If you began following the Dodgers in 2013, playing in the National League Divisional Series may seem like a routine event. Though their streak of eight-straight NL West division titles ended this year, but by winning the wild card game, the Dodgers are now playing their ninth straight NLDS.
The divisional series round was added to the postseason in 1995*, and the Dodgers are second to the Atlanta Braves in total appearances during that time. This will be the Dodgers 16th NLDS, with the Braves playing in their 17th NLDS.
*There was also a divisional series round in 1981, when they expanded the postseason to account for the MLB player’s strike.
After winning the series against the Astros in 1981, the Dodgers would lose their next four NLDS, winning only one total game against 12 losses in that span.
Dodgers NLDS History
|1981||Houston Astros||Won 3 - 2|
|1995||Cincinatti Reds||Lost 3 - 0|
|1996||Atlanta Braves||Lost 3 - 0|
|2004||St. Louis Cardinals||Lost 3 - 1|
|2006||New York Mets||Lost 3 - 0|
|2008||Chicago Cubs||Won 3 - 0|
|2009||St. Louis Cardinals||Won 3 - 0|
|2013||Atlanta Braves||Won 3 - 1|
|2014||St. Louis Cardinals||Lost 3 - 1|
|2015||New York Mets||Lost 3 - 2|
|2016||Washington Nationals||Won 3 - 2|
|2017||Arizona Diamondbacks||Won 3 - 0|
|2018||Atlanta Braves||Won 3 - 1|
|2019||Washington Nationals||Lost 3 - 2|
|2020||San Diego Padres||Won 3 - 0|
The losing streak ended when the Dodgers swept the Cubs in the 2008 NLDS. And as recapped here, the Dodgers defeated the Cardinals in 2009 and then lost to the Cardinals in 2014.
After three seasons that were unfortunately highlighted by off-the-field ownership issues, the Dodgers would win the NL West in 2013 and begin this current streak of nine straight NLDS appearances. Here’s a recap of that history that will add another chapter beginning on Friday evening against the Giants.
Throw your hands in the air
As spring training began in 2013, Juan Uribe’s time with the Dodgers may have been at a crossroads. In 2011, Uribe had a .557 OPS in 295 plate appearances. He followed that with a .542 OPS in 179 plate appearances.
Uribe had a good spring training in 2013, with an .810 OPS while hitting .333. More importantly, Uribe was known a great teammate, always having fun. He would eventually find himself back in the lineup.
The Dodgers split the first two games in Atlanta, then won Game 3 comfortably at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Kershaw would start on three-days rest in Game 4 and give up two unearned runs in six innings. He left with the game tied 2-2.
The Braves took the lead with a run in the seventh and the Dodgers went to the bottom of the eighth knowing that closer Craig Kimbrel would be ready to send the series back to Atlanta.
Yasiel Puig doubled to start the inning, and manager Don Mattingly asked Juan Uribe to bunt Puig over to third base. After two failed bunt attempts, Uribe swung away:
That home run remains a great memory, especially for everyone who saw it at Dodger Stadium that night. Unfortunately, that would be the highlight of that postseason for the Dodgers.
Murphy’s law rules against the Dodgers
In a series that featured Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, it was Daniel Murphy who literally stole the show in Game 5.
Trailing by a run, Murphy took third due to the Dodgers having no player available to cover the base after playing in a shift.
Murphy scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly. In the sixth inning, he hit a solo home run to provide the winning margin for the Mets to take the series.
Kershaw saves the day
Every managerial move is magnified in the postseason. Dave Roberts was in his first season as Dodger manager when he had to navigate the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS against the Nationals.
Kenley Jansen entered with a one-run lead and one on with nobody out in the seventh inning. He struck out two in the frame, then got three more outs to take the game to the ninth inning.
However, after getting the first out in the ninth, Jansen would walk the 11th and 12th batters he faced. That was when Roberts went to his ace.
Kershaw has one professional save in his major league career. This was it, and it got the Dodgers to the NLCS.
No Dodger does it better than Justin Turner
Justin Turner had two plate appearances against St. Louis in the 2014 Divisional Series. No one knew at that time, Turner would become the best Dodger offensive player in their Divisional Series history.
In 2017, Turner got the Dodgers started with a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 1. He would eventually drive in five runs in the Dodgers’ 9-5 win.
In his Dodger career, Turner has hit .372/.474/.617 in 116 plate appearances in 27 NLDS games, with nine doubles, four home runs, and 23 RBI. Altogether, Turner has at least one hit in 22 of the 27 Divisional Series games he’s played.
2018 Divisional Series
Kershaw pitches 8 scoreless innings to give Dodgers 2-0 series lead
Clayton Kershaw has made 13 career Divisional Series starts. One of his best was in Game 2 of this series against the Braves. He pitched eight scoreless innings and did that with only three strikeouts.
After the game, a somewhat disarmed Kershaw did his postgame press conference with his daughter Cali and son Charley.
The Dodgers would go on to win their second straight pennant before losing to the Red Sox in the World Series.
Among the few disappointments of this upcoming Divisional Series is not seeing Kershaw face the Giants in that setting. Few have pitched so well against one team like Kershaw has against San Francisco, with a 1.88 career ERA in 358⅔ innings.
2019 Divisional Series
Torch is passed to Walker Buehler
Walker Buehler’s October coming out party was when he started Game 163 against the Rockies in 2018. Buehler would pitch 6⅔ scoreless innings allowing just one hit with three strikeouts.
The 24-year old also started Game 7 of the 2018 League Championship Series and he followed that with seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series.
Buehler started Game 1 of the 2019 Divisional Series against the Nationals, and was dominant.
Buehler pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out eight. Called upon to pitch Game 5 and hopefully take the Dodgers to the League Championship Series, Buehler pitched 6⅔ innings allowing one run with seven strikeouts. He left with a two-run lead.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers were not able to hold on to that lead, as they lost in extra-innings to the Nationals. This would make the fourth straight season where the Dodgers last opponent would become that year’s World Series champion.
2020 Divisional Series
Bellinger robs Tatis Jr.
After defeating the Brewers at Dodger Stadium to advance to the 2020 Divisional Series, the Dodgers had to go to Texas to play the remainder of the postseason at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
The Dodgers won Game 1 and then they held a one-run lead in Game 2 when Fernando Tatis Jr. came up with the tying run on base. Brusdar Graterol was brought in to face Tatis Jr., who drove a ball to the centerfield wall.
Cody Bellinger ran back and leaped to take away a go-ahead homer. Graterol’s celebration was epic. One of the signature plays for the Dodgers during the 2020 postseason.
The Padres were the ninth different team to face the Dodgers in the Divisional Series. The Giants will become LA’s 10th different opponent in sixteen Divisional Series, and possibly its most anticipated.