LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in an unexpected and precarious position as they trail the Arizona Diamondbacks 0-2 in the National League Division Series (NLDS). Despite being a formidable 100-win team during the regular season, the Dodgers have struggled to make an impact in this best-of-five series, leaving their postseason hopes hanging by a thread.
The Dodgers’ troubles started with their starting pitching, a department severely hampered by injuries and uncertainty heading into the playoffs. Their ace, Clayton Kershaw, had a nightmarish outing, allowing six runs while recording just one out in the series opener. Young rookie Bobby Miller didn’t fare much better, surrendering three runs and exiting the game after only 1.1 innings pitched. The Dodgers’ bullpen did their best to keep the games close, but their vaunted offense has been notably absent when needed most.
Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks‘ top two pitchers, had struggled against the Dodgers during the regular season but have turned the tide in this series. The D-backs limited the Dodgers to just two runs in 11⅔ innings over the first two games of the NLDS.
While the Dodgers’ bullpen has been resilient, the offense has failed to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities. The team’s struggles with runners in scoring position have been glaring, going just 2-for-12 in such situations and stranding 13 runners in the first two games of the series.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, the cornerstones of the Dodgers’ offense throughout the regular season, have both struggled at the plate in this series, combining for just one hit in 13 at-bats. Betts acknowledged the need to step up, saying, “All of us got to get going. We had a couple of opportunities, and we just didn’t cash it in. For me and Freddie, that’s kind of our role. We’re not doing it. I take ownership in that. I just got to figure out a way, man. There’s no excuses.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks, coming off an impressive wild-card series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, have now become only the third team in MLB history to take a 2-0 series lead against an opponent with at least 15 more regular-season wins. The Dodgers, known for their regular-season dominance and postseason frustrations, are in danger of suffering another early exit, much like last year when they lost to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains optimistic, saying, “I think we’ve just got to pitch better at times and take better at-bats. I think that we have the guys to do it. And we’ve just got to take better team at-bats and win the next game, win Game 3. If we win Game 3, we’ll pick up the pieces and go from there. We’ve won three games in a row. We’re very familiar with this ballclub. They’re playing good baseball, and we’ve got to find a way to flip the script.”
The Dodgers now face an uphill battle as they head to Phoenix for Game 3. Veteran Lance Lynn and rookie Ryan Pepiot will be tasked with keeping their season alive. Road teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series have historically advanced 90% of the time, but the Dodgers aim to defy the odds and claw their way back into contention, one game at a time.
Betts, who has struggled in recent postseasons, summed up the team’s mindset, saying, “You don’t want to just keep harping on the things you didn’t do.” With their backs against the wall, the Dodgers are determined to flip the script and turn their NLDS fortunes around in Game 3.
What Next For Dodgers ?
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are relishing their underdog role and look to continue their surprising playoff run. The Dodgers now must find a way to overcome adversity and salvage their postseason dreams, knowing that their path to success requires nothing short of a miraculous comeback.