The Los Angeles Dodgers were in prime position to go to their first World Series since their 1988 championship, holding a 2-1 lead over the Cubs in last year’s National League Championship Series with a chance to close it out at Dodger Stadium.
But they lost the next two home games, and then Clayton Kershaw lost in Game 6 at Wrigley Field as the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945.
Now the Dodgers are back and seemingly unstoppable.
With the best record in baseball and a general feeling of omnipotence, they took their act to the South Side of Chicago on Tuesday for a two-game interleague series against the White Sox.
Can anyone stop the Dodgers from ending their 29-year Series drought?
After failing to get there in their last 10 postseason appearances, anything less will be considered a flop.
“That’s the part of the challenge that’s fun for us,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “We want to win the World Series. Who doesn’t want to win the World Series? Every team wants to win the World Series when you get to the playoffs. It’s just a matter of who makes the last mistake.
“We have the best team in baseball right now, yes. If we continue to improve and get better, and get ready, hopefully we get back in the playoffs and once we get back we’ll take care of it from there.”
While the Cubs waved goodbye to Dexter Fowler, David Ross, Jason Hammel and other key contributors to their 103-win title team, the Dodgers re-signed their biggest free agents, Jansen, Justin Turner and Rick Hill, putting their faith in the status quo.
It’s worked out so far, and now the Dodgers may be the most dominant team baseball has seen in years.
They started out 10-12, but have gone 54-17 since April 26 — a .765 winning percentage —including nine straight wins heading into Tuesday night, as Kershaw faced Miguel Gonzalez. Their run differential of plus-172 is far and away the best in baseball, and they have the major’s stingiest pitching staff (3.12 ERA) while ranking fifth in runs scored.
It’s a long way to October, but the Dodgers seem to have caught the perfect wave, while the Nationals are still trying to fix their bullpen issues and the Cubs are still trying to catch the Brewers.
While former Rays general manager Andrew Friedman gets the bulk of the credit, most of the stars, including Kershaw, Jansen, Justin Turner, MVP candidate Corey Seager and rookie sensation Cody Bellinger, were wither acquired, signed or…