As soon as Manny Machado struck out, the questions started. Does Machado re-sign? Does Clayton Kershaw, who holds a player option, want to be a Dodger anymore?
Neither question has anything to do with the World Series. Those questions had been asked long before the final out happened. Where did the Dodgers bats go? Is it time to move from Kenley Jansen? Why can’t Kershaw pitch better in the playoffs?
There are more questions surrounding the club than a Riddler costume.
What to do with Machado and Kershaw
In the case of Machado, the Dodgers should make every effort to re-sign him. They felt strong enough to give up five prospects for him. He shouldn’t be a rental unless the front office has done all they could and he decided to walk. How do you placate his request to play shortstop? As been published in many places, it requires Corey Seager moving to third and Justin Turner to second. Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger would platoon at first when Bellinger isn’t in the outfield.
Kershaw’s deal might be a little more complicated. Even though there’s a level of emotion after losing the World Series but Kershaw’s comments is cause for concern.
“I haven’t made the decision yet,” said Kershaw. “We have three days to talk, between us and the Dodgers, see what happens and then we’ll go from there.”
The Dodgers survived Zack Greinke leaving via free agency, three years ago but this is much different. Kershaw has been the face of the Dodgers, good and bad, throughout his career. So many will point out his playoff performances but the Dodgers aren’t where they are without the 3 time Cy Young award winner.
If he leaves, in his critics eyes, he’ll be defined as the 3-time Cy Young award winner with a 4.32 playoff ERA. But, at the end of the day, it is a business, as Kenley Jansen reminded everyone.
“Whatever happens, happens,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “This is a business. At the end of the day, he just has to see what’s good for his family. Hopefully, for me, he will be here next year.”
As for the World Series performance, where do you start? As a team, the Dodgers hit .180. They seemed to always be behind in the count allowing the Red Sox pitchers to expand the strike zone. It was as if they believed there was a six run home run out there. This is what plagued this team against the Astros in last season’s World Series. Where were the big two out hits? Why did this team struggle so much getting runners over with less than two outs?
“They executed better in big moments, they hit better with runners in scoring position,” said Barnes. “The games, either team could have grabbed them. They did and we didn’t.”
For the second year in a row, the Dodgers tried to win the World Series based on achieving the desired “launch angle”. And for the second year in a row, they came up short.
Then there’s the bullpen and it’s 5.48 ERA. Simply put, it was an arson squad. It was on full display in the pivotal fourth game. Staked with a 4-0 lead, the bullpen couldn’t hold it. First it was Ryan Madsen giving up a three home run to Mitch Moreland in the 7th. That was followed up by Jansen giving up they game tying homer in the 8th.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, manager Dave Roberts didn’t allow Jansen to start the ninth and it backfired. Dylan Floro, Alex Wood, and Kenta Maeda gave up a combined five runs in the final frame. A 4-0 turned into a 9-4 deficit. Eventually the Dodgers would lose 9-6. The series ended that night.
Los Angeles is left with an offseason full of questions to be answered. The two time runner-ups will feel the pain for the next few months. Austin Barnes probably summed it up the best. “It stinks, it hurts, it sucks, it rips your heart out, it really does.”