LOS ANGELES -- This isn't exactly a century-plus faux-curse or anything, but the Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since 1988. They have now been to the playoffs five straight years and have zero pennants thus far to show for it. After having started the season 91-36, it looked like this was finally the year to break through.
Questions lingered through the terrible stretch that followed, but the Dodgers swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS in convincing fashion and looked ready for that pennant and World Series run.
Then the NLCS roster was released and Corey Seager wasn't on it, thanks to a back injury he suffered in NLDS Game 3.
"Obviously, it's a big blow," Game 2 starter Rich Hill said. "That guy's fought with us the entire year. It's just an unfortunate thing that happens, obviously, in sports when you get an injury."
Seager might not finish higher in MVP voting than Justin Turner or Cody Bellinger this season, but overall he's objectively the Dodgers' best all-around position player. He finished third in MVP voting last season as a rookie. He hit .295 with a .375 on-base percentage, 33 doubles and 22 homers. He's a good baserunner. He plays good defense at the most important position behind catcher (and pitcher, of course, but I'm not really counting that).
For those into the all-encompassing variety of stat, the only players with more WAR in 2016-17 combined than Seager were Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts. That's it. By that measure, Seager was the fifth most valuable player in all of baseball for the past two seasons.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts doesn't believe losing Seager affects his club from a mental standpoint.
"It doesn't affect the clubhouse," he said. "We have a lot of good players. That's not going to sway our confidence. We still have to go out there and play well."
It's true. The Dodgers do have a lot of good players. They didn't win 107 games total to this point solely because of Corey Seager. As Hill noted, it's time for everyone else to step up and fill the void.
"It's something where now we're looking for the other guys to step up with Charlie [Culberson] and C.T. [Chris Taylor], which is great," Hill said.
"Yeah, this sucks, to be honest," Seager said. "Obviously you try to be the best team that you can right now, try to not be a distraction. Try to be as positive and inspirational, whatever you want to say, to help your team right now. But just basically trying not to be a distraction right now."
Distraction or no, Seager missing is a story. Take a look. The Dodgers this season were 96-42 when Seager started, including the playoffs. They were 11-16 when he didn't. The latter is a small sample, sure, but there's a good look on a basic game level at Seager's value to this ballclub.
Point blank: The Dodgers trek into a series with all the pressure on their side without one of baseball's best players.
That's some cruel adversity before the NLCS even begins. If they can overcome it, they will definitely have earned the right to be called champions and then some.