Los Angeles Dodgers' Pitching Is Key to Success in Playoff Run

Young Rae KimContributor IIISeptember 30, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Clayton Kershaw
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Just a few weeks ago the Dodgers were faced with a rare dilemma.

They had an overabundance of top-tier players in the outfield position, so manager Don Mattingly had the luxury of choosing between Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to start games.

Now they are down to two. Kemp is out for the postseason, and Either is still questionable with less than a week before their first playoff game against the Atlanta Braves.

To make matters worse, the high-flying Dodgers finished the season looking a bit lackluster, losing four of their last six games. 

While this is a legitimate concern for Dodgers fans, let me remind them that it’s not the Dodgers' hitting that got them the NL Western Division Title.

It’s their pitching.

While Puig was making a splash in the headlines in July, the Dodgers’ starting pitchers slowly chopped away at their ERAs. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are all in the top 15 for lowest ERAs.

Kershaw leads the MLB for the third consecutive year with an ERA of 1.83, while Greinke is fifth with 2.63 and Ryu is tied at 13th with 3.00.

The Dodgers' ace, Kershaw, looks like a shoo-in for the National League Cy Young award this year posting the best numbers of his career this season. He has been drawing comparisons to himself and pitching legend Sandy Koufax, who won three Cy Young Awards and led the Dodgers to three World Series championships.

If Kershaw continues in Koufax's footsteps, that will mean good news for Los Angeles in October.

While Greinke and Ryu have been living in the shadows of Kershaw, both pitchers are a viable ace on more than half of the teams in MLB.

Greinke heads into the postseason in top-notch form showing positive signs in his last outing. He held the Colorado Rockies to just one run and has not given more than two runs in his last 12 starts.

The South Korean, Ryu, has turned out to be a pleasant surprise. When Ryu made his first start for the Dodgers in April, the 26-year-old rookie drew in some skepticism about his weight, and his confidence was mistaken for arrogance. However, his solid play under pressure has won over his critics and teammates. He finished the regular season with 14 wins and 8 losses. 

The Dodgers may lose some offensive power in Kemp and Either, but it’s their stacked pitching staff that is the cornerstone for success in the playoffs.

So rest easy Dodgers fans. That cliché that defense wins championships? Well, they wouldn't say it if it wasn't true.