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With a run of division titles stretching back close to a decade but no World Series titles to show for it, you might think the Los Angeles Dodgers might be getting close to the end of their window of contention. After all, even the mighty New York Yankees were forced to suffer through some “lean” years in the early part of the Aughts. The Boston Red Sox even had a few last-place finishes sprinkled in around their titles. None of those rules of player turnover, aging and exhausted farm systems seem to apply to the Dodgers, however.
It was a stunning series of events and mismanagement that left the Dodgers out of the NLCS for the first time since 2015. Clayton Kershaw fell apart again and Dave Roberts flat-out forgot how to manage in a big spot. Now the 106-win Dodgers are left to pick up the pieces on another wasted season. Having been on the mountaintop this long, anything less than winning the franchise’s first World Series since 1988 is a failure.
Despite all that and the unmistakable black cloud that will hang over the organization all winter, the Dodgers are not going anywhere. They’ll be right back in the same place next October with a chance to finally deliver a World Series to Los Angeles. These are the five biggest reasons the window is still wide open for the Dodgers in 2020.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 27: Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres looks on during a pitching change during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgersat PETCO Park on August 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)5. The NL West is still a mess
As they’ve reeled off seven straight NL West titles, the Dodgers have not faced a serious and consistent threat from any of their division rivals. Their average margin of victory in the division has been approximately nine games and their 2018 crown was the only one they really had to sweat out until the final week of the season. It’s going to be that way again in 2020 with the rest of the division continuing to rebuild.
A worthy challenger to the Dodgers will eventually arise, but not for a few more seasons. The San Diego Padres were supposed to take a step forward this year, but suffered through another 90-loss season and will be breaking in a new manager next year. The Colorado Rockies completely fell apart and look like they need to go back to the drawing board. San Francisco was a nice story for a few weeks, but that was a fluke. The Giants will be pushing 90 losses again next season.
Arizona could contend for a Wild Card again in 2020, but they’re still not a threat to the Dodgers for the overall division title. It is a huge advantage heading into the playoffs to be able to coast through most of the regular season.Next: 4. Bellinger's star continues to rise