The 2015 season marked the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Dodgers as Andrew Friedman was hired to be their new president of baseball operations in October of the previous year.
He took over for Ned Colletti, who stepped down as general manager but remained with the team as a special adviser to president and CEO Stan Kasten.
Friedman wasted no time making changes to the roster that offseason as fan-favorites Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon were moved in separate blockbuster trades, and Hanley Ramirez was not re-signed in free agency.
During that process the Dodgers added the likes of Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Kiké Hernandez, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to the roster.
Coming off back-to-back National League West championships, the Dodgers once again had a talented team in 2015 and made it a third straight division title after finishing 92-70.
Unfortunately, they were defeated in five games in the NL Division Series by the New York Mets, marking the end of manager Don Mattingly’s tenure with the team. He was replaced by Dave Roberts that winter.
Rollins immediately made his presence felt in a Dodger uniform with a three-run home run on Opening Day to propel his team to a 6-3 victory over Kemp and the San Diego Padres.
The 2015 Dodgers had many talented players in their lineup, including Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig. However, one of the highlights of the first half of the season was the play of rookie center fielder Joc Pederson.
In addition to playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, Pederson also hit 20 first-half home runs and represented the Dodgers in the All-Star Game. He wound up starting as a replacement for Matt Holiday, and also competed in the Home Run Derby, finishing second to hometown hero Todd Frazier in Cincinnati.
While Pederson’s bat cooled off in a big way in the second half, he still finished sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Another rookie also burst onto the scene in 2015 as the Dodgers called up top prospect Corey Seager in September. He wound up batting .337/.425/.561 in 21 games to close out the season and overtook Rollins as the team’s starting shortstop in the postseason.
But arguably the real story of the 2015 season for the Dodgers was their pitching staff, particularly Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
Greinke led all of baseball with a 1.66 ERA, going 19-3 with a 2.76 FIP and 0.84 WHIP with 200 strikeouts and 40 walks across 222.2 innings across 32 starts. He finished second in the NL Cy Young voting though, as Chicago Cubs starter Jake Arrieta went on a historic run in the second half to take home the award.
Finishing third in the Cy Young voting that year was Kershaw despite a rough start to the year. He had a 4.32 ERA through his first nine starts of the season, but was masterful in his final 24 starts, posting a 1.39 ERA.
In 33 starts overall, Kershaw went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA, 1.99 FIP and 0.88 WHIP with an MLB-leading 301 strikeouts compared to just 42 walks in 232.2 innings.
Kenley Jansen once again anchored the Dodgers’ bullpen despite missing the first month and a half of the season due to foot surgery. He finished with 36 saves, yielding a 2.41 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 0.78 WHIP with 80 strikeouts and only eight walks in 52.1 innings.
In addition to Pederson, Greinke and Kershaw, Grandal and Gonzalez also represented the Dodgers in the All-Star Game in Cincinnati in 2015.
The Dodgers’ big move at the trade deadline in 2015 was a three-way deal with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins to acquire Alex Wood, Mat Latos, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Jose Peraza. They also acquired Chase Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies in a waiver trade in August.
L.A. clinched the NL West with a win over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Sept. 26. Kershaw struck out 13 in a complete-game shutout, outdueling Madison Bumgarner in an 8-0 victory. The Dodgers wound up finishing eight games ahead of the second-place Giants and faced the Mets in the NLDS.
The series between the Dodgers and Mets featured some outstanding pitching matchups with Kershaw, Greinke, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard all at the top of their games coming into the series.
Kershaw struck out 11 in six innings in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium, but deGrom was even better, striking out 13 in seven shutout innings. It was the first game in MLB playoff history where both starters struck out 11 or more batters.
Daniel Murphy began his postseason heroics for the Mets, homering off Kershaw and leading his team to a 3-1 victory.
The Dodgers responded with a win in Game 2 behind seven strong innings from Greinke and a late comeback. Chase Utley infamously had a hard slide into second base to break up a double play in the eighth inning, breaking the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada and earning himself a two-game suspension for Games 3 and 4 back in New York.
After the teams split the two games at Citi Field, with Kershaw pitching seven brilliant innings on three days rest, the series shifted back to Dodger Stadium for the decisive Game 5.
But the Dodgers again had trouble figuring out deGrom in Game 5, and Murphy hit his third home run of the series, this time coming off Greinke, to lead the Mets to a 3-2 victory and series win.
New York wound up advancing all the way to the World Series before losing to the Kansas City Royals.