Yasiel Puig’s struggles, Clayton Kershaw’s playoff demise, and Don Mattingly’s poor decisions led to the too-early exit of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. For a team that had World Series hopes, that is simply unacceptable.
With 94 wins in the regular season–second-most in the National League–Dodger fans had been awaiting a deep playoff run by a team put together by all that money could buy. However, it all fell apart with Puig, Kershaw, and Mattingly. After leading the team in runs, Puig totaled just three hits and one extra-base hit against the Cardinals. For someone trying to prove that he is a leader, Puig fell way too short.
As for the possible Cy Young winner, Kershaw pitched like a high school pitcher in just two of the NLDS innings, although those two innings proved to doom him. The Cardinals had his number in the playoffs, scoring eight runs off Kershaw in the seventh inning of a 10-9 Dodgers loss in game one and winning the series with a three-run homer from Matt Adams in game four. That certainly doesn’t look like the best pitcher in baseball, an ace who posted a 1.77 ERA during the season.
All of this ties together with Mattingly, the Los Angeles manager. There were key mishaps with Puig and Kershaw that Mattingly blew up. Puig did struggle through the first three games and was benched for game four, but you don’t bench your best hitter based on three poor outings. You start him because he has been a consistent contributor throughout the entire season. As for Kershaw, he was left in too long in both games. In game one, Kershaw was rocked late in the game, and was taken out after the damage was done. In game four, Kershaw pitched on just four days of rest. Instead of going to reliever Kenley Jansen in the seventh inning, Kershaw stayed in, throwing 102 pitches after 110 in game one, so that he could give up the homer that sent St. Louis to the NLCS.
Thanks, Mattingly. That’s the difference between a World Series Champion and an incomplete team. Better luck next year, boys.