Watching that game last night, it really feels like it. The combination of the timely hitting, outstanding bullpen and steadiness from their starting rotation, all of the pieces seem to be fitting together to potentially be the first Dodgers world series victory in 28 years.
After what really looked like a grind in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers look much more comfortable this round with everyone finding a specific role, not doing too much or too little but all contributing. Last night proved just that.
Sure, the Dodgers have a stud in Clayton Kershaw but when 36-year-old journeyman Rich Hill (who was playing independent ball for the Long Island Ducks just over a year ago) came out and pitched 6 innings of shutout, 2-hit baseball, you have to feel like there is something special with this team. Hill postgame realized the importance of what he had just done at Chavez Ravine.
“It’s the biggest game of my career. It’s just putting in the work, putting in the time, having a routine, persevere, all those things that you can say to sum up some kind of endurance or resiliency. For me, that’s all I’ve ever known is just work,” said Hill.
Being a Phillies fan, the 2008 team that won the world series reminds me of the 2016 Dodgers squad. Sure, Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley are the familiar faces from the past, but everyone has done what they have needed to do.
Plug Yasiel Puig into the lineup as a pinch hitter, and he goes 2-2. Yasmani Grandal continues to swing a hot bat, and when he needs a day off, Ruiz fills in. Long time Dodger Andre Ethier comes in delivering clutch hits despite not being in the starting lineup as he once was. It’s reminiscent of a team that has a ton of chemistry.
The bullpen has been amazing, as well. Joe Blanton (despite the one home run in game 1), Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton and closer Kenley Jansen have been extremely steady throughout the postseason run.
So where does Dave Roberts fit into all of this? The new head coach called this his “dream job” during his opening press conference back in December. His aggression as a manager has been something very different to a team that runs so deep in the playoffs. Some say he coaches more with a player’s mentality compared to a manager’s. Last night was just another example, having Joc Pederson steal third with 1 out, putting him in very good shape to score.
The Dodgers might not have the most talent of the four teams remaining. In fact, one could argue that they have the least amount of talent. However, there is something unique with the togetherness of this Dodgers team. Roberts’ dream job might end up leading to a dream run for his team.