LOS ANGELES -- Despite the heartbreaking defeat to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame significant obstacles to get there. Going forward, though, questions confront the front office.
A team racked by injuries in their starting rotation, the Dodgers banked plenty on their rookies during their second-half run to the fourth consecutive National League West crown. Of all the regular starters, only 28-year-old rookie Kenta Maeda worked the majority of the season.
However, rookie Julio Urias stepped up in sometimes impressive fashion. The 20-year-old left-hander won four straight starts after the All-Star break and finished 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings. He also recorded the victory in the decisive Game 5 in relief in the NL Division Series over the Washington Nationals.
Another young arm, Jose De Leon, showed glimpses of promise in four major league starts, winning two of them. Expect him to get a shot at making the rotation in spring training.
Even with ace Clayton Kershaw out more than two months with a herniated disk in his back, sidelining him more than two months, Los Angeles still had more in the tank than the San Francisco Giants after the All-Star break. Injuries to starters such as Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu, among others, still didn't derail the Dodgers. It took a heavy toll on their bullpen, though, which led the majors in innings pitched.
Despite that, expectations remained high that the franchise would its 28-year drought in the World Series.
"It's going to take some time to get over this," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "I think the experience from this postseason will serve our guys really well going forward. It hurts to say that, but that's the silver lining in it."
Friedman's biggest challenge is whether to bring back two of the club's top contributors, closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner. Both are free agents. Friedman wants them back, particularly Jansen, who will command plenty of attention (and money) since he's one of the top two closers on the market.
The question is whether the Dodgers will outspend or match contract offers opposing clubs from opposing clubs. Expect the Giants, whose bullpen cost them considerably late in the season and the playoffs, to be one of those teams seeking Jansen's services.
Jansen brushed off the talk after the Dodgers were eliminated Saturday.
"No, it's still early for me right now," Jansen told MLB.com. "This feels awful right now. We got so far, and we fell short. I'm still thinking of what we accomplished and how short we fell. We just fell a little bit short."
The Dodgers could use a big right-handed bat or two to produce against left-handed pitching, which they were finished last in hitting against in the majors. Turner's loss could enhance that need. Or they could pursue another third baseman -- Evan Longoria comes to mind -- to replace the 31-year-old Turner.