Note: this post is part three of a week-long series highlighting the rooting interest of each of the four teams in MLB’s League Championship Series. ICYMI: The Case for Tampa Bay | The Case for Houston
They’re the juggerest of juggernauts in Major League Baseball. They averaged 96 wins per season from 2013 to 2019, and were on a 116-win pace this year after 60 games. They’ve won eight straight division titles, appeared in two of the last three World Series’ and lost both. They’re your favorite celebrity’s favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After laying waste to the Brewers and Padres, the trolley-dodgers are back in their fifth NLCS since 2012, facing the Atlanta Braves. And though they didn’t look too hot in the first two games, an offensive eruption in game three Wednesday night has their championship hopes back on track. Without further ado, here’s The Case for the Dodgers.
1. Kershaw’s Legacy
Whatever your feelings toward the Dodgers and their dominance over the last decade, it’s hard to hate against Clayton Kershaw. In his first 13 big-league seasons, the 32-year-old has already cemented a legacy as a surefire Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest left-handed starting pitchers of all time. An eight-time All-Star, he’s won three N.L. Cy Young awards, a Gold Glove, an MVP, a pitching Triple Crown, and he’s led the league in ERA five times. The only thing missing from Kershaw’s trophy case is a World Series ring.
At his peak, he was one of the most unstoppable forces the sport has ever seen. And while the Kershaw mystique has lessened somewhat since he hit his 30s, he’s still one of the better pitchers in the game, and has a key role on this deep and deadly Dodgers staff as the No. 2 punch behind Walker Buehler. He’s also a huge clubhouse presence, as evidenced by the mojo hit that L.A. took when he was scratched late from Tuesday’s game with back spasms (Atlanta won, 8-7).
Kershaw is scheduled to take the mound in a crucial game four Thursday night. Assuming the injury doesn’t return, he’ll have a chance to swing the momentum of the series and possibly save the Dodgers season.
2. That MVP Vibe
Generally, having one MVP is enough to make your team pretty good. Having two? All the better. Now how about three? In addition to Kershaw, the Dodgers feature last year’s N.L. MVP in center fielder Cody Bellinger—and after coming to terms with the Red Sox to acquire 2018 A.L. MVP Mookie Betts last winter, L.A. managed to complete the elusive trifecta of superstar talents on one field.
So, in summary: if you like rooting for a team has multiple players who are really, really, really, really good at baseball, you should consider catching a Dodgers game. Betts and Bellinger are at the heart of a lineup that loves to mash, and has fun doing it. Whenever they’re on the basepaths, the show is on, and it’s fun to watch.
Also: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Betts is also a brilliant bowler in his free time. Surely there’s something he can’t do, right?
3. Busy, Busy Brusdar
For nearly a decade, the Dodgers’ best reliever has been Kenley Jansen, the three-time All-Star who has held down the closer role in Chavez Ravine since 2012. But before long, it might just be 22-year-old rookie Brusdar Graterol. In his first season since coming over in the Kenta Maeda trade, the Venezuelan flamethrower finished the year fourth on the team in relief innings pitched despite appearing in barely 1/3rd of their games, and had the second-highest average fastball velocity in all of baseball (99.2 mph).
Brusdar (can we call you Brusdar, Brusdar?) became famous during the NLDS against the Padres when he threw his glove in celebration after Bellinger’s terrific home run-saving grab in game two, which was followed by some good-natured jawing with former Dodger Manny Machado. Between him and Joe Kelly, the Dodgers bullpen has spirit—and I won’t lie, I kind of love it.
BONUS POINTS: Utilityman Kiké Hernández is an absolute gem who deserves your support.