Splat! Humiliated Dodgers swept into next season

PHOENIX, AZ - October 11: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Lance Lynn reacts.

Sweep. Weep. Wow.

The rich and talented and tormenting Dodgers have done it again, taking barely a step into the postseason before falling flat on their faces, shaking the foundations of franchise history with the resulting splat.

Last October, it was a first-round humiliation by the San Diego Padres.

This October, it is even worse.

The Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks? The Arizona Diamondbacks!

Read more: Dodgers left stunned as season ends in sweeping loss to Diamondbacks in NLDS

This is a team that won 16 fewer games than the Dodgers. This is a team that scored 160 fewer runs than the Dodgers. This is a team that just swept the pants off the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks’ 4-2 victory Wednesday night at Chase Field at Phoenix finishing a three-games-to-none clinching of their National League Division Series and completing the most brutal of broom bashings.

For the second consecutive year, and third time in five years, the Dodgers lost in their first playoff round despite winning 100 games in the regular season.

For the first time in 17 years, they exited the postseason without even winning a game.

This is historic. This is hellacious. From first to worst, from 100 to zero, from great to godawful, again and again and again.

This latest fiasco ended with a stadium full of fans chanting “Beat L.A.” while the Dodgers starting pitching was beating L.A. again, Lance Lynn living up to his awful gopher-ball history by allowing a postseason-record four home runs in one inning.

It ended with the Dodgers’ high-scoring offense rendered impotent again, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman failing to show up, the two highest-paid Dodgers finishing the series with a disgraceful one hit in 21 combined at-bats.

It ended as too many Octobers have ended during this annual tarnishing of what some have called the Golden Age of Dodgers baseball.

In the last 11 years the Dodgers have captured 10 West Division titles while winning more than 100 games five times and appearing in three World Series with one COVID-19-abbreviated championship.

Yet during five of those seasons they haven’t even been able to advance past the first round of the playoffs, a 45% failure rate with memories that will forever burn.

There was Clayton Kershaw imploding in the 2014 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. There was Corey Seager failing to cover third base in the 2015 loss to the New York Mets. There was Kershaw being hammered for consecutive late home runs in the 2019 stunner against the Washington Nationals.

There was last season’s breathtaking collapse at the home of the hated Padres. Then there was this week’s ugliest of encores, a three-game Diamondbacks domination in which the Dodgers never led.

Dodgers' Mookie Betts walks away from the plate after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Oct. 11, 2023.

Mookie Betts walks back to the dugout after striking out in Game 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Betts did not have a hit in the series. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

For the record, the last full-season Dodgers championship was 35 years ago. Right about now, to be perfectly honest, this feels like a fool’s golden age.

While all the October disintegrations have been a surprise, this latest one was even more shocking considering this Dodgers team had seemingly learned from last year’s embarrassment.

They were supposedly more focused this year. They were supposedly more together this year. This was the professed favorite team of both manager Dave Roberts and leadoff star Mookie Betts, both men marveling at how everyone played unselfishly and for each other.

Your intrepid columnist bought it, writing that not only would the Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks, but that this 1988-style squad was guaranteed to win the World Series.

I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever write that about the Dodgers again.

As with every collapse, despairing fans will spend the next few weeks looking for someone to blame.

In the past, the easy and sometimes appropriate target was Roberts. He has been blamed for mismanaging the bullpen, mucking up the lineup, and failing to put this team in a position to succeed.

Not this time. Not this season. Not even close.

The guess here is that many fans already have their claws out for Roberts and the message from here is, just stop. He did the best managing in his eight Dodgers seasons this summer and, this week, he did the best with what he had.

What he didn’t have was starting pitching, and that’s not his fault. He’s not the renowned baseball executive who is in charge of building the roster. He is not the respected hardball architect who continually builds tremendous regular-season teams that are completely unfit for the playoffs.

This one is on Andrew Friedman.

For a second straight year, relying on an apparent organization mantra that doesn’t properly value the seven-inning starting pitcher, Friedman failed to outfit his team with the powerful ace needed to succeed.

They obviously couldn’t predict Julio Urías’ legal troubles or the arm troubles of Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. But they should have known Walker Buehler wouldn’t be ready. And there is no way they should have counted on sore-shouldered Kershaw to keep carrying the load.

Last winter, the Dodgers stayed out of the free-agent market reportedly to save money for this winter’s chase of Shohei Ohtani. Huge mistake. Season-altering mistake.

They could have outbid the New York Mets for Justin Verlander, but didn’t. Nathan Eovaldi was available. Chris Bassitt was available. Arms were out there. The Dodgers didn’t grab one, unless you count Noah Syndergaard, and you shouldn’t.

By midseason it was obvious the Dodgers still needed someone, and at the trade deadline they targeted the Detroit Tigers’ Eduardo Rodriguez. But they didn’t do their homework, and at the last minute Rodriguez declined to waive his no-trade clause because he didn’t want to come to Los Angeles, and the Dodgers’ deadline “savior” turned out to be homer-happy Lynn.

Friedman blew it. There is no other way to write it.

And don’t try to shift the blame to the Urías domestic violence policy suspension because he wasn’t pitching that well anyway, going 11-8 with a 4.60 ERA.

The Dodgers were forced to try to win a championship by relying on a league-best bullpen to carry them through the majority of innings and, as Roberts even admitted, that was “not sustainable.”

Is it any wonder that when the playoffs began, the ragged-armed Kershaw lasted just one out in Game 1, rookie Bobby Miller lasted just five outs in Game 2, and Lynn recorded just eight outs in Game 3?

Friedman’s fingerprints are on other areas of this humiliation. The Dodgers are still clearly lacking a championship core and Friedman let two championship players walk.

Remember Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger? Thinks these Dodgers could use their postseason DNA?

It’s been clear for several years that these Dodgers are built for the long stretches of the regular season, not the quick bursts of October, and their playoff hopes have paid the price.

For the first time this fall, the Dodgers’ business side is also appearing to pay the price, as there were empty seats at Dodger Stadium for Game 2 even though it was announced as a sellout.

Folks are sick of their organizational philosophy. These continuous flops are almost too much to bear. Something needs to change, or the Dodgers are going to lose their beloved grip on the community.

That something is not Dave Roberts. That something is on the plate of Andrew Friedman. He needs to figure it out. He needs to fix it.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

This is insane.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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