers’ pitching plan in October was going to be different, but the “big-boy stuff” that they were carrying was going to be enough. They had an offense that scored more than 900 runs and was led by two NL MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. 

This run was supposed to be different.

In the end, it wasn’t enough. It was yet another postseason disappointment for the Dodgers. Their season ended after just three games in October following a 4-2 loss to the D-backs in Wednesday’s Game 3 of the NLDS at Chase Field.

Despite winning 100 or more games in the last four full regular seasons, the Dodgers have now been eliminated in the NLDS in three of the past five seasons. It’s the first time the Dodgers were swept in a series since the '06 NLDS against the Mets. 

“It’s just a lot of disappointment,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “And I believe in every one of those guys. With baseball, that team over there outplayed us. I can answer questions about the game itself, but the bottom line is that they outplayed us in every facet of the game.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Dodgers this time around. With the combination of Julio Urías landing on paid administrative leave following domestic violence charges and not acquiring a top target in a relatively weak trade market in August, the Dodgers were left trying to piece things together. Those pitching plans, however, ended up blowing up in the Dodgers’ faces in a big way. 

Clayton Kershaw allowed six runs and recorded just one out in Game 1, perhaps setting the tone for the rest of the series. Bobby Miller wasn’t much better, giving up three runs over 1 2/3 innings in Game 2. On Wednesday, with their season hanging in the balance, they turned to , who allowed 44 homers in the regular season, the most by any pitcher in the Majors.

When the Dodgers acquired Lynn from the White Sox in late July, they were banking on the right-hander having better home run “luck.” That never came to fruition and Lynn went down allowing four solo home runs in the third inning to Geraldo Perdomo, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and Gabriel Moreno.

In three games, the Dodgers’ starting rotation allowed 13 runs and gave the club just 4 2/3 innings. Per Elias, that’s the fewest innings by a starting rotation in the first three games of a series in postseason history. 

“Disappointing no matter how it ends if you don’t win the whole thing,” Kershaw said. “Obviously this one hurts a lot just because of how it went down. They played great. They hit well, pitched well. Yeah, I don’t know what else to say. Just, obviously, a disappointing end.”

But while the starting staff struggled to limit big innings in the series, the last two losses largely fell on the offense. Betts and Freeman are two of the best players in the Majors and both should finish in the top four in NL MVP voting. The two superstars picked the worst possible time to struggle, however. 

“Frustrating,” Freeman said. “Me and a lot of us didn’t play the way we wanted to. They just came out swinging in all three games and beat us.”

Betts and Freeman went 0-for-8 in Game 3 and went just 1-for-21 with no extra-base hits in the series. In the eighth inning, with the Dodgers trailing by two runs and the tying run on base, Betts and Freeman had a chance to deliver with a big hit. Instead, both went down swinging against right-hander Kevin Ginkel. For Betts, it’s the first time in his career that he has gone hitless in the postseason. 

“I felt like I had prepared the right way, but I just didn’t execute anything and got to tip your cap to them, they pitched the ball really great,” Betts said. “Didn’t score very many runs, but again I didn’t do anything to help the team.”

The Dodgers have lost six consecutive postseason games, their second-longest streak in franchise history. They became the first team in MLB history to have three consecutive 100-win seasons and not reach the World Series in any of them. And now, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the future of the team. 

Kershaw is a free agent once again and retirement will be in play, especially with a left shoulder injury that hampered him the entire second half of the season. They’ll have a decision to make on Max Muncy’s team option. On the pitching side, they only have Ryan Pepiot, Emmet Sheehan and a healthy Walker Buehler penciled into the rotation. J.D. Martinez, Kiké Hernández, Jason Heyward and David Peralta are all free agents.

Los Angeles will certainly be in the market for two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. But maybe its attention should be on adding starting pitching depth in what is shaping out to be a strong free-agent class. 

Whatever the Dodgers decide to do this winter remains to be seen. But after another early exit in the postseason, they need to reevaluate if there’s a better way to construct a roster that could lead to better results in October. 

This year didn’t turn out differently, and it’ll be another long winter in Los Angeles. 

“The regular season, I think we do a great job,” Roberts said. “But the last couple of postseasons, it just hasn’t gone well for us and so I’ve got to figure it out.”