Halftime Sports

Ranking the Worst Dodgers Playoff Exits Since 2008, By a Member of the Most Tortured Fan Base in American Professional Sports in the 21st Century

October 17, 2019

Yet another Dodgers season has come and gone. Like clockwork, they’ve been eliminated from the postseason in embarrassing fashion after an amazing regular season. Playoff Clayton Kershaw. Bullpen collapses. Vanishing offense. Head-scratching managerial moves. The 2019 NLDS had it all. I don’t know how to explain any of it besides the simple fact that the baseball gods hate the Dodgers. Year after year, we Dodger fans watch the same movie over and over again, and somehow, we come back the next October expecting something different. Since I watched my first Dodgers playoff game in 2008, the Boys who make their fans Blue have won the National League West only to bow out of October nine times. So more for therapeutic reasons than anything else, below is the rankings of the worst Dodgers playoff exits I’ve seen in my life, highlighting the worst loss of each series.

Boy, it’s going to be a long winter.

9. 2016 NLCS vs. Cubs

The 2016 Dodgers didn’t really have much business going up against the soon-to-be World Series champions. They barely skated past Washington in the NLDS, a series in which the Nats were favored, and came into the NLCS with a tired pitching staff. Still, they were tied in Game 1 in the eighth until Joe Blanton gave up a monster grand slam to the offensively challenged Miguel Montero, and took Game 2 off of a big solo shot from Adrian Gonzalez and seven shutout innings from Kershaw (people forget about these when your stinkers are STINKERS). Then, the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead after Rich HIll shoved in Game 3, and you thought, maybe the Dodgers just need to be the underdogs to win a World Series. No. Instead, they ran out of gas after Game 3, dropping Games 4 and 5 at home. And yet, they still had a chance to come back with Kershaw and Hill lined up for the final two games in Chicago. But just like 2013 (you’ll see), Chokeshaw faceplanted in a do-or-die start. Five runs over five innings. Absolutely nothing going for the offense. Cubs win in 6 and squash their World Series drought. I bet that felt nice for Cubs fans. Maybe someday.

Worst Loss Award: Game 6

8. 2015 NLDS vs. Mets

The 2015 Dodgers, of 92 wins, were pretty middle of the road, as far as Dodgers teams from this decade go. Still, they had Kershaw and that year’s NL Cy Young runner up Zack Greinke, along with a pretty solid offense. Kershaw was decent in Game 1, but the Mets won, and the Dodgers were able to win Game 2 thanks to a clutch performance by Greinke. Then, the Mets teed off of Brett Anderson in Game 3, but Kershaw returned on four days rest in Game 4 to put together a masterful performance and send the Dodgers back home for Game 5. Maybe this would be the start of a turnaround for playoff Kershaw (LOL). Greinke pitched well in Game 5, but Jacob DeGrom was better, holding a 3-2 lead upon his exit. Of course, the Dodgers were two for 13 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base. And the Mets’ third run only scored because Greinke forgot to cover third base. Yeah, that one stung, but it’s also second-to-last on this list. Welcome to my life.

Worst Loss Award: Game 5

7. 2008 NLCS vs. Phillies

This was the worst Dodgers team that I’ve seen to make the playoffs, winning just 84 games to take the division, but after sweeping the favored Cubs in the NLDS, anything was possible. The Phillies took Games 1 and 2 at Citizens Bank Park, but the Dodgers got Game 3 to have a fighting shot, given they evened the series in Game 4. Things looked great through seven innings, as the Dodgers held a 5-3 lead, but everything fell apart in the eighth. Cory Wade gave up a two-run shot to the Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino, and young closer Jonathan Broxton surrendered a mammoth go-ahead two-run homer to Matt Stairs. Legend has it that ball is still going. Oh, and this wouldn’t be the last of Broxton’s postseason failures. 

Worst Loss Award: Game 4

6. 2009 NLCS vs. Phillies

The 2009 Dodgers were a juggernaut. Top seed in the NL. Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp all reaching their potential. Career years from Randy Wolf, Jonathan Broxton, and Casey Blake. Oh, and Manny Ramirez with a cool .949 OPS looking to redeem himself, fresh off a 50-game PED suspension. The Dodgers also swept the Cardinals in the NLDS, including a miraculous 9th inning comeback in Game 2, and I really thought this was the team of destiny (20-year old Tristan laughs in 10-year old Tristan’s face). The Phillies were the reigning champs and favorite in the series, despite the Dodgers’ higher seed. The Dodgers got to Game 4 in Philadelphia down 2-1 but with Wolf on the hill had a decent shot to come back. They held a 4-3 lead going into the ninth, giving the ball to Broxton, who was the most reliable Dodgers closer since Eric Gagne. With runners on first and second, Broxton served up a hanger to Jimmy Rollins who banged a double into the gap for a walk-off two-run double, all but ending the season. Fun fact: this was the first time I ever cursed. The Phils would end the series in convincing fashion in Game 5.

Worst Loss Award: Game 4

Clayton Kershaw has earned his reputation of underperforming with the greatest pressure.

5. 2013 NLCS vs. Cardinals

This was the first year since the team’s selling that there were any real expectations. The front office opened up their wallets in the winter, picking up perennial all-star Zack Greinke and South Korean stud Hyun-Jin Ryu. After a slow start, the Dodgers ripped off 42 wins in 50 games over the summer, culminating in their first NL West title since 2009. After running over the Braves in the NLDS, the Dodgers ran into the favored Cardinals in the NLCS. In the first inning of Game 1, Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers’ best hitter that year, was nailed in the ribs by a Joe Kelly fastball, fracturing a rib and crushing the key cog in their lineup (Kelly would go on to hurt the Dodgers in October, see 2018, even in their own uniform, see 2019). St. Louis took Games 1 and 2 at home, but the Dodgers were able to grab Games 3 and 5 to send the series back to Missouri with Kershaw and Greinke lined up for Games 6 and 7. Unfortunately, all hope was lost quickly, as Kershaw was absolutely shelled in Game 6, surrendering seven earned runs over four innings. But good news: we’d have a chance for revenge the next year!

