Another 100-win season leads to another October flop for Dodgers

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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Lance Lynn (35) reacts as he exits during the third inning in Game 3 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – The Los Angeles Dodgers’ third straight 100-win season led to a third consecutive postseason flop.

A three-game Division Series sweep by the Arizona Diamondbacks that ended with a 4-2 defeat Wednesday night highlighted how much expanded playoffs have devalued the regular season.

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“There’s some things with the format that people can dissect or whatever, but the bottom line is that the last two years we’ve got outplayed in the postseason,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It doesn’t matter if it was a seven-game series, we lost the first three games. For me, I’ve got to do a better job of figuring out a way to get our guys prepared for the postseason. I’ll own that.”

Los Angeles has reached the playoffs in 11 straight years, the third-longest streak in major league history behind the Atlanta Braves’ 14 from 1991-2005 around the 1994 strike and the New York Yankees’ 13 from 1995-2007.

The Dodgers won the NL West in 10 of those seasons, yet their only World Series in that span was following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Led by Roberts, they have 100 or more wins in five of the last six full seasons.

Expectations once again were high this year, with a starry roster and a $222 million opening-day payroll, baseball’s fifth highest.

From April through September, they set the standard. Then in October, they turned so ordinary.

“Falling this way, not only does it hurt, it’s embarrassing,” Dodgers center fielder Kiké Hernández said.

After winning 106 games in 2021, the Dodgers were eliminated in the League Championship Series by the Atlanta Braves, who had 18 fewer wins.

After winning a big league-best 111 games last year, Los Angeles was knocked out in the Division Series by San Diego, which had 22 fewer wins.

And after winning 100 games this season, the Dodgers were swept by Arizona, which had 16 fewer wins.

Clayton Kershaw, Bobby Miller and Lance Lynn, who gave up four solo homers in the third inning, combined to go 0-3 with a 25.07 ERA, .571 opponents’ batting average and 1.809 opponents’ OPS. They lasted a combined 4 2/3 innings, the fewest outs for a team's starters over the first three games of a postseason series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

An overtaxed bullpen had to get 64 of 78 outs.

Offense fizzled, too, following five off days caused by a first-round bye.

Los Angeles scored a team-record 906 runs during the regular season, second in the majors behind the Braves. The Dodgers scored two runs in each game against the Diamondbacks and hit .177.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, who combined for 68 homers and 209 RBIs during the regular season, finished the series 1 for 21. With the potential tying run at the plate in the eighth inning, Betts struck out and dropped to 0 for 11 and Freeman whiffed and fell to 1 for 10.

“Me and a lot of us didn't play the way we wanted to,” Freeman said. “I had pitches to hit all night and rolled them over, just like I've been doing for five weeks.”

Betts is 3 for 38 (.079) over his last 10 postseason games.

“I did absolutely nothing to help us win,” Betts said. "You can point to a million different things, but at the end of the day, you got to play well.”

Betts, Freeman, Max Muncy and J.D. Martinez all topped 100 RBIs during the season. They combined for one against the Diamondbacks, on Martinez’s Game 2 solo homer.

“Going back to last year and this year, we’ve had a lot of runners in scoring position and we didn’t get the big hit,” Muncy said. “And in the postseason, the team that gets that big hit is the team that's going to win. We just didn’t do that at all for last several years and it cost us.”

When Hernández flied out and the Dodgers were swept in a postseason series for the first time since 2006, Freeman pounded the dugout rail twice. Martinez stared and walked down the runway. Los Angeles tied the second-longest postseason skid in franchise history at six.

Kershaw, a 10-time All-Star and 210-game winner, completed a $20 million, one-year contract and hasn’t said whether he intends to pitch next season. He was in line to pitch Game 4 on Thursday,

“Disappointing no matter how it ends if you don't win the whole thing, so, obviously, this one hurts a lot just because of how it went down," Kershaw said. “Obviously, a horrible way to end it personally but that's ultimately not important. It's just how I didn't help the team win the series and that's the most disappointing part, letting your guys down.”



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