Although the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed their second straight National League pennant in 2018, they rarely seemed like a dominant, unstoppable force from the year prior.
They suffered numerous setbacks due to injury and regression but rallied in the season’s second half before defeating the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers to reach the World Series.
For manager Dave Roberts, though, that would again be the closest he has come so far to managing a World Series champion. That could change in 2019.
The Dodgers look just as good if not better than the 2017 team that won 104 games and bulldozed its way to the franchise’s NL Pennant in 29 years.
They currently boast the best record in baseball and are on pace for a franchise-record 111 wins. The Dodgers have the highest team on-base plus slugging percentage and lowest team ERA in the National League. Individually, Cody Bellinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu look like early favorites for the NL MVP and Cy Young, respectively.
Bellinger has already compared the 2019 season to his rookie year in 2017, and Kiké Hernandez did so too after the Dodgers’ 9-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks this week.
Roberts is more hesitant to compare his teams across seasons. However, he did acknowledge that there is something unique about the way the 2019 Dodgers have constantly taken control of games early, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“There is something different about this team. I would say that we’re more equipped to get out ahead of things as far as getting a lead, attacking early and containing to chip away. Instead of waiting until the seventh, eighth, ninth inning to show our character and fight to come back. I think that’s a mark of a good team also. To get ahead of it and keep going, but all three teams, I think have been pretty focused. The last series of a season just hasn’t worked out for us the last two years. But as far as the regular season and throughout the postseason, I think we’ve done things pretty well.”
The Dodgers have played in 22 blowouts this season (games determined by five runs or more) — and won 17 of them. The team recently had a season-best seven-game winning streak that included one dramatic comeback and a walk-off victory that both were reminiscent of 2017.
While the Dodgers have enjoyed great success throughout the last two regular seasons and postseasons, though, Roberts knows that their focus remains on winning the last series of the year and bringing a championship back to Los Angeles.