The Los Angeles Dodgers are one step closer to a World Series title.
After a four-year postseason drought, the Blue Crew is proving to be a serious contender in October as they clinched an NLDS title on Monday night with a rousing 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Dodger Stadium.
It was an exciting series for the Dodgers, filled with heroics from the likes of Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, and Chris Capuano and team-carrying performances from All-Star talents Hanley Ramirez and Clayton Kershaw.
As the city continues to reel in the triumphant series win, let’s take a look at how the players performed in the 2013 NLDS.
Don Mattingly made a wise move to return Crawford to his native leadoff spot for the postseason.
Crawford not only proved the numbers correct that he hits much better in the leadoff spot than second, but also came up big for the Dodgers when they needed it in the NLDS.
In the Dodgers’ decisive Game 4 win over the Braves, Crawford immediately put the Dodgers on top with a leadoff home run, and to follow it up, smacked another solo shot in his second at-bat.
In total, he smashed three homers in the NLDS, half of his regular-season total of six.
.353 BA .421 OBP 3 HR 5 RBI 2 BB 5 SO 1 SB
Mark Ellis naturally never stands out, especially on this overly talented Dodgers team.
However, he did solid work as usual in the NLDS, particularly keeping on par with his flawless fielding, which is crucial in the postseason.
Ellis’ hitting was very mediocre as usual, but the important thing was that he got on base and worked the count.
With Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig hitting behind him, Ellis simply needs to get on base for RBI situations, which is what he did in the NLDS.
.267 BA .389 OBP 0 HR 1 RBI 3 BB 5 SO 0 SB
Hanley Ramirez continued his awe-inspiring performance at the plate in the postseason.
The Dodgers’ shortstop, who would have contended for the batting title had he not been frequently injured this season, demolished the Braves’ pitching in the NLDS.
Amid smacking extra-base hits, including muscling an outside pitch over the left-field wall in Atlanta for a clutch home run, Ramirez produced one of the best postseason series performances in recent Dodgers’ history.
If he can remain healthy for the remainder of the postseason, the Dodgers are in very good shape at the plate.
.500 BA .556 OBP 1 HR 6 RBI 2 BB 2 SO 1 SB
On paper, Adrian Gonzalez’s performance in the NLDS seems above-average, but his performance nevertheless left something to be desired.
Although he belted a home run and managed to drive in four runs in the NLDS, Gonzalez didn’t look his normal confident self at the plate and was uncharacteristically easily discombobulated by marginal strike calls.
Gonzalez’s atypical lack of command at the plate wasn’t the only thing that left a bitter taste in Dodger fans’ mouths, though.
He also aberrantly looked befuddled in the field and made some errors at first base in Game 4 that nearly cost the Dodgers the game.
Now that he’s had a series to acclimate to October, Gonzalez should find his groove, but the NLDS wasn’t his finest play.
.333 BA .333 OBP 1 HR 4 RBI 0 BB 4 RBI 0 SB
Puig squelched any doubt about his postseason play in Game 1 of the NLDS by hitting 2-for-4 and snagging an extra base on a ball hit to centerfielder Jason Heyward.
The star rookie outfielder only had one extra-base hit in the series, and he ended up digging out a few close plays in key situations for the Dodgers.
Above all, Puig sustained his bottomless energy, which was on full display when he elatedly rejoiced after hitting a clutch double in Game 4 and nearly thrust himself off second base in the process.
However, part of Puig’s overjoyed response to his double was the redemption of a costly error he made in the right-field corner that eventually allowed the Braves to score the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Nevertheless, that was an isolated incident and he was relatively tame in the NLDS, which is good news for the team as it heads deeper into October.
.471 BA .500 OBP 0 HR 2 RBI 0 BB 4 SO 0 SB (1 CS)
Juan Uribe started off the NLDS in mediocre fashion.
He wasn’t hitting the ball particularly well and was often leaving runners on base—sometimes because manager Don Mattingly yanked the bat away from him by asking him to lay down bunts.
Then Papi came home.
In the Dodgers’ 13-6 Game 3 bashing of the Braves, Uribe brought Yasiel Puig around the bases on a two-run homer. One night later, it was the exact same thing.
With the Dodgers down 3-2 in the eighth in Game 4, Uribe stepped up to the plate with Puig on second and soared a two-run shot into left, putting the Dodgers ahead with a decisive lead and engraving his name in Dodgers history in the process.
.375 BA .375 OBP 2 HR 4 RBI 0 BB 4 SO 0 SB
Skip Schumaker is by no means deserving of the expectations he’s been subjected to in center field.
Firstly, he didn’t start in the position regularly during the regular season, and secondly, he’s nowhere near the physical stature of injured centerfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.
Regardless, he came up a little bit short offensively in the NLDS despite his two RBI singles in Games 1 and 3.
Hitting behind Puig and Uribe, Schumaker only managed to knock three hits in the NLDS and also displayed insufficient prowess in centerfield relative to his usual defensive play.
