2019 Los Angeles Dodgers
2019 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Dave Roberts
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers opened their season with a bang on March 28th as they hit an opening day-record 8 homers in defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 12-5. Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson both went deep twice, while Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, back from missing most of the 2018 season with an injury, Max Muncy and Austin Barnes also hit dingers. This smashed the previous opening day record of 6 that had been achieved twice, and tied the team record for any game; it was part of a day when 48 homers were hit across major league baseball, another record for opening day (although this was helped by the fact that, for the first time, all 30 teams were active). This was a good sign for fans as the goal for the team was very clear: return to the World Series for the third straight year, and after falling short in both 2017 and 2018, finally win the big prize for the first time since 1988.
The Dodgers had made a few moves in the off-season, the most prominent being letting go of starting C Yasmani Grandal, who left as a free agent, to be replaced by a tandem of Barnes and veteran Russell Martin, and trading OFs Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp and P Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds in order to clear salary space. Many thought the Dodgers would then make a push to sign prime free agent OF Bryce Harper, but it wasn't the case; instead, the two big additions were OF A.J. Pollock, a much cheaper upgrade than Harper, and set-up man Joe Kelly, one of the heroes of the Boston Red Sox's triumph over them in the last World Series. After their opening day victory, the Dodgers lost a 13-inning marathon to the D-Backs the next day, 5-4, then came back on March 30th pounding the lumber again, with four more long balls in an 18-5 pounding of Arizona. That gave them 13 homers in their first three games (they had hit one in the second game). The third game featured a very rare instance of position players taking the mound for both teams, with the bullpens worn out from the previous night: John Ryan Murphy pitched the last two innings for Arizona, allowing 7 runs and two of the homers, while Martin needed just 10 pitches to retire the side to end the game in the 9th. In both cases, it was their first mound appearance. On April 17th, the Dodgers tied an all-time record when they hit a homer in a 32nd consecutive home game, dating back to August 21st the previous year. The record had been set by the 1999 Colorado Rockies, and it was no coincidence that L.A. already had 9 home wins, best in the majors at that point as they defeated the Reds, 3-2, with the long ball being supplied by Pollock. After a road trip, they set a new record with another long ball on April 26th.
For all the homers, the Dodgers were also getting some outstanding pitching, especially from starters. Hyun-Jin Ryu was the National League Pitcher of the Month in May and was 9-1 and sporting an ERA of 1.36 after 13 starts; Walker Buehler was 7-1, Clayton Kershaw 5-1 after having seen his string of starts without a loss snapped at 21, Rich Hill, back from an early season injury, was 3-1, 2.40 after 8 starts, and Kenta Maeda, lost in the shuffle as the fifth starter, was already 7-2. Meanwhile, Kenley Jansen had already racked up 19 saves, so apart from a lack of work at times, the bullpen was not ailing either - except for Kelly who was badly underperforming with an ERA of 7.59. The Dodgers were running away with the division, after going 3-1 in March, 17-11 in April and 19-7. At the end of the day on June 10th, they already had a 10-game lead on their nearest rivals, the Diamondbacks.
On June 21-23, the Dodgers won three straight games against the Colorado Rockies, all on walk-off homers. In something completely unprecedented, it was a rookie who delivered the big blow in each game: Matt Beaty, who had just been sent down to the minors and called back before the game, in the first game, then Alex Verdugo the second day, and Will Smith with a three-run shot as a pinch-hitter the third day. After two series totaling seven games on the road, the Dodgers returned home on July 2nd and won their next two games in walk-off fashion again, this time against Arizona. The first was just weird, as Arizona's pitchers walked 5 straight batters in the bottom of the 9th to hand L.A. a 5-4 win, but the second was decided in the 10th inning on Bellinger's 29th homer of the year, off Yoan Lopez. The Dodgers were the first team since the 2004 Oakland Athletics to win five straight home games in their last at-bat. They were quasi-unbeatable at home, with a record of 36-9 with one series remaining before the All-Star break.
In August, the Dodgers set a new major league record for most homers in a five-game stretch, with 22, and by hitting four homers or more in each of the 5 games. On September 1st, their 236th homer of the year broke the franchise record, set the previous season. Still on a power tear, they needed only three more games to reach the 250 mark on September 4th, thanks to a pair of long balls by Joc Pederson. That broke the previous NL record of 249 set by the 2000 Houston Astros. On September 10th, they clinched a 7th straight division title, as they improved to an NL-best 94-52 after a 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Awards and Honors
- Associated Press: "Dodgers again loaded in chase for elusive World Series title", USA Today, March 19, 2019. 
- Ken Gurnick: "Dodgers remain laser-focused on WS title", mlb.com, March 3, 2019. 
- Ken Gurnick: "Dodgers set NL single-season record for homers: Pederson continues tear with 2-homer night to raise LA's total to 250", mlb.com, September 5, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Dodgers remain 'hungrier than ever' as trade deadline arrives", USA Today, July 29, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB needs to watch out. This Dodgers rotation is historically good", USA Today, June 10, 2019. 
- Mike Petriello: "This year's Dodgers are best since move to LA: .658 winning percentage is team's highest since 1953 Brooklyn club", mlb.com, August 12, 2019.