Although many predicted the Los Angeles Dodgers would have a down year following a quiet offseason as they entered what appeared to be transition period, the train kept on chugging as they officially clinched the 2023 National League West division title on Saturday.
It wasn’t an easy path for the Dodgers, which began when they lost starting shortstop Gavin Lux to a torn ACL in Spring Training. From there, they continued to deal with the injury bug throughout the season, which forced them to rely on multiple rookies, specifically in their pitching staff.
They also faced an early challenge from the Arizona Diamondbacks for their crown before eventually pulling away and winning the NL West for a 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
Despite all those times popping champagne, Clayton Kershaw still considers it a moment to celebrate every time the Dodgers are crowned division winners, via Shane Lantz of the Southern California News Group:
“I’ve been saying ‘it could be the last one’ for a long time,” Kershaw said. “Every year I say that. You just can’t take it for granted. It’s such a special thing to get to celebrate with a group of guys that work so hard throughout the whole year to achieve a goal like this. Obviously, it’s not the ultimate goal, but to be able to do this and get to have a night to celebrate with your teammates is so special.”
In previous seasons, the Dodgers have been the clear favorite to win the NL West, but it’s never a guarantee. Even after setting a then-franchise record with 106 wins in 2021, they still finished in second place behind the San Francisco Giants.
It was widely considered the San Diego Padres were the favorites to win the 2023 NL West title, but they are closer to holding the last-place spot than they are to the Dodgers in the standings.
The 2023 Dodgers don’t have their most talented club that they’ve fielded in the last decade, but it’s a group that has become closer than any other, and they have created a chemistry all the players and coaches consistently rave about.
The roster has a gritty feel that plays for each other. Whether that helps them out in the postseason remains to be seen, but they have continued to defy the odds throughout the season.
Clayton Kershaw effective with diminished stuff
As Kershaw continues to pitch with an injured shoulder, his fastball velocity again did not exceed 90 mph in his return to the mound after nine days of rest.
Still, he kept the Seattle Mariners scoreless over four innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while adding four strikeouts.
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