By Matt Ferris
The 2017 World Series lived up to all of the hype. It was one of, if not the best, World Series in MLB history.
The series went seven games, and all but one of those games was a hotly contested, back-and-forth affair. In the end, however, the Houston Astros scrapped their way to a 4-3 series win to become the 2017 World Series Champions.
The World Series crown was very attainable for the Dodgers, but they fell just short, and there are a couple of reasons and people to blame for this.
The blame for the Dodgers begins with their starting pitching. The Dodgers’ starting pitching was, quite frankly, awful. Los Angeles saw a starter finish the sixth inning only one time in the series. Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings, allowing only one run and striking out 11 in Game 1, but aside from that performance, the Dodgers did not get quality starts.
The Dodgers’ starters combined for an ERA of 5.52 during the seven game series. Compare this number with the 3.38 ERA that the Dodgers’ pitching staff put up in the regular season, and it is almost unbelievable.
Yu Darvish, who was acquired in the middle of the season to help the Dodgers make a World Series run, threw just 3.1 innings in his two World Series starts and gave up eight earned runs. Kershaw, the likely NL Cy Young winner and quite possibly the best pitcher in the MLB, pitched just 4.2 innings and gave up six earned runs in his second start in the Fall Classic.
Another blame for the Dodgers was the meat of their order. The 2-3-4 hitters in the Dodgers’ lineup, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, struggled mightily. The sluggers combined for a .175 average, hitting only three home runs and driving in only 11 runs in the seven games.
Seager, who hit .295, with 22 HRs and 77 RBIs in the regular season, hit just .222 with one HRs and four RBIs. Consider that this stat line was the best of the three and it becomes glaring just how bad they were.
Turner, probably the Dodgers’ best offensive player, hit just .160 with one home run and two RBIs in the series. In the regular season, Turner slashed .322 with 21 HR and 71 RBIs, while still missing 32 games.
Bellinger, the clear favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year, smashed 39 dingers and drove in 97 RBIs, while hitting .267 in 2017. He set a record in the World Series – and not a good one. Bellinger set the World Series record for most strikeouts. Bellinger struck out 17 times over seven games, while hitting a meager .142. The disappointing slugger was in no way productive, as he hit only one HR and drove in just five.
But the most blame lies solely on the shoulders of manager Dave Roberts. Roberts decided to start Darvish in game 7. Darvish started three games in the postseason prior to Game 7, averaging just 4.1 innings per start and posting an awful 4.15 ERA.
The obvious choice would have been Kershaw, who many agree, is the best pitcher in the MLB. Yes, Kershaw would have been on short rest, but in a must-win game, who better to trust then the soon-to-be four-time Cy Young winner.
Just one win away from their first World Series title in 29 years, Dodgers fans have to ask themselves, “What if?” “What if our sluggers actually played well?” “What if our starters lasted longer than four innings?” “What if Kershaw had started Game 7?”