Star-Studded $200M Dodgers Are Headed for Yet Another October Disaster

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting a double during the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2018 playoffs with the highest payroll of any National League postseason qualifier.

The Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2018 playoffs with the lowest payroll of any National League postseason qualifier. 

After the Brewers shut out the Dodgers 4-0 on Monday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, the boys in blue are at risk of another epic autumn collapse.

Given the dinero disparity, no one outside of L.A. will pity them.

If you go by Spotrac, the Dodgers paid $200 million for their roster and the Brew Crew paid $109 million (rounding up).

Yet, despite the massive dollar differential, Los Angeles is teetering on the edge of an October calamity. So much money. So few results.

Yes, L.A. has won six straight division titles and advanced to Game 7 of the World Series in 2017.

Executive Andrew Friedman and company have constructed an annually relevant operation thanks to an effective drafting and development strategy, aggressive moves on the international market and the backing of deep-pocketed owners.

That said, the Dodgers haven't hoisted a Commissioner's Trophy since 1988. Contending is fine, but what is it worth if you're always the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and never the bride?

The Dodgers dispatched the youthful Atlanta Braves in four games in the National League Division Series. Goliath won that round. Tip your slingshot.

Through three games against Milwaukee, on the other hand, Los Angeles hasn't played like a powerhouse bound for confetti and champagne.

On Monday, Dodgers hitters were frequently befuddled by the smoke-and-mirrors breaking-ball stylings of 30-year-old journeyman Jhoulys Chacin.

Credit to Chacin, who has made previous stops with the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Braves, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. He arrived with his A-game at Chavez Ravine.

Then again, he's precisely the type of hurler the high-priced Dodgers should attack with relish. The Brewers were a great story after defeating the Chicago Cubs in a one-game tiebreaker, winning the NL Central and besting the Rockies in the division series, but the knock against them was a lack of elite starting pitching.

On Monday, they were entering a stretch of three games in three days on the road. This was L.A.'s chance to get to Milwaukee's bullpen—which ranked second in the Senior Circuit with a 3.47 regular-season ERA—and wear them out early.

Instead, they shot blanks against Chacin and allowed him to chew precious innings while maintaining a zero on the scoreboard. 

That's not the way a title favorite behaves. 

Superstar and trade-deadline cavalry Manny Machado went 2-for-3 with a double. Overall, though, Los Angeles' bats were limp.

Hyped, fireballing rookie Walker Buehler showed flashes of a future ace after getting an intro from none other than Ben Stein. When the dust settled, however, he was outdueled by Chacin. 

Buehler...Buehler?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a two-run home run during the seventh inning of Game Three of the National League Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadi
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Dodgers looked solid in spurts. Ultimately, they crumbled. It's becoming an all-too-familiar refrain. 

Add the continued, incongruous postseason mediocrity of Clayton Kershaw, and there's cause for sweaty-palmed hand-wringing in SoCal.

Here's what Kershaw, one of the greatest pitchers of his generation and possibly all-time, told reporters after the Dodgers' Game 7 loss to the Astros in the 2017 Fall Classic: "Maybe one of these days, I won't fail, we won't fail and we'll win one of these things."

Maybe?

Maybe isn't good enough. Windows don't stay open forever, even when you spend the gross domestic product of a small nation on payroll and face a small-market engine that could like Milwaukee. 

Another deep run won't suffice. Even another NL flag won't suffice. It's title or bust.

After Game 3's goose egg against the Brewers, "bust" is the operative word.

      

All statistics current as of Monday and courtesy of Baseball Reference

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