SAN FRANCISCO — The storied rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers reached a new high when 24-year-old right-handed Logan Webb took the NLDS debut at Oracle Park last Friday.
For the dramatic pennant races and division wars that ensued over the years between the Giants and Dodgers, the two clubs had never met in the playoffs in the modern era. MLB’s previous postseason formats prevented a matchup from happening before 1995, but despite the creation of a wild card hotbed and eventual wild card game, the rivals somehow avoided each other in a mid-October series.
The 2021 NLDS, which ended in a winner-takes-all game at Oracle Park on Thursday, has been considered an anomaly – and rightly so – but given how well positioned both teams are for future success, this could be the best-five series of the year. . becomes the new norm.
The Giants enjoyed the first half of the 2010s with a dynasty that brought Market Street three World Series championship parades, but the Dodgers regained control of the National League West with the 2013 division title and went on to win seven consecutive division crowns before. Lifting trophies in 2020.
When pitchers and catchers reported spring training in February, the Dodgers were expected to eventually face serious competition for an NL West title, but it was the Padres, not the Giants, who needed to deliver it. A San Francisco club expected to win anywhere from 72 to 77 by predictors and punters stunned the rest of the league with a record 107 wins.
On the final day of the regular season, the Giants officially ended the Dodgers’ reign in the league, trailing a Los Angeles club with 106 wins against the Padres, who eventually finished under 500.
The Dodgers had to win the wild card game to establish this year’s historic NLDS, but the opponents seemed to be on a collision course all season. The expected October matchup has finally come to fruition, and now fans of both franchises have every reason to believe it could happen again soon. And maybe a lot.
Despite the Giants’ incredibly rapid rise to the top of the division, there’s little doubt that the Dodgers are in a better position to continue their success. They have an established history, more local shooting talent in their rotation, and a proven commitment to breaking the luxury tax threshold on an annual basis in their quest to build the best squad money can buy from property.
The Dodgers hope to win more than 100 games each year, but given the notable success the Giants have had under manager Gabe Kapler and a coaching team that has helped veterans and newcomers maximize their potential, it’s unreasonable to think the Giants can keep their strength. not. good luck for the years to come.
The balance of power in the division began to shift in November 2018, when the Giants ousted Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi from rivals to become the franchise’s top baseball manager. Many expected Zaidi to go through a full remake, but the Giants clung to their highest paid players and surrounded their innate core with complementary abilities.
Zaidi’s approach to squad building didn’t pay dividends right away, but in Kapler’s first full season as the team’s manager, the Giants became a juggernaut. While many of the team’s key players are poised to scoop up the free agency, the Giants’ proven knack for spotting talent, combined with their dedication to building depth throughout the farm system, has set the organization up for lasting success.
The Giants’ High-A and Low-A affiliates have each won minor league titles, and while the franchise still lacks the loudly touted starting pitching prospects, several junior position players such as Marco Luciano, Luis Matos, and Heliot Ramos have made it into potentially important roles. preparing to step up in the next two or three seasons. These three players, all acquired by previous general manager Bobby Evans, and many others who have just scratched the surface of their potential, represent the Giants’ response to the Dodgers’ extraordinary development line that has bred outstanding talent such as Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Corey Seager. and more.
With Zaidi, Kapler, and general manager Scott Harris taking the lead, expectations have been readjusted in San Francisco. The Dodgers are no longer the dreaded giant that everyone in the division will chase, but a team that the Giants consider equal.
Internal perception is one thing, but there’s reason for everyone on the outside to be optimistic about the future in San Francisco as well, as the Giants have proven throughout the 2021 season.
After the Dodgers’ long and uninterrupted dominance, the Giants once again pose a threat. A threat that could make the first modern era playoff series between rivals a regular event.