Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
The 2021 NLDS series between the Dodgers and the Giants will go down as one of the best matchups of all-time. We were robbed of only a 5 game series but it was great nonetheless.
The series started on October 8, 2 days after the Dodgers beat the Cardinals in a one game elimination. The Dodgers seemed to have a Wild Card hangover.
How the downfall started
They lost game one by a score of 4-0 while only being able to string together 5 hits. Logan Webb shined for the Giants, going 7.2 IP and striking out 10 in the process. Walker Buehler’s line was 6.1 IP while giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs.
Despite that line from Buehler, he really didn’t pitch that bad. He had 2 mistakes all night that went over the wall. All he had to do was make 1 mistake and it would have been enough for the Giants to win the game.
Game 2 sparked hope in every Dodger fan as they were able to score 9 runs. Surely that was the sign that their bats were finally starting to wake up. In fact, position player was able to get a hit except for Justin Turner.
Urias went 5 innings and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run in the process. The scoreline was rather misleading since it was 2-1 going into the 6th. It was another taxing game for the Dodgers using 5 different pitchers after using 4 in game 1.
Mad Max loses pitching duel
Game 3 was almost identical to game 1. They lost 1-0 while only being able to garner 5 hits. Scherzer was exceptional going 7 innings and giving up 3 hits. The only downside here was that Scherzer was taxed with 110 pitches.
The Dodgers again bounced back in game 4 with a 7-2 win where they seemed to be in control for the entire game. Buehler was only able to go 4.1 innings but he was effective in his short outing.
Then game 5 of course was a bullpen game that began with controversy with Dave Roberts deciding to go with an opener instead of starting Urias. That was ultimately a great call and a main reason as to why they were able to win the game.
Winning comes at a cost
So great news right? The Dodgers got past the Giants and moved on the NLCS where the Braves were waiting for them. The Braves, a good team, but significantly below the Dodgers in terms of talent on paper. However, it was not the same Dodgers that won 106 games during the regular season.
It is reasonable enough to mention that Kershaw and Muncy were both lost right before the playoffs started. With both of them in the mix, the Dodgers could have been better suited to take on the Giants. But injuries happened and this alone is not the reason the Dodgers lost.
The Dodgers lost because of the same reason they beat the Giants, overloading their pitching staff. And that is definitely not Dave Robert’s fault. He did what he had to do to beat the Giants. If he hadn’t made the moves he made, the Giants would have met the Braves in the NLCS.
Mad Max was maxed out
Max Scherzer pitched 4 times in the span of 11 days. Over those 4 games he threw 296 pitches. That included 3 starts and one relief appearance. Scherzer described his arm as being “dead” after his relief appearance in game 5 of the NLDS.
It’s understandable why Roberts would turn to Scherzer instead of others. He had been lights out with the Dodgers and he is a competitor. Scherzer was surely telling Roberts anytime that he could to get him involved more.
After the Giants had bled out the Dodgers’ bullpen it was as good as over. Scherzer was tired leaving the Dodgers with Buehler and Urias to take on more responsibility. Buehler was turning in good outings but seemed to lack the finishing pitch. Urias couldn’t seem to figure out rotating between relief and starting.
There was no other way
None of that is really their fault. Everything changed in the last week of the season. They all had to take on new roles. Playing the Giants for 5 games was ultimately the reason they couldn’t put away the Braves.
The Dodgers lost on walk off hits in both game 1 and 2. One extra arm in the staff could have made the difference. No I don’t mean Kershaw. I mean a more rested staff. One that didn’t have to take on the Giants.
In all honesty, the Giants stood a better chance against the Braves. But that’s not what matters. The Giants were not desperate enough to win at all costs like the Dodgers were. The Dodgers being short-handed led to them winning that series but doomed them for the rest to the playoffs.
Run it back for next year? Yes, please.