It’s tempting to look at Los Angeles’ mystifying stretch of rancid baseball—16 losses in 17 games, including 11 in a row, from late August through early September—and conclude that there’s rot underneath the Dodgers’ surface. But that was the same team that ripped off 41 wins in 51 games through June and July and steamrolled the rest of the NL West en route to 103 wins and a fifth straight division title. So which Dodgers will we get in October? Optimism comes in the form of a healthy Clayton Kershaw; a deep lineup with above-average offense at every position but centerfield; and Kenley Jansen available for as many as six outs if needed to close things out in a bullpen that has been more reliable than previous iterations.
Oh, and for once, Kershaw won’t have to do it all on his own: Los Angeles’ rotation is strong, with Rich Hill and Yu Darvish ready to back the lefty ace; this group is so deep that Alex Wood and his 154 ERA+ won’t start until Game 4, if he starts at all. The Dodgers have all the pieces and depth to make a championship a reality.