The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites, once again, to come out of the National League and represent the Senior Circuit in the World Series. They may be lauded for their depth, but that doesn't mean you can't poke holes into this roster. If they want to go the distance, here are three things the Dodgers still need to prove before the NLDS.
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu Can Get Back to All-Star Form and Stay Healthy
Was the month of August a blip on the radar for Hyun-Jin Ryu's stellar 2019 campaign? Maybe, but for a veteran pitcher who has been prone to injury over his career, it looks like he's wearing down, and doesn't resemble the guy who was this year's All-Star starter and the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award. The strength of this Dodgers team is their top three starters, headlined by Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Ryu. They have the makings of an elite starting staff, but if Ryu starts to decline on top of Kershaw's postseason woes, playoff teams might be able to tee off to go along with a Dodgers bullpen that leaves a lot to be desired.
2. Enter Postseason Hot to Remove Worries of Years Past
Every team entering the postseason wants to be playing their best ball. The Dodgers are no different, and with the way their season has ended the last two years, it's important that they get hot right now and carry that momentum (and, more importantly, swagger) into October. Not only would it give the players confidence, which is key, but the fans won't be as worried about the ultimate prize and pressure of winning their first Fall Classic since 1988.
1. Can They Trust Kenley Jansen in the Ninth?
This...this is it. The Los Angeles Dodgers are deep, and this might be the best starting rotation they've ever had during this recent run. However, their bullpen has left a lot to be desired, including their man in the ninth. Kenley Jansen has put together an impressive career and is someone you can usually rely on, but that hasn't been the case this year, as he owns a 3.81 ERA and has eight blown saves. Unfortunately for LA, they don't have a backup option you feel good about, either. For the Dodgers to have any faith in their chances of getting back to the World Series and getting over the hump, they need Jansen to be his old self over the final couple of weeks. If not, it could be an unexpected exit for the Dodgers.