Worst Loss Award: Game 6

4. 2014 NLDS vs. Cardinals

After dropping the previous year’s NLCS to the Cardinals, the 2014 NLDS presented a perfect opportunity for revenge and redemption, not only for the team but also for the future Hall of Fame pitcher who’d been haunted by playoff failures of years past. Kershaw had run away with the 2014 NL Cy Young and MVP, and was looking to turn around a narrative that would eventually become his only narrative. In Game 1, the Dodgers ran out to a 6-2 lead and I remember watching in my boarding school common room unable to sit still, gushing with excitement that this cursed organization might finally be turning a corner. Little did I know how wrong I would be. Kershaw came back out for the seventh and gave up six hits to the next eight batters and surrendering the four-run lead, leaving fans calling for Don Clowningly’s head (of course, he would be back the next year). The Dodgers would win Game 2 thanks to Matt Kemp’s clutch solo shot, but lost Game 3 thanks to the disappearing offense. In Game 4, Kershaw got the ball on short rest in another of many more chances to fix the narrative. The Dodgers gained a 2-0 lead by the seventh inning, when again, Kershaw came back out. Single. Single. Go-ahead three-run bomb by Matt Adams. Yikes.

Worst Loss Award: Game 1, but Game 4 was pretty fucking bad too.

3. 2018 World Series vs. Red Sox

The Dodgers made it all the way back to the fall classic in a second consecutive year, but this team was much weaker, having needed a Game 163 to win the division and skating by Milwaukee in the NLCS by the skin of their teeth. Despite the Red Sox being a better team on paper, each of the Dodgers’ losses besides Game 5 were tight, making the defeats even more excruciating. Roberts made horrible decisions throughout, inserting washed up reliever Ryan Madson into crucial situations on multiple occasions. The turning point was Game 4, after the Dodgers had scratched out a Game 3 victory in 18 innings to claw the series back to 2-1 and gave the Dodgers a shot with two more games at home. Up 4-0 in the 7th inning, Roberts removed Rich Hill in favor of Madson who proceeded to surrender a three-run shot to Mitch Moreland, after which Jansen gave up the game tying homer to would-be series MVP Steve Pearce.

Worst Loss Award: Game 4

2. 2017 World Series vs. Astros

Until 2019, this year’s team was the best I’d seen as a Dodgers fan. With 104 wins, the Dodgers claimed the top seed in the NL while boasting a plethora of talent. The 2017 team had the Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, four top starting pitchers in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, and Alex Wood, and Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, and Kenley Jansen, who all posted career years. The Dodgers steamrolled the NL competition on the way to their first World Series appearance since their last title in 1988, losing just one game in the NLDS and NLCS with a run differential of +29, before running into the Houston Astros, who were certainly a worthy opponent and won 101 games themselves. Of course, Houston edged us out in seven games, as Bellinger disappeared and the pitching staff blew five leads in the four losses. Particularly painful were Game 5, when the Dodgers lost two separate three-run leads, and Game 7, when Darvish imploded and the crowd and offense were flaccid throughout.

Worst Loss Award: Game 5

1. 2019 NLDS vs. Nationals

This could be recency bias but so far this one has stung the most. In 2019, the Dodgers, who have been around since 1884, broke the franchise record for wins in a season with 106. Quite literally, the best Dodgers team in the history of the organization. They were the top seed in the NL with three all-star starting pitchers in Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler and the likely MVP in Cody Bellinger. Most runs scored in the NL and the lowest NL bullpen ERA. In the first round, they come up against the Washington Nationals, who despite having a formidable starting rotation, have the NL’s worst bullpen ERA, which we all know is crucial in the playoffs, and are an organization who had never won a playoff series. The Nats, who won 13 fewer games, punched the Dodgers in the mouth and proved Kershaw’s playoff resume irredeemable in one of the most horrifying elimination game meltdowns I’ve ever seen or heard of. After Walker Buehler absolutely pitched his heart out, Kershaw surrenders a two-run lead in the eighth inning on back-to-back bombs by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. Then Joe Kelly inexplicably pitches two innings and gives up a 10th inning grand slam to Howie Kendrick, who of course the Dodgers traded away in 2016. I literally don’t think the most fervent Dodger haters could have written the script on that Game 5.



Worst Loss Award: Game 5

Tristan Lee
Tristan is the Voice's sports executive and a senior in Georgetown College. He mostly covers Georgetown's football, basketball, and baseball teams.

More: ,

Read More

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Will Shanahan

Probably one of the least tortured fan bases I’ve come across


Dodgers need to get rid of Kershaw, Jansen and dave Roberts at the end of the day the losses they have suffered most of the time it’s due to some pitching decisions by Robert’s. Beyond tired of it not to mention the line always forgets how to hit in October maybe they should move the world series to September


Arietta won Cy Young in 2015, not Grienke.

Joseph Rincon

All I’d like to know is who started using the word “choke” and applying it to sport. Only two things can happen in any game, win or lose . If you lose a few big games some people begin referring to you as a choker, forget what you’ve done in the past and attempt to negate one’s career. As a general rule those that dramatize this condition like Lee know very little about sport so they try to write about it. Sad but true.