The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated Monday night after sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in their National League Division Series 3-0 to move on to the NL Championship series against the winner of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.
Despite the Dodgers reaching the postseason the last five straight years, several of the players are playing in their first Major League Baseball postseason amongst them Tony Cingrani, Brandon Morrow, Chris Taylor, and rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger.
Those four each played a significant role in the 3-1 victory by the Dodgers over Arizona Monday night sending the team to its third NLCS in the last five years, and perhaps this time the team is better suited to battle for the NL pennant than in any of the prior two NLCS appearances.
Many were saying great things about the team when it was playing record setting baseball in August, but many retracted what they said after the team went 1-16 from late August to mid-September, which brought up concerns about the team’s playoff potential.
Most of those concerns were wiped away with the team’s sweep of Arizona. The Dodgers received help from the usual sources, as well as from unlikely ones. One was from Yu Darvish who made his best career playoff start.
Darvish has had shaky outings of late since he joined the team in a trade on July 31, and it was not until his past three starts, featuring an ERA of 0.47, that he has looked like the All-Star he is.
On Monday, in his first appearance in two weeks, he faced a lineup of Diamondbacks’ hitters than ranked No. 2 in the NL in runs scored. However, Arizona’s hitters never knew what hit them.
Darvish mixed his fastball with an unhittable slider and gave up just two hits, one run, and struck out seven over five innings.
The performance by Darvish provided more reason to believe the Dodgers might have the staying power, but his was not the only one.
Bellinger, who had hit just one single in his previous 10 at bats in the series, had an RBI grounder and a home run during the fifth, to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Bellinger made three good plays at first, including falling into his own dugout to catch a foul ball pop up to end the fifth.
Closer Kenley Jansen, who struck out MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt in the ninth with one runner on base for his second save of the postseason, has said for months the entire 25-man roster must contribute and it appears that is once again happening.