It's funny to think that, before last night, the Dodgers hadn't been to the World Series since 1988 (yes the year Clayton Kershaw was born, get ready to hear that A LOT over the next couple of weeks). It's funny to think because in that 30 year span L.A. hasn't been all that bad, and particularly recently they've been quite good, reaching the NLCS in 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2016.
It was fair to wonder if this group was ever going to get past round two. In hindsight that seems silly. The Dodgers were quite simply the best team in baseball this year, winning 104 games despite losing 11 in a row (and 17 of 21) near the end of the season.
They were back to their dominant selves in the NLCS against the defending champs. Dodgers pitchers held Kris Bryant to four hits in 20 at bats. Anthony Rizzo went 1-for-17. Over the course of five games Cubs hitters batted just .156/.193/.299. It's the lowest OBP a team has put up in a best of seven series since 1905. And how about that Dodgers bullpen! The unit has now thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to Game 2 of the NLDS, which is a record.
However, it's Clayton Kershaw that will be the one we most talk about between now and the start of the World Series. He's objectively the best pitcher since Pedro, which makes him the best pitcher of our generation. Since breaking out in 2011 Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards, an MVP, and five ERA titles. He has led the league in wins three times, shutouts twice, strikeouts three times, and WHIP four times.
Sure, he's been incredibly mediocre over the course of his post-season career (though he did put up a 2.45 ERA in two starts this series). But let's not let that get in the way of celebrating Kershaw these next couple of weeks. It just takes one big performance in the Fall Classic to change the entire narrative about him. The best pitcher of this millennium is finally headed to the World Series. That's great for baseball.