.231 BA .313 OBP 0 HR 2 RBI 2 BB 2 SO 0 SB
Catching every inning of every game in the NLDS was likely a nerve-racking task for A.J. Ellis, but there’s no one the Dodgers would rather have behind the dish than him.
However, it seems like Ellis may have been harboring some butterflies in the NLDS, as he was unable to block two balls that he would’ve normally stopped (both scored as wild pitches) in the series.
Nevertheless, Ellis fared well in the batter’s box in the NLDS, smashing two key doubles in Game 1 that helped the Dodgers back Clayton Kershaw and steal home-field advantage from the Braves.
.333 BA .467 OBP 0 HR 1 RBI 2 BB 4 SO 0 SB
Don Mattingly sent two veteran players up to the plate as pinch-hitters in the NLDS: Michael Young and Andre Ethier, who is carefully nursing an ankle injury.
On the surface, both Young and Ethier didn’t have much influence on the games, as together they went a combined 1-for-6 in the series.
However, both were involved in seemingly insignificant plays that could have had significant impacts on the game.
The first such play came when Young hustled down the line on what seemed like a routine grounder to beat out a single as Braves pitcher Luis Ayala couldn’t find first base with his foot.
The other came from Ethier, who drew a key walk to put a base runner aboard in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ eventual Game 2 loss.
That walk proved insignificant because pinch-runner Dee Gordon was called out stealing on the first pitch of the next at-bat, but it could have been very important if the batter, Carl Crawford, would have notched a hit in that situation.
.167 BA .286 OBP 0 HR 0 RBI 1 BB 2 SO 0 SB
Clayton Kershaw put on a masterful display in the NLDS.
After shutting down the Braves with 12 strikeouts in Game 1 and subsequently helping the Dodgers swipe home-field advantage, Kershaw pitched a gem once again in Game 4.
In total, the NL Cy Young Award favorite surrendered one earned run in 13 innings of work in the NLDS (37 percent of all NLDS innings pitched by the Dodgers) and struck out an impressive 18 Braves batters in the series.
Kershaw is continually proving to be one of the greatest lefties the game has seen.
1-0 13 IP 0.69 ERA 4 BB 18 SO .130 BAA 0.77 WHIP
Despite a decent line, Zack Greinke didn’t look his normal sensational self in his Game 2 start in the NLDS.
Greinke, who pitched much better at home than on the road in the regular season, struggled to assert himself in Atlanta.
He only surrendered four hits and two earned runs in six innings, but his control was spotty—stellar for one stretch, awful for the next—and his confidence didn’t seem to be there.
0-1 6 IP 3.00 ERA 0 BB 3 SO .182 BAA 0.67 WHIP
With fellow rookie Yasiel Puig usually consuming the spotlight, it didn’t appear as though Ryu would have any trouble making his mark on the postseason as he made his debut in Game 3.
However, even with Dodger Stadium on his back, Ryu delivered an atrocious outing for his postseason debut.
The South Korean southpaw had dire issues locating his pitches and the Braves jumped all over him early in the game.
Fortunately for Ryu and the Dodgers, the Blue Crew’s offense manufactured a whopping 13 runs that game, but that doesn’t alleviate concerns for Ryu heading into the NLCS.
0-0 3 IP 12.00 ERA 1 BB 1 SO .400 BAA 2.33 WHIP
The Dodgers couldn’t have asked for more from Chris Capuano.
The veteran lefty was called upon to take over for Hyun-Jin Ryu, who struggled to get through three innings in Game 3, and was the team’s savior that game.
Capuano pitched a scoreless, no-hit three innings of his own, giving the Dodgers a chance to pile on the runs against the Braves and take a definitive lead in the game.
He may not be hailed as such, but Capuano was the savior of Game 3, as the Dodgers couldn’t have pulled off a win without some stability from their pitching staff that game.
0-0 3 IP 0.00 ERA 3 BB 3 SO .000 BAA 1.00 WHIP
The bullpen was reduced to a rigid dichotomy in the NLDS: the excellent, lights-out relievers vs. the dreadful, unreliable relievers.
The good relievers, all worthy of “A’s”: J.P. Howell, Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen
The bad relievers, all worthy of “F’s”: Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, Ronald Belisario
Although any game is a combination of various performances, the bullpen is extremely important in the postseason and Rodriguez, Withrow and Belsario were very shaky in the NLDS, costing the Blue Crew Game 2 and nearly costing the team Game 4.
On the other side of the spectrum, Howell and Wilson both came up clutch for the Dodgers in late relief, and Jansen was dominant in his Game 4 save that secured the Dodgers an NLCS berth.
In all, the bullpen needs to deliver a more consistent performance in the remainder of the postseason, particularly with the onset of best-of-seven series.
The Good: 1-0 0.00 ERA 2 BB 14 SO .179 BAA 0.91 WHIP
The Bad: 0-0 21.00 ERA 5 BB 3 SO .538 BAA 5.15 WHIP